After four days of unrelenting rain (an unusual state-wide weather system hanging over Hawai'i) we woke to the sound of wild roosters crowing (a universal sound on Kaua'i) and to sunshine!
Three months ago, when we started booking our trip to Hawai'i for Mark's conference, we had the idea to get married on the beach - it was the perfect opportunity. And, happily, all of our immediate family were able to join us: my mother, Edith; my sister, Heather; my brother-in-law, Anthony; Mark's father, John; and Mark's sister, Sara.
In the morning, Mark and Sara went down to the nearby shore to play in the ocean - a bit of a bachelor outing of sorts, while Heather and Anthony took me to my hair and makeup appointment with Christie Thompson. By this point I was feeling a little nervous, but Christie was so fun and easy to talk to that it was a relaxing experience.
We had a delay getting back to the resort because of construction traffic, so I dashed up to our room in a bit of a panic - then had a bit more of a panic because I couldn't get the door open - my key wouldn't turn the deadbolt. And where was Mark?! Turns out he was upstairs at his family's room, having his own mild panic as he tried to iron silk for the first time ever - we hadn't realized that the fancy island shirt and pants we'd picked out for him were silk. I got his key, dashed into our room, and was back out and ready at the car no more than fifteen minutes later. How was I so fast? Because I knew the dress well - I was wearing a favourite sundress that I'd bought several years earlier and had already worn to several other fancy summer events.
We had worked with A Fairytale Wedding to book our service - they knew which beach would be as private as possible, how to get the permit, arrange for the minister, photographer/coordinator and musician. Other than that, it was easy for us to prepare - we selected our songs and customized the aloha-themed wedding vows. The trickiest thing was probably getting the directions for the exact pull-off for the beach so that we would be able to find each other - 'Anini beach is a very long beach without any major landmarks to meet at.
It wasn't clear if we could trust the sun to hold out all day, or if the same conditions held on the rest of the island. We'd seen the day before in our drive around the perimeter of the island how the weather could change radically from minute to minute, one place to the next. But we were hopeful.
As we pulled in to 'Anini beach on the north shore the sun was shining, with some cloudy areas off to the east. Just as Rev. Billy Magruder began the service, a rainbow started to form. By the time we came to the first musical interlude it was shining brightly. Our photographer/coordinator, Holly, was stunned by our luck (she'd come with umbrellas in hand to the service), and our musician, Charity, was delighted that the song we had chosen for that interlude was "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". The rainbow lasted throughout the ceremony until we finished taking pictures at the end.
We were happy to find that our wedding rings from Fair Trade Jewellery Company (flown in with Heather and Anthony, as they'd only been finished days earlier) fit well - it was the first we'd seen of them, although we'd been working on the design for some time. The rings are etched with a section of a topographical map of Norway, along the trail that we hiked two years ago. The two of us, represented via our birthstones, walk together along the dotted path. I'd debated trying mine on before the service, but was a bit paranoid that it might be too tight to come off, so I'd waited.
With the service done we drove back to our resort for a celebratory drink as the sun set. For dinner we ate at Hukilau Lanai, just down the road from our resort. It was, all agreed, the best meal we've had thus far in Hawai'i. The highlight was probably the candied ahi tuna, but the fish and steak main courses were fantastic too. Mark and I ordered the chocolate molten lava cake, which was so rich that it circulated around the whole table of seven more than once.
And at the end of the evening we had a happy reunion - Sara's helpful cab driver from her first night on the island gave us our ride home - and tips for our next day's plans - a hike along the Kalalau trail. He advised us to start off at 5:30 in the morning - maybe the first day of married life is going to be the toughest one of all!
Addendum: turns out we didn't start our hike until 6:45 - phew!
Our wedding procession - the Nitz family is in the car behind us
Holly pins a flower in my hair (a flower on the left, in Hawai'ian culture signifies that a woman is married or taken)
The rainbow appears
Mark places the ring on my finger
Holly asks us to try a dip - easier said than done
Our families: John, Sara, Mark, Julie, Anthony, Heather and Edith
Wearing our rings
A close-up of our rings
We pose under the rainbow
Dinner at Hukilau Lanai
Delicious chocolate molten lava cake - so rich it took all seven of us to eat it
A sneak peak at next morning's hike - we made it!