THE 2011 WEDDING ISSUE
The words we use to describe marriage—“hitched,” “institution,” “ball and chain”—hint at our collective matrimonial cynicism. Yet they also belie a simple fact: we still get married in droves. Right now, people of all ages, races, cultures and, yes, genders are exchanging rings, popping champagne and saying “I do.”
Sure, many of those blessed unions will wind up in a not-so-blessed divorce court. But others will endure, change, grow and become something beautiful, something lasting. That’s why we created this annual issue—to celebrate weddings in all their multifarious forms, to honor (and poke fun at) one of humankind’s oldest, most complex-but-cherished traditions.
Because in the end, whatever words we use to describe it, marriage is a part of us, in sickness and in health, ’til death do us part.
Politics aside, what will same-sex unions in Hawaii mean for actual people?
by Anu Yagi
Before HB444 was (rather strangely) quashed by former Governor Linda Lingle in July 2010, UCLA’s Williams Institute produced a report itemizing the potential fiscal impacts of the bill. It summarized the findings of “over twenty studies by academic institutions, governments, and trade industry associations,” and estimated that “recognizing same-sex couples is likely to increase spending in a state, creating jobs and tax revenues.”
That is, “Hawaii business will experience increased spending on civil union celebrations” to the tune of $4.2 to $9.5 million over four years—and that’s just by the couples themselves. Their out-of-state guests (never mind Hawaii residents) are estimated to pump an additional $17.8 to $40.3 million into our state’s economy over that same period of time; and in the process create 193 to 333 new jobs while “attract[ing] highly-skilled ‘Creative Class’ workers to Hawaii.”
Statistics aside, government recognition of gay couples is about equality. Period.
But to those for whom the civil rights of our fellow humans is not reason enough, there’s always the fiscal side. And in the case of allowing civil unions, these tangible benefits are no pittance.
So as we look for ways to fill the puka-ridden cup of our state budget, it’s curious why civil unions in Hawaii didn’t pass sooner.
After all, in the early 1990s, Hawaii was progressively poised to be the first state in the union to legalize gay marriage. In the 1993 case of Baehr v. Lewin, the state Supreme Court ruled that it’s discriminatory for the state to refuse marriage licenses to gay couples. However, it was followed by a 1998 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage to anyone but opposite-sex couples.
But, finally, on February 23, 2011 Governor Neil Abercrombie signed into law a measure to recognize civil unions in Hawaii, saying, “This signing today of this measure says to all of the world that they are welcome. That everyone is a brother or sister here in paradise.”
It did take longer than expected—18 years—but we finally did it. We finally got civil unions passed and we’re so excited,” says Kevin Rebelo of Kihei, who owns and operates Gay Wedding Hawaii with his partner of 17 years, Frank Miholer.
The couple met while Rebelo—who’s originally from Johannesburg, South Africa—vacationed on the isle, where Michigan-born Miholer had settled some four years prior, via San Diego. Hitting it off immediately, the pair went on dates to the beach or Wailuku’s (long lost) Hamburger Mary’s, and began a long distance relationship when Rebelo returned to California. Not long after, Rebelo was up for an employee of the quarter award at the Sacramento Bee, where he worked as a graphic designer, and promised Miholer that if he won, he’d use his winnings to visit Maui again. Rebelo says, “within three weeks I was back on Maui, and within six months I’d moved here.”
Eight months after settling on Maui with Miholer, Rebelo says, “We were looking to get married and didn’t know of anyone who did gay weddings. So we kind of just did our own little thing together [and] thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to start a company that had a resource that were either gay or gay friendly ministers and photographers?’ So, we started a company.”
This was during a time when our nation was first warming to idea of gay marriage, but even more fortuitously, the start of their company coincided with the birth of the Internet. Via an invitation to the Maui Tech Park, Rebelo and Miholer began learning HTML “way in the beginning when people didn’t even know what the Internet was.” As a result, Rebelo says, Gay Weddings Hawaii was the first wedding company in the world—gay or straight—to be represented online, and attracted couples from across the globe.
“We had couples come in from England, Italy, even China. At the time, it looked like gay marriage was going to pass and we were doing lots of weddings. Then other Internet wedding companies started popping up—straight ones—so we started doing straight weddings, too. When [other] states started passing civil unions and gay marriage, less and less people started coming because more people wanted to go where it would be recognized. So we saw a tapering off. So we switched our focus back to doing straight weddings, while still doing gay weddings too. And now, there’s been a peak again since the legalization. So we’re getting a lot more inquiries.”
Rebelo says they just performed a ceremony for two men from Mississippi, who were “blown away” by the isle’s receptiveness, and “got to experience what it’s like to be recognized as a couple. They didn’t have to be embarrassed for what they are.”
Still, Rebelo says “We take so much for granted here on Maui. There’s still a lot of prejudice out there in the world. Especially with older couples, we’ve been conditioned not to show affection in front of the straight community. That’s changing.”
For the majority of their career together, Rebelo and Miholer have been in the heart-wrenching predicament of making a business of marriage — having coordinated weddings for thousands of heterosexual couples since they began their business in 1994—meanwhile being denied a marriage of their own.
“When you’re a part of the struggle it just becomes a part of your life and you just continue forward because you know that right always wins out. Always,” says Rebelo. “But people are seeing that basic human rights are a value that they cherish too and that everyone should be treated equally no matter what their religion says.
“I think the challenge has been getting the legal recognition for our couples. People want that,” he continues. “It’s wonderful to know that somewhere in the world—even if it’s not [yet] in your hometown—my marriage is valid and legal somewhere and I’m equal to the citizens of that area. And for us not to be able to offer that to people has been our biggest drawback.”
Currently, the state issues “Reciprocal Beneficiaries” licenses for couples who are ineligible for marriage.
You might notice that the language on the State of Hawaii Department of Health Office of Health Status Monitoring marriage license application specifically describes fields for for applicants’ information as “GROOM (MALE)” and “BRIDE (FEMALE).” Then again, there’s also a field to describe any “Blood relationship of the groom to bride” (but to be fair, filling out that field will get you rejected in a hurry).
In an e-mail to MauiTime, Dr. Alvin T. Onaka, State Registrar and Chief of the Office of Health Status Monitoring for the DOH, said the department is “still working out the details of the marriage/civil union procedures but we are planning to have separate license forms for marriage and civil unions online. We also plan to have the forms available online well before the effective date of January 1, 2012.” Last year, Dr. Onaka proudly described the DOH’s updated Web site made more user friendly.
“It’s been great for the economy here,” says Rebelo. “It doesn’t just affect us, it’s great for the restaurants, hotels, everybody. And we’ve always known that there’s been support for gay marriage in Hawaii because everyone we know and the reactions we get think it’s just wonderful. It’s just that small, really vocal minority.”
While the civil unions bill is a triumph, it’s still only an incremental step. And Rebelo says they still hope to accomplish “total equality,” as in, “gay marriage recognized across the country, fully and in all states.” ■
The Single Girl’s Survival Guide
Tips for navigating your friend’s nuptials—and maybe even having a little fun
by Ynez Tongson
Despite what the media and your overbearing grandmother would have you believe, there’s nothing wrong with being single. Relationships are like art: some people simply aren’t cut out to be the next da Vinci and are meant to, uh, paint alone. And like art, a good relationship isn’t just a flash of inspiration, but rather a lot of hard work.
If anything, single people are the lucky ones, free from the stress and expense a wedding, or even serious relationship, can entail. However, some people ignore their better judgment and get married anyway. Amazing, right? Then, they
invite their friends. That’s us.
Even the most confident people can be cowed by the prospect of their friends’ weddings, especially when they seem to be taking place one after another, like a procession of biological alarm clocks—which usually seems to be the case.
Luckily, I’m here to help.
Foremost, if you aren’t genuinely happy for the couple and/or can’t at least put on a happy face, just don’t go. Simple as that. It’s important to keep the right mindset at an event that seems to emphasize your single-hood. Remember, this isn’t about you and you’re not being (ahem) singled out. The point is to celebrate a couple’s joy and commitment. It’s their wedding, not your pity party.
If you’ve been asked to be a part of the wedding party, don’t worry about bringing a plus one—you won’t be able to spend time with them. Especially if you’re a bridesmaid. I don’t know if it’s due to all the romantic comedies of late or if this has always been the case, but bridesmaids seem to be the new hot nurses. “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride,” shouldn’t be a lament, it should be a celebration. Girls, get your guns (and bring your prophylactics)! That said…
Don’t sleep with the bride/groom. Sure, in rom coms this usually leads to a hilarious cutscene or montage, but life isn’t a movie, and certainly not a lighthearted one. I’m not trying to moralize or judge here, but unless you’re all professed polygamists, just don’t do it.
Bring your allergy meds, preferably non-drowsy. Weddings are a hotbed of allergens, be it the couples’ happiness or the flowers in the bouquet. Sitting through a reading of “Corinthians” can be uncomfortable enough without you sneezing throughout. While tears of happiness (and dismay) have been traditional wedding guests since the dawn of time, let’s not invite their sisters, red, runny and puffy. Which leads us to…
If you must wear makeup, make sure it’s smudge and water proof. Sweat, eye-rubbing, temple-massaging, face-palming and the aforementioned tears will all conspire to make you resemble a drunk clown. Speaking of drunk clowns…
Open bars are awesome, puking in your lap isn’t. It’s fine to imbibe, but once you start texting your exes or telling strangers how much you love cats, it’s time to stop. A little bit of Haleakala Distillers’ Maui Gold Rum to loosen the tongue and start the stream of compliments and conversation is great, but a floodgate of slurred laments and Oceans (of) Vodka—while delicious—isn’t.
Dress appropriately. The wedding invitation should hint at the dress code, and you should take the hint. That racy little thing you bought at Forever 21 might get you all the looks at the club, but at a wedding, they’ll be the wrong kind of stares. You also don’t want to be remembered as the auntie wearing clothes three sizes too small, or the uncle whose low-riding pants reveal a little too much (of him and his drinking habits) with every flash of the camera. If your top (or pants) are so low cut that people inadvertently look away when you bend, it’s time to invest in better threads. Classic Jackie O. is a nice direction to meander, and Bohemia Boutique always has something fashionable in stock.
Finally, here’s something I do at any social function I feel terribly out of place in. Before attending, I listen to a song I love and for the rest of the night, that’s my theme song. When I’m entering a room, making small talk or trying to sneak appetizers into my purse, boom!, there it is. Personally I like “Tank!” by Yoko Kanno. Nothing like inner big band jazz to lighten the mood.
That said it’s probably no surprise I’ve remained single, but meh. Happily married or snarky and single, you’ve got to grab your happiness where you can. ■
Hair And Now
Vintage styles add a retro twist to modern weddings
by Jen Russo
Vintage wedding design is all the rage, with engaged couples selecting designs from bygone romantic periods for their weddings. Going vintage can give you a lot of options since there are so many golden eras to choose from, but whatever you pick, Maui stylists say it’s best to plan ahead. Rockabilly styles, finger waves, pin-up hair and pin curls will all go smoothly with a bit of planning. Here’s our tip list:
1. Make a consultation appointment
Most stylists include a free consultation when you book a session with them—they need to see what they’re working with. “I have a comb, not a magic wand,” says Jeffie Harris of Paragon Salon. “It’s best to come in and talk about the vintage style you want, and we can see how [it’s] going to work.” Sending in photos may not be enough to gauge hair type, length and body, so a trip in person will ensure your retro look will be perfect.
2. Time commitment
Finger waves and pin curls have to set for several hours. If your heart is set on a complicated style, be sure to schedule the time for your stylist to make it happen and keep stress levels to a minimum. You can make arrangements to meet early in the day to get your hair prepped, then get the final style just before the ceremony. Other vintage styles may take less time, so if you are strapped for time, discuss the do with your stylist; they can suggest alternative looks.
3. Pick out pictures from magazines
Coming to your stylist with some photos of what you like will help you both get on the same page. April Page, stylist at Soleil Luna, says, “I personally love the rockabilly era hairstyles. It’s not as hard as it looks, but I recommend brides bring in pictures of styles they like so I know exactly what they want.” You can also head to the Web to find photos; Google “vintage bride hairstyles” or check out stylesdowntheaisle.com.
4. Let your stylist know about your accessories
Not every bride wears a veil, and vintage hair gives you a lot of options for embellishment. Netting was popular in the 30s, while vintage hats, feathers and pearls can be incorporated beautifully into the hair design and add a unique twist. But, of course, your stylist has to know in advance.
5. Come to your appointment with clean, dry hair
No pre-application of product needed. “Come with a clean slate,” says Wendy Pogni, owner of Soleil Luna. “It depends on the style as to what product we are going to use. I always finish the vintage styles with what I call ‘hurricane spray,’ so the style can withstand a hurricane.” If you want your do to go the distance, ask your stylist what they recommend to keep it there. The salon should have all the appropriate products. ■
Where To Go To Get Your Vintage Look
1910 E. Vineyard St. #C, Wailuku
1160 Makawao Ave., Makawao
Plush Beauty Lounge
Lahaina Gateway, 335 Keawe St., Lahaina
Rutz Hair Design
1847 S. Kihei Rd. Ste. #201, Kiehi
242 Lahainaluna Rd., Lahaina
Wedding Hair Maui Style
Throwing the perfect bachelorette party takes preparation
by Jen Russo
The bachelorette party is a contemporary tradition. There was a time when brides only got a shower, while the boys got to get a little dirty. Now, of course, the ladies’ parties take a on a more playful tone—though that doesn’t always have to mean male strippers and debauchery.
The bachelorette party is still all about the bride, so pleasing her is a must. Planning the party around her interests and tastes will ensure success. “Girls just wanna have fun,” says Lila Sherman of the Love Shack in Kihei. “The party is about sending the bride off to her marriage, and it’s an opportunity for her to have some playtime with her girlfriends.”
If you’re planning a bachelorette party on Maui, the Love Shack can help. They’ll come to your designated location and bring games to play, gifts for guests and share their knowledge of sex and play. Pin the macho on the man, and “pass the pecker” games can make for racy fun. If you prefer to run the party yourself, the Love Shack is stocked full of games and gadgets, bachelorette sashes, straws, leis and plenty of party favors. “Usually if the gathering is planning to go to a bar we stay about an hour,” says Lila, “but if you want us longer that’s fine, too.”
If you’re planning to take your bachelorette party on the road, you have a few ways to do it. Akina Aloha Tours has a posh limousine bus that holds 16 passengers. Stretch limos seat about eight, while a Cadillac SUV will hold about 6. If you’re not going far, minivan cabs can do the trick. (Reserve cabs for drop-off and pick-up to avoid hassle.) If you’re planning to go to a specific venue, call ahead and let them know you’re coming to get the best service possible.
Candice Seti of Ambrosia Martini Lounge says she sees a lot of bachelorette parties come through, and if they alert her in advance she can reserve them seating for their entire party in an area they can decorate if they wish.
Keep your guest list in check, and make sure every guest is aware of any shared charges you’re anticipating so there are no surprises. Set a date so your guests can reserve that day or evening. The most important thing is to have a great time with the bride to be—however naughty or nice you plan to be. ■
Hey Mr. DJ, Don’t put these records on
by Jacob Shafer
Hey Mr. DJ, Don’t Put These Records On…
We get it—weddings are all about tradition. But when did “tradition” become synonymous with “worn out cliche”? All aspects of a wedding can fall victim to this trap, but no danger zone looms larger than your DJ’s playlist. Here are some songs (broken down into three cringe-inducing categories) that should be taken out of rotation at every wedding—permanently.
Songs that sound romantic but totally aren’t. Hey, why wouldn’t you play “White Wedding” at a wedding? It’s got “wedding” right in the title. Well, how about the fact that, according to VH1’s “Pop Up Video,” the song was actually about how much Billy Idol hated the guy who knocked up his sister. (Idol later denied it, possibly to ensure people would keep playing the song at their weddings and remembering who Billy Idol is).
Other offenders: “I Will Survive,” “Jesse’s Girl,” “Every Breath You Take,” “I Will Always Love You”
Songs that tell you how to dance. Yes, dancing can be awkward; yes, sometimes it’s nice to have the steps spelled out so you’re not left to spastically flail alone in the semi-dark. But get creative. Choreograph your own group moves, or do a traditional Irish jig (or whatever culture suits you). Just please, for the love of disco, do not visit the “Y.M.C.A.” Seriously, young man. Don’t.
Other offenders: “Macarena,” “Chicken Dance,” “Limbo Rock,” “The Cha Cha Slide”
Songs that define played out. These aren’t all bad songs; in fact, some are quite good. But at a certain point, even the best song reaches it’s saturation point, when playing it doesn’t show what good taste you have, but rather how incredibly lazy and/or unaware of other music you are. With apologies to the great Etta James, we’re looking at you, “At Last.”
Other offenders: “Endless Love,” “I Only Have Eyes For You,” “Can’t Help Falling In Love,” “Celebration” ■