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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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