Laura Hooper was aware that her love, Jeremy Leader, had already asked her father for her hand in marriage… but so much time had passed without a proposal that she became concerned. “I was getting worried he had changed his mind about asking me!” she says. “We had just returned from a Caribbean cruise, and went to pick our Christmas tree from a lot. He kept leading me around asking what I thought of each tree, but it had started to rain, and I just wanted to get the first tree I saw! I said, ‘Can’t we just get this one?’ and he said ‘We should see how it looks with an ornament on it.’ He pulled out a wooden decoration in the shape of a ring box that said, ‘Will you marry me?’ And then he knelt down in the mud and proposed.”
With the help of a wonderful event consultant (who is also a close friend of the bride and served as one of the honor attendants), Laura made quick, bold decisions for a destination wedding on the Big Island of Hawaii to take place just four months following the holiday proposal.
“I pretty much relied 100% on Beth’s advice for vendors,” she says. “Jeremy and I did not do a site visit, any tastings, or meet any wedding professionals in Hawaii, but having an experienced wedding planner to guide me was a huge relief.”
The bride, a renowned calligrapher and stationer whose work enhances the celebrations of couples around the world, placed much emphasis on the printed materials, such as gorgeous save-the-dates that included her signature maps, and a custom invitation suite that layered woven mats of sea grass with luxurious paper upon which her exquisite calligraphy was featured.
With two experts in the area of weddings on hand, the groom was content to trust the ladies with the lion’s share of planning. “I told Laura to only allow me to make decisions where I couldn’t choose an option she didn’t like!” he says. Since the celebration would include a full weekend of events, Jeremy focused his talents on coordinating the related activities as well as the honeymoon. “That seemed to fit my organization OCD best,” he jokes.
A lush, private estate played host to the couple’s nuptials. A rustic sign post lettered by the bride led loved ones to a manicured lawn where the ceremony took place overlooking the Pacific. Cane chairs were draped with ropes of sea shells, and an aisle runner of woven sea grass paved the way to a tree strung with wind chimes composed of additional shells. Guests were greeted with leis made of flowers for the ladies and kukui nuts for the men, and handed textured ceremony programs designed and calligraphed by the bride.
The dark fuchsia shade of the dresses Laura selected for her bridesmaids was complemented by floral bouquets in rosy shades of pink. The groom and his attendants were turned out in handsome grey suits with white-on-white shirt-and-tie combinations accented with bright boutonnieres. The bride was a vision in a gently rouched A-line gown with a romantic strapless neckline. Her upswept hair was adorned with orchids and jewels, and her sister’s wedding veil served as “something borrowed.”
The ceremony included an exchange of flowered leis in keeping with Hawaiian tradition. “Standing at the altar, seeing the tears in her eyes, is a moment I’ll never forget,” recalls Jeremy of his bride. Another occurrence during the vow exchange also stands out for the groom: “Trying to fit the ring on her finger and getting it on the third try – no pressure,” he smiles.
A festive cocktail hour was followed by a beautiful sit-down dinner which took place on an adjacent lawn. Seating cards were strung from the steps of a bamboo ladder that leaned against the stone wall of a plantation outbuilding. Tables were swathed in white linens textured in a delicate pattern, and napkins were embroidered with the couple’s monogram. Varying place settings of white china were placed on chargers of Mother-of-pearl and topped with calligraphed menus wrapped in bands of sea grass. Each table featured a colorful island tableau set on woven runners and highlighted with candles.
“We chose huge coral shells to sit on the tables as vessels for the flowers,” Laura describes. “The florals were then arranged within the coral for gorgeous centerpieces. We chose antheriums, orchids, peonies, and ginger.” A sprinkling of sea shells completed the scenes.
Guests dined on their choice of fish or filet, with a special addition that was a revelation to the bride: “My family surprised me by also including lobster! It was really sweet because they knew I love lobster but was reluctant to suggest such an extravagant choice.”
A delicate filigree design enhanced the elegant wedding cake that concluded the lovely meal. A choice of German-chocolate or pineapple crumb was offered, and guests were also gifted with miniature baskets of Hawaiian cookies as favors.
As per the magic of a destination wedding, the couple found that the time spent on the island with loved ones was priceless. “My dad and step-mom flew out from Illinois, and my brother flew out from Oklahoma to Hawaii,” marvels Jeremy. “It was the best vacation they ever had.”
“I felt really lucky to have such an amazing group of friends and family there with me and my new husband,” seconds Laura. “I would do it all again exactly the same.”