The Offbeat Bride: Kelley, Finance and Sustainability Guru
Her offbeat partner: Michael
Date and location of wedding: Makapu'u Point, Oahu, Hawai'i — January 24, 2013
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We eloped! We jetted from Boston to Oahu, telling our nearest and dearest that this was a vacation to celebrate my finishing grad school. While that was true, it definitely wasn't the only reason why we headed out to Hawai'i.
Before we ran off, we did our best impression of dwarves and forged each other's wedding bands. The forging took most of a day and gave us a chance to incorporate both our geeky passions and loving intentions towards each other into the physical symbol of our union.
We didn't have a formal reception, and went off to a local udon noodle joint after calling our family and friends with the news. When we returned to the mainland, various loved ones threw us what turned out to be a small series of celebrations, so the festivities ended up stretching out over the course of six weeks or so. These ended up being perfect, giving us the chance to share the experience with everyone we would have invited had we held a reception, while preserving an intimate, low-key vibe.
Tell us about the ceremony: The ceremony itself was short, intimate, and chock-full of nerdy references. We wrote our own vows and didn't reveal them until the ceremony which was insanely difficult for us to do. As a nod to the site of our wedding, we exchanged leis. The ceremony also featured three solos by our hired ukulele player.
Mike's mother made us a special dinner when we returned to Massachusetts, during which we performed a streamlined version of a tea ceremony.
Our biggest challenge: The most difficult thing to manage was keeping the whole thing a secret. We were engaged for an entire year, and our loved ones were none the wiser. Mike and I are the type of people who will routinely give you your birthday present six months in advance because it's awesome and we want you to enjoy it RIGHT NOW! So a year-long, clandestine betrothal probably used up every ounce of our collective restraint and is a feat that's not likely to be repeated.
Our overly excitable tendencies aside, the biggest challenge was the weather! You'd think, being in Hawai'i and all, that this would be the least of our worries, but Mother Nature seemed hell-bent on tossing some atmospheric confetti our way. The first leg of our flight out to Hawai'i was cancelled after 10 inches of snow fell on Boston mere hours before we were scheduled to take off.
However, as New Englanders, we were prepared for this sort of thing to unfold in late-January and set Plan B into motion. Plan B involved a train ride around the storm to New York City, spending a night with my unsuspecting soon-to-be mother-in-law, then catching our flight out to Honolulu the next morning.
The morning of our wedding gave us a crash course in island meteorology. Word to the wise: just because it's bright and sunny over where you are does not mean that's the case for the entire island. The location for our ceremony had to be moved twice to avoid sudden showers. Upon arriving at the second site only to be met with driving Pacific rain, I found myself struggling to keep it together. One site move? No big deal. But, as time went on, found myself pouring over the details of our contract with the planning company with increasing anxiety. What if we had to cancel completely? Could we get any of our money back? Would we reschedule or just rush out to whatever Justice of the Peace would take us?
It was at that moment, huddled in the back of our limo half an hour after our ceremony was to have started, that Mike reminded me why I was marrying him in the first place. Taking my hands in his, he said, “Rain or snow or zombie apocalypse, we're getting married today and that's all that matters.”
Five minutes later, our planner popped in to tell us that he'd found a new spot that the rain had yet to intrude upon, so off we went!
My favorite moment: Michael: The most meaningful moment for me came during the ring forging. I spent those eight or so hours trying to pour myself into that little strip of metal. Every hammer tap and pass with the torch came with its own mental mantra, like this was representative of not only my love for Kelley, but the work that I was willing to put into our marriage. It was like Sauron with the One Ring only… you know… with love and devotion instead of evil.
Me: I did similar mental outpourings during both the ring forging and making my bouquet. Something about being intensely focused on a physical amalgam of all the goodness of the past, the anticipation in the present, and our intentions for the future made for excellent preparation for the ceremony.
As for the wedding itself, the most meaningful moment came immediately after the pronouncement and nuptial smooching. We just held each other, leaning in forehead to forehead, overwhelmed with joy and it seemed like everything else just faded into the background for a minute. It was surreal, entirely unanticipated and, after holding it together for the entire ceremony, made me bawl like a little girl.
Both of us: Also, getting to hear people's surprised, mostly super-happy responses to our news was amazing in itself. It was like getting a big psychic hug from thousands of miles away.
My funniest moment: After making more phone calls than either of us had made in our lives up until that point, we headed out into downtown Honolulu to what had become our food staple while we were on Oahu: Marukame Udon. The food is incredible, but the restaurant itself is a simple take-out noodle house, so we were a little out-of-place strolling in wearing our fancy wedding duds. Placing our order went a little something like this:
Maker of noodles: You guys look very nice.
Mike: Yeah, we just got married.
Maker of noodles: Wow! Really? And you came here? That's a first. We've got our first wedding reception!
Some of the other staff, overhearing this, then broke into applause.
Another awesome moment came about during our first married kiss. We heard a smattering of cheers and claps from what seemed like the ocean and turned around to see a cluster of surfers who had paddled over to watch the ceremony. We smiled and waved. In return, we received several shakas and calls of “right on man!”
Have you been married before and if so, what did you do differently? I'd been married once before (this is Mike's first marriage) and, while my first wedding was fun and lovely, it was also full of concessions and ended up being more WICish than I would have liked.
With this wedding, there was no doubt that eloping was the way to go and, since it was just the two of us, we had considerable leeway to create an experience that delivered all of what we needed and nothing that we didn't.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Eloping definitely isn't for everyone, but give it some consideration if you've even flirted with the idea. It's generally low-stress while still packing in all the emotion and meaning you'd expect of a non-elopement wedding.
If you do decide to elope, sit down with your partner and hammer out a plan for how you'll deliver the news to your friends and family. The giddy, euphoric state you may find yourself in post-ceremony isn't the best for laying out the logistics of calling or trying to determine exactly who you need to get a hold of. Having a plan and a list of contact information not only makes this process easy, but helps ensure that you don't accidentally forget someone.
Speaking of pre-emptive logistics, have a back up plan with regard to travel arrangements, particularly if there's at least one ocean between you and your destination.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Planning company: A Hawaii Wedding. They were amazing, and took care of all the vendors and arrangements from six time zones away!
- Dress: A custom creation by Chrissy Wai Ching
- Michael's Suit: Men's Wearhouse
- Rings: Made with help from A Wedding Ring Experience
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Comments on Kelley & Michael’s beachside Hawai’ian elopement (with ring forging!)
Nani! The clapping during your first kiss made me tear up a bit.
And I love your dress! I didn’t know Wai Ching came in short models like that… *running off to check website*
Thanks so much! (love your screen name by the way)
Chrissy is just flat-out amazing and she’s up for pretty much any customizations you’d want to make. You can either start out with one of her long bridal gowns and have her adjust the skirt or add things to items from her dresses collection. I did the latter and had Chrissy make her Belize dress in a custom length and color palette. She’s so easy to work with, even if you’re thousands of miles away. I can’t recommend her enough!
I like the suit so much…..
*sniffle* the ring forging was so cute!
This wedding was so lovely and basically my dream! The bf and I have talked of eloping many times and I’d love to do it in a secluded place like this. I love the low-keyness of the whole thing and that you guys had your reception at a little noodle joint(that food looks amazing!) It’s very clear that the couple loves one another very deeply and there is just so much meaning and intimacy in this elopement. I love it!
Awww. Thanks so much! Eloping can be an incredible option and is definitely worth some consideration. It was so low-stress and allowed each of us to be 100% present throughout the entire day.
At first, when I saw the photo with the udon in it, I thought the cup in the photo was a McDonalds cup. I was like “Where in the hell does McDonalds serve udon? I must know!” Then I came to my senses.
Great photos. Thanks for sharing.
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