I am finally sitting down and writing a post on my favourite day to date. I suspected that the elation I felt when Mike got down on one knee would be matched if not surpassed by our wedding day, and everyone told me “it’s the best day of your lives”… and still, nothing quite prepared us for it! How can it? It really is unparalleled and indescribable. You feel like a king and queen for the day, everyone is so, so overwhelmingly happy for you, and you get a whole 24 hours to blabber on about your great love.
Mike and I decided to get married on the tropical island of Kauai because it is halfway between our two homes – Canada and Australia. We visited here a few times en route to seeing our Canadian family, and fell head over heels in love with everything about it. The scenery, the vibe, the people, the food, the animals, the activities, it felt like us in island-form if that makes any sense at all. And so it was decided, Kauai it would be.
We had 92 friends and family make the journey from all over the world. We felt very lucky and this of course, made it so special for us.
We began the long weekend with a welcome drinks at the St Regis overlooking Hanalei Bay, where the Mai Tai’s were flowing. Friends tell me 6 months later, they cannot even look at a Mai Tai on the menu! It was a white welcome party, and I came dressed in a black and colourful For Love & Lemons dress with green velvet shoes from Shoes Of Prey. We had the best time!
Two days later (time to recover from the welcome, tactical) I woke up and it was our wedding day. My bridesmaids and I made a healthy, low salt veggie-based dinner the night before (no fluid retention!). I watched my best friend’s wedding with my best friend in bed with a face mask and went to sleep early. In the morning, after cuddles with my mum, we had green juices delivered from the best juice spot in town – Akami Juice. I had then arranged for a yoga session with my girls on the lawn of our place, overlooking the ocean. It was a little cool but the rain held off (as it did all day!) and we had a grounding practice where I was able to really centre and connect with myself, so I could take every micro-moment in.
When we were done, we had fruit and nuts spread out for snacks during hair and makeup. I was the last to sit in the chair. Old school favourite tunes were playing in our bedroom, and I was just chilling sipping my green juice watching the women in my life get beautified. I felt so happy. I gifted each of my girls a necklace with the letter of their name printed on it, and chose gold, silver or hammered finish to suit each one.
All of a sudden, every 30 mins or so my best friends would pull out a small gift and note, little trinkets my husband-to-be had collected for me to open on my wedding day. My favourite was a book on Happiness, he had bookmarked quotes he thought were relevant, and woven them in to his messages. Each of the gifts were special and meaningful, and I was absolutely shocked by the sentiment. I am very sentimental so he knocked this out of the park! I also had prepared something for him which I gave to him the night before when he left for his hotel.
Then it was my turn in the chair and I had my hair curled wavy with a small loose braid pinned to one side, and my makeup applied bronze and glowy. I was ready! We shared a glass of bubbles in our robes, cheers’d, giggled and then in the blink of an eye I was in my magical wedding dress and veil, gliding down the staircase.
Mike’s getting ready pics were amazing, so I just thought I’d include them… He practiced his vows in front of the most epic view of Hanalei, made up handshakes with his groomsmen to do as they walked down the aisle, and virtually became a boy band in their photo’s at the St Regis.
When we picked the teak forest at Na Aina Kai I was conflicted. My only thing I ever imagined as a younger girl was getting married in a garden. I didn’t ever dream of my dress or the decor, but I always assumed it would be a garden. The forest, in one way or another was indeed a garden, but it was much more dramatic, and perhaps more “wintery” than I had hoped for. Yet something within me wanted it. When we were both in that space together, scoping out locations, we both knew that this was where we would begin our lives together as husband and wife. There was something so enchanting and ethereal about it, the air so fresh and crisp, the stillness so calming. It just felt right. So, i departed from my original visual I had and just rolled with it! I am so happy I did that 🙂 If you are struggling with what you expected and what you have found, go with your gut, visualise yourself now not what you may have anticipated.
My mum walked me down the aisle and I wouldn’t have it any other way. She was by my side as we walked down to a soloist singer and guitarist sing Cold Play’s Magic. I remember being really worried I would feel awkward walking down the aisle with all eyes on me – but I didn’t. I barely noticed anything except Mike at the end of the aisle surrounded by the sun-soaked tall trees. I remember feeling calm and certain, and that’s all I could have ever hoped for. We had an “unplugged” ceremony, meaning the only camera was the professional photographers, and I really think that brought everyone in to the present moment.
There were so many epic moments during our ceremony… We had a chance to close our eyes and centre ourselves as soon as I arrived; we were given an opportunity to turn to face our guests and look each of them individually in the eye one-by-one; our celebrant spectacularly cracked open a coconut with nothing but a rock so we could share the coconut water straight from the shell, he then poured some out for those who couldn’t be with us; members of our family from all over the world brought a small amount of water from each of those countries that meant something to us and these were poured into a huge shell which we washed each others hands with, symbolising purification through forgiveness and how vital forgiveness is; We wrote our own heartfelt vows and I saw Mike cry for the first time ever; the sun came gleaming through the trees in so many special moments; We placed our hands on each others cheeks and went forehead to forehead, with our eyes closed, whilst the officiant spread seeds all around us; I surprised Mike with an inscription in his ring; we kissed a kiss which felt like time stood still; And most magically of all, we became husband & wife.
We walked up the aisle to “Love never felt so good” by Michael Jackson and were whisked away to spend a few mins just the two of us post ceremony (see pic of us kissing above). I highly recommend that, hello’s can be had later.
We then went off for photos through the different areas – the forest, hilltop, gardens, and later on, in time for sunset, the beach and some more ocean view areas. In these moments we just debriefed and pinched ourselves, whilst the photographer and videographer snapped away. It was really nice quality time and we drank it all in.
We arrived at our reception to our guests nibbling on a vegan charcuterie station and finger-food appetisers. The bar was open and the signature cocktails – SaMai Tai and Mike-ito’s were flowing. Kombucha was on offer for those who didn’t want to drink. We walked in to Romeo & Juliet’s “Young Hearts Run Free” and went straight to the dance floor, where we told our wedding party and family to kick it off with us. After a little dancing and some warm congratulations and hugs, my brothers took the the microphone to begin MC-ing the night. They were hilarious! At this point, I finally got to taste some of the snacks 😉
Roasted and Raw Vegetables
Artichoke Heart Baba Ganoush
Assortment of Crackers and Bread
Waitstaff Passed Vegan Appetizer Menu
Taro falafel pita, cashew preserved lemon aioli, shredded lettuce, Kauai fresh tomato, pickled jalapeno
Fresh okara, caramelized shiro miso, julienne garden vegetables, shiitake, toasted sesame, wonton spoon
Hamakua mushroom poke, ogo, green onion, Hawaiian chili pepper
Guests were able to find their seat thanks to a huge greenery backdrop that had vegan leather luggage tags pinned to it with their name and table name. Each table was named after beaches that meant something to Mike and I. When they got to their table, they would see their personalised menu to locate their seat. The luggage tags also had a cute “love travels” motif with our initials included.
Our wedding “vibe” changed over the course of planning. It went from pretty garden party vibes to more neutrals and metallics. One thing I always wanted it to be was romantic. Even though we were on island, I didn’t want it to be beachy, and thought being by the beach was enough. I don’t know what you would classify my end look as, it turned out to be white washed tables with a beige runner, white plates, dark gold cutlery with amber goblets and sand coloured knotted napkins atop the menus. We also had a big greenery installation hanging from above which brought some of the lusciousness of the nature surrounding the see-through marquee inside. Wild bunches of gum leaves and dark greens, whites and pops of deep purple flowers speckled the table in various sized vases accompanying candles, matching the purple/mauve font of the signage. We had a mix of cafe and fairy lights covering the roof of the clear tent for the nighttime, and of course, lots of lights for the dancefloor.
We scattered our speeches throughout the night, so no more than two people spoke at a time. It was good that way, we felt, so every speech got the attention it deserved. We laughed and cried so much! I loved every word spoken. I also made a speech, which I am glad I did. If you’re contemplating it as a bride, I definitely say go for it! The look on your husband’s face is 100% worth it in the moment, and everyone hangs on your every word :p
Plated Vegan Dinner Menu
Kailani farms mixed greens, Hanalei taro and Okinawan sweet potato croquette, roasted and pickled beets, Hawaiian salt candied macadamia nuts, avocado, lemon vinaigrette
Assorted breads and vegan coconut butter
Lawai mushroom risotto, shiitake lemongrass curry broth, roasted local mushrooms, haricot vert, fresh herb salad, macadamia nut butter
Pho, compressed hoisin tofu ravioli, vegan pho broth, bean sprout, pickled jalapeno, jade pesto, charred lime
In case it isn’t apparent, we had a vegan wedding! No animals were harmed – and even though it was challenging at times, we persisted. Sure, I worried what my guests would think or say but at the end of the day we really didn’t want to inject money into something on arguably the most important day that didn’t feel us. The day had to reflect who we are. We also went plastic-free. We had people who have never eaten a non-meat meal, licking the plate (you know who you are!). The only mishap was the coconut butter that was served with bread, so many guests thought this was white chocolate and ate it whole 😉
We had a photo booth lined up, however unfortunately, it was cancelled last minute due to unforeseen circumstances. In a frenzy, we decided to use a gold backdrop with gold-sprayed palms for people to take polaroids against. This was fun and I ended up really liking it, however I will say, I didn’t really see any of the polaroids as guests took them! Either way, it was great to have that kind of experience for everyone to enjoy.
After Mike’s speech we went straight into cake-cutting. Rihanna’s “Birthday Cake” was played and we shimmied our way to the dance floor. We cut a small piece, fed each other, and kissed. Our wedding cake, which was three tiers of coconut cream deliciousness was also completely vegan. Cake was accompanied by a delicious shaved ice station, a nod to a Hawaii favourite and perfect for the heat. As expected, everyone ended up pouring vodka over their dessert!
After the cake we went straight into our first dance which was Bobby Darin’s “Beyond the Sea”. It’s a classic, it’s timeless and it felt appropriate given we were by the sea, Mike loves the sea, and no ocean has ever come between us :p We had so much fun with it, and actually did dance lessons to prepare. Once Mike dipped me, Bruno Mars “Treasure” came on and everyone poured onto the dance floor. The rest is kind of a blur! I did all the traditional things – bouquet toss, garter throw – there was lots of twirling, picking me up, congo lines and more.
At the end of the night I changed into a comfortable white jumpsuit and we all piled into busses that took us to the after party at a tiki bar in town, the Tahiti Nui, where the night kicked on.
Mike and I stayed the night in the St Regis and had an amazing view of the whole of Hanalei. In the morning, we dressed up in our matching two-piece pineapple-print outfits and headed back to our family home for the week where we hosted a recovery brunch of bean, scrambled tofu, purple sweet potato and veggie breakfast burrito’s, chia puddings, fruit and fresh juices.
…And that’s about it! Woah! Can’t believe I finally got to share all that with you. And really can’t believe it’s all over. It really feels like an incredible dream. Even six months on I remember it so vividly. I’ll forever hold these memories close to my heart.
My words of advice are pretty straight-forward, but I hope they help any brides-to-be. Don’t let planning get in the way of the love you two share, and don’t have the mentality that it’s only the bride’s special day. I mean, it’s funny to joke about, but really think what your groom would enjoy too. If he doesn’t seem interested, short-list everything and then approach him with only 2-3 options for final say. Nobody wants to see your pinterest board except you, your mother, your wedding planner and mayyyybe your maid of honour, if you’re lucky!! Get a wedding planner if you can, especially if it is a destination wedding. Ours was invaluable. Make your special day reflect you. As I mentioned, a vegan wedding in a place away from my home was not easy, but it was us and it was worth it. Find a superstar wedding planner who honours your choices!
I said all the words I needed to say to my husband in my vows, my wedding speech, my letter the night before and card on the day, and of course, to his handsome face every single day since 🙂 But i’ll sign off with this,
Mike – It was the best day of our lives, but every single day since has seen me fall more deeply in love with you. Thank you for being my partner through it all!
Endless love, light and health to you all!
Thank you for reading <3
A breakdown of the finer details:
- My engagement story
- Dress: Steven Khalil
- Shoes: Shoes of Prey – can make your own vegan leather shoes!
- Earrings: Marlena DuPelle
- Engagement and wedding rings: Midas Jewellers
- Something blue, borrowed & old: Sapphire & gold ring of my grandmothers
- Grooms Suit and groomsmen:
- Bridesmaids dresses: Bec and Bridge
- Venue: Na Aina Kai Botanical Gardens, Kauai
- Colour Scheme/Decor: romantic, metallics and neutrals, lush greenery, hint of boho
- Flowers & Decor: Steven Boyle Design
- Contemporary flavours catering: Food & Drink
- Entertainment: Live music for ceremony and canopy hour (Pancho Graham), DJ for dancing into the night (Kustom Sounds)
- Cake: Kawaii Designs, Hawaii
- Wedding favours: Luggage tags Heart Carved Tree
- Invitations: The Little Press
- Officiant: Kelvin Ho
- Hair & Make up: Mia Moriguchi
- Photographer: Bayleigh Vedelago
- Videographer: Lemon Tree Film House
- Wedding Planner: Moana Events