I can't say planning a Hawaii destination wedding while living in Japan was easy, but after 11 months of chaotic coordinating, we got hitched without a hitch and we (along with our 35 guests from 5 different countries) will never forget it!! If you're thinking about getting married in Hawaii, or having a bilingual English-Japanese wedding, please feel free to contact me!
Loved this hotel! Gorgeous and pretty much the only Waikoloa hotel with a beach and water activity rentals. It was very modern, not screaming Hawaii, and the pools were 24/7 and heated to a luke-warm bath temp - sooooo lovely!! They also have fun free activities offered such as ukulele and hula lessons, lei-making, etc.
Yuck, not exactly the best hotel, but that's what I heard about Hilo's hotel options in general. It was do-able, and an easy commute to the Volcano National Park, which is the whole point of staying in Hilo. But the town itself is pretty dead and I wouldn't recommend staying more than 1 night there.
Well, we're only 1 month post-wedding, so we haven't received their videos and photographs yet, but based on what I've seen on their website, they're going to be great! As far as the service has gone, it's been excellent. Joshua Fair is always extremely quick to respond to e-mails. A couple days before the wedding, I let him know I had to start makeup a few hours earlier than planned. Straight away he said they would come earlier to catch all the glory from before the makeup artist arrives, at no extra charge. This was completely unexpected for me and made me feel quite confident in their professionalism.
May did an awesome job. Her assistant had to cancel, so May came 2 hours earlier and was able to get the 4 of us looking gorgeous no problem! She was such a sweetheart and I fully recommend her!
They were great at helping us pick the best flowers and arrangements to go with our budget, and I was happy with the final result. Only 1 small problems - the "hot pink" roses used in the bridal vs. bridesmaids' bouquets were completely different shades, slightly clashing, and we were not warned of this. I was a bit shocked and upset when I first saw them - just before hitting the aisle... Just something to think about and make sure you discuss when coordinating your arrangements.
Sharen was a godsend!! We originally contracted her to be our English-Japanese interpreter during the reception, but she stepped in as our day-of coordinator because we didn't have one and really did need one. She made everything run so smoothly and I don't know what we would have done without her. I would recommend her HIGHLY to anyone needing any sort of coordinator, emcee, or Japanese interpreter.
We booked Keawe Bray through Best Bridal Hawaii, because we requested a bilingual Japanese-English officiant who could do a civil ceremony. Well, his Japanese wasn't wonderful, but it was good enough. He was not easy to communicate with through e-mail before the ceremony, so by the time we finally had our rehearsal he was very confused about what we wanted (even though I had been quite specific in e-mails). It took us a while and lots of practice, but we finally got it down and it went rather smoothly at the actual wedding. I'm really glad we did pay extra to have him at the rehearsal, otherwise, it would have been horrendous.
We used Royal Star for our private bus tour - a group of 32 English and Japanese speakers from 5 different countries!! We were able to get a bilingual driver/guide, Jeff, who was really really awesome. He was able to tell us lots of interesting stories and information during the drive, in both languages, and was very flexible with our schedule and destinations.
First of all, don't get sucked into thinking $2000 is the 50% deal they make it look like... I'm pretty sure that promotion is eternal. That being said, this chapel is beautiful and I do not regret our choice to be married there!! Our coordinator, Stevie, was so great and always super fast to respond to e-mails. There were a few mix-ups at the rehearsal and ceremony, but what can you expect at a place that is pretty much a wedding factory. You just have to know what you're getting yourself into - you will not feel like the only bride in the world at Ocean Crystal Chapel - you will likely bump into several before and after your ceremony! But, it was worth it, such a pretty chapel! We used our own music on a CD - the sound system was great. No need to hire a musician unless you really want to. Also, they have silk flowers all over the place, so you can save tons on florals.
Suwada Sensei was awesome. If you live in Yokohama, Japan, I highly recommend him for coordinating your dance, or for dance lessons in general. He does not speak a lick of English, but he had one of his students (an English speaker) join in some of the lessons to help show us what to do and help explain things to me. He choreographed out about 1.5 minutes of the song we chose, broke down all the steps, and worked with us over about 7 1-hour long lessons.
We chose the chapel on the Hilton grounds first, and then decided we might as well choose the Hilton for our accomodation and for the reception as well. It was super easy, but a bit pricey - especially the reception (which we had in the Rainbow Suites 1 & 2 and patio - great space facing the lagoon, and was just renovated). Nonetheless, the HVV is absolutely stunning - words cannot describe when you get out of the taxi from the airport and step out into the open air lobby facing the ocean. OMG. We, as well as our 35 guests, absolutely LOVED this place and we all vow to come back sometime soon!!
Never having been there in person, and not being able to sample the food beforehand, I was quite nervous booking this place. But we were really really happy with it! Everyone raved over how yummy the food was - we went with the grand buffet. We had 36 people seated in the semi-private section, Lava Tube, and it was very festive and fun, and we didn't feel noise or anything intruded from the rest of the restaurant. The wait staff was great, very quick to serve drinks and refill food trays. They were also very flexible with us extending our time a bit so as not to rush everyone out of there.
We made reservations for 10 AM on Monday, but the place was pretty much empty. The atmosphere was very laid back but comfortable - nice view of the beach. The buffet was to die for - so delicious - the perfect place to gather after the wedding and give final farewells. There are also coupons in lots of the tourist pamphlets, so keep your eyes out for those.
Click on each tool to see a sample.