A California couple spent a decade waiting for the right moment to get married. When they found the ideal locale in Hawaii, they knew it was time to ride off into the sunset together.
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Lian and Erween
When it comes to romance, Lian Somali and Erween Tangunan aren't exactly impetuous. The two met in 2005 through their jobs at Loma Linda University, in Southern California, where Erween still works as a clinical lab scientist in the school's medical center. They had more than just their workplace in common—both are of Filipino descent and are practicing Seventh-day Adventists—and being around each other felt natural from the start, says Lian. But neither was looking for love, and it took two years for friendship to turn into something more. In 2011, after four years of dating, Erween invited Lian to watch the sunset on a Santa Monica beach and handed her a box of cupcakes iced with letters that spelled out "Will you marry me?" She said yes immediately, and that was the only speedy thing about their engagement, which lasted ... almost another four more years.
"Our friends were like, 'Are you getting married?'" says Lian, laughing. Though being engaged was enough for a while, the couple began to realize that it was time to "move on to the next place in our lives," says Lian, and they started discussing where to make it official. "We wanted a destination, maybe Bali or Italy, but those were so far away," she says. They finally settled on Maui, which they had once visited together. Lian recalled reading about Haiku Mill, a more than 150-year-old ruin, now a wedding venue, and they decided, "Let's do this!" she says. Just four months later, 60 loved ones watched as the couple stood under trailing orchid blooms at the historic sugar mill and were married in a Seventh-day Adventist ceremony.
The pair had ultimately planned their March 23, 2015, nuptials quickly; still, every detail was packed with meaning. That included the music during the ceremony, when, as Lian walked down the aisle, "Erween surprised me by singing Adele's 'Make You Feel My Love,' and tears came to my eyes," she recalls. It was also true of the décor: Lian incorporated elements from Indonesia, where her father was raised and she spent childhood summers. On a trip to Bali, her dad commissioned chandeliers, chargers, and flower vessels, made from local capiz shells, all of which got held up in customs. "It was such a relief when the crates finally arrived in time for the wedding," says Erween—and a reminder that truly special moments are well worth the wait.
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Lian and Erween wanted a tropical motif for their event, "but not a typical Hawaiian-wedding look," says Lian. Instead of the usual bright prints, they chose a palette of muted jade and pink with gold highlights, and focused on two motifs: green palm leaves and the ever-present pineapples.
Julie Song, a Bay Area illustrator and calligrapher, designed a letterpressed and digitally printed suite with jade-green palm leaves and ferns, pink blossoms, and green and gold fonts.
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Pineapples To Go
Welcome gifts were traditional pu'olo, which means bundle in Hawaiian. Little baskets wrapped in green Ti leaves and adorned with a flower contained local treats.
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Soft Pink Boutonnieres
A tropical leaf, calligraphed with the groom and his guys' names, was used to present the spray rose, fotinia, and oregonia boutonnieres.
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A Leaf-Patterned Pillow
Playing up the local flora, the ring pillow and table runners had a palm-frond motif.
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A leaf also topped bags of rose petals for guests to toss.
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Orchids All Around
Orchid leis were strung from Haiku Mill's overhead vines and draped over chairbacks, adding a special touch to the venue, which dates back to 1861.
"I was concentrating hard because I haven't sung solo in 15 years. Then I watched her walk down the aisle, and I was just filled with emotion," Erween says of singing the processional song to Lian.
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"I was pretty sure I wanted a Monique Lhuillier gown—although I gave other designers a look, too—and the third one of hers I tried on felt perfect," says Lian. "People kept commenting on how well the dress, with its lace-leaf pattern, matched Haiku Mill." Lian also couldn't decide whether to wear a veil, and her sister offered hers, just in case. On the day of, she opted to don it for the ceremony.
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Pineapple Escort Cards
"We love pineapples!" says Lian; the pair celebrated the fruit on escort cards and vases.
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A Tropical Drink
Two mocktails were served at the reception: "Summer Schooled," a watermelon-and-lime cooler, and "Caught in the Rain," a twist on a fresh-squeezed piña colada.
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A Tropically-Set Table
Menus handwritten in gold ink on oversize die-cut palm fronds served as menus and played off the patterned runners. Each table was set with centerpieces of white roses and local foliage and blooms, including king proteas, photinias, and kupukupu ferns.
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Dinner Under the Stars
Haiku Mill's open-air reception space was lit with 12 capiz-shell chandeliers imported from Indonesia. In addition to the light fixtures, 80 capiz chargers were also brought over from Asia—though there was a minor snafu with customs and they almost didn't make it to Hawaii.
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The Wedding Cake
Pink roses and white anemones adorned the guava- and-pineapple-flavored cake layered with Bavarian cream filling.
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The newlyweds danced to "Thinking Out Loud," by Ed Sheeran.
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Pink paper leaves calligraphed with the sizes of the teal flip flops they were attached to kept in the style of the wedding and kept guests dancing comfortably.
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A fire knife dancer performed at the reception.
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Location: Haiku Mill
Event Production and Design: Lisa Vorce CO
Catering: Maui Executive Catering
Flowers and Décor: Teresa Sena Designs
Photography: Corbin Gurkin
Officiant: Pastor Lewis Gray of the West Covina Hills Seventh-day Adventist Church
Stationery and Calligraphy: Julie Song Ink
Cake: Cake Fanatics
Bride's Gown: Monique Lhuillier
Bride's Shoes: Jimmy Choo
Hair and Makeup: MeiLi Autumn Beauty
Bridesmaids' Dresses: Jenny Yoo
Flower Girl Dresses: Giselle's Boutique
Groom's Ensemble: The Black Tux
Menswear: The Black Tux
Transportation: V.I.P. Trans
Bar Services: Garnish Craft Cocktail Catering
Cookies: Honolulu Cookie Company
Fire Dancer: Manutea Nu E
Travel Concierge: Life:Styled