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A Touching Love Story in Lanai


September 18, 2023
Words by Lauren Ertl
Photos courtesy of Chris J. Evans

Every love story is unique, but some are so extraordinary that they could be the plot of a Hollywood movie. Such is the case with Connor and Patty, who met as teenagers, became best friends, and eventually fell in love after eight long years of friendship. Their journey of love led them to a destination wedding in the breathtaking Lanai, Hawaii.

Connor’s dedication to winning Patty’s heart knew no bounds. Patty had a passion for ballroom dancing but had to give it up due to an injury. Little did she know, while she was traveling the world, Connor was secretly taking dance lessons every day for 14 months, hoping to surprise her when she moved to New York. The surprise came when she least expected it, in a beautiful ballroom. Patty remembers, “Unexpectedly, loud music started streaming through the speakers as Connor emerged from the backroom. He proceeded to reveal his secret dancing journey (and his love for me!). We ended up dancing the rest of the night! We now use that day as our anniversary.” Connor chose the same ballroom to propose. 

“Throughout our relationship, when asked to share our love story, we would often get the same response, ‘This could be a movie!’,” Patty says. “[After getting engaged] I thought, if our love makes the storybooks jealous, why not turn it into a storybook? I spent the next 8 months researching how to publish a children’s book, writing the story, and finding an illustrator to help with the pictures. I also got a lot of help from my mom and Connor’s mom to turn this crazy idea into the Dr. Seus-inspired picture book. I gave it to him during an intentionally planned photoshoot where the photographer and videographer were in on the secret and were ready to capture the moment. When he opened the book, he was completely speechless!”

Planning a tropical island wedding sounds like a dream come true, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges. For Connor and Patty, hosting their destination wedding in Lanai, Hawaii was no exception. They had their hearts set on having the ceremony on the lawn at Connor’s family home, with palm trees and a stunning view of the ocean. This was something they had joked about since they were teenagers (even though Connor was secretly serious). However, with limited infrastructure and no catering or rental companies on the island, they quickly realized that their vision would require some creative problem-solving. They needed to bring in all the necessary elements, from the decor to the seating, without the help of traditional wedding vendors. This meant coordinating deliveries and rentals from off-island sources and making sure everything arrived on time and in perfect condition. 

“Once we were able to jump through the logistical hoops regarding the home-based events, the reception which took place at the Four Seasons Lana’i was a much more enjoyable experience (especially the cocktail and cake tasting!). Yet, by far the most enjoyable part of wedding planning was coming up with all the small personal details that really made it ‘our wedding’.”

In addition to the traditional ceremony and reception, Patty and Connor planned events surrounding the weekend like a sunset sail on Thursday and a welcome party on Friday. One of the personalization highlights was the homemade film that premiered during the welcome party. The film showcased childhood clips and shared special moments from their journey together. It was a touching tribute to their love story and left everyone in awe. Another personalized touch was the “morning-of” newspaper that was delivered to each guest’s hotel room. The newspaper included funny mentions of every guest, creating a fun and personalized surprise to start the day.

“And finally, the wedding day. Need I say more? I had envisioned Connor standing at the end of the aisle overlooking the rock formation perfectly named, Sweetheart Rock, for 7 years,” Patty says. “Yet when the day finally came and he was surrounded by all our loved ones, it was more picture-perfect than I ever could have dreamed up.” 

Connor’s vows had Patty sobbing. She knew she would cry, but his words took her breath away to the extent she could barely remember her own vows! “The rest of the day continued in a dream-like state,” the bride explains. 

The speeches, which were timed perfectly at magic hour with the sun setting, were especially memorable. They were given by both sets of parents, her sister who was also her maid of honor, Connor’s long-time friend who was his best man, and Connor’s two brothers. Among the guests, there was a consensus that a presidential candidate was in their midst, as every single speech had them laughing and crying at the same time. Finally, the night ended with them dancing under the stars, with their neon sign reminding her that she had found her forever ‘dancing partner.’

Vendors: Photography: Chris J. Evans; Planner: Mauna Wedding Creative; Venues: Private Residence & Four Seasons Lanai; Florals: Teresa Sena Maui; DJ: Garman Music; Gown: Monique Lhuillier Bride; Beauty: Maui Makeup Artistry; Videography: Wes Larsen Media; Sail Boat: Sail Triology

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