Professional Wedding Photos

We were lucky enough to have Steve Koo, an award-winning Chicago photographer (and friend), come out with us to Kauai and photograph our wedding. Steve did such a good job on our engagement photographs in Logan Square. I was excited to see what he’d come up with for the wedding.

We could not be more happy with how Steve captured the spirit of the day and all the little moments and emotions. We love Steve’s style, how saturated the photos are. It went really nicely in the tropical setting. I could not pick just a few favorite photos from the day, so I posted a whole bunch below!

For a more behind-the-scenes account of our wedding day, check out this post.

Our Wedding Day

We were told many times and it is true: You spend months and months, in our case over a year, planning this day and it is over before you know it. Honestly, I had so much fun and enjoyed seeing everything we planned come to fruition and seeing everyone there, but it really did feel like the wedding lasted 30 seconds. This is one of the reasons I was so happy to have our friends in Hawaii for more than just this one day… so that we could hang out multiple days and spend time together.

Here is how it all went down (Warning – I thought this was going to be short and concise, but once I started writing, I couldn’t stop.):

At about noon my stylist, Mia Moriguchi came over to Ho’Onani Estates. At a little after noon, Steve Koo, our photographer came over and was with us throughout the day. I didn’t do a hair and makeup trial, but I had a lot of photos of hairstyles that I liked. For makeup, I told her that I wanted something natural – I didn’t want it to look like I wasn’t wearing any makeup, but I didn’t want it to look like I was going out to the club. She did great. I think the final look was pretty much just what I was going for.

Also, Mia was nice enough to apply coverup to my legs and feet because my bites were still pretty noticeable. During this whole time my mom was with me and Jordan’s girlfriend Liz. Also, Kristin was a huuuuuge help with getting everything ready and organized for us. She’s also really good at making mimosas with POG instead of OJ! Later on Jess G. and Jess B. came by just in time for me to put my dress and jewelry on, which was awesome because Jess B. made my jewelry! So she put it on me. Also, my dad came over to get a sneak peek.

I got ready in the rental house where our bedroom was located and kicked Dallas out to get ready in the other house. Dallas wasn’t sure up til the wedding day which shirt he was going to wear. He bought 3 and ruled out one. I ended up picking the dark blue one. Good thing, because later on Danny was wearing the other shirt, Dallas’s same new leather slippers and tan shorts! Once we were both ready, Steve and his brilliant assistant (and wife) Laura, had Dallas stand across the street from our estate. There’s a nice wall with some gorgeous lava rock and a beautiful view. They told Dallas to look out towards the water and whatever you do, don’t turn around. Then I walked across the yard, across the street and tapped him on the shoulder. This was our “first look,” our first time seeing each other in our wedding garb. After our initial first look, we took a moment for ourselves, which was nice.

From there we went with Steve and Laura to Poipu Beach. We were not getting married on the beach and I wanted just a few beachy photos. It was so hot at the beach that day and so crowded, too. I was nervous about staying on schedule, though, which is why I picked Poipu Beach. It was the closest. In hindsight, we probably should have gone to Shipwrecks. It’s less crowded, plus that’s where we hang out most on this trip. Also, we ended up having time to spare! Whatever, though. Steve directed us, we got a few photos, and we were on our way. We went back to the house, freshened up a little, and then we hung out wtih housemates as they were getting ready for a while.

At about 4:00 p.m. we headed over to the wedding site. It’s funny, we were totally early for our 4:30 p.m. wedding. Our wedding planner, Marlene Mira, said this never has happened before. She had us just sit in the car with the air conditioning on. Steve and Laura waited it out with us. All of our guests were arriving and walking past us, like a red carpet show. We surprised some of them by rolling the window down and saying “hi.” Funny. At about 4:20 Marlene came out to get the show on the road. It was almost time and she said our guests were getting hot from sitting in the sun. But our guests were still arriving, so we kind of hung back and at least let those who just pulled in or were in the parking lot get to the ceremony area before starting. Marlene was definitely not on “Hawaii time.”

We had the wedding at Joe’s on the Green. It’s a bar and restaurant, a clubhouse, at the Kiahuna Golf Club. This sounds fancy, but Joe’s is a locally-owned business and we were planning a very casual event. How casual? Dallas was wearing shorts and slippers! We told everyone to dress “aloha casual,” meaning wear something nice, but fun and casual. We suggested ladies wear sun dresses and that guys wear aloha shirts. For guys and girls, sandals and flip flops were both acceptable, but socks with sandals is never acceptable!

The ceremony was held on a grassy knoll to the rear Joe’s on the Green. It was pretty much the putting green with the flags removed. Our wedding officiant was Julie Wirtz, who we found online. We liked Julie’s style. She’s spiritual, but not religious and was had a really laid back and personable style. Plus, she was willing to give us kamaaina rates. We worked with Julie to come up with a ceremony that had some Hawaiian flair, but was not over the top. We had a lei exchange with our parents (my niece Stephanie brought the leis up) and we also talked about the meanings of the word “aloha” (hello, goodbye, love, etc) and at one point had everyone say “aloha” together. I thought the ceremony went by fast. Little did I realize that our wedding videos are only about 9 minutes long and that includes the walking part! Yes, fast, it wasn’t just me!

Caroline & Tammy recorded the ceremony

During the ceremony we had the lead musician for Papa’a Bay Boys, the Papa’a Bay Duke, play. The Duke! Dallas and I chose not to have a wedding party. For our ceremony, Dallas escorted his parents down the aisle, then my brother escorted my mom and finally my dad escorted me and handed me over to Dallas. During this procession, the Papa’a Bay Duke played the Hawaiian Wedding Song. For our exit, the Duke played Henehene Kou ‘Aka (For You And I), a traditional Hawaiian song made popular by Israel “Bruddah Iz” Kamakawiwo’ole. The Duke continued to play Hawaiian traditional and island contemporary songs throughout cocktail hour and dinner.

After the ceremony, our wedding planner, Marlene, kind of herded us off to the side, on the golf path, by the musician. She knew that if we started mingling that she’d never get us seperated from our guests. We needed to get our marriage licensed signed and make it all official. In Hawaii you don’t need to have witnesses to make a marriage valid, but we had our moms sign as witnesses anyway. We also had just a few posed, family wedding photos that we wanted to take.

During this time our guests were welcome to begin cocktail hour. We also had a reception table set up. Marlene did such a great job setting this up using things we gave her and things that she just had. This is where our guests got their table assignments, wrote in our guestbook and picked up some photo sharing cards that we had made up. Each table was named after a different Kauai natural site or attraction. Table assignments were inside little beachy frames. It was a box with all of these frames that we’d sweated it out about. The box was mailled a month in advance and only arrived two days before the wedding! Our guestbook featured photos that Steve took during an engagement photoshoot in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago, where we live. The photo sharing cards also featured our engagement photos on one side. On the other side these cards had instructions on where people could view and upload digital photos and videos after the wedding.

All of the flowers at the wedding, including the flowers for my hair and our leis, were collected and assembled by Dallas’s Aunty Helene, her daughter Lei Lynn, Aunty Wendie, Dallas’s mom Kathy, his sister Caroline, and Caroline’s friend Tammy. The flowers turned out fabulous. So much more than I was expecting. And they matched our color scheme and style perfectly. I can’t thank these guys enough for taking this on and doing such a great job! For our leis they did white dendrobium orchids for me and maile leis for the dads and Dallas. The moms leis were made of a fragrant puakenikeni flowers.

Our family photos really did not take a long time, and so in no time at all we were free to join all of our friends and family for cocktail hour. We had a full bar available, but Dallas and I were only paying for beer, wine, and soda. We had purchased our own wine from Costco and then were paying a corkage fee for each bottle opened. The wines we chose were Menage a Trois California White and Mirassou Pinot Noir. For beer we had local brews, a keg of Primo and a keg of Kona Brewing Fire Rock Pale Ale. Our friend Tweeny had been to the Kauai Museum earlier in the day and made a haku lei (read her story here). It took 4 hours to make it! Sometime during cocktails Dallas tried it on… and left it on for a couple hours! It matched his maille lei perfectly!

I heard someone say that pupus were ready, so I grabbed Dallas and headed off. I wasn’t super hungry, but one of the other most advised things before the wedding was “Make sure you eat.” We headed off to stand in line for the buffet of pupus and that’s when we saw our bride and groom table, complete with a plate of pupus for each of us! Have I mentioned how much I love Marlene, our planner/coordinator? She thought of everything.

As far as the food goes, we worked with Joe, the owner of Joe’s on the Green, to have a custom, local menu. We wanted to make sure that all of our guests from the mainland could experience our local Hawaiian favorite foods. For pupus we had won tons, poke and three different kinds of maki sushi, including the local style, which is with canned tuna in the roll. For salads we had local greens with papaya seed dressing, lomi lomi salmon, and a potato mac salad. Our main entrees were kalua pig, chicken katsu, and grilled mahi. White rice, fried saimin, and local purple sweet potatoes were the accompaniments. For dessert we had tropical fruits and macadamia nut brownies. We loved the food and if it wasn’t our wedding, we would have been going up for more, but we had other things to do! That said, I think all of our friends are poke converts. They loved it. Actually, all of the food. People were coming up to us in the following days and without any prompting, telling us that our wedding had the best food they’d eaten all week. Yay!

After we were done eating, Steve grabbed us quick because there was a beautiful sunset. We took just a few minutes out to walk out onto the greens and get a few photos. Steve got some really great photos and I’m anxious to share all of our professional photos in another post.

For our MC, we chose Dallas’s brother, Jordan. He announced us before dinner and announced that it was time for dinner. After dinner he surprised us by saying that he and my brother were going to do a couple of toasts. My brother gave a really sweet toast, that he said was brainstormed in about 5 minutes, and it was the only time of the day when I almost started crying. Dallas’s brother gave a pretty typical Crowell toast, which was like “hey, Dallas is kind of a lot to deal with, I don’t know how you do it, I got your back.” After toasts Dallas said our mahalos to everyone for coming, for those who worked on the flowers, to our planner for making it all happen, to our parents.

Ross was our DJ for the night and now was his time to queue up the music. The first reception song of the night was “Is This Love” by Bob Marley and Dallas and I danced together. At one point Eleanor came up and surprised us by putting a $10 bill in my mouth. I had no idea what was going on but Billy told me later on that it is a Filipino tradition. Makes sense. Eleanor’s husband is Filipino. There were so many little traditions mixed in our wedding. Hawaiian things. Some people put Chinese lucky money in our cards. And we had that whole Chinese luck and longevity table in Honolulu. So fun to learn about everything.

Our second and third songs, which everyone was invited to join in on were “Better Together” by Jack Johnson and a special live-from-Chicago version of “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz. Following that we had one more special song, “Crazy” by Kapena, a Hawaiian band that we like, and then it was straight into the dance music. Dallas worked for months on our playlist and it seemed like everyone loved it. We had such a fun time dancing all night. The playlist started out with 90s dance songs, and then had a few slow songs, then on to some current dance favorites, then a few more slow songs, and then we had an 80s section. Fun parts of the night – my dad really got into dancing and everyone was having fun dancing with him. He even got Dallas’s mom to dance with him to to “Good Vibrations” by Marky Mark. And my nieces, who swore they were not going to dance, danced all night too!

At 10 p.m. sharp we had to cut off the music. I mean, we weren’t even told “It’s almost 10, the next song is the last one.” It was more like “This song that’s playing now? That’s it!” But that’s ok. It was a Hall and Oates song and we knew that it’s a Kaua’i rule that we had to end at 10. Still, it felt like we could have gone on for hours longer! Everything went by so fast.

I must give one last shout out to our wedding planner Marlene Mira, of Mira Mira Events. When Dallas and I began planning our wedding we thought we could do everything ourselves. Afterall, Dallas grew up on Kauai and I’d been there to visit several times. We wanted a really simple wedding. Why would we pay someone to plan things when we could do it ourselves? Well, I found out really quickly that trying to sort everything out and get things coordinated was more difficult than we’d anticipated. After Tien and Shannan’s wedding, and after talking to Shannan the next day about the stresses of getting everything done, Dallas was really convinced we should hire someone to help us out. I’d seen Marlene’s site and was really impressed. I just had a good feeling about it, compared to the other stuff I’d seen out there. And? She was from Waimea, Dallas’s home town. I gave Marlene a call and from the very beginning I knew we’d done the right thing.

When we contacted Marlene we already had our venue, photographer and our officiant but we didn’t have anything sorted out. Marlene was very professional and knew just what needed to be done. She was always very responsive to us and always had good, cost-effective suggestions. It was so nice to have her “on the ground” in Kauai. She helped us plan everything ahead of time, coordinated the rentals, suggested the musician and the stylist, and helped us figure out our food and drink menus. She and her staff were there all day on the wedding day. All we had to do was show up and have a great time! We could not have pulled off this wedding without Marlene and we cannot recommend her enough!

And one more technical note. Ha. Dallas and I created a wedding website for all of our guests before the wedding. It had all of our information about the wedding, Kauai, what do do on Kauai, how to get there, recommendations on where to stay, even a list of Dallas’s favorite local beers and golf courses. We bought our own domain,, but just forwarded it to a templated website that matched the style of our save the date cards and invitations. I think that having this was invaluable. And then the other interwebby thing we did was to set up a Flickr account where people could upload their photos after the wedding. At the wedding we had cards printed up with instructions on how to log in and upload. So now we have like 700 photos of the wedding and they started pouring in the day after the wedding. I got a 3rd party batch downloader, so now I have all of the photos saved on my hard drive. When we were walking down the aisle it was like a papparazzi audience! So happy for all of the people who have taken the time to upload their photos and share!

We Got Our Marriage License at Pono Market

Bright and early (and still dark!) Monday morning we headed to drop off the Jetta rental car and to the Honolulu airport. We had to take an alternate route because of the Great Aloha Run beginning early that day.

On Kauai we got our new rental, a Dodge Nitro SUV that we were sharing with Dallas’s brother Jordan and his girlfriend Liz.

From there we went right to our appointment to get our marriage license. Since it was a goverment holiday, Presidents’ Day, we went to a marriage license agent instead of the government office in Lihue. At first I was leary about this, and you’ll see why, but in hindsight I realize it’s a much better story than if we’d gone to a plain, old, boring government office!

Pono Market is in this strip of stores in Kapa’a

Pono Market

Our appointment was in Kapa’a at Pono Market. When you put the address into Google Maps, it’s off.. so we drove past it a few times before we spotted the small store. It’s located in a quaint strip of small stores and sort of just blends in if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Once we found it, though, we were able to get a parking spot on the street right outside the store.

We walked inside and Pono Market is like a fish market. One side of the store had a long counter where you can order plate lunches and local food. On the other side had a cooler with beverages and a small counter to order coffee or ice cream. Then there was a table and a few chairs and a bunch of older local guys talking story. Um. Ok.

So, I walk up to the counter, thinking I must be a fool to think this is right, and stammer out that we’re there for our marriage license. The guy at the counter immediately says “Yes, you are in the right place!” and points us over to the smaller counter to his brother Ken. The old guys get up, we’re seated at a small table covered in a blue cloth right next to the front windows (see this photo I found online of Ken and another couple getting their marriage license).


Dallas and I filled out a PDF form at home and printed it, so I got it out and Ken reviewed it. He had us double, triple check everything and we had to make a few edits. Also, under “Race” there was no doubt that I should put “Caucasian” but for Dallas, it could be a few things. He chose to put in “Hawaiian” but Ken made him change it to “Hawaiian-Korean,” since his mom was born in South Korea, as stated on the paperwork. He could have put “Hawaiian-Japanese-Korean” if he wanted to since his grandma is Japanese, but we left it at “Hawaiian-Korean.”

Ken took our corrections up to his office, which is on the second floor of Pono Market and accessed by a spiral staircase in the front corner of the market. Who ever heard of a spiral staircase in a small fish market!? Ha. He needed to retype the whole application with all of the updated information.

While he was away we ordered plate lunches, but the guys at the counter said we couldn’t have them until we finished our business with Ken. Something about getting the forms messy or something. Since we had time, I snuck out to use the restroom, which was located down the street near Ono Family Restaurant.

We asked Ken to take a photo with my iPhone too. This is what will be on the “wedding wall.”

When he came back, he told us “Everyone on the East Side already knows you’re getting married because this is where people sit to get marriage licenses and now people have been passing by the window looking at you this whole time,” or something along those lines. Ahh.. the coconut wireless! He had us double and triple check everything again and then we had to sign the form. After that we were done. Ken gave us a bumper sticker that said “I got my marriage license at Pono Market” and took our photo for their “wedding wall.” If you stop in, look for us!

We got our plate lunches (lau lau for me and kalua pig for Dallas) and went outside to a small table they had on the sidewalk. We also got Spam musubi. Believe it or not, this was my first Spam musubi, but not the last on this trip! The plate lunches were delicious and I liked the Spam musubi, too. I can see how they are a kind of grab-and-go snack or light lunch on the islands.

Lau Lau Plate Lunch with white rice, poke and mac salad.

SO, Pono Market. One stop shopping. Marriage license, plate lunch and Spam musubi, all in one place!

Sidenote: Check out this article about Pono Market that was in The Garden Island newspaper.

– – –

A while later we went to meet with Marlene Mira, our wedding planner, and Julie Wirtz, our officiant at our venue, Joe’s on the Green. I’d corresponded with everyone over email and phone, but this was our first time meeting in person. Everything went great. We reviewed the plan, where things would happen, when, etc. Dallas and I passed off supplies to Marlene and that was about it. These ladies had it down. My biggest concern was 1) a box I shipped weeks before that never showed up and 2) the weather and 3) all the welts on my legs.

It was pouring when we all met. And had been raining on Kauai for days while we were on Oahu. Both Marlene and Julie swore that the rain was stopping and the weather would be fine. They were so positive about it, we never even talked about a Plan B, a Rain Plan. Turns out they were right. The rest of the week the weather was awesome. It rained sometimes, but mostly at night. The days were gorgeous. And the box that the USPS lost? It miraculously showed up 2 days before the wedding! As for my legs, the sores did diminish, but you could still see them. We did a quick coating of makeup and honestly? I didn’t really care that much. I had one short minute-long cry about my legs and then I just let it go. As Julie said, it could be worse. They could be on my face! And there was nothing I could do about it. So.. let it go.

I’m going to write a bit more on Julie and Marlene in separate posts, but for now we were just happy to have all of our wedding-related meetings done on our first day on Kauai. So for the rest of the week, up until the wedding, we could just enjoy or vacation.