Bailey + Derek

Intimate Oahu Wedding at Male’ana Gardens


December 11, 2023
Words by Jessie Allen
Photos courtesy of Jamie Tobin Photography

Derek and Bailey’s story began at the University of Iowa, where the couple met during American Sign Language classes, fostering a friendship that evolved into love. Fast forward several years and the couple embarked on a journey Oahu, Hawaii, for an unforgettable wedding at Kailua’a scenic Male’ana Gardens. 

Before beginning the planning process, Derek and Bailey knew they desired a destination wedding. The groom, being part Hawaiian, plus the fact that they could keep the event intimate, led the couple on a Google hunt for the ideal venue. 

Male’ana Gardens in Kailua stole their hearts with its intimate setting tailored for weddings under 20 people. Hiring on-site wedding coordinator, Kellie Ulansey, a part of the venue but optional, proved to be a stress-saver. 

“It was like we gave her all the pieces, and she put the puzzle together on our wedding day,” the bride expresses. 

With Hawaii’s natural beauty as their backdrop, Derek and Bailey kept details to a minimum. “We spent very little on florals and decorations,” the couple says. 

The couple envisioned a ceremony with a traditional timeline but infused with Hawaiian customs like the “Oli Aloha” chant, a sand ceremony, and the soulful “he alo ā he alo” breath-sharing tradition. Native Hawaiians believe your soul belongs in the breath, so a breath-sharing ritual entails the couple pressing their foreheads together and sharing their first breath as a wedded couple. Symbolizing breathing their soul into your body. 

“Many of our guests said that our ceremony was one of the best they’ve ever attended,” Bailey says, “It was definitely a highlight of the night.”

The decision to have a destination wedding allowed unique opportunities for both Derek and Bailey’s families to connect, something that may have been difficult at a larger event.

“Having only our parents and siblings there meant that if everything wasn’t picture perfect, they probably wouldn’t care or even notice anyways because they were truly there just for us,” the couple wisely shares.

In the embrace of Male’ana Gardens and the rich traditions of Hawaii, Derek and Bailey’s intimate destination wedding became a cherished memory for all.

Vendors: Photographer: Jamie Tobin Photography; Venue: Male’ana Gardens; On-site Coordinator: Kellie Ulansey; Florist: Lulu’s Lei & Bouquets; Cake: Pu’uwai Aloha Bakery; Hair & Makeup: Reveal Hair and Makeup; Gown Designer: Theia; Gown Store: Schaffer’s Bridal; Violinist: Rachel Saul; Catering: Kakaako Kitchen; Officiant: Kahiapo Talent; Bartender: Stir Beverage; Jewelry: Sapphire Dreamin

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