This Couple Put Two of Hawaii's Best Features—Its Palm Trees and Cuisine—on Display at Their Oceanside Wedding
After a dating app brought them together in February of 2017, Azuki and Sam had a memorable first date with drinks, dinner, and live music. Exactly one year later, Sam decided to recreate their first date and propose to Azuki—but he ended up straying from his plan and popping the question at their London home over breakfast instead. "It was probably for the best as I couldn't stop crying with happiness for a long time!" Azuki says. While Sam proposed with his great grandmother's engagement ring, the pair later designed another one together.
With family in Japan, South America, the United States, and New Zealand, the couple decided to host their wedding in Hawaii, a location both Sam and Azuki enjoyed visiting growing up. With a ceremony overlooking the ocean and a tented reception underneath the palm trees, the color palette was kept neutral to keep all the focus on the lush surroundings.
A "smart casual" dress code allowed their 96 guests to skip the ties and floor-length gowns and embrace the laid-back paradise vibes. The casual event—which unfolded on the couple's anniversary, February 4, 2017, on Lanikuhonua Beach in Oahu—however, was full of surprises, thanks to the duo's planning team at Moana Events. The couple had full trust in their planners—they didn't even visit Hawaii while they were preparing for their big day.
Azuki and Sam wanted their invitations to reflect the island feel of Hawaii without using cliché tropical colors. They worked with Ink & Press to illustrate anthurium and hibiscus flowers in gray, a detail that was also seen on the menus. An illustrated map of Oahu was also included, and the suite was tied together with a soft pink silk ribbon and a unique wax seal.
Lanikuhonua actually boasts two wedding venues—Azuki and Sam opted to reserve both of them. "We didn't want to risk having another wedding taking place at the same time that would disturb ours," explains the bride. "It would also allow us to have separate spaces for the reception, cocktail hour, and dinner, so there was a 'wow' factor when guests walked [from one place to the next]," Azuki says.
All the Girls
The bride tried on about 20 wedding dresses at The Wedding Club in Knightsbridge, England, before falling in love with a lace Berta gown. The form-fitting dress featured a plunging illusion neckline; a cathedral veil, also by Berta, gave her look the ultimate bridal feel. Her mom's earrings and strappy heels from Stuart Weitzman completed her ensemble.
Here, Azuki is pictured with her mother, wearing a traditional hanbok, and her sister, the maid of honor.
Garden Flower Bouquet
Azuki's bouquet included a mix of garden flowers, like sweat peas, tulips, ranunculus, and garden roses, all tied together with a silk ribbon.
The Groom in Blue
Sam wore a custom blue suit from Thom Sweeney with a white shirt and a pair of cuff links that were a gift from his brother.
The Wedding Party
In addition to Azuki's sister, the couple's wedding party was comprised of two bridesmaids and one bridesman, along with Sam's three groomsmen and his older sister, who served as his best woman. The bridesmaids wore long pink dresses from Revolve, while the groomsmen matched Sam in navy suits. Azuki's male attendant wore a nude suit; Sam's sister donned a navy dress that matched the bridesmaids' in style, but the groomsmen's suits in color.
During the ceremony, Azuki walked down the aisle, accompanied by her sister, to Ed Sheeran's "Perfect" performed on ukulele.
A Modern Backdrop
The couple exchanged vows under a contemporary gold wire wedding arch that was covered in anthurium. The ocean also served as a stunning backdrop.
To shield guests from direct sunlight, Azuki and Sam provided parasols, which several attendees utilized during the service.
A Bilingual Officiant
The couple's ceremony—which was not religious—kicked off at 4 p.m. "We had an officiant who was also able to speak Japanese, which was great for my family who had traveled from Japan," explains Azuki.
The Cocktail Hour
Cocktail hour took place in front of the ocean, where guests enjoyed passed appetizers like fresh ahi poke in mini waffle cones and mini duck tacos. The couple hired a local musician, John Riviera, to play island music while guests visited the bar or ordered drinks from servers.
Setting the Bar
Muted florals dressed up the white bar, which was draped with a sign that listed out the evening's libations.
The Escort Cards
Guests found their escort cards on a mauve display decorated with a greenery garland. The custom printed notes featured a champagne-hued wax seal, a detail that first appeared on the invitations.
Into the Tent
Post-cocktail hour, attendees moved to a white sailcloth tent that was adorned with thousands of twinkle lights for the reception.
A Unique Setup
The couple's planners came up with the idea to set up the reception tables in two large X-shapes around the tent poles, allowing guests to face each other. The beams were wrapped with greenery garlands and pale pink roses.
Take Your Places
The couples chose gray linens with matching gauze runners for the tables. Pops of gold were incorporated through the silverware and gold-rimmed glassware. Timeless white plates held menus tied in elegant pale pink ribbon.
A Hawaiian Menu
Local Hawaiian ingredients were highlighted throughout the dinner menu. The meal started with a salad topped with poached pears and local vegetables; for the entrée, guests chose between miso Chilean sea bass with pickled vegetables or deconstructed beef Wellington with mashed Hawaiian taro. When it came time for dessert, guests enjoyed a white chocolate gelato heart with fresh guava coulis. "The food was amazing—our guests are still talking about it!" Azuki says.
Between courses, the couple snuck onto the beach with their photographer to take advantage of golden hour and a sunset backdrop.
A Simple Cake
In addition to the dessert offered with dinner, Azuki and Sam also offered guests slices of a three-tiered white wedding cake decorated with a soft ribbon, a simple orange bloom, and a "Mr. and Mrs." cake topper.
As a surprise for the newlyweds, their family (Azuki's mom, included!), friends, and bridal party planned a flash mob to hits from The Greatest Showman. The couple's planners also worked with Azuki in the months leading up to the wedding to shock Sam by bringing in a group to perform the traditional New Zealand haka dance—a meaningful gift for the kiwi groom.
The After-Party Send-Off
Guests joined the happy couple at the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina for an after-party that lasted until 1 a.m. The couple then jetted off to Vietnam for their honeymoon.
Photography, O'Malley Photographers
Event planning and Design, Moana Events
Videography, Elysium Productions
Catering, Chef Chai
Flowers, Mandy Grace Designs
Stationery, Ink & Press Co.
Bride's Gown, Berta
Hair and Makeup, Cheryl Hazelgrove
Bridesmaids' dresses, Revolve
Groom's attire, Thom Sweeney
Cake, A Cake Life