It was as much for sentimental reasons as it was for sublime tropical surroundings that Nicole and Marshall chose the Big Island of Hawaii for their wedding. Marshall had been born and raised there, but he hadn't been back in eight years, and Nicole had never been there. He was excited to share his personal knowledge of the island: "my old school, special places I knew," he says.
The San Francisco residents chose not to visit before the wedding, and instead hired Big Island wedding planner Stephanie Shipp of Pacific Coast Host to help put it all together at Honuala'i, a private estate. "I wanted the experience of seeing it all for the first time," says Nicole, so she communicated her vision for her dream wedding to Stephanie through pictures from magazines. "Stephanie was wonderful," Nicole says. "Every aspect was exactly what I wanted."
They began with a signature color, purple and a palm-tree logo, and built from there. Nicole, who kept her makeup and hair simple, honored Marshall's request that she follow the Hawaiian custom of wearing a native flower in her long brunette tresses. The ceremony, too, included myriad ways to celebrate the aesthetics of the Big Island: a traditional Hawaiian lei ceremony, a petal toss, a butterfly release and beautiful slack-key guitar music. The reception for 50 family members and friends that followed offered a bounty of local fresh seafood. —Gerit Quealy
Learn from Nicole and Marshall
Invite Everyone: Don't discount people you think won't be able to make it, "You'll be surprised at who decides to come," says Nicole.
Hire a Wedding Planner: The couple calls this their best decision. "We stayed within out budget and didn't have to worry about anything," notes Marshall
Roll Out the Welcome Mat:The welcome bags—filled with Hawaiian treats as well as playing cards and hats personalized with the couple's names and their wedding date—which greeted guests at hotel check-in, were a big hit.
Take the Frusteration out of Booking Flights: The couple found that using a single travel agent to organize everyone's comings and goings made the destination-wedding planning process so much easier.