Aloha Ever After

Aloha Ever After

The Story of Kaimana and Sarah Scarfone

By Nathan Butler | Photos by Ian Net



Few things are as defining or life-changing as finding the person you want to start the rest of your life with. Many people are under the impression that you need to become a member of an online dating site or join a Frisbee golf team. For some, this works, but for others it can seem as if fate drops your soul mate right in front of you.

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When Lovers Meet 

When you think of Humbrews you may think of local music, local beers, and good grub. What you probably won’t think of is the restaurant as an incubator for love. But for Kaimana and Sarah Scarfone, that was exactly the case. “He was a cook and I was server,” explains Sarah. “We spent a lot of time with each other. I handled the front of the restaurant while Kai manned the kitchen. He would put on some reggae music (our favorite) and we would sing, dance and work effortlessly together.”

Proving that you know your way around a kitchen can be a huge asset when it comes to catching the attention of your prospective mate, “especially because I do not cook,” admits Sarah. “It was a plus.”

“Honestly, I knew I was in love with her far before we ever started dating,” says Kai. “For a good year I worked there one day a week; it was only because she also worked that day. I was in college and it wasn’t for the money. I was there for one day a week to get to hang out with Sarah.”

“I remember for months before we ever were dating telling all of my friends that there is this girl at work, and she is just amazing,” he says. “I am eventually going to convince her that I am the one for her.”

“And he did!” adds Sarah. “It took me a little bit longer, but he did. My feelings of friendship and respect for this man grew into trust and love.”

Over the course of the next couple years, they worked together and eventually became close friends. Kai and Sarah both come from large, single-parent households and they share many of the same interests, whether it be movies, music, television, or literature. Through their similar backgrounds and taste they formed an early bond, but through their differences they find strength. “We are very different,” says Sarah. “He cooks and I cannot. I am more artistically-minded, and he thrives in the science-based aspect. We have enough opposite that we can complement each other and bring in those different areas of expertise to each other.”

While Sarah was born and raised in Humboldt County, Kai grew up on the Big Island of Hawaii. Geographically and vegetatively, they may seem quite distinct, but Kai and Sarah believe the sense of community and energy of the two places instilled in them similar core values. Those core values make them a better couple, and helped them to fall in love “full throttle”, says Sarah.

It was at this point that Sarah became pregnant with their daughter, Mahayla, who is now two years old. “She is the most gorgeous, intelligent, and sweet soul that I have ever encountered,” says Sarah. “Creating this being together only intensified our feelings and commitment to each other.”Humboldt Photography-093

The next punctuation on the couple’s path of passion was the proposal. “We were on a family trip visiting my aunt, who was having a mini-family reunion,” Sarah recalls. “We stopped at a lovely beach we really like. I don’t know what the name is- it’s our beach now.”

“It was one of the beaches between Arcata and Crescent City,” adds Kai. “We pulled over and I asked her if she wanted to go for a walk down the beach. I asked her to marry me on the beach.”

Sarah continues setting the scene, as if from the pages of a romance novel: “It was evening. The sun was just starting to go down. A little chill to the air, but it was perfect. We were just running around chasing waves a bit with our dog Libby, a poodle, and writing love notes in the sand.”

“I was sitting on a giant rock, staring into the vast ocean in a moment of pure peace and joy, when I looked down and noticed Kai on bended knee,” says Sarah. “In his hand, he held a gorgeous vintage ring and was asking me to be his wife. The answer burst from me as I leaped from the rock into his arms: ‘Yes, yes, yes!’-accompanied by a squeal.”

The ring Kai proposed with was actually his great-grandmother’s ring on his mother’s side. When his great-grandmother passed, his mom got all the jewelry since she was the only female heir in the family. “When I was talking about proposing to Sarah, I got to rummage through the treasure chest a little bit and pick out the ring that I liked,” said Kai. In almost fairy tale fashion, the ring Kai picked out was actually the same ring Sarah had once called “the most gorgeous thing I have ever seen.”

It turns out that ring had also been his grandmother’s engagement ring. “It’s super-special to us,” Sarah affirms. “I had a wedding band made at Whiplash Curve to match it because there was no band, but I got to make it special and add to that.” Sarah worked with the gemologist at Whiplash Curve to design her own custom ring. “Bonnie is her name and she is really sweet,” she says.Humboldt Photography-025

Kai was also happy with the decision to bring his treasured family heirloom into Whiplash Curve. “It was really cool working with them,” he says. “They actually made indentations and engravings on her custom ring to match, as well as with the sizing so it wrapped around nicely.”


The Wedding Planners


“When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as 


 – Nora Ephron, 

When Harry Met Sally


As true as those words may be, good things take time. Planning a wedding is usually one of the largest, most complex events people embark upon. Needless to say, rushing something of that magnitude can be disastrous. There are simply so many factors to be taken into consideration that it is crucial to give yourself plenty of time. Kai and Sarah sagaciously did just that. “We had a longer engagement, so we knew the wedding was coming,” says Kai, “but we felt like we had time until it was, of course, all upon us at once.”

“There are so many options when you start looking into planning a wedding,” Kai continues. “There are so many different books and ‘You need to do this, you need to do that, you need to have a receiving line and it all needs to be in this progression’. So we looked at all of it and said, ‘Well, what is it that is important to us?’”

Sarah and Kai waited to begin planning for some time. “I put the wedding planning on the back burner for a bit because, frankly, having a newborn is exhausting and can make it hard to function normally until you get into the swing of things,” says Sarah.

“Once the chaos of becoming new parents had settled, we began to think about the wedding again,” she says. “I am not the most organized person; I am not afraid to admit it. I found a couple of tools to help me organize on the go. A wedding-planning book that (Sarah’s sister) Emilee had bought for me was a lot of help.”

“I got together with my girls,” she says. “I got some wine and some bridal magazines and tore out all the things that I liked and thought might inspire me and kept it in the bridal book. That was big and hard to carry around. is what I used as my wedding planner, basically. It allowed me to put in pictures of dresses, venues, and flowers. It was a visual organization of everything that I could need.” also provides tools to help manage time, such as a timeline that allows you to make the most out the time you have to plan, and tools for budgeting so you can be sure McDonald’s isn’t catering the wedding.

“The first solid plan we made was the date of the wedding,” says Sarah. “Seven has always been my favorite number and Kai’s is thirteen, so we thought it would be neat to be married on 7/13/13. When it landed on a Saturday in one of the most beautiful months we have in Humboldt, we knew it was meant to be.”

Having to make some tough choices is a part of planning a wedding. Often, to get the dress or food that you want you have to trim the budget somewhere else. “What can we do to make all of those things happen?” Kai says of making those tough choices. “Maybe it meant cutting out on the receiving line or on some of the other more formal aspects, but by focusing on the things we wanted we were able to create our wedding that we had pictured within our budget or within our means. It is about deciding what it is that is really important to you as a couple and putting that effort there.”

Kai and Sarah ended up going with a smaller venue, so when it came to the guest list they had to make some of those tough choices. “One hundred people was the max, so we did narrow it down a bit,” said Sarah. “We do have huge families.”

Being that Kai is from Hawaii, there was a lot of family that they knew wouldn’t be able to make it simply because of the geography. “When you are planning a wedding, you are not necessarily going to get a person for every invite,” he says.

“But also, some invites are going to get more than the one person. Some of the bigger cuts were more with our friends. We got most of our family, but I think maybe it would have been nice to have more of our friends.”

Kai also mentions that it is wise to invite the people who will be mad if they aren’t invited, and it’s probably better to cut the people whom you haven’t spoken to in a while, or are just co-workers or acquaintances that you aren’t particularly close to.

“I just started with visualizing the wedding,” says Sarah. “The small parts first. What did I want the attire to be like? What did I want my dress to be like, or the colors? So I started slowly in the beginning. (It was) about six months of solid planning and talking to vendors. I always take a little longer to do things and I know that about myself, so I allotted that time.”

As for the theme, they wanted the beach to be incorporated in some aspect. This could be because they both grew up ocean-side, or because the magic of the proposal was not forgotten by either of them. They did not want a beach wedding as much as to have the beach scenery. “The theme of the wedding kind of just came along,” says Sarah. “I wasn’t like ‘I want all roses and I want this color palette exactly’. I was like ‘I like this here and that here’ and then it became more of like a whimsical theme or eclectic like me.” Sarah believes this worked for them, but she says that in general it’s probably a good idea to pick a theme early on in the planning process. “That way it all can be incorporated more easily,” she says.

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“We knew we weren’t going to have everything, so we looked at the things that were important, like having the dress that she knew that she wanted,” says Kai. “She visualized it. So we made sure to spend a little more time on things we thought were important to us.”

And of course every wedding needs music. Whether it’s playing the bride down the aisle or something for the newlyweds to have their first dance to, music is an opportunity to really put your unique mark on the wedding. “We did book a DJ probably about three or four months before our wedding,” says Kai. “It was kind of a friend-of-a-friend that does DJing and the music and the set-up. So we had made a verbal agreement on ‘this is the day and this is the time, this is the music, this is the price.’”

“About the weekend before the wedding, I went to talk to the guy to confirm everything,” Kai continued. “Basically, he had not written down that he was going to be DJing the wedding, so a week beforehand said ‘sorry I can’t do it.’ He did offer some friends, but at that point and time it was a week before the wedding.” Kai was not about to let this slow him down. “In all honesty, we had a back-up plan with making our own playlist.”

Sarah explains all the factors that go into building a good wedding playlist: “What music you like, what would be going on during the dinner, (etc.),” she says.

“Instead of going with another DJ that we hadn’t met and hadn’t talked to and discussed what the music was going to be,” Kai says, they went ahead with Plan B, building a playlist and calling in a favor from their friend Tim and his guitar. “We actually have a pretty large music collection already, so essentially I put together a couple different playlists for different portions of the wedding.”

“We also had a really good friend of ours play some live music for us at the ceremony,” Kai continues. “He is really good on the guitar. He played some calm, mellow acoustic guitar music, so that helped us with not having to get the musical equipment and things like that up there. Because it was a smaller ceremony he was able to just play acoustic, and that worked out perfectly for the ceremony portion.”

As for music at the reception, Kai says, “We made a few different playlists; kind of like a drinks and appetizers type play list, so when we disappeared taking our wedding photos the rest of the wedding was having drinks and having a good time. We had a dinner, mellower-point playlist. We also had a late-night dance party playlist. We employed my little sisters to change that flow as it was going on.” They even had music picked out for the garter and bouquet toss.

Even with the playlists and large music selection, Kai said he can’t help but wish they could have had their DJ. “It would have been nice to get our DJ that we had planned and booked and were ready to have.”

Sarah takes a more stoic approach to the situation. “Things are going to happen,” she said. “In planning anything, there’s things that fall through the cracks. It is just how you deal with it and bounce back that makes the difference. We figured it out and it was for the better. We saved a little in our budget.”

“It was a little more work on our parts taking the time to put together these playlists,” says Kai. “Luckily it was something that we had thought about prior as a backup. Music is something we both really enjoy anyway. So putting together that, even though it was more work, it wasn’t really all that difficult because we did have a lot of the music already in our possession. We didn’t have to go out and buy a ton of CDs or download a bunch of music.”

If you are going to have all that music, you’re going to need somewhere to dance. Kai and Sarah had their dance floor set-up outside initially, “But then everyone from Hawaii was like ‘It’s too cold!’ So we moved it inside,” says Sarah. And if you are going to have all that dancing, people are going to start getting thirsty. Fortunately enough for the guests at Kai and Sarah’s wedding, they had an open bar. “That was one of the things that we prioritized,” says Sarah. “The food and the drinks we allotted a lot in the budget for.”

“Luckily at the place that we had chosen, you can bring any alcohol that you would like as long as you don’t sell it,” says Kai. “That was part of the appeal of that place was that we knew we wouldn’t have to purchase drinks from a bar. We got to bring all the drinks that we wanted. We brought a keg, a bunch of big bottles of liquor, lots of red and white wines. We did a few signature drinks like whiskey sours. Not a full bar I would say, but we had vodka, rum, tequila, whiskey and the mixers.”

The location of the wedding and reception can make things easy or incredibly complicated, depending on the variables. Is it susceptible to inclement weather? Does the reception location have a suitable kitchen? Are there restrooms and other amenities available? All these questions and more must be taken into consideration to avert catastrophe. Kai and Sarah were married at Moonstone Beach, with the ceremony on the cliffs overlooking the ocean. “My mother was married there, had her reception at Merryman’s Beach House, and I was her flower girl,” explains Sarah. “It had a lot of special meaning to me, and I always imagined myself being there.”

Among the multitude of considerations is the notion of using local vendors. Kai and Sarah believe that not only is it the wise thing to do, it’s a good thing to do for the community.  Oftentimes, the local business can offer you more personalized service and attention to detail than you would find with large companies who are more concerned with stockholders than with the company’s clientele. “There are some really great vendors out there, and they will work with you,” says Sarah.

And of course no wedding can call itself a wedding without plenty of flora. Kai and Sarah’s wedding was as much a feast for the eye as it was for the heart. “We did Dahlias for the main bouquets – my bouquet and all my bridemaids,” explains Sarah. Dahlias and lavender could also be found in the centerpiece arrangements in beautifully-decorated wine bottles repurposed into ornate vases.

Among the many flower arrangements were the maile leis. “It was for the guys,” says Kai. “It’s a traditional Hawaiian thing. It is a part of Hawaiian culture.” He explains that for almost any formal occasion, a lei is worn. The maile lei is made of the spicy scented maile stems and leaves, and is worn by Hawaiian priests and often used to bind the bride and groom’s hands together as a symbol of their unity. Maile leis are most widely used for weddings, but are also used for proms, graduations, and even as peace offerings in times of war.

“We had them over-nighted from an online floral shop from Hawaii,” says Kai. “She got the traditional bride’s lei and I got the traditional maile lei for myself and my groomsmen.”

There can be many reasons for selecting the color scheme of the wedding flowers, but considering there is a wedding season, wouldn’t it make sense to have the wedding colors be those of the flowers in bloom? Kai and Sarah went with the oranges, whites and pinks that could be found in-season. “It actually happened to coordinate really well with the blues and purples that I had done for the rest of the décor,” says Sarah. Having the lavender in bloom was especially lucky for her. “I love it,” she says. “It is one of my favorite smells. It is so fragrant and beautiful and fresh. We also had white roses for the aisle, sprinkled down there. Lilies lined the aisle-ways on the chairs and the altar as well. The lilies we got from the bulk farm.”

For flowers and arrangements, Kai and Sarah went through Redwood Roots, which is a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm. Basically, you pay for a membership and reap the rewards of a bountiful harvest or help share in the pain of a less-than-substantial harvest. It allows the community to know who is growing their food or flowers and where they come from. “They do flower-share there as part of your farm share,” says Kai. “We talked with (the farmer) beforehand about possibly just getting our entire share essentially all at once for our wedding. We were able to work with her and that saved us a ton of money. Also some of our food (for the wedding) we got from the farm there.”

So what do you do once the bride and groom are married and you need to ensure that there won’t be a wedding insurrection by hungry guests? You feed them! “We chose to cater our own (wedding),” says Sarah. “A little crazy, but we did most of the prep stuff beforehand.”

For the menu, there was a resplendent smorgasbord of savory sustenance. Sarah’s dad and brother, who are both commercial fishermen, provided fresh salmon which had been caught the morning of the wedding. There was also smoked salmon, prime rib, barbequed chicken, fresh fruit salad, and green salad. “It was pretty much barbeque-style,” says Sarah. “It was pretty casual because that is how we are, but casual with a twist, I think: Local, organic, delicious food.”

“For the meat, we got Humboldt Grassfed Beef,” adds Kai. “The salmon was all local, caught by family members.” For the plates, Kai and Sarah used, which is a Brooklyn, NY-based company that offers non-toxic, compostable dishware made from renewable or sustainably-harvested materials all manufactured in North America. It is a great alternative to traditional disposable ware that is bad for the environment and bad for peace of mind.

The wedding cake has a rich and storied history throughout time. In ancient Rome, as a symbol of good fortune, a “cake” of wheat or barley was broken over the bride’s head. The bride and groom would then eat some of the crumbs, a custom called confarreatio, or eating together. The guests, as tokens of good luck, would gather up the crumbs. It is safe to say things have definitely gotten better for the bride and her guests. Today, nobody has to eat crumbs off the floor and the bride doesn’t have to deal with a bunch of wheat in her hair.

For Kai and Sarah, a more modern approach to the wedding cake was their modus operandi. “It was so fun going cake tasting. They just set you up with this pile of different cakes and frostings. You get to taste everything together. We did a red velvet cake with a white chocolate ganache and a butter-cream frosting. It was simple, but absolutely delicious. I made the cake toppers for it: Two little ceramic ducks, did the little maile lei for him, and did the little flower behind my ear for my duck.”

“The cake was one of those things that, instead of making a cake or having someone make a cake, we went to Ramone’s, because they did a really good job,” says Kai. “Also, they delivered it on the day of and guaranteed all of that. So it was nice not to have to worry about how to transport a wedding cake.
“Ramone’s was really great to work with, too,” Kai continued. “They gave us lots of options. They had a little book that we could choose the style that we wanted, but still twerk it a little bit to customize it.” Sarah didn’t have to think about the options for long. “I think we knew right after the tasting,” she said. “We did orchids for the cake, too.”

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“We told (the baker) that were going to bring in our own flowers because were bringing in our flowers from CSA,” said Kai. “It was nice because we got to incorporate the flowers that we were going to use in our wedding onto our wedding cake. That was a way of saving money too, because we didn’t have to buy those extra flowers to be put on the cake. We had more flowers than we knew what to do with.”

And what would a wedding be without traditions? One of the more famous of these traditions is the “Four somethings.” It comes from the old English rhyme, “Something olde, something new, something borrowed, something blue, a sixpence in your shoe.” Although you may find it difficult to find a sixpence outside of jolly ol’ England, the other items are usually provided by the bride’s friends and family. “I got a couple of the things and I knew there were some things my friends would add to it,” says Sarah. “My garter, I had a little blue ribbon on there. Something new was a hair clip that I had. Something borrowed, my mom lent me my grandma’s pearls the day of. That was something I didn’t know I was going to have, but it was a wonderful surprise.”

“There’s a couple things you can do yourself, but then it’s nice to leave that up to your friends and family,” Sarah continued. “I had things in mind as a back-up in a way, but also those are things that traditionally people help you out with. We didn’t stick super-traditional to anything, but I kind of had that in the back of my head. I wasn’t like, ‘This has to be exactly it’. Whatever somebody lets me borrow, that will be my something borrowed.”

“The day of the wedding, we woke up early and I met with my family and bridesmaids at the beach house,” says Sarah. “My nearest and dearest friends, Katie and Ruby, were there bright and early ready to set up. My mom Linda and my sisters Emilee and Jessica set up the ceremony site and then headed downhill to help with the reception. I explained where I wanted things, and left to get all dolled up!”

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“Both our wedding parties and families met up to get ready at our gorgeous rental home in Trinidad,” Sarah continued. “The men made brunch for everyone on the first floor while the ladies were getting ready and sipping mimosas! My cousin Aimee is a wonderful stylist; she did my hair in a simple waterfall braid and tucked my grandma’s ring into my hair as my ‘something old.’ Kai’s sisters Krista and Alyssa did my nails and makeup. Alyssa is very talented and is attending Paul Mitchell Beauty School. I was totally pampered by some of my favorite ladies!”

The choices of Best Man and Maid of Honor can be difficult. How do you show your appreciation to one without alienating others? “Honestly, it was hard,” says Kai. “I wanted to have two best men. It wasn’t an easy decision, but I feel like we made the right the decisions for sure.”

“Even though I had one Best Man, my other friends were still a part of the wedding,” Kai continued. “Also, they were definitely included in the bachelor party and all of the fun aspects of being a groomsman. So it was hard to pick the one Best Man, but really when it came down to it, I knew who my wedding party was going to be.”

Kai said he believes his friends knew how it was going to work, and there were no hurt feelings. “It was the same with my bridesmaids,” said Sarah. “My older sister was my Maid of Honor. I knew she was always going to be that. My little sister did ask, ‘Can I be your junior Maid of Honor?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, we’ll make that title for you. You’re my junior Maid of Honor.’ I think that was the closest to anyone’s feelings being hurt or anything like that. It was my best friends that I have known since I was seven and my two sisters. There were no questions about that.”


Another important element is whom you choose to perform the ceremony. “We went with my dad,” says Kai. “He went to the courthouse and got the certificate.”

“We were honored to have Kai’s dad Rockwood marry us,” said Sarah. “For us it wasn’t something that we had to have a pastor. We wanted something more personal. His dad is a really well-spoken person and very charismatic. He knows how to draw the attention of the crowd and knows how to project his voice. He had all the attributes that we wanted from someone leading a ceremony. He wrote a beautiful ceremony that incorporated an ancient Hawaiian tradition where when a man is proposing he hands the woman a flower and if she takes it and places it behind her left ear it means she accepts.”

“He basically wrote a script, which was nice for us to be able to get it and be able to picture what is was and how the ceremony was going to go,” Sarah added. “It was nice to be able to work with someone we know – a family member – and be able to customize that to what we wanted it to be.”

Kai and Sarah wrote their own vows, and they worked with Kai’s dad to create their own unique ceremony. “Rockwood had written the ceremony and we had written our own vows, and they kind of sounded a little redundant based on what he had said,” says Sarah. “So we just talked it through and worked them into the ceremony.”

“We did write them ourselves, but rather than keeping them private and waiting until the ceremony to say them, we worked them in rather than being a very traditional, ‘Ok you say your vows and then you say your vows.’ It was more of a back and forth (between us),” Sarah says.

Taking that sense of customization a step further, Kai soon set about building the couple’s very own wedding arbor. “I cut it up, screwed it together, and put a trellis on it,” he says. “Then we brought it out to the beach and in the morning our family had added decorations and flowers all over it. I made that arbor, and now it gets to grace our garden.”

If the flowers are the centerpieces of the wedding table, there can be no doubt the centerpiece of the wedding is the bride and her dress. After Sarah and Kai were engaged, Sarah had begun sketching out ideas for her perfect dress. “I couldn’t really find anything that looked like what I wanted,” she says. “I went to a couple different bridal stores and tried things on, and I wasn’t happy.”

“I decided to look online,” she said. “I stumbled across Etsy, which I had seen before (Etsy is an e-commerce website that allows individuals to buy and sell handmade wares). I saw one I liked but wasn’t quite what I wanted, so I thought if I tweaked it here and there it would be perfect. So I messaged the seller.”

Sarah ended up asking the seller if she could customize the dress. The seller agreed, allowing Sarah to essentially design it herself. “I got a one-of-a-kind custom dress that was exactly what I had sketched out, and it turned out to be absolutely perfect,” she says. “I did take the risk of not being able to try it on.”

Sarah and the seller had a lot of back-and-forth communication that assuaged much of her trepidation. “It was a lot of work, but it ended up working out beautifully,” she says. “With that risk came the reward. I don’t necessarily recommend to everyone that they just buy a dress off the internet and hope that it works, but it really did. I got a great deal on it.”

Sarah also employed a clever tactic to ensure that the dress would reach her in time for last-minute alterations: “I had told her that my wedding was two months before it really was,” says Sarah.

Sarah was also mindful of the fleeting importance of a wedding dress. “I didn’t want to spend a ridiculous amount of money on something that I am only going to wear once,” she said. “There are lots of ways to get your dream dress. Etsy was a pretty cool way to do it for me.”

Both Etsy and Pinterest (a website that allows you to create a virtual cork board of ideas, pictures, recipes, travel, etc.) proved invaluable to Sarah’s planning. “I was able to make a visual board to get all of my ideas, things that I like, and see if they work together,” she says. “I did that and also a physical inspiration board that I would hang up on my wall. With the help of Pinterest, Etsy, and a love for all things crafty, I started a Wedding Board and pinned to it everything that evoked the feel and look I was going for.”

“It is where I found inspiration for most of my crafts,” says Sarah, “including twine-wrapped bottles as centerpieces, ribbon wind chimes in the trees, a rustic ‘here comes mommy’ flower girl basket, ceramic bird cake-toppers, hand-sewn clutches for my bridesmaids, and unique cloth bags filled with our favorite chocolates.”

“I wanted to give the guests something to take home with them,” she said. “Nothing says special to me more than something homemade!” Sarah purports to be infamous for her sweet tooth, so “it only made sense to fill the bag with treats!”

Etsy not only helped Sarah get the dress of her dreams, it also allowed her to have “pretty, personalized invitations.” It’s one thing to draw a picture or use calligraphy on one note; imagine trying to replicate that same thing a hundred times. You might just start thinking you want to shorten the guest list again. Etsy makes it personalized without having to get all that glue and sawdust all over the garage. Sarah put the website to good use: “I ordered custom lockets and earrings for my bridesmaids, flower girl, both of our mothers, and Kai’s sisters. Kai ordered custom wooden watches for his groomsmen, Mike and Marley, a pocket knife for his ring bearer, and wooden pocket watches for both of our fathers.” Sarah even found the perfect flower girl dress for their daughter.

Just because the couple broke with tradition and had someone not necessarily affiliated with a religious order perform their ceremony, that doesn’t mean it was devoid of any sense of spirituality. “We ate some bread together and drank a little wine,” says Sarah. “It was our own little communion in a way. It was our first meal and first drink together as husband and wife.”

“People can really customize it to however they want,” Sarah says. “You don’t have to have the traditional vows.” She believes that, these days, there is no reason you have to have the typical cookie-cutter wedding. Planning it yourself allows you to find what will make the day special for all involved.

As for a ring bearer, the couple decided on Kai’s little brother.  “(He) is nine now,” said Sarah.  “He is the cutest little boy. He was our ring bearer. He was really proud to be the ring bearer. He did an awesome job. He was nervous, but he did a great job. Mahayla, our daughter, was our flower girl. She never made it down the aisle, but it doesn’t matter. She looked cute running around.”

The couple decided to order Kai’s ring from Hawaii, choosing a tungsten ring with a Koa wood inlay. Koa is the second most common tree in Hawaii, and its name in Hawaiian means brave, bold, fearless, and warrior. “It is a really popular wood for sculptures and things like that,” says Kai, who likens the Koa wood to the Redwoods of Humboldt County because both are so iconic and versatile.



The Big Day


The couple’s reception was held at Merryman’s Beach House. “Everyone came up the hill for the ceremony, then back down and laid on the beach, hung out and danced,” Sarah remembers. “It was really wonderful.”

“Merryman’s Beach House used to be a restaurant,” says Kai. “It is owned by the Merryman family. Down on the beach house, if you want to rent it, there is a phone number on the window, so we just called it. Melissa Merryman answered and said her family has owned it for generations. Her dad used to run the restaurant down there.”

“It worked out well for us because it had a full kitchen already,” continued Kai, “so for the catering purposes it was perfect because all the facilities were there.” Kai and Sarah called nine months in advance to reserve the beach house and put down a deposit. Even at nine months out, Merryman’s had the previous weekend and following two weekends already booked.

After the dinner, which was grilled by Kai and Sarah’s friend Nate, they cut the cake and shared their first dance. Afterward, they tossed the bouquet and the garter. “Kai’s little brother caught the garter, and my older sister caught the bouquet,” Sarah remembers. “After all the wedding traditions were done, we danced the night away with our friends and family by our side.”

The biggest way to guarantee a wedding being memorable is the photography. With so many people and so much going on, it can be hard to have the chance to really soak it all in at the time. Having a good photographer ensures that the day will last much longer than the hours in it. Kai and Sarah went with Ian Net of Humboldt Photography. “He was phenomenal,” says Sarah. “He really stepped up. He had focus and direction. He could see when there were times where I didn’t really know what to do or I needed to gather the attention of people, but didn’t really want to be the person that did that. He stepped up and would do it.”

“He definitely helped the flow,” said Kai. “He was really good at seeing ‘Ok, it’s time to move on to the next part.’”

“Which is something that I didn’t even think about,” added Sarah. “Obviously he is not supposed to be a wedding coordinator, but because I did plan it myself and I didn’t think about that aspect of not being that person or assigning someone to do it the day of, he just really took that role. He didn’t have to. I had numerous people, all of my guests said ‘He feels like part of the family.’ They were totally comfortable with him, which I think allowed for a lot more candid photos and people just being natural.”

Net also has a limo, which Kai and Sarah utilized in conjunction with his photography and wedding coordinating skills. “Which was perfect,” says Kai. “Because of the location, there wasn’t really a place to get ready there. So that was something we had thought about in getting a limo to deliver us to the ceremony site. So when our photographer happened to have a limousine company as well that he could throw in with the wedding package, that definitely was another big plus for Humboldt Photography for sure.”

“He had a really artistic eye, which was something I was looking for,” says Sarah. “I didn’t want just straight cookie-cutter wedding pictures. We talked beforehand about what style I would like, if there was anything specifically that I want to get.” Sarah also notes that Net came out the day before to the rehearsal of the ceremony to set up the lighting and find out where the best shots would be.



Aloha Ever After


For their honeymoon, Kai and Sarah again took the road less traveled. “We opted to do a staycation,” says Sarah. “We rented a home in Trinidad- an absolutely beautiful A-frame. We had it for a couple days prior to the wedding, and for a week or so after. So we got to have a nice little romantic vacation, but not be too far away from home.”

“We do have a toddler and I didn’t want to go too far,” she says. “There’s all these beautiful places that we don’t normally get to enjoy – all these rental homes and such – I know people that own them and I’d always wanted to stay there, but never really had an excuse. So we decided to rent a home and then we got to do the preparation there: You know, get ready with all the bridesmaids and groomsmen and stuff. We had our own little space beforehand.”

Like all things, weddings never go completely according to plan. “There is a lot of stress involved in planning a wedding,” says Sarah. “Take a few deep breaths, and it will all work out. Set small goals is my advice. It will all come together and you will see the bigger picture. There were a few things that happened that we were like ‘ahhh,’, but nobody noticed. It was a wonderful day.”

“A lot of the things that we had in our head that ‘This needs to happen this way’ didn’t happen exactly that way,” says Kai.

“But even though it wasn’t exactly as we had planned it, it still ended up working out perfectly.”

“When it comes down to it, it’s about getting your friends and family and making this commitment of love to each other,” he says. “It doesn’t really matter, all of the other stuff. Yes, it’s fun and it’s there and it’s important, but (my advice is) not to get too hung up on some of the littler things.”

The notion of the wedding predates recorded history. As the idea of marriage continues to evolve with the influx and ebbing of traditions new and old, certain constants remain the same. Love must always be central to the couple. With the help of family and friends, anything is possible.

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Emerald contributor since July 2019


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