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It Took 3 Years To Plan This Wedding In Hawaii


a bride and groom in Hawaii

We are all trained to feel a pressure to plan and execute a wedding as soon as possible after you announce your engagement... but what if that wasn't the case? Josh and Sarah decided to ignore the social norm and planned to have their wedding three years after their engagement. Why? This extra time allowed all their friends and family time to save up for their destination wedding in Hawaii! 

A three-year engagement has it's own stresses and pitfalls; keep scrolling to find out how Sarah and Josh maneuvered around these to have such a gorgeous wedding day! We also have a full gallery full of Bethany Small's photos from the day for you to "Ooo" and "Ahh" over too! 

tropical themed wedding invitation suite

custom wedding hanger and wedding dresswedding rings

Bride in her sweetheart strapless wedding dress

bride and groom on Hawaii

beach ready groomgroom and his men in tan beach ready suits

bridesmaids in tropical floral dresses

eucalyptus and king protea wedding bouquetfun and funny bridesmaid photo

From the Bride: 

We couldn't imagine our special day without each person we invited; After getting engaged, we announced our wedding date for 3 years later in hopes it'd give our guests enough time to save and plan. Because we had 3 years to plan, we were able to create all the details and decorations, keeping in mind we had to travel on a few different flights with all our decorations and a wedding dress. It wasn't just a wedding day for us, but a whole wedding week of activities while melding our families and friends together to get a full island experience. 

We rented a huge house for the wedding party to stay in on the beach and adventure around the island in a caravan- we were a family by the end of the week. We couldn't have imagined a better day to celebrate our love and Ohana, it was perfect. The morning of, the girls woke up and had a private yoga session on the beach in the sand where other friends and family joined in. It really set the tone for the day, as we were then surrounded by rainbows when we started getting ready. 

Secret Island on Hawaiiwedding party on a boat

A Secret Spot

Our ceremony was held on Secret Island, where guests had to travel by boat to cross the ancient fishponds. We had boat captains tell the history of the mountains and ponds to our guests as they traveled to Secret Island. The islands hold a special place in our hearts, especially since Josh was born on Oahu, we wanted guests to have the same feeling as they departed back home. 

We had a unique wedding where half of our guests were local to the island ( Josh's family), and the other half of guests traveled to be there. It was beautiful to walk down the aisle, barefoot in the sand, seeing my groom deeply staring at me, smiling, singing along to our song, all of me by john legend, that his cousin was playing on the ukulele. With China Mans hat nestled in the background in the Pacific ocean, I'd never seen Josh so comfortable, at home, and in love. That moment is everything. 

For me, I had never seen my dad cry before and it was an emotional moment during our first look and as he walked me down the aisle. My mom always said she only saw me getting married barefoot in the sand - Uniting love by the sea and dancing in the ocean's wind.

here comes the bride

destination wedding on Hawaiifloral bridesmaids dresses

wedding on the beach in hawaii

bride and groom wedding kiss

bride and groom on the beach in hawaiijust married on Hawaii

A Long Engagement

A long engagement is great, but planning a wedding for 3 years is a lot of stress. With that amount of time, we were able to do a lot of DIY and gave ample time for our guests to save for travel. But, in three years, your vision can change a lot and you can get caught up in the little details. And, even with so much notice, still not all guests will be able to make it. If you have a long engagement, enjoy it instead of wedding planning and trust it'll all work out if you keep planning for the last year.

The Food

It was important to us to give our guests a culturally rich experience where everyone felt surrounded by Ohana and love. We had all our favorite traditional Hawaiian dishes for appetizers, dinner, and dessert, including a pig cooked in an emu by family, grilled ono island fish and tuna poke caught by friends, handmade laulau and hand ground, fresh poi. Along with a shave ice bar and traditional island drinks.

sweet bride and groom photos on a dock in Hawaii

waiting for the boata bride and groom on a boat

here come the newlyweds

carefree bridal photostented wedding reception in Hawaii

Budget breakdown

Planned Budget: 30k
Actual Budget: 50k
Number of Guests: 150

Ways we "saved" money: 

Bought alcohol from Costco and had a bartending company provide cups and mixers

Our family caught the fish, cooked the pupus and dinner, served the food, and shooed flies (If having an outdoor wedding, make sure to have a few people waving fans to shoo flies, we are so glad we thought of this.)

Disposable cups and plates. All this saved on hiring a cleanup crew and rental fees for dishes. Rentals are expensive, find ways to not have to rent!

Bought our flowers online and at a local farm, had family put them together.

Hawaiian airlines discount for a group travel

Hertz rental car discount for groups

tropical wedding centerpiece

a wedding in Hawaiiwedding seating assignment ideastented wedding in Hawaiigold pineapple decor

bride and groom at their wedding reception

wedding shaved ice standwedding cupcakes

wedding dance party

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Say Yes (Again)!

You have an upcoming wedding (congrats!), and Maggie Sottero has a wide range of wedding dresses in sizes 0 – 28 designed for you and your love story. Some things are just meant to be.

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