"We were strolling around Seattle one day," Diana Chang recounts of how her college sweetheart, Jerry Trac, proposed in their hometown. "And the next thing I knew, we were surrounded by all of our friends. Jerry handed me one of our Yorkies, who was wearing a T-shirt that read, 'Marry my daddy!'"
The engagement ring Jerry proposed with was as perfect for Diana as the proposal itself. "I love a square diamond," she says of her cushion-cut diamond ring from Single Stone jewelers in Los Angeles.
With the couple's families scattered throughout California, New York, Texas, and Taiwan, a destination wedding was on the horizon. Having always wanted to get married on the beach, Diana and Jerry found picture-perfect paradise on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. "Hawaii was the first vacation we ever took together as a couple, so it was a natural choice for our wedding," says the bride. The ceremony and reception were held on Oct. 4, 2011, at the Ocean Front Oasis Estates in Honolulu. "We figured if everyone had to travel, it might as well be to somewhere fun like Oahu."
Asking guests to travel was not as big of a challenge as Diana imagined it would be. "Don't underestimate how far people will travel for your wedding," she advises brides-to-be. "We never expected almost a hundred guests to say yes to Hawaii—we had to move to a bigger site to accommodate them all!"
Instead of a traditional white wedding gown, Diana chose a beach-appropriate empire-waist Beth Bowley for BHLDN dress covered in coral- and smoke-colored zinnia flowers. "We ended up planning the entire wedding around it!" says the bride. And it paid off: The romantic, vintage, and fun vibe of the wedding reflected Diana's casual, yet showstopping dress. "We wanted an authentic Hawaiian feel with vintage flair," she says.
A kahu (minister) officiated the Hawaiian ceremony, which included a traditional lei exchange between bride and groom. The ceremony decor was simple, so the focus would stay on the beauty of the natural oceanfront setting.
Diana's brother, Ed, escorted their mother to her seat during the ceremony.
Diana carried a hand-tied bouquet of pastel hydrangeas, roses, and ranunculus down the aisle. "We were careful to choose flowers that didn't clash with my wedding gown," she says. Her bridesmaids wore red Jenny Yoo dresses, which echoed the coral flowers in her gown.
The reception was held at the same picturesque spot as the ceremony. "The oceanfront location was so perfect, we decided to have the ceremony, cocktail hour, and dinner all in one place," says Diana.
But dinner, with its Hawaiian-inspired menu, was by far the most important piece of the puzzle, the bride says. When asked what the couple's biggest priority for the wedding was, Diana didn't hesitate with her answer. "Definitely food! We had a buffet with Pacific Rim options like blackened island fish and tropical salsa and braised kimchee beef—yum."
An old wash line displayed guests' table assignments. Delicate arrangements of garden roses, tulips, billy balls, and asters decorated the tables. The party's round table numbers were decorated with a sea-inspired sand-dollar pattern to reflect the surrounding environment.
As a creative personal touch (and cost-cutting method), Diana decided to have the tables decorated with macarons instead of traditional flower centerpieces. "Our wedding planner, Diana Caro-Salvador, knew that I love macarons, so she displayed them on cake stands as centerpieces," says the bride. "It helped cut down on our flower budget, but it took a while for guests to figure out that they could eat the table decorations!"
Wooden spice racks held bottles of local Waialua soda, which guests could sip from Mason jars.
After the meal, it was time to hit the dance floor. Diana got comfortable by slipping into a lightweight, lace-trimmed, white party dress by BCBG—and kicking off her Badgley Mischka heels the moment the dancing started.
The guests partied into the night. Diana's single-lady friends vied for her bouquet while some of the guys hit the cigar bar—but not before busting some unique moves. One of Jerry's friends got down low during a particularly fun dance number. "It's his signature move," says Diana.
While their friends had a blast, the couple found time for a quiet, romantic moment on the dance floor. "The last song was K-Ci and JoJo's 'All My Life,'" says the bride. "When the DJ played it, our friends and family surrounded us and sang along. We felt so loved."
Venue: Kathy Ireland Weddings—Ocean Front Oasis Estate, Oahu, Hawaii || Planner: Oahu Wedding || Stationery: September Press || Flowers: Watanabe Floral || Rentals: Royal Party Rentals || Catering: Gourmet Events Hawaii || Cake and macarons: Cakeworks || Ceremony music: Akahi Productions || Reception music: Troy Michael || Bridal gown: Beth Bowley exclusively for BHLDN || Bridal reception dress: BCBG || Bridesmaids: Jenny Yoo || Groom's suit: Banana Republic || Photography: Heather and Jon Almeda / One Love Photo" || Videography: Pixel Seattle