Words by Kate
While I am from the West coast of Australia and Erica is from the East coast of Oahu, Hawaii, we first met when living in San Francisco. I had just moved to San Francisco from Singapore, and after a dating app matched us up, Erica quickly became San Francisco’s best tour guide.
As cliché as it sounds, we sparked immediately, sharing a moment when our eyes first met across the room that we still talk about to this day.
During Californian adventures, we bonded over our beach-side childhoods and living oceans away from our families, and the spark strengthened. By the time my first Thanksgiving rolled around, Californian adventures had evolved into the beginning of what would become many adventures home to Hawaii.
Seeing Erica with her family and how she was at ease on Lanikai Beach where she grew was all I needed to realize this was something different, something special. While Erica had already realized this months earlier, (and already told her Mom that I was the one) this trip also confirmed for her that this was what she had been waiting for.
A trip to Dunsborough, Western Australia, to meet my family shortly followed, and the foundations for the rest of our lives settled in.
We have both lived in a few different countries throughout our lives and so finding each other was like coming home. After two years of living together in San Francisco, we took what would be a not so regular trip back to Hawaii.
We spent a few days on Oahu where I secretly asked Erica’s parents permission to propose then we headed to the island of Kauai to hike the Napali Coast Trail (10/10 would recommend!). After three hours of hiking with two engagement rings hidden, in my underpants, we finally made it to a 300 ft waterfall. I quickly stripped off, tucked both rings on my pinky finger, and dived in. It was stupidly cold, and so eventually Erica luckily followed after some gentle encouragement.
We swam through the waterfall and into the secluded cavern behind it. Erica waded to the rock-face to set up the go pro for what she expected to be a cute little waterfall video and turned around to find me on one knee. We had a three-hour hike back along the coastline, giving us time to soak in the moment together before we even had any phone signal to share the news with our families.
It was perfect.
After a 14-month engagement, we were lucky to bring our friends and family from around the world to Lanikai Beach in Hawaii for our Labor Day long weekend of wedding festivities. It was so special for us to share the secrets of a place so close to our hearts. We organized lesser-known hikes and local beach adventures on the days around the wedding, during which the people we love became fast friends.
The main event was held at Paliku Gardens on Kualoa Ranch with the mountains on one side and the ocean on the other. We got ready in neighboring ocean-front houses looking out to the Mokes (islands) on Lanikai Beach, where we had spent some of our most memorable moments together in the past. We did our first look ocean side with our immediate family and bridal parties present. While we chose our dresses in secret, we both cracked up during our first look as we realized that we ended up with the same designer (Watters Willowby).
After that, we headed out to the ranch for some family photos in front of the mountains, that had been the backdrop to Erica ‘s childhood, before our guests arrived. Our group of 80 guests was ideal for a short, intimate ceremony followed by a long cocktail hour with lawn games and canapes then dinner and dancing. We had a close friend officiate a very personal ceremony full of laughter, and we both wrote our vows.
The dinner was a long table, family-style, and the food served was all grown or raised on the property. Our aesthetic centered around natural elements like foliage and wood pulling on earthy tones, but with a backdrop like the Ko’olau Mountains, not much effort was required.
During our wedding planning phase, we often got asked which one of us was the bridezilla. The reality is that neither of us were bridezillas because neither of us really grew up dreaming of our perfect wedding day. While we both hoped to one day meet someone to build a life and a family with, we weren’t really sure what marriage would look like or if that was even possible for us.
But, if the younger us did have dreams of the perfect day, it’s safe to say it would have looked, and felt, exactly like this.
Now no matter where we are in the world or where we will be, we will be home because we will be together.
Most people know the word Aloha to mean hello or goodbye, but Aloha’s true meaning transcends words. It’s a value of unconditional love and the outpouring and receiving of the spirit. The word Ohana means family, but as a value, Ohana is a human circle of complete Aloha. To us, marriage is the join that makes the circle complete.
Photographer John Hook
Accessories Isabella May
Catering Kualoa Catering
Ceremony Venue Paliku Gardens, Kualoa Ranch
Cinematographer Pono Grace
Event Stylist Weddings by Forrest and Lauran
Engagement Rings Brilliant Earth
Florist Jeff Alencastre
Gown Designer Willowby Watters
H&MU Risa Hoshino
Marquee Accel Rentals
Prop | Furniture Hire Aloha Artisans
Shoes Sam Edelman
Socks Happy Feet
Tie | Bow Tie DAZI USA
Transport Roberts Hawaii
Wedding Rings D&H Jewelers