Of all the weddings I’ve shot – this is one that I will always hold near and dear to my heart. It’s one that I’ll reflect back on when I’m having a hard day. One that I’ll remember when I question my capacity as an artist and one that will bring me back to the core of what it is I do and why I do it. Because this Maui wedding at Sunsets Bar and Grill in Kihei was a full-circle kind of wedding for me and the people that we shared it with.
I’d love to rehash everything that has happened in the past 7 years knowing Taima. Sunday Funday’s at our friend’s beach-front house in Kihei where we forget most of what happened (thanks alcohol) and shared beers on the beach watching the sunset. Paddling the Pailolo Channel together and earning our first state paddling medal. Grieving the loss of her mother. Celebrating the birth of my daughter. We’ve been through a lot -good, bad, better. But let’s cut to the better stuff.
I got a phone call one day. Taima asked, “Hey – what are you doing on September 28?”
To which I replied, “Turning 34, what are you doing?”
She was quiet. Then she sighed “Shit. I’m a terrible friend. So, uh, can you photograph my wedding on that day? Is that OK?”
I laughed. I could hear the excitement in her voice drain when I told her it was my birthday and she was asking if I could give it up to celebrate her marriage to Jesse.
There wasn’t a moment’s hesitation on my part. What better way to begin my 34th year of life than celebrating one of my dearest friends’ best day ever?
Maui wedding at sunsets bar and grill
The ceremony was amazing (performed by my husband and Eddy was the flower girl). The speeches were my favorite. Ashley, the OG Maid of Honor had her beautiful baby girl days prior to the wedding, so she could not be in attendance. So those of us closest to Taima read her speech – one part of which included me (so you’ll see me in there too!). Rosie, the second Maid of Honor did the most epic Disney lip-sync speech I’ve ever seen. The dance party was awesome (damn my friends know how to party)! The sparkler exit was questionable because everyone was too drunk to take directions but we pulled it off anyway! But we ended the night with a champagne shot that is one of my favorites!
Even though I had been there 12 hours, the day seemed to go by in the blink of an eye. After the couple took their limo back to the hotel, I put away my gear, sat with my friends in the parking lot, and flopped into the grass. I stared at the stars above and tried to piece together the day – and to piece together how it all started.
Before the wedding…
When I took Taima and Jesse’s engagement photos at the beginning of this year, I didn’t know Jesse well. The genesis of their journey as fiances was quick – and to be honest, all of us who knew Taima were skeptical. Who was this Jesse guy and was he good enough for our Taima girl? But let me say this: you can tell a lot about a couple by how they photograph. And at the end of our shoot together I knew they had something deep and meaningful.
Anthony and Eddy met us for dinner afterward and I was three cocktails deep when I asked Jesse: “OK man – you gotta fill me in. Because to those of us on the outside, this all happened super quick.”
He held up his hand and looked at me with those big blue eyes and said “I know…I know. But when you know, you know. And when I left Maui to move to Washington I realized that I was making a huge mistake. Taima is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of woman and I’d have to be an idiot to let her go. She’s the love of my life.”
And instantly I started crying because that’s who I am nowadays, I suppose.
Their wedding was no different. I cried as much as I laughed. I literally sobbed after her brother saw her for the first time. Both of Taima’s parents have passed and in many ways, these two have had to navigate love and loss together.
When Tyrus saw Taima, he said “You look beautiful. And I like your necklace.”
She touched the pearl on her necklace and said: “It was Mom’s.”
It was all too much. I excused myself, went upstairs, and sobbed. Amanda, our friend, and Taima’s bridesmaid came over to me and put her hand on my shoulder: “Are you going to be OK?”
Yes. I was going to be OK. Because our Taima girl was marrying the love her of her life and I have never seen her happier. And Jesse is the right man for her to marry. And life dealt her some shitty cards but she found her person and she has created a beautiful community of people who love her. Because it was all going to be OK.
And on a personal level, I am so thankful to have been granted access to these precious moments. To witness the joy and emotion of the day in such an intimate way was a gift. I hope I did her justice because those who know Taima know she only deserves the best life has to offer.
To my dear friends Taima and Jesse: if there’s one thing I want you to remember from your wedding it’s how loved you are by all of your friends and family. And even though you’re leaving Maui in just a few short weeks, you’ll always have a home here with those who love you most.
And to my Maui wedding industry professionals that took such amazing care of my friends: thank you. You all did a phenomenal job and I’m so very lucky to work with the best-of-the-best in the industry. This Maui wedding at Sunsets Bar and Grill was so successful because of your expertise. So – thank you. Truly.