This Big Island elopement at Kuki’o Beach was everything an elopement should be and so, SO much more. But I feel like you need some background on this wedding and this amazing couple to appreciate it in its entirety!

I met Jake forever ago. It seems like another lifetime – but to be real it was probably 20 years ago. We went to school together in our small town of Dexter, Michigan. A place where the first day of hunting season is a holiday and where the line for the Dairy Queen on opening day floods into the street. It really is an idyllic middle-America town with a river that runs through the outskirts of town and parks galore. Looking back on my childhood, it really was an awesome place to grow up. And since I only graduated with 200 other people, we all knew one another pretty well!

A few years back I reached out to Jake to do some screen printing for my canoe club, Na Kai ‘Ewalu. Jake runs Live Love Michigan and makes super fun Michigan apparel; so I was really excited when he agreed to print for our paddling club here on Maui! We don’t have any reputable printers on-island so working with someone who is talented and on it was a big of a God-send for us!

Through our business relationship and a never-ending stream of GIFs when we would place orders, Jake and I kept tabs on each other’s lives. And then I got a message from him: he and Naomi were eloping on Big Island and he wanted me to photograph their wedding. The wedding was a secret though, so I had to keep my mouth shut. But I feel like I’ve had plenty of practice doing this considering I’ve photographed two other secret weddings in the course of three months (one still hasn’t told their families)!

One of my 2018 goals is to photograph a wedding on each island so not only did this check off my bucket list, but to do it for a friend made it SO much better. Right away Naomi and I started exchanging emails and we figured out the place, the time, and all the details.

Getting to Big Island was insane. I was set to leave Thursday night for a Friday evening wedding. The whole thing was a shit show, to be completely honest, so I won’t bore you with all the details. Here are the cliff notes:

Thursday thunderstorms, canceled flight, came back Friday, delay, delay, bird blood on plane, everyone off the plane, delay, delay, plane change….and I finally made it.

I also had my nine month old daughter with me as my husband was meeting me over there (he flew direct from O’ahu). So he got to have a guy’s night in by himself in our hotel room while I went home and unpacked with my nine month old in tow. Note to travelers: be sure that you’re on a JET during inter-island travel and NOT a prop plane.

But I made it with 2 hours to spare. It took me 19 hours to get to Big Island, but I would do it all over again to have been a part of their day. The storms from the day before gave us the coolest sky I have seen in a long time. The light was muted and the colors just popped.

I asked Jake and Naomi prior to their wedding day if they’d be willing to entertain a star shot for me. They were getting married on a New Moon and I knew that the stars would be out and I’ve always wanted to get a wide shot with the stars! Thankfully, they were willling and after dinner, around 10 PM, we drove out to Hawaii Kai, pulled off to the side of the road, and took in the brightest, most clear sky I’ve ever seen.

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Naomi and Jake: Thank you for choosing me to photograph your Big Island Elopement at Kuki’o Beach. I know you could have chosen anyone and there are so many talented Big Island Photographers – I am truly humbled. The biggest congratulations to you both and Jake, keep an eye on your inbox for our next NKE order and GIF high-five!

Officiant: Larry Altshu of Vows in Hawaii | Haku: Hakus by Nicole

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