Since there's a chance Nick won't be off next year for NYE and for all we know we may not still live in Hawaii two years from now, I thought we should experience Waikiki on New Years Eve at least once.
Palm Christmas trees, beach days,Hawaiian shirts, sunblock, and Mai Tais...ahhh, Hawaii for the holidays. What an experience.
As nice as it would have been to visit my family and/or Nick's for the holiday's, our schedules (and wallets) disagreed with us. Thus we were forced to spend our first holiday season as a married couple, stuck (GASP!) here on a tropical island with our two lovable pups.
My awesome non-profit job gave me paid vacation Christmas Eve through through New Year's Eve and Nick's leave began a few days after mine. The only holiday day he was scheduled to work was Christmas Eve, and he was released early in the day since they weren't busy.
On Christmas Eve, we were fortunate enough to have dinner with two of Nick's Naval Academy friends on the Kaneohe Marine Base (one of which is stationed here and the other was visiting- neither of whom we have seen in quite some time) and their wives with whom I am also friends. It was such a nice thought to invite us over! (Thank you, Melissa, Jared, and Gunnar!)
Christmas day we slept in (as late as possible with a yapping beagle puppy), had banana bread and yummy leftovers from dinner with friends the night before. Then for dinner, since I don't eat meat and Nick's not a huge turkey person anyway, we had favorite foods: bacon wrapped bratwursts for him and whole grain spaghetti with roasted garlic spaghetti sauce for the both of us. With mixed drinks! We even decorated our first Christmas tree (Yes! a Christmas palm tree!) that morning.
I was lucky enough to chat with my whole family via Skype on Christmas Eve while I awkwardly was making cheesecake squares and happened to have my computer on the counter- I felt like they were watching me to see if I'd add an ingredient incorrectly! On Christmas morning I opened my presents from my sister over Skype while she watched then she and my niece and brother in law opened the ones I sent/ordered. It was a very technologically inspired holiday.
New Years Eve is a more important holiday to me and Nick than Christmas. We only spent our first Christmas together last year. Three years prior we had met early in December. On New Years Eve I had started to fall for Nick pretty hard and couldn't picture myself kissing anyone else at midnight. To me, it felt important to start the year off with Nick. Nick had been visiting his family in St. Louis, MO at the time on leave from the Naval Academy.
Brave (crazy?) as I was, I wanted to see him so badly I drove 14 hours overnight from Maryland to Missouri to arrive in time for New Years Eve. We had such an amazing time that Nick canceled his plane ticket back to MD and drove back with me. We officially became a couple just a few days afterward and I really believe things wouldn't have progressed the same way had I not made the decision to go (so thank you to my best friend Erin for not thinking I was crazy for wanting to go when I asked her for advice).
Since there's a chance Nick won't be off next year for NYE and for all we know we may not still live in Hawaii two years from now, I thought we should experience Waikiki on New Years Eve at least once.
We booked a hotel for New Years Eve night and the following night so we wouldn't have to rush home. We went to Tiki's Grill for New Years Eve dinner. Tiki's is one of my favorite restaurants on the island. It's fun, light-hearted, and we had our wedding reception there after we got married in March. Well, a dinner of 5 people but still. :)
Although we must be getting old...After an amazing dinner we walked around Waikiki with every intention of returning to Tiki's for a crazy night of drinking and dancing and watching fireworks at midnight. Instead we returned to our waterfront room and chugged lots of water while sitting out on the lanai watching the fireworks in sweatpants and no makeup. I even forgot to open the champagne at midnight! (My 23 year old self would be ashamed.)
We had an amazing mini-vacation/mini-moon. The following night we went on a very enjoyable sunset catamaran cruise in Waikiki with complimentary beverages included (booze cruise). Nick even bought me a beautiful pearl necklace after the cruise to celebrate our 3 year dating anniversary.
It was so much fun to kick off the new year on this gorgeous island pretending to be tourists. We moved here one year ago in February- I can't believe we have been island bound for nearly a whole year! I'd say it flew by- and it kind of did- other than that whole deployment time. :)
While it was a bit of a bummer not to see my family for the holidays, the 80-something degree weather is very consoling. I hope everyone had an amazing holiday season and a happy new year! Here's to a healthy, happy new year! :)
I've been lazy about updating. I apologize. I've been eating up every possible moment with Nick that I could lately. And we picked up our new puppy a week ago and I have since felt so completely distracted I can hardly finish---
What was I saying?
Due to Nick's many Homecoming date changes and the fun of the Navy not extending our already shortened leave time (from 10 days down to 7), we ended up not being able to visit the island of Kaua'i, but we did get one extra day in Maui than originally planned. And we still got a honeymoon, so that was what counted amd what made me happy.
Kahului Airport- Excited even at 9am!
We left on Sunday, October 31st (Halloween!) and came back on Friday, November 5th, spending 5 days in Maui. I was excited to spend Halloween in Maui since Lahaina is supposed to be a fun place to go, but unfortunately this year the town didn't block off the main road Front Street from cars so it was much tamer than I have heard it has been in the past. It was still interesting to spend it somewhere new- and WARM! (I appreciate this more than many people- 2 years ago I was Pam Anderson for Halloween. Pam Anderson from Baywatch. With the red bathing suit. In like 45 degree Baltimore weather. I slow-motion ran for 3 1/2 hours, took shots to keep warm, and stuck hand-warming pads in strategic locations. So yes, a warm Halloween was welcome with open arms!)
Beautiful drive up to Ka'anapali
Nick and I didn't really get to put a lot of time into costumes though. We didn't think we would be doing anything this year for it since we were originally supposed to be on Kaua'i, which doesn't do anything for Halloween. So basically I dressed up pretty and said I was Barbie anyone asked, and Nick had a fedora on with some beachie clothes and told people he was Jason Mraz. It worked.
We didn't really know anything about Maui other than Haleakala is like the Grand Canyon of Hawaii. I had no point of reference for where we were staying.
We stayed in Ka’anapali located in West Maui, about a 45 minute drive from the airport. We had an early flight in, landing at 8:30am. Although it was only a 40 minute flight from Honolulu Airport, you still have to be at the airport early enough to go through all the TSA stuff so we were ready for a second breakfast en route to our hotel. And with my handy Maui Revealed guidebook in hand, we drove the gorgeous drive up the coast to Ka’anapali as I read aloud the history behind everything we passed.
Our gorgeous resort grounds- Westin Maui
We stopped in Lahaina and ate breakfast at Longhi’s. The food was just incredible. We rapidly realized Lahaina was the place to go on our side of the island. We lucked out too- Lahaina was only about a 10 minute drive from our hotel location. Lahaina has lots of shopping, bars, and restaurants. Really fun place in general.
After breakfast we strolled around Lahaina a bit before heading to the hotel to check in. Unfortunately, with the multiple changes I had to make with our honeymoon plans due to Nick’s multiple changes in homecoming date, we lost money as well as our ocean view room at the Westin. Fortunately when we got to the hotel around 11am (way too early for check-in) not only were we able to check in early, but the nice guy at the front desk gave us a complimentary upgrade back to an ocean view room after I explained about Nick’s homecoming date complications.
Partay at the Westin!
We LOVED the Westin. I had originally wanted to stay at the Grand Waimea because it was fancy and seemed honeymoon-ish. Also because I heard they had a bar inside a cave you swim up to. (Later in our trip I saw where the Grand Waimea was located- about 2 hours south of where we were- and was VERY happy about choosing the Westin.)
The Westin was located right by a string of other hotels, restaurants, and shopping. Great location. Realistically if you didn’t feel like going anywhere, you could totally stay at your hotel the whole trip. Of course we didn’t do that though.
Doesn't he do a great Jason Mraz impression?
That night we went out to Lahaina for Halloween and walked around. We were so happy to discover the hotel had an hourly shuttle to Lahaina which just made the trip so much more awesome when we didn’t have to decide who had to be Designated Driver for the night.
Our second day we decided to book a couples' massage. I wasn’t sure if Nick would want to do it after I told him how much it cost, but when I asked him about it he agreed before I could even finish my sentence. We had our hour long couples' massage in a beach cabana next to a waterfall. It. Was. Incredible. I didn’t realize Nick had never had a massage before. I’d had two in my life. This beat both of those.
We went to the Old Lahaina Luau later that night. I had read in our guidebook and heard through multiple sources that this particular luau was the best in all the islands. I had gone to Paradise Cove Luau on O’ahu when my sister visited and it was just okay. I felt pretty cheesy there. It could have also had something to do with the fact that it was only 15 minutes away from my house.
Old Lahaina was awesome. We got there early and had $3 Happy Hour Mai Tai’s at the Aloha Mixed Plate restaurant next door to the luau. Three Mai Tai’s each later we headed over to the luau and received an additional Mai Tai at the door. All the drinks there were complimentary. Awesome. (We had taken a shuttle there too.)
The food was excellent, the drinks were yummy (did I mention included in the luau price??), entertainment was really fun, the view was just gorgeous. I was even impressed by the flower leis they provided. It's a real sign of quality when they bother to give you the flowered ones- usually it's just the cheap shell leis (that I have about 18 of at this point, all draped on my rearview mirrow).
One of our stops along the drive.
Tuesday we decided to do a drive to a waterfall and hike the falls. We drove up the West coast of Maui along this dirt road that was only a lane wide over mountains, basically. I was so thankful that I was not driving. Multiple times if you looked out the driver’s side window the car was literally inches from the edge of the road/mountain with a drop of hundreds of feet down. I freaked a little every time a car came from another direction and we had to pull up onto the side of the mountain best we could. Eeek!
After about 3 hours of driving the Hana Highway we went through this crazy little town called Pa’ia. I was fascinated by the guidebook’s description of Pa’ia: “It has become an attraction without any attractions other than itself. No great views, no waterfalls, no scenery, no big institutions like an aquarium. Pa’ia’s sights lie in its character- and characters.” The book wasn’t kidding. The people watching made it fun to drive through. So much in fact that we purposely drove back that way to get food on our way home. We shopped in a store called Alice in Hulaland that had some fun clothes. I was thrilled actually that I found a great little store with all organic foods and vegetarian stuff. (So sue me. They had awesome food. Even old fashioned real cream soda. So there.) We also drove by a town called Haiku. No kidding. I had to take a picture.
Waterfall Number 1
After about 3 hours of driving that morning and shortly after passing through Pa’ia we finally reached our destination: Na’ili’ili-haele Falls. Our trusty guidebook described it as overcoming multiple dillemmas to reach "the kind of scene most people dream of." It stated that due to how difficult the hike becomes eventually, most people stop after only the second waterfall. This made Nick determined.
We spent three hours total hiking to make it to that final waterfall. The book promised it would be difficult but worth it. We had to climb essentially a 12 foot rock wall to get past the 2nd waterfall, then a pretty fair amount of hiking afterwards. To get to the last waterfall, the best one, we had to swim through a cold muddy lake where I was freaking out I couldn’t see the bottom. Disgusting. At the end of the lake we had to climb up another mini waterfall to get to the final falls. We finally made it. The waterfall was about 34 feet high. We were the only ones there and just sat there for a few minutes taking pictures and admiring it (and me dreading getting back into that lake again).
That was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. I think it was Nick’s favorite part.
Black Sand Beach!
My favorite part was our last full day there. We finally spent that day exploring beaches. I was a little bit tempted to search for Little Beach, which has a reputation of being…well, a nude beach. Alas, Little Beach we did not visit. We did visit one of the Black Sand Beaches of Maui, Oneuli Beach. We spent some time at Po’olenalena Beach which was virtually abandoned. We thought we were alone, but a stroll along the beach revealed some nude sunbathers hiding behind rocks. Oops.
The snorkeling there was awesome. Nick saw a 3 ½ foot turtle before I joined him in the snorkeling. The coral was relatively untouched by humans and looked like the fake kind found in fish tanks. After a little while at that beach, we moved on to another one further up in Kihei and spent some time there before going to lunch at Tommy Bahama’s Café.
I had a gift certificate to go to the café, otherwise we might not have gone. When I think of Tommy Bahama’s, what pops into my brain are way-too-expensive Hawaiian shirts that only middle aged white golfers purchase. Definitely wouldn't have thought the food would be good at one of their few cafes. Amazingly I think that was my favorite place we ate the whole trip. The décor was beautiful- it reminded me of Charleston’s laidback, beachie style. The food was excellent and our server was just the best. We took home a slice of Key Lime Pie (I was in a total southern mode) to enjoy later.
Champagne + Hot tub + Love of my life = Perfection
The last evening in Maui we had a lovely dinner near the hotel with some wine tasting, then we finally visited the resort's hot tub and beach bar and I got to drink champagne in the hot tub. Definitely such a fun day.
The next morning, since it was once of my life goals to order room service at a hotel, we ended up having a ridiculously overpriced breakfast in bed and spent the morning being lazy as we had a late checkout and flight. What a great end to the trip!
While I was initially bummed we didn’t get to go to Kaua’i and do the incredible ziplining I have been wanting to do since I found out we were moving to Hawaii, Maui was awesome. I wish we had had more time there. We didn’t make it to the town of Hana which is supposed to be pretty cool, nor did we get to visit Haleakala, the Hawaiian Grand Canyon. But we got to do everything else- hiking, waterfalls, massages, beach time, and more Mai Tai’s than….well, basically I don’t want to see another Mai Tai for at least another year.
We came home well relaxed that evening, and Nick had duty the next day. We picked up our new puppy that Sunday. But more about our new little devil later.
Thanks everyone for all the homecoming and honeymoon wishes! I just can’t describe how amazing it is just to be able to sit next to my husband on the couch and cuddle and eat pizza. Having him gone for half a year really makes you appreciate those little things, and the honeymoon was a great way to kick off his coming home.
Our wedding wasn’t exactly conventional...but then again, I'm quickly learning that nothing is very conventional when it comes to military life. :)
Nick and I had originally been planning on picking a date next year to have our wedding, a date when all our family could make it.
When we got to the island though, we just realized how much easier things would be if we went ahead and got married now instead of waiting. We were excited to get married..plus it was even more exciting to think about having a private ceremony and practically eloping.
I watch all the crazy wedding shows- Say Yes to the Dress, Bridezillas, Four Weddings...People get so focused on making everyone else happy that they can easily lose sight of what's most important to them. What I loved about what we did was that we focused exactly on what we wanted and had a beautiful little memorable wedding.
I planned for about a month and a half- not easy to do in Hawaii. People and life move a little bit slower here- “Aloha time.” Companies were not quick to respond to me when I was on a deadline. Nick could only do the wedding on certain days with his work schedule so it wasn't an easy month of planning but everything came together beautifully. The two things I really wanted to be perfect were the dress and the photographer- and those two were definitely what we spent the most money on- but well worth it.
Our close family and some friends knew about the wedding but it was so much fun to surprise everyone else.
The wedding took place at Waia'lae Beach Park on the island of O'ahu in front of the Kahala Resort Hotel on Sunday, March 21st, 2010 at 4pm. We had just three guests present- Jared (Nick's roommate from the Naval Academy) and his wife Melissa (and their baby Gunnar too) and our friend Megan who is dating another guy named Lou who Nick went to the Naval Academy with. Lou was unfortunately unable to make it. The dates for his month-long mission kept changing and he ended up coming home the day after our wedding.
Megan was there with me in the beginning to help pick out my dress, which I was sad to do without my mom and sister and best friends.
I realized that by doing the wedding early there would be bittersweet moments. I wanted my mom, my sister, and my two closest friends there.
By having this private ceremony, Nick and I never had engagement pictures, I never had a true bachelorette party, and we're not going to have a honeymoon for some time. So things are definitely happening out of order but...like I said, not conventional.
But there was something so special about it just being basically us. I never thought I would have my wedding on a beach. That's not to say that's not what I wanted- but beaches back in Maryland aren't what I'd dream of for a beach wedding, and east coast weather is far too unpredictable for me to even have tried to plan an outside wedding if we lived there.
Being in Hawaii really opened up a lot of possibilities. We couldn't have asked for more beautiful weather.
The night before the wedding we exchanged our wedding gifts. Nick gave me my first pair of pearl earrings- so beautiful and something I had been hinting about but not even on purpose. I gave Nick handkerchiefs which I had embroidered for him with his initials, our wedding date, and “I love you.”
The day of the wedding I had my hair and makeup done by an amazing artist in Honolulu by the name of Maleana Cosmetics. Megan came over to the studio while I was getting ready and we toasted champagne in plastic champagne glasses.
Thank God for the champagne- now I know why people hire wedding planners. I was so stressed something would go wrong! Fortunately, my hair and makeup turned out beautifully. It was really cool getting airbrush makeup. And my hair turned out perfect- it was mostly down with some pieces on the sides and top pulled back and dendrobium orchids tucked into the back.
Nick had dropped me off at the studio and had gone to pick up the cake to take to the restaurant where we would later have our reception dinner. I was so worried he wouldn't get back in time. I originally hadn't wanted him to see me before the wedding, but since the wedding would be outside at the beach there weren't a lot of options- he would have seen me at some point anyway. I was really happy though we timed it out so that he didn't see me getting my hair and makeup done. He got back in time and the videographer filmed Nick when he saw me for the first time in my gown with everything done up. I'll never forget the look on his face. :)
My gown was a light ivory color, A-line/empire waist with a champagne colored ribbon tied around and a cameo with ivory lace on the back. The dress itself was a lace overlay with embroidered flowers and beaded pearls. My veil was about shoulder length with a classic ribbon on the bottom.
Nick's suit was a khaki colored linen fitted suit. He wore an aqua button-up shirt beneath it with an aqua, turquoise and silver polka dot tie, a light pink pocket square with white trim (to match my ribbon), and a Thai dendrobium orchid boutinerre. (He considered wearing his uniform but it just seemed too formal for the relaxed beach wedding we had planned.)
My bouquet consisted of white, crème-colored, light pink, and apricot garden roses. It was originally going to be dahlias but the dahlias were in a storm earlier that week so they had to be replaced with garden roses last minute. They actually smelled really amazing and looked beautiful so it ended up working out very well.
I bought Nick a straw fedora from Banana Republic and gave it to him the day before the wedding. He wore it in a few of the photographs and it looked awesome on him. After searching for over a month I found a pair of aqua polka-dot peep toe shoes. I didn't actually wear them for the ceremony (I was barefoot, Nick wore Rainbows) but they were great for the pictures later and added a fun little splash of color. They also matched Nick's shirt very well.
Upon leaving the makeup studio, we rushed to the beach and found the photographer, Elizabeth Morgan, who snapped some shots while Nick parked the car, and we all walked up to the beach to find the minister. The one sad thing I will say about the day was one thing didn't go as planned; I was going to have a guy playing guitar to "Stand By Me" as I walked up the aisle and "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz on ukulele after they pronounced us husband and wife.
Unfortunately, the craziness of wedding planning got to me. I searched all around trying to find the perfect person for the job and was so happy when I found a guy...however, as I realized the day after our wedding, almost the whole time the uke player and I communicated via email, I was saying the wrong date- April 21st. Nick even looked over the contract before I signed it...for April 21st. Neither of us caught it. He later told me if I had gotten a hold of him sooner it probably wouldn't have been a problem to make it that day. Unfortunately we had to go on with the wedding without him. It went fine without him, I just would have really loved the music. He was kind enough to give us a refund though since it was such a miscommunication.
Other than that, everything went smoothly and perfectly. We had a little spot on a patch of grass next to a palm tree on the beach. Megan had scattered some dendrobium orchid heads on the ground.
The wedding itself was so beautiful...but I couldn't tell you anything that the minister said. Megan and Melissa both did a reading for us- 1st Corinthians. Nick and I both wrote a little something to say to each other and it was very emotional reading our feelings.
After the ceremony and the signing of the marriage certificate, we got a few group shots with Jared, Melissa, Megan and Gunnar before they left to wait for us at the restaurant. We stayed for an additional hour getting lots of fun pictures- barefoot walking on the beach, dancing on the beach, balancing on rocks, me jumping into his arms, him carrying me into the water, me actually getting attacked by a wave at one point (the whole train of my dress got wet), gazing into each other's eyes, and more dancing on the beach, and walking off into the sunset.
Afterwards, we headed to a fun little restaurant in Waikiki called Tiki's Bar & Grill. My main goal with finding a restaurant was that I wanted somewhere that had entertainment and that was fun with really good food. Originally I was looking into fancier restaurants but none of them allowed you to be very close to the entertainment, or simply didn't have entertainment on a Sunday night. Tiki's looked fun from the pictures- Tiki poles all over the restaurant, a fun-looking atmosphere and a good menu with some really yummy-sounding drinks.
When we got there, Megan had scattered flowers all over the table. We had glasses of champagne waiting for us (we got to keep the commemorative Tiki's glasses!). We all had calamari and bruschetta for appetizers. I had a Mai Tai in a fun coconut cup...which ended up having a picture of Lono, the god of fertility and peace. We had a good laugh about that.
Nick had dropped off our cake at the restaurant earlier on that day so I hadn't seen the final product yet. It was so beautiful! I ordered the cake from A Cake Life, which I actually found on Twitter before moving to the island. It was a two tier buttercream cake with lilikoi filling (passion fruit) and fondant icing. It was the smallest two-tier they could make- a 6inch bottom layer and a 4 inch top layer, all 8 inches high total. It had a turquoise ribbon around the bottom of each layer and tiny pearl dots scattered on the fondant. On the top and sides as accents were real, tiny pink roses.
Nick and I weren't too messy with the cake cutting and eating. He made sure he took off his suit jacket first just in case. I did end up accidentally getting some on his face. :)
We saved the entire top tier of the cake by ziplock-bagging it and sticking it in the freezer...I hope it tastes as good a year from now!
After Megan, Melissa, and Jared left, Nick and I went to the giftshop. I have a tradition of collecting random bar/restaurant t-shirts for my future alcoholic patchwork quilt so I definitely wanted to get a t-shirt to remember the night. We both ended up getting a t-shirt and posing in front of the huge Lono Tiki statue-probably my favorite picture of the whole day.
We ended up going home with two Tiki's champagne glasses, a 20 oz Tiki glass, a Tiki coconut cup, and two t-shirts.
The night ended way too early, but Nick had to work the next day. The whole day was such a dream come true.
It was just so much FUN- once I had a glass of champagne at the hair studio and relaxed and stopped stressing about everything going well. It just went well on its own. Nick and I agreed later that we're happy it was kind of just us sharing our moment the first time. We still plan to have the whole family and our friends out next year for a bigger wedding and party. (Hopefully we can get the ukulele player for that!) But it was nice to have some privacy and not worry about everyone else and making sure they were happy and comfortable for this time.
I felt like everyone was there in spirit too. One idea I had come up with when I first started planning the wedding was to have my mom, sister, and two best friends contribute to my “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed and Something Blue.” I got one from each of them to wear that day.
I received a pearl bracelet from my mother (Old), a pin that was my grandma's from my sister (Borrowed), and a garter (Blue) and heart toe ring (New) from Erin and Rachel, my two best friends. My sister also lent me a pretty diamond hair clip that she wore on her wedding day too.
It was really nice to have them think of me and I was happy to be able to see them there with me when I looked at the items. My sister also sent me an amazing wedding countdown with a little plastic blonde Bride wedding topper that was Velcro-ed to the countdown and moved from date to date.
I don’t think I’d change a thing about that day. It was just so much fun and I felt really pretty and so happy. J The next night after Nick got off work, we ordered a Dominos thin crust white garlic parmesan pizza (my favorite!), had champagne, and watched Just Married. I called it our “Mini-moon.” We also have a sunset dinner cruise coming up toward the end of this month that we won in a silent auction. That will be another mini-moon for us. We’re going to wait a few months until things settle down and then plan a honeymoon to another island, probably Kauai. There are ziplines, rainforests, beaches, hiking and so much more to do there. We still definitely plan on having a bigger wedding next year- enough in advance for our family and friends to come visit.
We’re so happy to be newlyweds now! It feels so grownup when I say I have a “husband.” We still watch Family Guy and make “That’s what she said” jokes. Our idea of a fun night is still staying in and cuddling on the couch. We’re just an old married couple now. I love it.
Thank you to all our family and friends for supporting us and loving us. I’m so excited to have a new last name and a new family now!
If you would like to see our wedding website (which I started the week before the wedding) or view our registry page, please visit: www.sarahlovesnick.com