Monday, January 27, 2014

Destination Wedding ~ Hawaii Island

The destination wedding - a popular choice for couples who have been through the wedding experience already, just not with each other. It is not necessarily that they prefer not to deal with the inevitable friends and family issues, but more that they want the experience to belong to them. And more first timers are joining in the far away wedding trend. What is it about a destination wedding that appeals?

It has everything to do with the focus of the celebration. With a large wedding, meaning one with family and friends, not only the planning centers upon the guests, but also the sequence of the events. As you plan a wedding, extravagance is encouraged. The more energy you put into it, the less it becomes about you and the more it is a production designed to impress others.

We find the question of "is the standard thing really the way you want to get married" worth asking, because we know you can toss a very very nice party for 50 people for about $500, at your own place. You can bring in a private chef for maybe triple that, and do something amazing, if you rent a house with great seating. That is very much the spirit we bring to your Hawaii Island wedding. If you don't live here, and the prospect of putting something as off the beaten path as a non-resort wedding party at a private house may seem very far fetched, but that's what we do.With the private house, you are not sharing a resort and therefore your personal wedding with hundreds of other people who happen to be resort guests too. Private house, private venue. You will sometimes have the option of renting the house strictly as the wedding venue or take it for several days and use it as the place friends and family stay on afterwards.

Have you browsed photographs of weddings? They are so beautifully, heartbreakingly romantic. The couple are pictured getting dressed, arriving at the ceremony. There are kiss pictures, usually not the one during the ceremony. There are shoes. You will see a selection of lovely photos incorporating the picturesque venue. Sometimes you see the wedding party. But most of the shots are of the couple only. Most of these pictures are not reflecting the actuality of the hustle and pizzazz of the wedding. Here is the separating facotr: with the intimate destination wedding, your wedding really will be just like the photos.

Destination weddings with friends and family tend to be smaller than at-home weddings. But they are not necessarily the weddings of the rich and famous.  Cost is a relevant factor. Consider this. Along the Kona coast in Hawaii, your guests can stay in a rental house with a pool for about $100 a couple per night, staying a full week. A comparable room in a resort would be $275 a night. Want something classier? Always possible. If you are able to travel on Hawaiian Airlines, the wedding couple and guests can travel at a discounted price and the couple may qualify for a free first class upgrade.  This is something to think on - what is better than a trip to Hawaii where your best friends are getting married, at a price about half what you would otherwise pay for the vacation?

We recently put together a wedding and reception in Kona for 24. The venue is absolute oceanfront, and completely private. Catering is onsite. We arranged transportation via limo for the wedding couple from their resort up the coast. Organza streamed from the sails set overhead for shade. Table centerpieces were orchids and plumeria. There was a guitar player.  Ceremony late in the day, sunset following for photos. Professional photography. The food, locally sourced and presented with panache. Drinks, wine and beer bar, with a champagne cocktail for the toast. Cost, below $5000 for the wedding and reception. Can you do this at home? Not sure the ocean, plumeria scented air, and 82 degree weather will come along at your command.

Huff Post recently published a blog asking if destination weddings are really stress free. The main message there was not everyone wants to spend the time and money to come to your wedding, and maybe buy a bride's maid gown too. The beauty of the destination wedding is not actually the culling factor, separating those who will do anything for you from the rest. It is about setting aside very precious time in an optimum way for what is really one of the most intimate times of your life. If your friends are adventurous and take vacations anyway, it can work to invite them. If you'd prefer something more intimate and a party at home afterwards, on this island that gives you the latitude to stay in a cottage on the sand, get married in the rainforest or on an isolated spit of land where the waves break below you, spend a couple of nights in a treehouse, and relax into leisurely afternoons letting someone else bring you food and drink while you watch the ocean change moods. We know, you can make it your honeymoon. But we're here to tell you it can be the wedding too.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Let's Talk Venue Types and Styles

Aloha from Hawaii Island. Pretty cool wave, all right. This is not a view from the beach, but from about twenty feet up. This particular spot is in the weeds, up a short cliff, adjacent to a resort. Amazing view, and not quite available as a wedding venue, unless you want just the two of you and a celebrant. Sweet place to wander off to with a bottle of champagne after the event though.

When thinking about a wedding venue, you have certain obvious considerations. One is price - sticker shock can feel like a way of life when you start pricing places with panache. Another is, weather. Will you be outside for the festivities, subject to freak weird weather? Or, is weird weather becoming less and less unusual… so, will you go with a tent?  If a tent, how important is the look of the venue? You don't want your wedding guests passing the local homeless encampment on their way to your tent, of course. But the beauty of the place will not factor into the party much if you are tented.  

A less obvious factor when thinking about your venue, especially if you are not here to walk it yourself, is the composition of the view. We heard that a local old time hotel that has undergone some massive renovations has added a wedding locale. We hustled over to take a look, and concluded we would not recommend it to our couples. The reasons why are a bit picky on our part. It is pretty much on the ground. There is a concrete pad, and a roof. But it has the same sort of feel as a $60 county park venue, except the chairs aren't benches attached to nailed down tables. It can be jazzed up, of course, but the cost of adding lots of decor and keeping it tasteful is quite pricey. Although the ocean is right there, the view is not so dramatic because you are level with the water. It is a bay, so there are not likely to be waves unless it is stormy.  You and your guests will notice the proximity when you walk up, and then forget about it. There is a walking path, but it will take people away from your party.

Our new favorite wedding locale is in Kona. It has an upper view, where your wedding will be away from the street and the noise, and not subject to people walking into it or through it. It is private. This is difficult to achieve in an ocean front setting as the beach belongs to everyone, and everyone is always welcome, anywhere on it. This is not an upper view from the hillside, miles away, but from a building right on the ocean.  The architecture of the place is appealing. There is the inside space in case the sky opens up. We have been making arrangements with the owners and talking to our local specialty vendors to put together an afternoon wedding package for up to 25 people that will cost under $5000.  A sunset package for up to 50 people with a seated dinner comes in under $8000 with limo service for the bride and groom.  These prices include the inevitable gratuity and tax charges all vendors add for large parties. In Hawaii, those extra charges come in at nearly 25%. Take another look at our inclusive prices…  What do you get with us? We arrange every detail for you, and help you with anything else you might need.  You will have a licensed celebrant, shell blower, custom ceremony, wedding lei, an arch with drape and orchids, table decor on white linens, a signature champagne cocktail and either "bottle service" or wine and beer, a bartender, an array of Hawaiian inspired small plates or a full wedding buffet, music that can include live guitar, wedding cake adorned with orchids, limo service, and wedding photography, all in a gorgeous classy setting right on the ocean, with a blue blue view that can become a sunset view if that is your choice. 

Bottle service is something we can arrange with the venue, in lieu of the per person wine and beer charge.  For the afternoon for twenty five guests, we selected a prosecco signature cocktail for the wedding toast, and prosecco at a bottle rate for 12 bottles.  Maybe you would prefer your bubbly to originate in France and proudly carry the label "champagne" - it will be as you wish.

When we design a wedding package as an offering to you, the brides and grooms, we try to put together the most elegant party at the classiest venue at the best price. If you are intrigued, go on over to our website, and send us an inquiry.  Aloha! 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Your Wedding Photographs

If you are planning your wedding, chances are you have at least one photo board on Pinterest where you keep your ideas, and images of weddings that speak to you. If you do not, you might like to at least browse the Pinterest wedding boards to see what is there.

The photos you see on the major wedding sites and on Pinterest show you how far wedding photography has come from the series of set shots that dominated the industry for so long. No more line ups of the wedding party and guests three deep like the annual classroom photo. You will see very few photos of weddings that include guests beyond the bridal party itself on any of these sites.

If you love the look of a certain place, but your wedding and reception are not there, consider having a photo session done where the look is all you dream of.  Our destination wedding couples often opt for a photo session where we take them to various places on the island that are super photogenic.

There are of course those aqua water spots with the ultra Hawaiian sensibility, and we love those for the context. But we also seek out spots that have something to do with the things the couple is drawn to, like this 50s style diner that appealed to this couple.

Brides who collect photos of other brides, and want to recreate something they have seen elsewhere are not necessarily going to be happy with the result. If you do not tell the photographer what you are looking for in those poses, peculiar things can happen. I photographed a couple where every time we changed locales, the groom would lift her into the air. She was stiff as a board when he did this, except her head was angled toward him. I didn't realize the effect they were going for until I got home and began the editing process. It was too late then to tell her to kick her feet backward, or at least one foot, and bend way low, hovering just over his face.  Even had I done that, the pose was clearly not natural to them.

A couple will typically fall into normal postures and attitudes during a photo shoot, if the pace is relaxed and the stress of day to day life is forgotten.

A natural photo tends to be the most beautiful, and show the couple at their best. This means the photographer is walking a narrow line in posing the couple, encouraging them to relax, and at the same time, let them express themselves, as they are.

My suggestions for couples who are having wedding photography done are these:

  •     Consider a pre-wedding or post-wedding photo session, with a change of clothes or two.
  •     Select a photographer based on your enjoyment of their portfolio.
  •     If there is a wedding pose you want to try, make a print and bring it along.
  •     Make sure you have the digital images at your disposal, so you can make a wedding book, put                                          together a video of your favortie shots, and pull off the shots you love to your own digital album.
  •     Keep a digital album online, so if something happens to your computer, you wil not lose your photos. 
  •     Above all, enjoy this. You are the stars of this session, so bask in it. Love it. You are at your most beautiful, happier than you have ever been. You will see that every time you look at your wedding pictures. They simply get better and better. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Elements of a Perfect Day * * Part 2

Your big day is coming right up. Here you are in Hawaii, and your wedding will be happening … this day you have anticipated in many ways and in many moods over years.

What better way to get ready for your amazing occasion than on this golden beach, and in this turquoise water.

This is Waialea Bay, the beach popularly known as Beach 69. It is not marked on the highway. There are no signs to it. The road there is a twisty little potholed sometimes single lane stretch between Puako and Hapuna. I am giving away nothing here, as Yelp shows it, and guidebooks tell you exactly how to get there.  So, it may not look as empty as it does in this photo, particularly on a summer day, or during the winter holidays. However, a weekday during the rest of the year can be just what you see here. Sweet stretches of sand punctuated by a few beach chairs, people chatting. Keawe trees stretching into the ocean.  A couple of rope swings. A long stretch for walking. the ocean itself, just right for snorkeling or swimming, most days.

For perfection, bring along a hammock and string it in the keawe. Sound a little extreme? You can buy one at the Bamboo in Hawi, about a forty-five minutes north, and mail it home to yourself at the end of your stay. Why not?

Bring along sunscreen, and a picnic. There are no food vendors here.  Stay for the sunset, and don't be surprised if it gets so dark as you return to your car that you wish you had a flashlight. You may be walking by the light of your cell phone.

Waialea Bay may feel far from the rest of the world while you are there, but there are some great places to stop for dinner just a few minutes away.  Next blog post!