To quote The Princess Bride’s Impressive Clergyman, “Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam…” And yes, we know. Eyes will roll. Divorce statistics will be cited. Cynical singles will claim it’s nothing more than an elaborate sham, an excuse to score free flatware and small appliances before the lawyers inevitably descend. Mawa—ahem—marriage has transformed, for many, from a sacred institution into a punch line.
Not so fast. The unhappy couples grab all the attention, but back there, sitting quietly, fingers intertwined, sharing a knowing smile, are the happy couples. The ones whose union has withstood the years. The ones who have grown together, laughed together, yes, cried and screamed together, and come out the other side still fully committed, ’til death do them part. They can finish each other’s sentences; hell, they can finish each other’s thoughts. They’ve built furniture, they’ve built families, they’ve built lives. They’re not necessarily better than single people, but they’re certainly not worse. And they deserve to be honored.
What you’ll find in the following pages is a celebration of weddings—and the marriages they kick-start—that embraces the inherent lunacy of throwing a big party where you invite possibly everyone you know and buy tons of food and booze, all so you can, essentially, sign a contract. But, of course, it’s so much more than that. It’s a bwessed awangement, a dweam wifin a dweam. A ceremony. A celebration. An “I do.”
Poi Dog Wedding
Drawing on Hawaii’s broad spectrum of cultures, local weddings are both unique and universal
by Anu Yagi
Of our shared milestones, only the most consequential are marked by ceremony. The way we officiate—and celebrate—marriage incorporates all manner of tradition, from as broad a spectrum of time and culture as the union itself has been recognized.
Here in Hawaii, our “rainbow state” status is twofold—cultural diversity paired with the atmospheric phenomena of the marriage between sunshine and rain. Ritual, by its very nature, is most deeply rooted in our heritages, and Hawaii’s spectrum of ethnicities afford no shortage of variety.
What constitutes “local” today is a poi dog hybridization of aboriginal upstarts, plantation-era factions and continued internationalization. Beyond even our epic baby luaus and high school graduation chaos, weddings are prime examples of how we honor our roots while branding something uniquely our own.
Case in point: Wailuku company Wishes and Dreams, which crafts elaborate framed works—usually in the shape of a family mon (crest)—comprised of 1,001 origami paper cranes. Three retired school teachers, Carolyn Hashiro, Christine Hondo and Diane Orikasa, do this delicate work, the business gaining its start in the mid ‘80s when Hashiro’s then soon-to-be-married niece picked up on the trend from Oahu.
Japanese origami lore holds that folding 1,000 cranes will bring good fortune, grant wishes or cure sickness, and is a popular gift not only at weddings but for all sorts of well-wishing.
In the HI-style tradition, the bride usually folds 1,000, with the groom pouring all his attentions into making that extra one extra-lucky. Some couples choose to have their loved ones participate as a way to add sentiment, but the option always remains to purchase pre-made cranes if your schedule (or dexterity) is limited.
At least eight weeks lead-time is needed, says Hashiro, and couples should book an appointment to come in and plan their design and color scheme. Typically the cranes are all made of gold paper, but silver has become popular as people try to match their household décor. By no means reserved only for those of Japanese descent, for those who don’t have or don’t know their mon it’s become popular to pick a character or image symbolic to the couple, such as a pair of ulua for fishing enthusiasts. Hashiro says they’ve made things like cupids and even a gecko.
In Chinese tradition, encouraging luckiness for the couple might be less tangible, but is no less tedious. For the traditionally untethered, the big day is mostly relegated to weekends and picked based on the logistics of getting time off from work and coordinating travel with important out-of-state guests. Chinese custom, however, encourages selecting the most auspicious day through careful examination of the couple’s celestial birth signs. Not just the day is important but also the hour—or, to be precise, half-hour. Being married on or after the half-hour is said to represent prosperity if the hour is on the upswing.
Also in Chinese tradition, “lucky money” is given to the couple in red envelopes. But at what kind of wedding is money not customary (or lucky, for that matter)? For the Portuguese and Filipino, Catholic observances—such as the binding of hands—are often upheld. But one Catalan custom sometimes maintained in the 808 includes passing a shoe around to collect cash for the bride.
As for the Filipinos, they do it right by dancing for money. In the book Family Traditions in Hawaii, author Joan Namkoong explains this tradition is based on “bitor, the showering of the wedding couple with money [which] was a custom of the past that measured the prestige of a family in the community.” Namkoong also writes that a “further variation that is prominent today in Hawaii is the placing of money into the mouth of the bride while the couple dances.” Indeed, set to the rhythm of lively Filipino love songs, the transferrence of money to the couple by pinning bills to their garb or passing money mouth-to-mouth is commonplace (germaphobes turn away).
Speaking of mouths, it wouldn’t be a poi dog wedding without local food. “It’s the wedding feast in Hawaii that’s so telling about ethnic diversity,” writes Namkoong. “Where else in the world could you find a single buffet table laden with sushi, chow mein, roast pig, lumpia, kim chee, roast beef, ham, rice and potato-macaroni salad?”
Just as that list of foods could go on and on, so could a list of wedding traditions. (We haven’t even touched on Native Hawaiian customs, including the ubiquitous wearing of maile leis.) But whatever traditions we choose to perpetuate, resurrect or create, our varied cultural heritage is—and should remain—a source of inspiration.
Ask A Pro: Formal Wear
by Jen Russo
Geanelli Lewis’s shop, L’amour Bridal Wear, is on Dairy Road in Kahului.
Her website is www.mauiformal.com
What one thing do you wish everyone would do when shopping for formal wear?
Make an appointment instead of walking in. When you make an appointment, you will be the store staff’s priority and will receive better service.
What is the proper etiquette when planning bridesmaid dresses?
The bridesmaids must respect the bride’s choice because after all, it is her wedding day. At the same time, the bride must be aware of the different sizes and ethnicity/race/nationality and personality of her wedding party. A selfish bride won’t care about the things mentioned above, but as a caring bride and as a true friend, she won’t put them in an outrageous colors, atrocious silhouettes and sleazy styles.
Do the bridesmaids pay or does the bride?
Depending on the culture and budget, the bride or the bridesmaids can pay for their dress.
Can the bride ask them to purchase a specific dress and color?
Can a bride expect alterations to be included in the price of the gown?
In general, no. This service is always separate from purchase as each bride requires different alteration job orders due to their body shape or form as well as the style of wedding gown they have chosen. A simple analogy is when you buy a pair of jeans. Hemming is always an additional expense. Any alterations on clothing, whether simple or complicated, are an extra charge. Unless a store has a special offer for this service, expect to pay.
Do you have any tips for tuxes?
Yes! If they live in a town that doesn’t have a suit/tuxedo/bridal shop and they absolutely must take the measurements themselves, they need to follow the instructions carefully on how to take measurements for better-fitting outfits. Measuring for tuxes is complicated. Otherwise, we highly recommend you get professionally fitted and, once measured, at least try the coat on to reconfirm that the size assigned will fit properly.
Can you rent pants or jackets only if necessary?
Yes. This is what we call an “a-la-carte” order. But it’s typically priced slightly higher than a complete rental set.
If you’re renting a gown can you have it altered to fit better?
Absolutely not. A shortened dress will not fit the same for the next person who might be taller than the last. Any rental garments are not permitted to have a permanent alteration done. Temporary hemming is the most allowed alteration done on any rental garments. Other than this, if a customer insists on a custom fit, they must purchase the outfit.
What about cleaning on rental garments? Do you need to have them cleaned before you return them or is that part of the rental fee?
Generally, it is part of the rental fee, unless a special arrangement is made between the renter and the company. If an ordinary dry cleaning does not remove any staining or soiling, the rental is deemed damaged and the renter will be responsible for additional expense to replace the damaged garments.
Can you rent shoes?
Yes. Depending on the company’s program, a pair of basic black shoes is included in a complete rental set or is paid separately at a lower rate than if rented by itself. If the shoes are being special ordered, make sure that the wearer’s wider or longer foot—if one foot is larger, as is often the case—is traced on paper. Depending on the manufacturer, shoes may run smaller or bigger than what you normally wear. This especially applies to out-of-town renters who are not able to do a physical or personal fitting in the store.
How far in advance should brides start looking for a gown?
Seven months is good timing. This is to give time for a bride who might need to special-order her gown. Depending on the gown manufacturer, her special-order gown will take three to six months to arrive. Then she’ll need time to do alterations if needed. She will also save on those extra charges for last-minute orders.
From swimming with sharks to soaring in helicopters, Maui truly is paradise for the adventurous betrothed
by Ynez Tongson
I’ve got a complicated relationship with weddings. That is to say, I’m probably never going to have one. I think I’m the only person at MauiTime who’s single. This is because while most of MauiTime (both past and present) is on the glamorous and gregarious side of the spectrum, I’m more on the short and angry side. For example, two Thanksgivings ago I was plotting to liberate (aka steal) a baby elephant from the LA Zoo, while I lectured my then-significant other on how I would never go through the ordeal of preparing an ornate Thanksgiving meal. (Don’t worry, the elephant wouldn’t fit in my purse, and the significant other eventually came to his senses.) So please excuse any cynicism that finds its way into this article. It’s not you—it’s me.
No matter what your take on weddings, whether they’re the celebration of a life-long union, a good reason to write a pre-nup, the beginning of the end or just another excuse to throw a party and change your Facebook status, you can’t deny that Maui offers some pretty amazing ways you can tie the knot. Or at least get knots in your stomach.
Instead of taking a limo to your wedding destination, why not get there by helicopter? That way, you can exchange vows on those hard-to-reach Maui hotspots, like atop a jagged cliff with the roaring sea below, beneath a majestic waterfall or on a dormant volcano. Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, Sunshine Helicopters, AlexAir and Air Maui will all hover and deliver. Imagine the sun creating a halo on your beloved’s head, as you swear your undying devotion. And if anyone falls off the cliff/waterfall/volcano, then hey—zombie wedding theme! Everything is made so much cooler with zombies. Or ninjas.
Then again, maybe you’re on the pirate side of the whole pirate vs. ninja debate. (And trust me, there is a pirate vs. ninja debate. Google it.) Forsake those landlubbers and grab your favorite wench or buccaneer by the booty and head for the high seas. Before you say “aye” be aware that getting married on the ocean isn’t for the lily-livered (or easily seasick). Both www.amauiweddingday.com and www.justmauied.com are wonderful starting points to find a boat just right for you and your mateys. Of course, it wouldn’t be a pirate occasion if you didn’t tip back a bit of grog prior to the matrimonial matters.
Mayhap swimming with the fishes is how you like it. Then Makena Coast Dive Charters is thar…um there to help you out. Beautiful underwater scenes along the Makena coast and Molokini await. Wondering how you manage to say “I do” (let alone anything else) under the sea? A combination of hand signals and underwater slates will help you get your point across. And if that doesn’t get through to them, that deep sea kiss is bound to do the trick.
Another underwater option is the Maui Ocean Center. Get in tune with your inner goldfish as you dive into a tank of sharks, surrounded by family and friends. Your guests can watch you take the plunge (both literally and metaphorically) from the dryness (save for a tear or three) of the acrylic tunnel or floor-to-ceiling viewing window.
What about those couples who are interested in an underwater adventure, but don’t have the scuba certification and matching mermaid fins? The Ocean Center also offers a fishful wedding with the least amount of soggy bridesmaids. Couples have the option of getting married in the Maui courtyard, in front of the aquarium window or even in the underwater tunnel. Wanna make sure your sweetie-to-be is being faithful? Reserve an Ocean Center Shark Dive for their bachelor/ette party! Forget weary strippers and one too many alcoholic beverages—a tank with over 20 sharks sounds like a party to me!
If you’re looking for a simple Maui wedding, all of this talk of helicopters, ninjas and sharks has probably got you doubting. Well, there’s always getting married at the beach. But I say take this old standby one step further. Why not get married at Little Beach? That way you can bypass some of the Bridezilla woes (picking out a dress—pshaw!), as well as alleviate anxiety amongst guests who are worried about being caught in the same ensemble as someone else. I’m thinking the bride surfs in, with the Mayor of Little Beach to give her away. The reception entertainment is fire dancing, and the catering is anything that won’t cause any embarrassing personal problems. Who’s with me?
Clichés to Avoid
All weddings feature cliches; it’s tradition after all. But a handful of particularly worn-out practices need to be left at the altar…
Excessive toasts: A letter away from roasts. A word from the best man and maid of honor is fine; maybe Dad and Mom. Drunk dude at table seven? Don’t pass him the mic.
The Macarena: Shouldn’t have to say this, but in case there have been some really long engagements, it’s over. ‘Been over for a while. (You too, Chicken Song).
Smooshing cake in the face: Yeah. Didn’t see that coming.
Limos: Is a limo necessary at a wedding? Better question: is a limo ever necessary?
Readings from Corinthians: When the band Tonic turned the psalm into a love song, it was over. When that song landed a spot on As-Seen-on-TV compilation The Edge, it was really over.
Navajo blessings: If you’re not Navajo and you don’t dance with wolves, don’t read a damn Navajo verse.
Tossing of the garter: Flinging a thigh-sweaty, lacy piece of elastic into a crowd isn’t cute or racy. It’s gross.
Saving the cake: Have you ever eaten a year-old, frozen piece of cake? Neither have we. Instead, use the space in your freezer for a rotating cast of vodka bottles. That’s where the romance really happens.
Throwing rice: Birds do not explode if they eat uncooked rice; Mythbusters says so. But it can lead to nasty spills and is as much a curse to clean up as confetti. Instead try butterflies, paper airplanes or bubbles.
Ask A Pro: Photography
by Jen Russo
In addition to being MauiTime’s ace staff photographer, Sean Michael Hower runs Maui Wedding Medias. His Web site is www.mauiweddingmedias.com
What is your one peice of advice for couples on their big day?
Don’t drink too much before the ceremony. It seems simple, but a lot of couples overlook this, or should I say, overdo this. I am not saying don’t drink. A glass of champagne or a cocktail is great for calming the nerves and taking the edge off, but too many might make those beautiful moments something you don’t want to remember.
What should be done in advance to make sure the photography goes smoothly?
I always tell my clients there is no such thing as a stupid question. Communication is key. Make sure you have already established what time you want your photographer to arrive. Are you going to have them take some shots of the bridal party getting ready as well as the ceremony? Or do you want to only have the ceremony and family shots? Prepare a loose timeline for your event and the shots that you want your photographer to get—along with the family members involved and their names—and give that to your photographer. A list like family shots, romantic shots, ceremony, post-ceremony group shots, reception socializing, etcetera ensures there is no amibiguity in what you’re expecting.
Is this something that a wedding coordinator can assist with?
Sure, a wedding coordinator is helpful. You can hire a wedding coordinator to handle all of the details of your celebration and ceremony, or you can also hire one for the day of. Wedding coordinator packages vary, so again, ask a lot of questions. Some handle the photography for you, and you will not have the option to pick a photographer, others may give you a list of photographers to choose from.
How do photography packages and rates work?
Most packages will outline a price, the number of hours the photographer is shooting at your wedding, the number of prints you get back. With videography, you will want to check that there are two wireless mics offered, will the video be edited and how many DVDs you will recieve at the end. Is it just one video camera angle of the ceremony or will there be two? Photographers will offer several varying levels of pricing and packaging for different budgets. You’ll want to know if copyright on your photos is released or not, how many prints you will recieve, what kind of digital output you will get, will your images be touched up, what styles the photographer will be using. Some styles include photojournalistic, candid/fun, romantic or traditional. You can also request all styles.
What does copyright release mean?
If copyright is released by the photographer and you get images on a disk that means that you have the right to make enlargements and prints from the disk. There are some restrictions, however: you cannot then turn around and sell those images to a bridal magazine, for example. Most photographers make money from making prints and many will retain the rights to do so; others will give you the rights to make those prints.
How far in advance should I start booking a photographer?
I have bookings that are over a year out. Every year some dates are special, like this year October 10, 2010, and next year’s November 11, 2011. If you are choosing a date like that you may need years of advance planning. But for the most part, as soon as you have a date and location for your ceremony you can start reserving a photographer. Just remember that here on Maui, because we are a destination wedding location, wedding photographers can be busy all week long, not just on the weekends.
What are some keys to working well with a photographer?
Talk to them over the phone and meet with them in person in advance if you can. Get a feel for working with them. Remember this person is going to be pointing a camera at you and capturing your every moment. Relax and have fun at your ceremony and your photos will reflect that joy. It can be a stressful day, but you don’t want your photographic memories to show that. When you’re planning your ceremony and reception, allow some photography time in between. Nobody really wants to have to do a full-on photo shoot on their wedding day; you’re there to have fun with family and friends and celebrate your union. So to ease that fact, schedule the time for your romantic shots, family shots or whatever. Gathering family members for a photo can be a challenge—be prepared to appoint someone to wrangle Uncle Edward away from the pupu table for the photo you want him in. Then once you have knocked it out you can focus on your guests and enjoying yourself.
Tips For the Reluctant Groom (or Bride)
Dos and don’ts to get you through your nuptials unscathed
by Jacob Shafer
First off, to clarify: “reluctant,” in this case, doesn’t mean people who don’t want to get married; that’s a whole separate issue and frankly one best sorted out by some combination of family/clergymen/therapists/lawyers. No, we’re talking about people who are iffy on the idea of a wedding. You’ll know them as the person who drops not-so-subtle hints about eloping in Vegas (“two words, honey: ‘free buffet’”) and who, twenty-four hours before the big day, asks, “So what’s a centerpiece?” These wedding-averse individuals tend to be kane (there’s no stereotype involving nine-year-old boys thumbing through tuxedo magazines, after all), but it isn’t a gender-specific condition; wahine are also afflicted.
So what’s the problem, you ask? Not everyone has to have a big, fat [insert culture/nationality/trendy theme] wedding. True, but the trouble arises when one partner has visions of elaborate table-settings and eight-tiered cakes while the other is busy not giving a crap. This is a recipe for disaster. While she (or he) is running around like a headless hen stressing over seating arrangements and that impending rainstorm, you’re off shrugging your shoulders and wondering if you can just skip to the honeymoon bit. Beginning a (hopefully) lifelong union with this kind of disconnect is seriously bad ju-ju.
So—what to do? As with most things marriage-related, it’s a meet-in-the-middle scenario. You can’t expect her (or him) to feel the way you do, just as she (or he) can’t expect you to suddenly cry in the middle of a Say Yes to the Dress marathon. The key for the person who believes every detail is paramount is to accept that the other person doesn’t and never will and to not take this as a sign that the marriage is doomed to fail. The key for you (and we’re assuming it’s you if you’ve read this far) is, well, let’s get to it…
Do find a few things you care about, and take care of them. Come on, there has to be something that piques your interest. The invitations? The music? The pupus? The quality of the champagne? Whatever it is, dive in with both feet and let your bride-(or groom)-to-be know that you’ve got it covered. It’ll reduce stress overall and keep you busy. Plus, when your drunk uncle compliments the playlist while stumbling toward the dance floor, you can take all the credit.
Don’t question the importance of things she (or he) finds important. There will be stuff—probably lots of stuff—that feels trivial and superfluous to you. Keep it to yourself. Weddings are silly affairs no matter what, full of superstition and muddled tradition. Just roll with it. That doesn’t mean you can’t have an opinion, but it should be a constructive opinion that involves as little scoffing as possible.
Do offer a shoulder to cry on. There will be moments when she (or he) is hysterical, certain that everything is going to go wrong, including all the guests getting food poisoning and the DJ playing nothing but Satanic hymns on a loop. Be sympathetic. Be comforting. And mostly, be quiet. Pointing out the irrationality (“I’m not even sure Satanic hymns are a thing, sweetie”) will, in all likelihood, start a pointless, protracted argument that neither person can possibly win. (Though some might argue that’s good practice for marriage.)
Don’t get caught up in the hysteria. It’s important to overcome your indifference, but it can also be a powerful tool. When everyone around you—bride, mother, mother-in-law, maid of honor, random lady who may or may not have wandered in off the street—is frothing at the mouth, you can be an island of calm, secure in the knowledge that even if the flowers are the wrong shade of chartreuse, the open bar will probably be the only thing most people remember.
Do enjoy yourself. At the end of the day, when all the planning and arranging are finished, you’re having a party with food, tunes, ample libations and tons of people you love. Revel in it. Because—if everything plays out right—this is only gonna happen once.