On March 21, 2014, Rachel and Alika tied the knot with their closest friends and family in tow at Dillingham Ranch, an historic 2,700-acre oceanfront estate in Mokuleia, Oahu, which boasts pristine polo grounds, an equestrian center and one of the largest coconut tree groves in all of Hawaii. The ranch's stunning natural landscape, sprinkled with horses, spoke to the bride-to-be, who grew up in Montana's ranching lifestyle. A grand canopy of trees shades the long dirt road leading to the ranch. "It feels like you are on your way to something special," Rachel says. "Of course, I saw gorgeous 'photo-ops' in every direction, and I wanted to be in them!" The white plantation-style home on the property offered just the touch of "Old Hawaii" warmth and charm that the pair wished to share with their out-of-town-guests.
Above all else, Rachel and Alika wanted to create a feeling of merriment at their celebration. A cheerful palette of mustard yellow, pure white and chalkboard grey bedecked the green outdoor scene. When a search for farmhouse dinner tables turned up empty, the DIY couple built their own reclaimed wooden tables from scratch. "We spent many a weekend engineering and building them to perfection for our wedding," Rachel says.
A punchy mod floral motif appeared on linen table runners. Centerpieces housed in glossy white rectangular vases held local pincushion flowers, white anemones, hydrangeas, succulents and yellow billy balls. Paper pinwheels served as table numbers tucked in vintage glass bottles for a touch of whimsy. In lieu of traditional place cards, paper bunting flags were strung with twine on the back of whitewashed Chiavari chairs.
Everyone dined under a clear top tent on the lawn. At the height of the evening, island guitarist Randy Allen performed with acoustic soul and folk musician Tahiti Rey in a rare, first-time appearance together. "The music was incredible! Everyone was so impressed," Rachel says. Truly memorable was the moment when Rachel took to the dance floor for a hula performance, a surprise wedding gift for her groom. "I wanted to do something to honor Alika's culture so I learned to dance hula. Alika was so surprised (shocked, really!) and impressed by my dancing," Rachel says. At night's end, a fabulous wedding cake painted in a chevron pattern with yellow pinwheels was savored by all. The newlyweds slipped a thank you note under each slice of cake in a clever gesture that perfectly suited their style. From beginning to end, Rachel and Alika's celebration was steeped in decidedly intimate and charming details, a wedding that was as much fun as the couple themselves.
Having witnessed her fair share of weddings behind the lens as a photographer, Rachel knew she wanted to eschew some of the more common elements of a traditional wedding in favor of a personal and quirky, come-as-you-are celebration. Wedding coordinator Aubrey Akana of Savoir Faire Events was able to convey the couple's festive spirit amid homespun details with a vintage flair. Rachel and Alika tapped Honolulu design house Miemiko Atelier to create their whimsical yellow and grey letterpress invitation suite, which featured hand-stitched edging.
One of the couple's dear friends Alicia Hollinger had a starring role in the ceremony; she officiated the service. The couple recalls the moment they asked Alicia to be a part of their day--"We decided to propose to her! We took her to Formaggio and had the musician perform the song 'Marry Me' by Train. The waiter brought out a fancy dessert that read, 'Will you Marry Us?' and she started to cry and said yes!" The bride entered the ceremony on the arm of her father. She was radiant in an illusion-neckline Lazaro gown with delicate beaded embroidery and a sweeping train. The bridal bouquet featured white peonies, succulents, pincushion flowers and silver brunia hand-tied with earthy twine by Michelle Maeda of Flowergirls Hawaii. The touching ceremony included personal vows and a Hawaiian lei exchange to honor the groom's heritage. "Seeing Alika tear up when he saw me walk down the aisle was so special. Although he still claims he was just allergic to his boutonniere," Rachel jokes.