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In the hierarchy of pickup lines, “Howzit, sista?” wins the award for Best Use of Hawaiian Slang. (And yes, we may have just invented that award.) The recipient of this distinguished title is Glee’s triple threat Matthew Morrison, who tried it on model Renee Puente when he overheard her speaking pidgin at a Hollywood party in 2011. He was familiar with the Hawaiian dialect from summers of singing backup to Don Ho, and she grew up on Oahu. “When he came up to me, I had no idea who he was,” Renee says. “I just started laughing because it was so adorable to see this cute white boy talking pidgin.”
They talked some more—this time, in plain old English—and after two years of dating, a month of which was spent on a bus as Matthew toured for his new album, he tearfully proposed in Maui with a sapphire-and-diamond ring. With the islands being such a big part of their story already, the pair began planning an intimate three-day modern luau that included a welcome dinner, a sunset cruise, and on the last day, their nuptials on a private estate.
However, even the best lei plans often go awry. Hurricane Ana rolled past Hawaii the exact weekend of their wedding, causing an emerald sunset the night of the cruise (“It was phenomenal,” Matthew says) but a total downpour on their wedding day, October, 18, 2014. Luckily (or fatefully), “the moment my mom and I walked down the aisle, it stopped raining,” Matthew recalls. The storm paused for the entire nondenominational ceremony while the pair exchanged self-penned vows and walked up a lavender-rose-petaled aisle to Pharrell Williams’s “Happy.” During the reception, where 43 guests sat at farm tables to enjoy kalbi short ribs, misoyaki cod, huli huli chicken, and fried rice, the weather continued to cooperate. Not a single drop fell as Matthew surprised his bride by playing the ukulele and singing her late mom’s favorite song, “Top of the World,” by The Carpenters. (There were plenty of teardrops, though.) And in a wedding-day miracle, “The rain held off until the band said, ‘Okay, thank you, good night!’” Matthew says. “I can’t even tell you how perfect it was.”
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A Postcard-Like Setting
After Matthew proposed in Maui, the couple chose the island to be the backdrop to their chic Hawaiian celebration. “We wanted a slower pace, and Maui is a great mix of touristy and natural beauty,” Matthew says.
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Travel-themed invites by Details Design Studio outlined the three-day event’s activities.
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All About That Lace
Renee found inspiration for her Gustavo Cadile gown on Pinterest, then visited the designer, who custom-made it. “We looked through thousands of lace fabrics,” Renee says. “But the first one I saw was the one we ended up going with. It was so beautiful.”
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Renee’s bouquet was composed of garden and spray roses, café au lait dahlias, scabiosas, clematis, veronicas, millet, and bay leaves.
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Matthew designed the sapphire-and-diamond engagement ring himself with the help of The Diamond Source in San Diego. “I didn’t realize it until after the fact, when people started to say, ‘It looks like Kate Middleton’s ring,’ that, oh yeah, it does!’”
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The Bridal Party
Renee’s two sisters were bridesmaids, along with other pals; Matthew chose close buds for his crew. “By the day of the wedding, everyone was lifelong friends,” Renee says.
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The Bridesmaids’ Bouquets
Each of Renee’s bridesmaids held a grouping of lisianthus, irises, blue curiosa roses, ocean song roses, maidenhair fern, and scabiosa pods. The colors reflected the bride’s favorite shade, lavender.
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The Sound of What’s to Come
A blown conch shell marked the official beginning of the ceremony.
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“As a little girl, I would make my dad buy me bridal magazines,” Renee says of her father, who walked her down the aisle to “Feels Like Home” by Chantal Kreviazuk. “I was always that girl who dreamt of her wedding until I got older, and then I didn’t want to get married anymore. But Matthew changed my world.”
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The Ceremony Setting
The ceremony arch bloomed with roses, lisianthus, veronicas, passion vines, eucalyptus, and olive branches.
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During the emotional ceremony, Matthew pulled out a handkerchief he had embroidered with Renee’s married initials, “RMM,” to wipe her tears.
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The Flower Girl
Renee’s niece tossed rose petals as she walked down the aisle in a dress from FlowerGirlsCouture.
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After exchanging vows, the pair recessed up the rose-lined aisle to Pharrell Williams’s “Happy.”
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Guests sipped on La Puente Calientes (a jalapeño martini) and Morrison Mai Tais during cocktail hour.
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A hurricane may have dampened the island, but not the guests’ spirits—nor the actual ceremony, for that matter. “It rained all day long,” Matthew says. “But the moment my mom and I walked down the aisle, it stopped. And the rain held up until the band said, 'Okay, thank you, good night!' Then—boom—it started pouring again.”
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At each reception table, wooden bowls held arrangements of purple hydrangea, scabiosa pods, irises, lisianthus, ranunculus, campanula, clematis, allium, and roses.
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Hand-painted signs, olive branches, and lace marked the pair’s dinner spots.
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“We were just hoping we’d get our moves right,” Matthew says of their hula at the reception. “And we did!”
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All of the wedding’s festivities—from Thursday’s welcome dinner to Saturday’s reception—took place at a private estate right on the beach in Kihei.
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Event Planning: Kevin Covey Wedding & Event Coordination
Catering: Celebrations Catering
Event and Floral Design: Inviting Occasion
Videography: Perryfield Films
Photo Booth: Epic Entertainment Hawaii
Stationery: Details Design Studio
Music: Crazy Fingers
Conch Shell Blower and Hula Dancers: Manutea Nui E
Bride’s Gown and Veil: Gustavo Cadile
Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Bebe
Flower Girl Dress: FlowerGirlsCouture
Groom’s and Groomsmen’s Suits: Brooks Brothers
Lighting: Epic Lighting
Transportation: Roberts Hawaii
Child Care: The Nanny Connection