Christina and Jesse

Kualoa Ranch Wedding in Oahu


January 10, 2024
Words by Kinsley Brown
Photos courtesy of L. Hewitt Photography

Imagine saying “I do” surrounded by lush landscapes, majestic mountains, and the soothing sounds of the Pacific Ocean—this dream became a reality for Christina and Jesse as they celebrated their love in a destination wedding in Oahu, Hawaii. Below, the couple shares the story of their journey from a dating app encounter to a picturesque wedding in Ka’a’awa Valley at Kualoa Ranch.

“We met through a dating app in New York City. We got engaged during a trip to Maui. Jesse proposed during sunrise at the top of Mt. Haleakalā volcano,” Christina reminisces. This extraordinary proposal set the stage for their love affair with Hawaii.

Due to COVID restrictions, the couple also decided to enjoy their honeymoon early. They eloped a year prior to their official wedding and spent three weeks hiking and relaxing at the beach. However, they knew they’d return to the islands to share in the celebration with their closest family and friends.

“We attended a wedding fair at Kualoa Ranch to see all their event spaces – once we saw Ka’a’awa Valley, we knew had to share this special place. The view in the valley between these spectacular mountain ranges is breathtaking,” Christina says.

Aside from its mountain backdrop, Kualoa Ranch has been used for the filming of countless movies due to the secluded location of this magnificent private nature reserve and working ranch.

As easy as the venue selection process was, other unique challenges arose. “Despite having a small guest count, the wedding was challenging to plan because everything had to be brought into the venue, including electricity and bathrooms,” Jesse explains. The experience provided a newfound appreciation for the intricacies handled by professional wedding planners.

Jesse and Christina incorporated special touches to honor the bride’s heritage and the local Hawaiian culture. After the “I do’s”, everyone did a butterfly release instead of confetti, while a Korean paebaek ceremony followed shortly after. Then, the bar offered welcome drinks in pineapples and coconuts after the ceremony to get everyone in a festive mood. The couple’s calligrapher used Hawaiian Ti Leaves as place cards, which represent good luck. 

“One of our favorite parts of the ceremony was catching the jujubes and chestnuts thrown by our families into the wedding skirt to represent the number of children we will have,” Christina shares.

While the couple opted for a basic package and took on much of the planning themselves, they acknowledge the invaluable support their coordinator provided during the pandemic. “Looking back, we can see the appeal of handing everything off to the professionals so you can truly relax on your special day,” the couple says.

From the breathtaking landscapes of Kualoa Ranch to the unique touches that reflected their personalities, Jesse and Christina’s Oahu celebration is one to behold.

Vendors: Photography: L. Hewitt Photography; Planning: Aloha Bridal Connections; Venue: Kualoa Ranch; Florals: Puaka’ie Floristry; Cake: A Cake Life; Cinematography: Sophia Roud; Catering: Course Hawaii; Bar: 1979 Hawaii; Band: Just Press Play Productions; Ceremony Music: Oahu Strings; Rentals: Accel Events & Tents; Rentals: Aloha Artisans; Signage: C’est Calligraphy; Butterfly Release: Sharing the Butterfly Experience; Korean Paebaek Ceremony: Labella Weddings; Lawn Games: Yard Games Hawaii; Restroom Rental: La’aKea Ocean Wedding; Hair & Makeup: REVEAL Hair & Makeup; Officiant: Tommy Tokioka; Dress: Rime Arodaky; Accessories: Miu Miu; Engagement Ring: Jangmi Jewelry; Suit: Ted Baker

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