Everything about this wedding is just so beautiful, from Nicole’s gorgeous dresses, to the flowers, to the incredible location – it’s just a absolute treat to be sharing it with you today. Having family based all over the world, Nicole and Ben decided that a wedding at the North Shore in Hawaii was the perfect place for them, as Nicole had spent lots of her childhood there. Nicole is clearly a very stylish and creative lady, and she has managed to combined a lush, wild, and romantic theme with subtle nods to her Asian heritage and the couple’s love of travel. The whole look is simply stunning and I’ve been swooning over the floral arrangements for hours while putting this feature together.
Nicole sadly lost her Mum as a teenager and so the couple decided to honour her mother’s Chinese heritage with a traditional Chinese lion dance to surprise their guests, and you can see from the images that that was a truly magical moment.
We’re really excited to tell you that Nicole & Ben’s photographers, husband and wife duo Tupou Photography are actually relocating to the UK this summer, so do get in touch with them if you fall for their emotive and natural style.
Nicole the Bride: I looked high and low for a dress and had a really hard time finding something that was exactly what I wanted. I really wanted a backless simple lace dress for the wedding and something that would sparkle in the string lights at night during the reception. I ended up designing my own dresses and having them tailored. The wedding dress was a form fitting backless lace piece with a really long train that could be brought up and the ceremony dress had hand stitched beading on a champagne silk, something a little less traditional for the party! I kept my jewellery minimal and wore my gorgeous custom made gold engagement ring from Turgeon Raine jewellers in Seattle, they are known for their extremely dainty diamond bands and I love the contrast of my thin engagement band with the emerald cut centre diamond. My mother passed away when I was 18 so it was also really important for me to wear something of hers. I kept on a tiny gold bow ring that she gave to me for my sweet 16 (that I wear everyday) and also a pair of her diamond stud earrings. My shoes were gold block heel sandals from J. Crew so I wouldn’t sink into the grass.
Ben had his suit custom made by his tailor in the Brides hometown of Hong Kong Andover tailors. He chose a light colour to match with the beach and garden setting of the wedding. His navy blue silk tie is from Lanvin, and shoes are Salvatore Ferragamo. His watch was a surprise wedding gift from the Bride (given a week before the wedding) and it is a Rolex submariner.
We looked at a lot of venues on Oahu but Loulu Palm stood out for several reasons. We wanted a location to be a garden setting on the beach and we also really loved the location’s setting on the north shore of Oahu. The north shore is a very special place to us as we love the wild and lush beautiful nature there in direct contrast to the busy Waikiki area. Ben and I have spent a lot of time on the north shore before and we absolutely love the calm tranquility that comes with it, the giant waves crashing into the beach and the smooth imposing lines of the Koolau mountains behind us. This location let us introduce a part of Oahu that is so special to us to our guests. The specific location of Loulu Palm also allowed for spectacular sunsets.
I wanted rich vivid colours that were wild, romantic, and that could stand up in the beautiful green of Loulu Palm’s beach front garden. Coral is one of my favourite colours and I paired this with other pinks, navy, and gold (my favourite metal) for my colour scheme. I DIYed all decorative aspects of the wedding, bringing in a vintage Hmong Thai table runner in to represent the time I spent living in Thailand as a child and Ben and I’s love for travel. I also did all the calligraphy for the name tags at the tables and the chalkboards for food and table seating. I chose to write in a whimsical cursive to match my wild and romantic theme.
I went with Marie Blooms to fulfil my floral vision and she did an amazing job. I wanted the wedding to be lush, wild, and romantic but I also wanted it to be simple and elegant. Because of this I focused on flowers for most of my decorations. Marie created wild and loose floral arrangements using my favourite flowers of peonies and ranunculus, lots of eucalyptus. Everything was put into gold vases and even a gold cage at the cake table. For the ceremony we wanted something different from an arch and a little more wild. I chose to have arrangements that included bougainvilleas mixed with the peonies and wild greens in terra cotta pots on either side.
Ben and I are not very traditional so we planned a short ceremony. Surprisingly, it was one of the most heartfelt and one of my favourite parts of the wedding. We had a close mutual friend officiate and he told a lot of funny jokes about how our relationship has developed over the last 7 years. We also wrote our own vows.
We kept our guests entertained with a variety of lawn games during the cocktails portion of the wedding. They had fun playing giant Jenga, croquet, and cornhole. I am half Chinese and I grew up in Hong Kong as a child, I always wanted some type of Chinese traditional element in my wedding. As a surprise to all our guests (nobody knew except for us), we brought in Two Chinese lion dancers to celebrate and bless our wedding. This was in honour of my mother and a nod to the Chinese heritage from that side of my family. After dinner we opened the floor with our first dance to Frank Sinatra’s Old Black Magic.
Hawaii has a rich abundance of locally grown food. I wanted our wedding to have locally sourced organic fare that blended the Asian and western cultures of our families while incorporating the local foods of Hawaii. Hawaii itself is an island that blends many east and west traditions as it sits firmly between Asia and America. In the end it was a perfect meeting place for our diverse friends and family.
For the cocktail hour we had canapes: avocado egg rolls with cilantro honey cashew sauce, mini poke bowls (one of our favourite hawaiian foods), and tropical mango summer rolls with ginger pineapple Macadamia nut dressing. For dinner we wanted an intimate setting bringing everybody together on one long banquet table and serving everything banquet style under rows of twinkling cafe string lights. We served ginger macadamia nut tropical salad with mangoes, Thai noodles in coconut curry sauce, freshly grilled catch of the day with Thai pesto and lemongrass chili. For sides we offered okinawan purple sweet potatoes, coconut rice, and grilled local vegetables.
For drinks we wanted to serve beverages that were both local to our home in the pacific north west United States and local to Hawaii. We served local Waialua pop drinks in both traditional (cola, cream soda) and tropical (Iilikoi, pineapple, mango) flavours. We also served beer from a local brewery, kona brewing company. The pacific north west is known for its wine so we brought wine with us from Charles Smith wineries, a spectacular winery close to our home in Seattle. For our cake we chose to have a coconut cream cake from a famous local bakery down the street called Ted’s. It gave us the Hawaii flavor we wanted (and it is our favorite cake flavour) and we had it topped with peonies in the same style as all the florals. We also had a few vegans among our guests so we had a vegan toasted coconut cake made for them with a gold aloha cake topper from Etsy.
I searched high and low for photographers in Oahu that matched our style. We wanted someone who could capture all of the special moments of our wedding in a very specific style. Ez and Missy of Tupou Photography fit the bill and they certainly delivered.
We actually booked our videographer on a whim when I heard feedback from friends that they wish they had one at their weddings. I sought a videographer with a similar style as Ez and missy and found Seeking Films. Their teams attention to detail was amazing and they even brought a drone to shoot some gorgeous aerial footage of our wedding from above.