“Peter, I’ve found my dress!” I cried across the womenswear section of Tommy Bahama at the Wailea Shopping Center in Maui (Hawaii).
“Wonderful,” he said noncommittally as he eyed the collection of shirts and trousers in the menswear part of the store, coveting their exquisite patterns and fabric textures. He’d already bought one of their Panama hats.
Peter and I were in Maui to get married, our hearts set on a quiet beachside ceremony in Hana. Considered to be one of the last unspoiled Hawaiian frontiers, the peaceful town of Hana lies along Maui's rugged eastern coastline. Leaving all our wedding logistics in the capable hands of Alana Ross of The Hana Wedding Company, decisions were made from our home town of Sydney via the click of a keyboard: license, celebrant, flowers, rings, photographer, hair and make-up. All we needed to do when we arrived in Maui was pick up the rings and license, and choose my dress.
Ahh, the wedding dress. It’s incredible how the hopes and dreams of a single day can come down to bits of fabric sewn together, but there you have it. Staring at my reflection in the mirror in the Tommy Bahama dressing room, I had finally found what I was looking for: a simple, white stretch-lace beach dress that I could slip on, forget about, and wear over and over again. However, there was one thing that I couldn’t overlook. Over 4 inches too long for my 5’2” frame, this was the one thing that a keyboard couldn’t fix.
“We have an alteration lady that comes in once a week, but unfortunately you’ve just missed her,” the sales assistant at Tommy Bahama said. “But I’m sure if you took it to her she’d finish it in a couple of days for you. I think she’s in Kihei.”
“Thanks, but that’s not going to help me. We’re already leaving for Hana the day after tomorrow.” I told her. Thinking about it for all of 5 seconds, I decided to buy the Tommy Bahama dress anyway. After all, how difficult would it be to get a simple hem taken up in a couple of days in Maui?
I found out soon enough that getting a dress altered in a couple of days in Maui was like trying to make an appointment with the tooth fairy. Contacting housekeeping at our hotel, I was told the staff were prohibited from accepting any clothing alterations from guests. Googling dry cleaners and laundry’s around, and in, the town of Lahaina proved equally as futile. What was I to do? Email my wedding planner, of course!
“No problem, my Mom can do it,” Alana responded, as cool as a cucumber. “Will you be in Paia at all? My friend has a store there called Mandala, where we can meet and pin up the dress. I’ll have it ready for you for your wedding.”
While the tooth fairy had apparently gone missing, I’d found a fairy godmother in Alana. With a pixie cut and frangipani perpetually over one ear, this five-foot “can do” dynamo had energy to burn. Meeting up with her in the plantation town of Paia, we did the wedding dress hand over at Mandala, as discussed. Unused to wedding preparations being this seamless, I half expected a hiccup to occur along the way and envisaged getting married in a sarong, if worse came to worse.
Alana and I met for the second time in Hana, on the day of our wedding. Whisking me away from our cottage prior to the ceremony for my hair appointment at Colette Arcand's home salon and make-up appointment with uber make up artist Luisa Ascensão, I smiled as I spotted my altered dress swinging reassuringly from a hook on the passenger side of her 4WD.
After a couple of hours of pampering, I was feeling every bit like a relaxed bride. Serene, special and spoiled. A short drive later, I found myself standing at Hamoa Point, composed in my white lace beach dress. With my perfectly coiffed bob swept over one side to reveal full blown white and yellow orchids, I lovingly grasped my exquisite bouquet from Hala Tropical Flowers, called “Kaipua” - Sea shells mixed with Anthuriums, red and pink ginger, green ice, orchids, psittacorum, song of india and Hawaiian ferns.
"You can hide here," Alana instructed me, indicating that I should wait behind a bush until she gave me the signal to walk over to Peter and our celebrant. I watched whileshe sprinkled the verdant lawn with frangipani, a constellation of petals.
Inhaling the fresh sea air, I gazed over at Hana's dramatic coastline, waves crashing over black volcanic rock, white ocean spray looking every bit like a bride’s veil. With reassuring words, renown photographer, Kaua busied himself with capturing the moment for posterity. I then heard CJ, our celebrant, commence his Hawaiian chant. I felt a peace descend over me as I peeped behind a cluster of leaves and spotted Leokane and Chris, our witnesses and proprietors of The Guest Houses of Malanai, the cottages where Peter and I stay at every year. Receiving Alana's signal to start walking, I stepped out from behind the bush. I finally saw Peter, dashing in his Tommy Bahama silk shirt with “Just Another Day In Paradise” embroidered at the back. And indeed it was. With a smile from ear to ear underneath his Panama hat, he watched me make my way across the lawn.
* Photo on this blog by Kaua Photography, Hana.
Thanks to the following people, who made our day so special: