This intimate Kauai wedding was originally planned and organized by the incredible photography team at Eternal Tides Photography.
When things don’t go according to plan for my couples, my job is to always make sure that I got above and beyond. Planning a wedding is stressful! If I can help relieve some stress, that is everything to me.
Jessica and Brendan had booked Eternal Ties Photography for their wedding in Kauai. Unfortunately, the team at Eternal Ties got COVID! As a last minute pivot, I was able to cover for them. Jessica, Brendan, and I ended up having a lot in common!
Jessica and Brendan are from Canada. Their family friends own a beachfront house in Anahola, Kauai, which Jessica and Brendan were able to visit right before the pandemic. They were engaged during the pandemic, and had their hearts set on getting married in this gorgeous place once it was safe enough to. With their immediate family and closest friends in attendance, this beachfront Kauai wedding was wonderfully intimate.
Jessica had a heartfelt first look with her dad that morning, which was such a special moment! When their ceremony took place, Jessica’s dad was able to officiate, too. After vows were exchanged, it was time for champagne and mingling!
Jessica and Brendan then wanted to head to another spot for photos, just the two of them. It’s about a 45 minute drive to the North Shore! We set off to Hanalei Bay, and the Haena area.
Jessica and Brendan wanted to do something fun on the way to our photo location. Having a fun Hawaii snack was on their minds! At first, Hawaii had other plans.
The first fruit stand we made it to was closed, as well as the second. It started to rain in Hanalei Bay, making the shaved ice stand closed, too! We decided to head to the next town, searching for their Hawaiian snack. The shaved ice spot in this location had closed early, to enjoy the sunset. This is part of the beauty and wonderful culture of Hawaii! Sometimes, you have to be prepared for “island time”. “Island time” means that people are more laidback, go with the flow, and in no rush. We all need a dose of that from time to time!
When we made it to the beach, fresh coconuts were waiting for Jessica and Brendan! The two of them had coconuts cut fresh for them, complete with straws. I firmly believe that the Hawaiian Islands look out for you on special days. And this is an example!
Makua/Tunnels Beach was our last stop for photos. Locals ask that you not have wedding ceremonies at this location, due to its sacred nature. But this is a great location to enjoy and take a few photos while also being respectful. We were blessed with an awesome sunset at Makua/Tunnels, too!
We headed back to the Kauai beach house for their reception. This is where going above and beyond really plays a role with what I’m about. Jessica and Brendan’s wedding coverage was originally going to end sooner, but I wanted to make sure that they had all of the events of their wedding day captured! I was honored to be able to let them know I’d document their first dance.
There were torches set up around the dancing area, giving a dim atmosphere. Earlier that day, Jessica and Brendan had asked me if the torches were enough for lighting. I mentioned that it would probably be better for them if we brought in a few additional light sources, just in case.
Remember when we were exploring around the North Shore, looking for fruit stands and taking photos in the beautiful Kauai scenery? During that time, their loved ones hit up a Costco and set up more lighting for them. Isn’t that sweet?
Jessica and Brendan enjoyed a first dance together, along with parent dances. They would then spend the next few days honeymooning in Maui, and doing a catamaran tour on the Nā-Pali coast. I recommend everyone do that at least once! Such a fun Hawaii honeymoon experience. I’m also so excited to start offering honeymoon photos, since a lot of couples choose to honeymoon in Hawaii! Your Hawaii elopement or wedding coverage doesn’t have to end on your wedding day! You can have your honeymoon adventure documented too. Each moment you spend together is worth it!
Hair and Makeup: The Artists Co.
Dress: David’s Bridal
Kauai is one of my favorite places to shoot elopements and weddings. For Jennifer and Steven’s elopement in Kauai, they opted for dramatic cliffsides near Poipu.
Poipu is on the south side of Kauai, with a resort-like feel. Because it is the southern part of the island, it is usually drier here. But that was not the case for their elopement! It happened to be pouring the entire week leading up to Jennifer and Steven’s wedding, but that’s okay because everything worked out and rain is known as a “good luck” omen for weddings.
I picked Jennifer up after she had gotten ready, and we headed to the beach to meet Steven for their first look. With my eye on the Doppler radar, we were waiting for the perfect time! While the rain didn’t completely clear, it let up just enough for the two of them to have their first look together. After they had that special moment just the two of them, we wandered along the cliffs and forests for photos.
Family members soon joined us on the beach for their Kauai elopement ceremony, with Jennifer’s sister officiating. Once the ceremony finished, we snapped some family shots! And of course, right after the last few group photos of the day, it started pouring again.
I love the Poipu area of Kauai for elopements because you are never more than five minutes away from someplace epic! Read on for more of my Kauai elopement tips and info!
Hair/Makeup Company: Artists Co.
Hair/Makeup Artist: Mia Moriguchu
Florals: Blue Orchid Kauai
YOUR GUIDE TO ELOPING IN KAUAI
South Side of Kauai
In general, the south side of the island can be more resort-like and attracts the most tourists! Towns like Poipu, where you’ll find cute spots such as Living Foods– where you can grab some light bites & drinks. It’s super cute and has some unique grocery items inside along with an incredible brunch on the weekends! Want to grab dinner somewhere upscale? Try Beachhouse, which is great for a celebratory meal!
If you’re a Lilo and Stitch fan, this one is for you. The town of Hanapepe was the inspiration for the town in the movie! It can be a cute stop while you’re in the area. And before checking out some of south Kauai’s natural wonders, head to Warehouse 3540 in Lawai. It’s a fun little marketplace with shops and food trucks!
Things to Do on the South and West Side of Kauai
Kōkeʻe State Park/Waimea Canyon are amazing places to see. It’s like a smaller Grand Canyon in the middle of an island! You can drive through the whole thing, and stop to soak up the sights and various lookouts. Keep in mind that if it’s too cloudy, you won’t be able to see too far so keep an eye on the weather! Camping is a blast here, so don’t forget layers because it can get chilly at night! Usually it is drier and warmer and the beginning of the canyon, and wetter near the end (remember to bring your rain jacket!).
If you want to see the incredible mountains that make up this canyon from the shoreline, I highly recommend doing a boat tour. This is probably the most unique and incredible activity you can do while you are in Kauai and you won’t regret the breathtaking views. They are many different tours…from sunset catamaran tours that include a meal, snorkeling tours, or smaller boats that go into some of the caves. Regardless of the craft to get you there, it’s worth the trip! These tours depart year round from Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor on the west side of Kauai or from Hanalei only in the summer months on the north shore.
Places to Stay on the South Side of Kauai
You aren’t too far from the airport if you choose to stay near the east side of Kauai, which can be a plus. There are also a lot of cool hotels which can be more budget friendly. The most populated town in Kauai, Kapa’a, has a bunch of shops and places to stay. You might want to check out Fish Bar Deli, a cute restaurant in old town Kapa’a with incredible cocktails and food with local ingredients. If you’re looking for a hotel to stay at, the newly renovated Kauai Shores Hotel has a nice pool, lawn games, and is right next door to the Lava Lava Beach Club – where you can enjoy live music.
Things to Do on the East Side of Kauai
You will definitely want to stay near east/central Kauai if you are wanting to hike during your trip! This area is accessible to a lot of hikes, including Sleeping Giant. This area of the island is your go-to for so many outdoor activities! And soaking in the beauty of Kauai is never a bad idea.
Places to Stay on the East Side of Kauai
North Shore of Kauai
The North Shore is the go-to area for those seeking a natural Kauai experience. With more rain on this part of the island than others, that leads to lush jungles and beautiful greenery. You’ll find staggering cliffs and mountains near towns such as Princeville. You can even see waterfalls from mountaintops where it’ll be raining at the summit, but sunny near the base. So cool! The area of Hanalei Bay is another place that is really neat to explore. Find cute coffee shops nearby such as Trilogy Coffee in Kilauea or Hanalei Bread Co. You’ll find my favorite hidden gem, Palate Wine Bar, up in the North Shore, too! The have yummy flatbread pizzas, an amazing assortment of wines and beer, pasta, salads, and cheese boards. Delicious!
Things to Do on the North Shore of Kauai
The North Shore is a great place to learn how to surf, so why not take a surfing lesson? This is a really popular activity for visitors. Keep in mind that you want to be as respectful of the locals as possible: obey parking signs near the beach, drive slowly and safely. The North Shore draws a lot of visitors, so we need to make sure we treat the area with respect.
Another fun thing to do on the North Shore is visit the gorgeous Hāʻena State Park. You’ll totally want to hike Kalalau trail, but remember that reservations are required and I strongly recommend taking the Go Hāʻena shuttle to get to the park.
Places to Stay on the North Shore of Kauai
There you have it – your ultimate guide to the gorgeous island of Kauai! Can’t wait to help you plan your Hawaiian elopement in this slice of paradise.
Amber and Ronnie came all the way from California to get married in Hawaii! This Big Island wedding was such a special event.
Both Amber and Ronnie stayed at the Wyndham in Kona, where they got ready on the morning of their big day. Their first look was so cool! They didn’t want to see each other before their wedding ceremony, so they stood back to back to share a moment together. Holding hands, the two of them read letters to each other. After this emotional first look, it was time for their wedding ceremony!
Amber and Ronnie got married at an oceanside church called Living Stones Church in Kona, HI. With their dog Blue acting as the ring bearer, their ceremony began.
Pastor Andrew was awesome. You could really tell he cared about the two of them, and kept them calm with a good sense of humor. Their wedding ceremony was lighthearted yet still intentional and emotional!
After their wedding ceremony, everyone headed to Papa Kona for the reception!
Papa Kona has amazing food, and views of Kailua Bay in Kona because it’s located upstairs.
I love this venue – you can get married at Papa Kona, or just have your reception there like Amber and Ronnie did! Papa Kona’s team makes wedding planning a breeze with their on-site event coordinator and custom packages to fit your vision of your Hawaii wedding.
Amber and Ronnie had so many heartfelt touches within their Kona wedding day. Amber’s bouquet was decorated with a keychain to honor her father, and they had a lei throwing ceremony to commemorate loved ones who passed.
For their guest book, they had resin ocean art with beach sand and waves! What a neat way to commemorate a wedding that took place in Hawaii.
Officiant: Andrew West (Living Stones Church, Associate Pastor)
Cake: Papa Kona
Hair and Makeup: Indigo Grace
Catering: Papa Kona
Florals: Grace’s Flowers
Wedding Dress: Calla Blance
Justine has had a huge impact on my life! Justine used to be my life coach, and helped me realize that my passion is in photography. Justine gave me the mindset shift to focus on how much I love being a photographer! I look up to her so much, so it was extremely special to me to be able to shoot her Oregon wedding!
Justine and Kyle’s wedding took place in a quaint farm in Sisters, Oregon. Justine’s family is from France, while Kyle’s family came all the way from New Zealand! It was awesome seeing a gathering of people from all over the world in one place, to celebrate Justine and Kyle.
Kyle’s vows to Justine were beautiful, you could see that their friendship was the foundation of their relationship. With Mount Jefferson in the background, their reception took place at the farm’s gardens with bountiful flowers and veggies. All of their food was local and prepared onsite, which is an amazing way to strive for sustainability! After Justine and Kyle’s gorgeous wedding ceremony in Sisters, we did a mini branding session as a “thank you”: things really felt like they came full circle. I feel so honored to have been able to document Justine’s wedding, when she gave me a helping hand in realizing my dreams!
Exploring around Central Oregon would then find me at Sisters Coffee Company, editing. Chai tea latte in hand, there is something so nostalgic about the space. I really fell in love with the whole town, and there are so many things to do in the area.
THINGS TO DO NEAR SISTERS, OR:
-Explore Smith Rock State Park
-Foodie adventures in Bend, Oregon. Places like Jacksons Corner for a yummy breakfast!
–Bend Whitewater Park. This spot reminds me of Hawaii! There is a section of river that creates surfing waves, so fun!
-Hike around Deschutes National Forest
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Justine’s Branding Session:
Officiant/Planner: Weddings with Heart
Venue: Rainshadow Organics
Coffee Shop: Sisters Coffee Company
Mohan and Anthony adventured around on of Hawaii’s stunning black sand beaches for their elopement. Rising before the sun, they roamed around the sand, explored the vibrant green forests, and danced along the cliffside.
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Karen and Phil met through mutual friends at a climbing gym that they both visited. Their relationship started off silly and playful at first, until they realized they had developed feelings for one another!
For their Hawaiian adventure elopement, Karen and Phil really wanted to take advantage of the diversity that The Big Island has to offer. They quickly determined that that would mean splitting up their elopement into two days! This ended up working great for them because they could enjoy their days together, without being too drained from all of the traveling around Hawaii.
Their ceremony took place in a beautiful valley full of greenery, where they were lucky enough to have their friend officiate! Karen and Phil wanted to experience the sunrise together, changing in the bushes for a first look on a black sand beach. First sharing the sunrise alone, their friend joined them for their ceremony. Karen walked down the “aisle”, as everyone watched with smiles and admired the beauty of their elopement ceremony and the valley! After their ceremony, we explored: ending at a river where they could share some private moments, just the two of them.
Since Karen and Phil made the choice to split up their elopement day, they could take the time to just enjoy the moments! They spent the rest of the day hanging out with their friends, and then chose to adventure throughout the next day by themselves.
I met with Karen and Phil in the super early morning the next day, as we had to ride ATVs in the dark to be at our location by sunrise! I was able to document the adventure of their day, where they could focus on being present and not necessarily worry about keeping their outfits clean. Karen and Phil raced around different locations such as lava rock areas and spots with natural salt deposits. With open fields surrounding them, they laughed, raced, and had the time of their lives during their elopement adventure! I love being able to help my couples’ elopement dreams come true, so they don’t have to worry! I coordinated the ATV guide, who also has camping gear available if you wanted to stay overnight!
As their elopement days came to a close, Karen and Phil ended their second day near a gorgeous tree. Splitting up their Hawaii elopement really worked for them, so that they could spend time on what really matters most.
Groom’s Shoes: Rugged Oxfords from DSW
Florals: Lalamilo Flower Girl
Dress: Lulu’s Two Piece Maxi Dress
Hair/Makeup: Beauty By Ash
ATV Guide: Aloha ATV Adventures
Something that I think is really special about getting married in Hawaii is the ability to experience so much beauty and wonder during your wedding day. Having the adventure of starting off the day at sea level amongst the Pacific Ocean: swirling turquoise waters, the smell of salt in the air…and then venturing out to the tallest mountain on earth from base to peak: the sacred mountain of Mauna Kea. The definition of symbolism is abundant with Joey and Raegan’s Ocean to Mountain elopement on the island of Hawaii!
While I am always an advocate for exploring all of the stunning landscapes and habitats that the Hawaiian Islands have to offer, my priority will always lie with ensuring that our islands are taken care of. Mauna Kea is a sacred and magical location for Hawaii residents, and it is up to all of us who visit this enchanted place to treat it with respect.
Mauna Kea may not be able to serve as a backdrop for your elopement ceremony, but is the absolute perfect place to adventure to either before or after for more photos and to soak up the beauty of the volcano! Due to Mauna Kea’s significance to the people of Hawaii, we will leave the elopement ceremony for another area. Even having a part of Joey and Raegan’s Hawaii elopement day taking place at the top of the world on Mauna Kea adds magic.
Joey and Raegan met at a music festival through mutual friends, and have been together ever since! These two Floridians began their Hawaiian elopement day at the sea cliffs bright and early in the morning, in matching Vans shoes, with their moms in tow. People really appreciate how high the sea cliffs are, making a wedding ceremony there dramatic and beautiful.
Joey and Raegan’s mothers helped button Raegan’s dress, while Joey waited at the sea cliffs with videographer John and officiant, Tom. Having family help during an elopement is a great way to include them! Joey and Raegan decided that they wanted their ceremony to be just the two of them, bidding farewell to their moms to then meet back up with their families later that evening to continue the celebration.
Something really cute about eloping is that the officiants I often like to work with can be almost like family! Family in the sense that they bring comfort. Couples can often feel nervous, so I like recommending officiants that I feel like have a maternal or paternal comforting energy. And Tom fits the bill!
Tom helped Raegan walk down the “aisle”, while Joey gazed into the ocean. During their ceremony, Tom included traditional Hawaiian elements, different languages, and sacred meanings. There are also plenty of ways to make your ceremony “yours”. Joey and Raegan had a little moment together, and did a secret handshake. As the ceremony was ending, Tom noted that the sun began peeking over the trees. So special!
Before we took a break for the day, we were treated by a goat sighting! Raegan loves goats, and it was so adorable to see how excited she was.
Later on, we met back up to make our way to Mauna Kea. Mauna Kea is about 1 ½ hours from Kona, so it is not too far!
Mauna Kea Tips:
Something to keep in mind is that Mauna Kea has been the center of indigenous activism because it is the proposed site of a telescope. This is controversial due to Mauna Kea being a sacred burial site! Many indigenous elders were buried near the top to be closer to the gods.
Catching the sunset at Mauna Kea is simply magical. You are above the clouds, and it is something that I can’t put into words unless you experience it. It is also such a crazy experience that you can drive all the way up to a mountain that is almost a 14er! Depending on the time of year, there may also be ice or snow on the mountain. The fact that Joey and Raegan could include such a significant place during their Hawaii elopement is amazing!
Joey and Raegan mentioned that they had been taking sunset walks around their hotel during their stay in Hawaii. It had become a source of closeness for them, so naturally we had to document those special moments! Polaroids were scattered around their hotel counters, which helped inspire the film aesthetic for this day-after session. There was an air of playfulness and mischievousness as they lit a cigar and hopped fences. I gave them a little bit of direction when it fit their personality, instead of direction that may seem like it wasn’t their vibe. It really seemed like it was all about them, and as the sun set: we all celebrated with champagne together near the waves.
Videographer: Bodhi Wedding Films
Shoes: Custom Vans
Dress: Bridal Gown Studio Orlando
Officiant: Kahu Tom
Hotel: Kona Coast Resort
Fire, water, air, and earth. When it comes to the elements, Beck is drawn to fire, while Rob (who loves spending time windsurfing in their home state of Oregon) is water. Beck and Rob wanted to include this special representation during their Hawaii elopement.
Keeping their elements in mind, we wanted an elopement adventure that defined the two of them. We began with a gorgeous ceremony with Beck and Rob in an outrigger canoe, with help from a guide via Kona Boys.
Their guide paddled them to the middle of the bay, while I followed close behind in my kayak. Once we found the perfect ceremony place on the ocean, their guide jumped out of the canoe: coming to join me in my kayak so that I could shoot!
Beck and Rob included a knot tying tradition during their water ceremony. Knot tying is a simple step in which a couple will work together to create one of the strongest knots. This used to symbolize the bond between a couple!
Mother nature could sense the bond and connection between Beck and Rob too, because we were all treated to a special mantaray sighting! This is very significant because it is not as common to see manta rays during that time of day. I feel strongly that when wildlife shows itself to people, it is a reflection on them! Manta rays represent grace and flow, and their distinct black and white markings represent balance. How fitting that a fire element and a water element were shown this symbol!
While floating among the beautiful waters of Hawaii, I jumped out of the kayak with my waterproof camera housing and fins and bobbed in the water, taking pictures! Including fun, not-so-common ways of adventure is such an exciting concept for me when it comes to my photography approach! Being a Hawaii wedding photographer, whether it’s shooting in the water, on top of a mountain, in a helicopter…yes, yes, and yes!
We decided to take a break for the day, while I went out and picked up florals and a cake!
When you book me as your Hawaii wedding or elopement photographer, don’t forget you aren’t just getting a photographer. You also get a planner, guide, and someone who is there to help run errands and assist you at any point of your day!
Exhausted from the morning ceremony and drive to Volcano, Beck and Rob elected to meet the next day. Beck was all for having cake for breakfast!!! That next morning, I shot an intimate session of the two of them. Beck and Rob enjoyed tea at their Airbnb, and just lounged around together.
Having your Hawaii wedding or elopement take place over multiple days is a really great idea! You often avoid having to rush and squeeze things in over a certain amount of time, and your elopement adventure can take on a more laidback and easygoing approach while being spread out over an extra day or two. Definitely something to consider when planning your elopement in Hawaii, to help ease any stress! You call the shots: you have the freedom to take breaks if necessary, with a more relaxed vibe.
And now: comes the fire. Beck and Rob exchanged wedding vows at Volcanoes National Park, which does not require a permit if you are only there to take photos rather than an official ceremony! On the well maintained trails, Beck hiked the whole trail in her dress, just to prove that she could! You can do the same or change at the top etc, the choice is completely yours.
The trails are plentiful and easily accessible at Volcanoes National Park, which is a huge park with so many things to see and do while in Hawaii!
After Beck and Rob’s heartfelt vow exchange, the three of us headed back down the beautiful mountain. Beck and Rob would be staying another month in Hawaii, as an extended honeymoon to soak up more quality time together.
I felt so honored to be a part of their Hawaii wedding elopement, especially because we all vibed so well. Beck and Rob were a little more introverted, and felt comfortable to open up with me and take any necessary breaks from photos.
It is extremely special to be involved in a couple’s wedding day, which makes it important to have a great relationship with your photographer!
Beck and Rob, next time you are in Kona, I owe you a sushi date!
Guide: Kona Boys
Florals: Lalamilo Flower Girl
Cake: Emilie’s Organics
Airbnb: Volcano Retreat