When Mai and Daniel first met in late 2007, they became fast friends—and even decided to be roommates in a summer house the following summer. “We spent a lot of time together, especially because our rooms were next door to one another,” says Mai. "By the end of the summer, we were dating.” The pair was together through their remaining college years, and in June of 2015, they decided they’d been together long enough and should just make it official. “Instead of a proposal, we invited 40 of our closest friends to our engagement party, and that was that!” says the bride.
With family and friends spread across Asia and the United States, choosing a central location for their May 6, 2017 wedding was easy: Oahu! “I grew up on the island, and my family still lives there,” says Mai. “Daniel’s family is from California, so it was close to them, as well.” Once they chose Oahu, they set out to give their 110 guests a truly Hawaiian experience. “Paliku Gardens at Kualoa Ranch had plenty of space for a ceremony with ocean views, as well as a reception next to the mountains as the stars twinkled above,” the bride explains.
They put an elegant twist on the tropical setting, using rose and ivory tones paired with palm leaves and punches of Hawaiian color. They infused their Japanese and Korean heritages, local island specialties, and a few “dangerous” cocktails to create a wedding celebration that was truly their own, planned by Moana Events and photographed by Kerry Jeanne Photography.
The couple’s invitation suite featured a map of Oahu that pointed out the island’s hotspots, from Waimea Bay to Waikiki—and the wedding venue, of course!
Mai found her ivory lace dress at BHLDN, and loved the way it fit her body. “I didn’t have a dress in mind as much as a feeling,” says the bride “I wanted something that would be perfect for an outdoor wedding in Hawaii, and this was it!” The sheer back and floral lace appliques gave a modern touch to the timeless style.
To fit the garden setting, Mai put her ‘maids in lavender floral print dresses from Jenny Yoo. The women carried small bouquets of roses.
The bride herself carried a bouquet of roses, peonies, and green anthurium. She tucked blush and ivory rosebuds into her chignon before topping them with a veil for the ceremony.
Signs decorated with pink roses and greenery led guests to the waterfront ceremony. The altar was set in a grove of palm trees, with the Pacific Ocean in the background. Rows of dark wooden chairs led to an arch of blush roses, orchids, and fern leaves.
The bride and her parents took a dramatic walk across the lawn, with the mountains of Oahu towering in the background.
Mai and Daniel used traditional vows, and the officiant—Hawaii’s former lieutenant governor, Duke Aiona—offered a Hawaiian prayer for a special touch.
A clear-top tent gave guests uninterrupted views of the property and the surrounding scenery. Whitewashed farm tables were paired with vineyard chairs, and tables featured low arrangements of ivory and pink roses in gold compotes. “We opted for gold-rimmed glass chargers, gold flatware, and nude napkins,” says Mai. “Each guest’s name was written in calligraphy on a piece of agate.”
The Asian-fusion menu, catered by MW Restaurant, included unagi and butterfish arancini, red wine and soy-braised short ribs, and chicken lumpia. As guests sipped Mai’s Mai Tai and Daniel’s Old Fashioned, they were treated to made-to-order hand rolls from the sushi chef.
White and pink roses and ranunculus were draped across the white cake. The three tiers featured chocolate and raspberry cake, lemon lilikoi (passion fruit) cake, and strawberry shortcake.
“Instead of a traditional first dance, I performed a hula for Daniel,” says Mai. The couple also had a troupe of hula dancers perform, complete with fire dancers and audience participation.
Wedding Planner: Moana Events || Venue: Kualoa Ranch || Bride's Dress & Veil: BHLDN || Hair & Makeup: Leslie Fair|| Bridesmaids' Dresses: Jenny Yoo|| Groom & Groomsmen's Attire: Men’s Wearhouse || Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands: Jangmi Jewelry || Floral Design: Passion Roots || Paper Products: Bradley and Lily || Catering: MW Restaurant, Gourmet Events Hawaii || Cake: Cake Works Hawaii|| Favors: Monkeypod Jam || Ceremony Music: Pacific String Quartet || Reception Music: Jeremy Cheng Music || Entertainment: Tahiti Productions || Rentals: Adorn Linens, Accel Party Rentals, Pacific Party Rentals, Steven Boyle Designs || Transportation: Royal Star || Videography: Fisheye Studio || Photography: Kerry Jeanne Photography