Nicole Crane | Photography by Tad Craig | Stewart Pinsky
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something . . . fuchsia? According to top Maui wedding experts, twists on tradition are exactly what clients are requesting.
Couples are still fond of standard “white wedding” traditions, like the bride and groom’s first dance and the ceremonial cake cutting, but “they have a strong desire to create a wedding and reception that are a truer representation of who they really are,” says Tammy Perkins, president of First Class Weddings, Inc. Perkins, who has been coordinating weddings for nearly fifteen years, says that these days, couples are saying adieu to formal trimmings like fine china and elaborate centerpieces, and choosing simpler touches that more authentically reflect their personalities.
“The trend used to be opulence. Now, it’s more about elements that are unique and unexpected,” says Danielle Amas, event artisan at Studio V. Even the smallest of touches can achieve this effect: For one couple, Amas inserted a cluster of Upcountry proteas into the floral arrangements.
From pink gowns to paperless invitations, innovation is key. And these five modern trends—adventurous elements, eco-friendly touches, minimalist décor, exotic flair, and twists on time-honored tradition—are just beginning to make their mark.
1. Be Adventurous
Brides and grooms are opting for more adventurous locales. “The couple and their guests can be transported via helicopter to a remote location with stunning views on Mount Haleakala,” says Ron Winckler of Pacific Island Weddings. They may charter a sailboat for an intimate wedding with champagne, the multitiered cake and yes, even the chef aboard. Couples have even chosen ceremony sites that require hiking boots to access, says Winckler. “You really need to find a minister that’s up for that challenge.”
Or consider arranging an island adventure for guests a day or two before the wedding. “Couples are more active these days and look for a healthy retreat with outdoor activities,” says Carolee Higashino, owner of A White Orchid Wedding. Traditional hikes, whale-watching sails during whale season, and even camping are options that give a wedding weekend its extra kick.
2. Go Green
Infuse your wedding ceremony with eco-friendly touches, such as a menu of organic, locally grown foods. Even if you can’t go entirely green, small details can make a difference. Soy candles are a big hit, says Higashino, because, unlike traditional candles, they’re not petroleum-based. Also popular: eschewing décor elements made of plastic, in favor of biodegradable materials, like napkins composed of heavy, recyclable paper. Higashino’s A White Orchid Wedding has taken the cue, recycling what it can after each event and using environmentally friendly products.
Using paperless email invites, and wedding websites to disseminate important event information to computer-savvy guests, is also environmentally—and wallet—friendly. Or send “plantable” invitations made from handmade, decomposable paper infused with seeds. Other plantable possibilities? Eco-friendly favors like seed packets of native Hawaiian flora are a great choice—but be sure those seeds are approved for export, if guests will be leaving the state.
Some brides are letting go of more formal standards like white and black, for earth tones like sand, ocean turquoise, chocolate, kiwi green, bronze and cream; and paring down décor. This Asian-inspired simplicity can take shape in beach-mat seating, an understated altar formed by a simple circle of flowers, or a rose-petal aisle (no fussy aisle runners here).
While the classic white dress will always be a favorite, casually clad and even barefoot brides in flowing and hued gowns—think champagne, light pink and light gold—complement grooms in light linen suits over open-collared shirts.
Minimalist centerpieces include river rocks, potted plants or floating candles with a single bloom or a handful of flowers in compact, cube-shaped arrangements. Bamboo and teak tables and chairs, covered with natural weaves of pintuck, lamour and linen, create a naturally elegant reception setting. To complete the look: sleek, square plates and a single water glass.
“We’ve recently had requests for organic [arrangements] where everything seems free-flowing,” says Amas. “One bride and groom didn’t want their backs facing anyone during the ceremony, so we created a circle effect with the chairs and altar.”
4. Think Globally
Maui is at the heart of the Pacific Rim, a meeting place for myriad cultures and traditions, and brides here are adding a bit of that international influence to their big day.
Bali has been an inspiration, says Higashino. To bring forth the spirit of this Indonesian island, she suggests a ceremony altar showered with exquisite imported orchids, statues and water features.
Arriving at the reception, guests are asked to replace their shoes with silk slippers provided by the couple. Rather than being seated at formal dining tables, guests at exotically inspired weddings may relax on cube seats beneath glowing lanterns, while sarong-clad staff offer pupus. Seating areas may even be filled with daybeds covered with silk pillows in bold shades of eggplant, tangerine, fuchsia and citron green.
“It’s important for couples these days to also acknowledge their own culture,” says Amas. For an Indian bride, she planned a traditional Indian event the day before the wedding. The couple were able to incorporate their culture, while highlighting their personal style at their nuptials the next day.
5. Something Old with Something New
Is the “real you” unabashedly old-fashioned? Express your inner bride and groom by adding a twist to a long-established wedding tradition. “Brides want to be the beautiful princess at the ceremony,” says Amas, “but at the reception, anything goes. They’ll have the traditional entrance and cake-cutting, but they also want to create unique spaces within their events.” Scrapbooking sections, martini bars, and cigar rollers are just a few add-ons Amas has seen recently.
Some couples replace the traditional head table with a sweetheart table that seats only the bride and groom. “A sweetheart table provides some intimacy and allows guests to approach the couple for private congratulations,” says Winckler.
And while nothing surpasses a formal table for comfortable dining, Higashino says the bride and groom who want a “hip effect” often amp up the décor with oversized lounge chairs and floor pillows, arranged to create a more informal conversation space where guests are served the signature drink.
Whatever they choose, this year’s innovative couples have this in common: a commitment to finding a way to blend tradition with their personal style. Says Amas, “Couples need to figure out what they love and what’s important to them. It’s about finding this personal style and then marrying it with the best elements of the destination.”