After almost two decades of friendship, colleagues Michelle Raab and Angus Mitchell realized their mutual respect for one another had grown romantic. With a surprise proposal in the works, Angus chartered a private plane to fly the couple to Hawaii for a luxurious vacation at his Honolulu estate. A crew of 25 people – including cameramen hidden behind trees to capture it all on film – helped Angus successfully pull off his plan without his bride-to-be ever suspecting. “I thought he was breaking up with me,” admits Michelle when her beau got on bended knee. Tears streamed down Michelle’s face as Angus slipped the ring on her finger and she accepted.
The couple decided that Angus’s property on the Big Island was the perfect choice for hosting their celebration. Abundant with towering trees, rich foliage, and other brilliant greenery, the land also boasted a sparkling waterfall, river, and a macadamia nut farm. “Because the property is a self-sustaining, hydro-powered macadamia nut farm, it was not built for habitation… or huge weddings,” explains the bride. “We had to ship in and build every part of the event.” In order to accomplish the additions to the property, the couple had to meet vigorous requirements, such as conducting soil testing, land studies, and obtaining dozens of permits. “It seemed like every detail required 25 steps,” remembers Michelle. The daunting tasks never discouraged the couple, however. “Someone told us to live in the moment, and it was the best advice because the planning became a memorable collaboration of [loved ones],” says the bride.
Michelle wanted to make the stunning natural environment feel ethereal and dreamlike for the ceremony. To do this, she chose a classic white base for the color scheme. Rows of wooden chairs adorned with fabric-tied bows at the back were lined up against a white pathway. Two tall, snowy kahilis stood erect at the end of the aisle. The base of each feather display was wrapped in fresh green foliage. Bridesmaids wearing short strapless dresses carried bouquets of colorful roses and calla lilies, and the bride carried a frothy bouquet of fragrant gardenias. Michelle wore a stunning fitted gown encrusted with dazzling hand-stitched Swarovski crystals. Angus decided to wear a traditional Scottish kilt made of the family tartan as a nod to his Scottish heritage. Bagpipers dressed in custom garb played at the top of the waterfall and signaled the start of the nuptials. “My father, who passed away, was a Scotsman and the bagpipers made me feel that [my dad] was really in our presence,” shares Angus of the special moment.
After the customary Hawaiian “I dos,” guests entered the reception tent that many people had worked so hard to create literally from the ground up. “Every decision demonstrated Angus’ attention to detail and understanding of aesthetics,” says the bride of the workmanship. The space appeared golden and sparkly due to the champagne-colored lighting and candlelight that Angus had created. Centerpieces constructed of Sahara roses were placed in crystal-filled glass vases edged in bejeweled ribbon. “Crystals were affixed to various roses, so that when the light hit them there was a glitter effect,” explains the bride. An elaborate Maria Theresa chandelier provided magical detail. “It weighed over 500 pounds and was absolutely beautiful,” admits Angus. Long tables were dressed in crisp white linens, while chairs were clothed in luxurious fabric that cascaded down the backs. Additional rose arrangements, as well as striking tropical displays, were placed about the private dome and kept with the organic dreamy theme of the day.
Guests enjoyed a tapas-style menu, while the children at the event took part in their own festivities. “We had a whole children’s tent that had coloring books based on our wedding story, a kids menu, and kids activities where they learned hula, how to weave baskets, and string flowers,” says Michelle. Meanwhile, the couple provided entertainment of their own. The bride learned and performed the traditional wedding hula; Angus sang Billy Joel songs a capella to his new wife; and two bands and a DJ kept the dance floor packed.
Loved ones also took delight in the gorgeous five-tier cake festooned with live roses dripping down the lilikoi chiffon confection. “We had a slight disaster when some of the hired staff decided to just pick up and leave in the middle of the reception,” shares Michelle. Angus, realizing the cake had not been cut, picked up the microphone and started to make up a song about the fact that it was time to cut the cake and there was no staff. “It was hilarious,” says the bride. “Everyone was laughing.”
The night ended with an incredible fireworks display and a very happy family. “I would have extended the experience to be a full weekend so that the event would feel longer,” says Angus. “Enjoy every moment – I did.”