Cultivating a Tradition in Unity

On the southeastern expanse of Maui, Hawai’i, beneath the soft and radiant sunlight, was the perfect backdrop for a matrimonial celebration. My associate photographer, Alyssa, and I embarked on an hour and a half long journey through the rolling hills of upcountry Kula, eventually reaching the unspoiled, rugged roads of native Kaupo, our hearts bubbling with heightened anticipation. On reaching Saint Joseph’s Church, which stood invitingly off the main road, we immersed ourselves in an ambience radiating warmth and anticipation, as well-wishers gradually congregated. Alyssa jumped out to photograph the escalating excitement whilst I proceeded towards the groom’s parental home and the hub of the preparations. This charming and quaint house sat like a precious gem amidst an unbelievably stunning panorama nestled against the iconic Kaupo Gap of Haleakala. A vivid bouquet of grown trees and fields of grass edged by lava rock walls painted the picture of paradise.

Lyons and his groomsmen were in the final stages of dressing in their wedding attire just moments before their timed photograph. They stood under the canopy of a full-bodied tree, that provided a gentle withdrawal from the bright Maui sun. As the moment approached for Lyons and his companions to mark their arrival to the ceremony, Emmely and her bridesmaids made their way towards the house, transforming it into a buzzing bridal retreat. Dressed in a sophisticated lace gown befitting the intimate summer wedding, Emmely enhanced her ensemble with classic jewelry, her reflection mirrored in the same looking glass which captured her groom’s image not long ago.

As the bride was ready to meet her intended, her father took a moment to appreciate the premiere glimpse of his breathtaking daughter, an opportunity that I swiftly captured in my frame.

The Natural Elements of Love

As the guests gathered within the confines of the petite yet historic chapel, joyful expectations filled the air. The procession began, accompanied by vivacious fresh anthurium and monstera bouquets that seemed sprightly in their natural elegance. The groom awaited with bated breath the first sight of his glowing bride, as harmonious melodies accompanied the bride’s march. The ceremonial blessings of the priest lent a divine touch as he prayed over the couple, marking the conclusion of the ceremony with a traditional Hawaiian salt blessing by the guests. The couple now united, and their exuberant joy was palpable.

Affections of Old Hawai'i

Back at the groom’s parental home, the lush outdoors hosted intimate bridal moments and entertaining group shots of the wedding entourage. Hovering above, my drone captured the exhilarating presentation of a new chapter unfolding against the vast and bountiful landscape.

Lyons shed light on the unique importance of their surroundings, it being graced by the presence of Lo’alo’a Heiau, an eminent state-level temple. As a tribute to its historical significance in ancient cultural traditions, we made sure to weave its presence into the wedding photographs, establishing a lasting connection to their memories.

Her-Story in the Making

Proceeding to Kula Community Center, overcast skies hinted at the blessings that rain showers would bring upon the newlyweds, echoing a common Hawaiian belief. Guests reconvened, draping the newly wedded couple with floral leis and crowning them with leipo’o in Hawaiian custom. In the spirit of reciprocity, the couple honored their kupuna (elders) with similar symbolic gestures. There were surprises in store for the parents, as Lyons and Emmely presented them with unique gifts, subtly accentuating their exceptional blend of love and respect for family. Wedding favors of plants meticulously tended for by the bride's green thumb were presented as a symbol of continued malama (taking care) and aloha (love). The night was celebrated with roars of jubilation and festive celebrations, honoring the traditions that orchestrated this momentous day. As we left, the echoes of laughter and live music lingered, encapsulating the memory of a Hawaiian wedding where tradition met love, beautifully intertwined. 

The vision of this wedding was birthed from the couple's first date in Kaupo and their dreams of growing together as a loving wife, nurturing mother, and supportive husband and family man.

Thank You, Mr. & Mrs. Lyons Cabacungan

When you first inquired with me and shared that your wedding was going to take place in such a special location, Kaupo, I was both a bit nervous and also VERY excited. It had been years since I'd been to Kaupo and I was excited at the opportunity of just enveloping myself in the moment, soaking it all in. It was incredible to see how many friends and family made the drive to be there for you both. The amount of love and hospitality I felt from your friends and family was overwhelming. It was an honor getting to know you both, to have been able to get to know your journey as a couple, and to see how you envisioned your wedding day. I wish you both many blessings in this new chapter of life and I look forward to working with you both in the future.

Mahalo, Aaron Najera

Blog Written & Edited by Aaron & Gail Najera