A wedding day full of romantic, personal touches, real Martina Liana bride, Danielle planned the most dreamy backyard Hawaiian wedding to husband, Chris. From the proposal to the wedding itself, everything was absolutely dreamy!
From the bride: My husband and I were dating for about 10 years before our engagement. The first five years were spent more as friends and support. When we first started dating my husband, Chris was diagnosed with cancer. I fell in love with his tenacity and positive outlook on everything, even when going through something so difficult. When he was finished with chemo, recovered, and diagnosed cancer-free, we started traveling together at every opportunity. My father is a pilot, so we are able to take advantage of buddy passes to fly. Due to my father’s career, my family moved quite a bit growing up. Between so many hotels and different cities, I have never really had a specific place where I call “home”. Every time we travel together I always comment on how the airport feels like home to me. There is a place in particular at the Houston International Airport that is very special to me. The day I left to go to college in Hawaii, I told my family goodbye at this spot. It was the first time I was moving by myself, and although that is an intimidating and scary thing, the airport was comforting to me. Every time I visited home I met my family in this same spot. Now that my husband and I live in Houston, every time we travel I point out this location.
The day of our engagement we were traveling to Roatan with some friends. This was a spur of the moment trip and we were flying standby. Two days before we were supposed to leave we moved up our departure a day earlier because of our friends’ schedule (which later I realized was so that my family could all be apart of this surprise). Because of the change, my father said he needed to adjust some things with our buddy passes so he would meet us at the airport before he headed for a trip that day. He told me to meet at our “spot”. As our friends walked up they already had their go pro camera going. It was their first time going on a trip with friends and I was teasing them about how excited they were. The spot has a set of escalators that come up from the bottom floor to the right. I saw my dad coming up so I greeted him and started introducing him to my friends. As we were all talking I glanced over thinking I saw some people I recognized. As I took a second look I realized it was our entire family, my mom, and sister, his brother, and parents. I thought for a second “hmmm I wonder if they decided to come on the trip with us?”. Then I realized they were all crying and that’s when I knew when I turned around Chris would be on one knee. As I looked at Chris he told me about how happy he has been going on countless adventures with me in the last couple years and that he wanted to be my forever adventure mate. I was so surprised and the entire proposal was absolutely perfect. I, of course, said yes and afterward, we were off to celebrate in Roatan for a week with friends.
Finding the perfect wedding dress
We knew we wanted to do a backyard wedding in Hawaii. I had always thought I would take some material from my mother’s wedding dress to make one of my own. My mother and sister insisted I go to a bridal store to try on wedding gowns first, so we made an appointment at a smaller boutique. They didn’t really have much of a selection, which only made me more secure in having my own made. My sister asked if I would try one more place, Brickhouse Bridal where she purchased her wedding dress before I made my final decision. She called immediately to see if we could make an appointment, and they got us in that same day. It happened to be a day where Martina Liana was having a trunk show of their newest dresses that weren’t even in the store yet. I gravitated towards all these gowns and tried on several. All of them looked like they were made just for me. I felt like a princess! I was pretty sure that I was set on one of them, but wanted to try on my “fun” dress before we left. This dress was much different than my style, but it was pretty I wanted to try it on because why not? I was already here. When I put it on I fell in love with it and immediately started thinking of how I was going to justify this one to everyone outside waiting on me. When I came out of the dressing room no explanation was necessary. Everyone had tears in their eyes…..happy ones of course! This is that feeling everyone talks about. It was “the one”.
The wedding details
We chose to have our wedding in Hawaii for sentimental reasons. My father was based in Guam when I was younger, and Hawaii was a middle ground between us and the mainland that we could meet the family to visit. When I took my husband there for the first time he fell in love with it as well. We didn’t really want to do a typical beach wedding so we booked the Ali’I Zen Haven home on VRBO to host our backyard ceremony and reception. This is on the east side of Oahu, overlooking Kaneohe Bay with the Kualoa Ranch mountains in the background. Our colors were very neutral letting the beauty of Hawaii be our scenery and décor. My maid of honor and bridesmaid had light grey-blue dresses and our best man and groomsman wore dark deep blue suits from J. Hilburn, done for us by Kim Bonilla. Our floral, by Plant Hawaii, was done with all exotic local flowers which literally took my breath away with their beauty. For our pre and during ceremony music we hired a local classical guitarist, Kip McAtee, who learned acoustic versions of our favorite songs for our processional, first dance, father-daughter dance, and mother son dance. He sent us recordings to practice with and to treasure for years to come (such an incredible gift to have).
We used a local food truck, The Streatz, for catering allowing all our guests to order what and as much as they wanted that evening. My husband is the ultimate “cookie monster”, literally part of my vows was to bake him homemade treats and cookies for the rest of his life. So instead of the traditional wedding cake, we opted for a local company, Uncles Handmade Ice Cream, that makes homemade ice cream and cookie sandwiches. We hired black book bartending who did a “mimosa bar” per our request with assorted Hawaiian juices that were a big hit with our guests. For our reception entertainment, we hired a local artist, Jeff James, that we saw one night at a happy hour in Waikiki. We loved his style and music so we just asked if he would like to sing at our reception. We are so happy he branched out and did because our guests had a blast requesting songs and spending the evening in our backyard celebrating our new marriage. Our wedding was the perfect intimate backyard Hawaiian wedding that we dreamed of!