Janet Mock knew by her third date with Aaron Tredwell that she'd found the One, so five years later, when he got down on one knee in their New York City apartment, she immediately said yes. Then it hit her: While she was more than ready for marriage, when it came to planning the wedding, the 32-year-old TV host, activist, and trans woman was at a loss. "I struggled to imagine what my big day would look like because I'd never let myself believe I'd have one," she says. "I never imagined I'd be a bride." Aaron, on the other hand, had no doubt this day would come for her. "I know she felt that way, and I say it's ridiculous," he says. "I'm the lucky one in this relationship. I'll be forever grateful that she chose me."
Janet prowled Pinterest, soaked up wedding magazines, and asked friends for tips on prioritizing. And as the couple started thinking about their day, their visions aligned: Both wanted an intimate, fun-filled bash near Janet's hometown in Hawaii. Seven months later, 76 guests joined them at Hale Koa, a private estate overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Laie, on Oahu, for their November 5, 2015, ceremony. Keep reading to a sneak peek at their day, as captured by Maui Maka Photography, and shared exclusively in the April/May 2016 issue of BRIDES, on sale now!
The bride wore a stunning gown, custom made by Amsale. The designer, who was moved by Janet's memoir Redefining Realness was thrilled to create her wedding dress — and the two completely understood each other's vision. "When Janet told me she wanted the skirt to be like a waterfall, I immediately saw the cascading layers of tulle," Amsale says.
Aaron looked sharp in his navy blue suit.
A string quartet played Beyoncé's "Halo" as Janet walked down the aisle, cueing tears from the bride, groom, and pretty much everyone in attendance. "I was a puddle before she was a quarter of the way down the aisle," says Aaron.
After exchanging vows officiated by one of their close friends, Janet and Aaron mingled with their guests on the beachfront lawn, sat for a classic Hawaiian meal of kalua pig and Spam musubi, and hit the dance floor, which was packed until the very end.
For dessert, the crowd enjoyed coconut, devil's food, and yellow butter wedding cake.
But the day resonated far beyond the party. "Having our family and friends in one place and so happy together, that's why you throw a wedding. That's why you spend the money and stress over the details," Janet says. "But there was an importance to this day that was about more than just exchanging vows. We wanted to show other girls growing up like I did that they can dream of a day when they'll be the bride."
For the best wedding dresses, advice, and big-day inspiration — plus more exclusive photos from Janet and Aaron's wedding — pick up the BRIDES April/May 2016 issue today.
Looking for more tropical wedding inspiration? Then check out another couple's Hawaiian wedding in the video below.