When John Barrett spotted Yuki Ijichi on the street in Osaka, Japan, he knew he had to stop and say hello. “He immediately turned around to introduce himself,” Yuki recalls of their encounter in February of 2012. “We ended up having late-night noodles with our two groups of friends, and John told me he’d be waiting for me at a train station the next morning, hoping he could see me again.” She showed up, and the couple, who now live in Hong Kong, dated for nearly six years before John proposed in Toyko's Yoyohi Park on December 24, 2017.
For their wedding, Yuki and John decided to plan a destination event that would bring all of their loved ones together, and John knew just the place. “My family has a home at the Makena Club on Maui, and it’s such a special place for us,” he explains. On August 18, 2018, John and Yuki invited 60 guests to join them there, where they wed overlooking the ocean and celebrated with an island-style dinner party.
Keep reading to see how the event came together with the help of Erica Goldsmith of Couture Events on the design and Wendy Laurel of Wendy Laurel Photography behind the lens. And fair warning: This wedding might just give the phrase "island romance" an entirely new meaning!
John and Yuki adore craft beer, so hop flowers made an appearance throughout the wedding design, as shown here on the invitation bellyband.
Yuki found her Winsome Lok gown while shopping with friends in Hong Kong. The mermaid dress featured a deep-V neckline and was made with intricate lace layered over blush lining. To complement her romantic gown, the bride carried a soft blush and ivory bouquet of spray roses, garden roses, and ranunculus. She also tucked a few matching blooms into her hair.
The groom selected a crisp blue suit, which he paired with classic brown oxford shoes.
The couple asked a local friend, Neil Makahiwa Thompson, to officiate their ceremony. “We wanted to pay respect to the Hawaiian islands with our ceremony, so used that as an opportunity to incorporate a lot of local culture,” explains the bride.
To create a sense of drama (and keep guests cool under the Maui sun!), a series of ivory canopies were arranged on either side of the aisle. Drapes and chairs were finished with sprawling garlands of greenery to add an additional touch of romance to the oceanside setting.
Yuki walked down the aisle with her father to meet John at the altar, which was accented with florals and framed by ceramic urns filled with more flowers. In keeping with Hawaiian culture, the groom chose to wear a garland of green maile leaves.
“We were so lucky to have guests travel from all over the world to be with us," says the bride, "Our friends came to Hawaii from New York, Japan, and China. We really wanted to share a weekend with them that was full of aloha spirit!”
Following the ceremony, the newlyweds slipped away for portraits on the beach while their guests enjoyed cocktail hour on a nearby lawn.
After snacking on passed bites (including three kinds of poké!) and tasting the couple's three signature cocktails, everyone found their dinner seating assignments on an oversized wooden escort card board. The display was flanked by arrangements of white roses and delphinium.
Dinner took place beneath a sailcloth tent and was set on a combination of round and rectangular tables in warm neutral tones. Each tabletop was decorated with arrangements of blush and ivory flowers in gilded compotes.
Tables were also covered with a combination of fabrics, such as sheer runners and velvet linens, to add an airy texture to the overall look. Textured napkins were topped with customized menus and a romantic sprig of ivy.
Dinner was an elegant take on local Hawaiian cuisine, from the poké selection at cocktail hour to the lobster tortellini and surf & turf dinner of grilled wagyu tenderloin and crispy snapper.
John and Yuki selected “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” by Johnny Cash for their first dance. It was, of course, a nod to the moment when John spotted Yuki in Osaka.
The couple’s simple white wedding cake was displayed beautifully in a shallow wooden bowl, then draped in fresh greenery. Inside, red velvet cake was paired with cream cheese filling and buttercream frosting.
After planning their destination wedding from thousands of miles away, Yuki had one piece of advice to share: “Choose your wedding planner wisely,” she says. "Pick someone who you can trust to bring your vision to life!”
Wedding Planner: Couture Events
Venue: Makena Golf & Beach Club
Bride's Dress: Winsome Lok
Hair & Makeup: Meili Autumn Beauty
Engagement Ring: Harry Winston
Wedding Bands: Harry Winston
Floral Design: Mandy Grace Designs
Catering: Makena Golf & Beach Club
Cake: Cake Fanatics
Ceremony Music: Howard Ahia
Reception Music: Shae Derrick Special
Photography: Wendy Laurel Photography