The Engagements

When I initially met Christian & Essen, there was a special connection between them that felt so effortless. Essen portrays as a very organized and skillful individual that can handle anything thrown her way, especially when it comes to her wedding. Christian is a man madly in love who is willing to do anything to bring Essen total happiness. As we arrived at the engagement shoot, this awesome couple were willing to do whatever and go wherever just because they were happily being caught in the moment together. This was my first impression.

Most people don't realize how much extra effort goes into working photo sessions for engagements. I personally find play within my work and suggest taking hikes with my couples. Using the full width of the landscapes allows us to try and find different locations and create a variety of perspectives. We surely aren't just trying to stand under a simple tree or sit on the same seashore the entire time...we are on a journey with a destination.

The last few minutes of the engagement session ended with a sweet and simple sunset. The dried grass tips were beautifully illuminated by the red and orange glow of sunlight reflecting off of the ocean surface. The wind blew gently along the cliff-side as the waves were pushed quietly against the rocks, making a gentle passing sound. Christian & Essen spent this private moment dancing together then sat watching the sun dip down below the horizon.

Getting ready

Christian & Essen's rooms were only just a few doors down from one another at the Residence Inn by Marriott Maui Wailea. The photo shoot began with this beautiful wedding dress from Elly's Formal Wear, followed by the accent details of the bride & bridesmaids attire. The ladies were bonding during hair and makeup and celebrated with a champagne toast to the bride. Essen's bridesmaids, that were mostly composed of friends and family from out of town, were ecstatic to see their longtime friend get ready for her big day.

As the bridal suite continued with wedding preparations, Christian and his groomsmen gladly took their time creating new moments together while celebrating with their very own individual Hennessy & Coke bottles. The groom and his groomsmen were also outfitted by Elly's Formal Wear.

The Ceremony

King Kamehamhea Golf Course provides stunning views of Central Maui for wedding ceremonies on their Kahalawai Terrace. If you're lucky, you'll get a perfect cloud cover to protect you and your guests from the intense, bright Maui sun. This beautifully veiled altar was adorned by stunning floral arrangements provided by Floral Designs Maui. As the minister blew the pu, the ceremony began and the guests looked on back to witness the bridal party making way for the bride.

As Christian & Essen stood at the altar, memories of my first impression of them came to mind. Here Essen was at her perfect wedding that she helped to beautifully and flawlessly plan together with the help of wedding planner, Kim Yonamine, from Exclusive Island Weddings. And here was Christian, the man who totally loves Essen and would always do anything to make her happy, tearfully reciting his vows to his bride.

the bride & groom

Earlier as I drove my way up to the wedding ceremony, I spotted a couple grassy hills that had a gorgeous backdrop of Mauna Kahalawai (West Maui mountains). My goal was to make sure that the golf course landscape didn't distract from their special moment in their portraits. So we found a beautiful open grassy area surrounded by tall trees that lead up to the mauna. The sun, now being behind the mountain, gave off such an inviting soft illumination that helped to enhance the bride & groom. Towards the end, videographer Josh Galinato from, Galinato Productions, flew his drone over to capture beautiful aerial footage to add to their wedding video.

the reception

Inside the Kamehameha Golf Club the ballroom was filled to capacity with tables and chairs to accommodate the newlywed's guests of family and friends. A classic gold & navy blue theme decorated the head table with white rose floral arrangements that adorned each table. Next Level Entertainment performed as the reception DJ & Emcee for the night. The beautiful up-lighting and projection mapping were also created by Next Level Entertainment which is a part of their many event enhancement options that they offered to help create a custom experience for Essen & Christian. The Master of Ceremonies for the evening was Joe Cortez. The NLE team created a bass dropping atmosphere, introducing each bridal party pair as they showed off their dance moves for everyone. Throughout the night Joe kept the evening light & fun by keeping their timeline of events like the bouquet toss, garter toss, cutting of the cake, created by Maui Wedding Cakes, playing interactive games with the crowd and involving them into the love story of Christian and Essen. One of the most special moments of the evening was the first dance by the bride & groom, who danced along to their favorite soundtrack and to a voice-over recording of themselves reminiscing of their fondest memories for one another.

the grand exit

As the reception came to a conclusion, the dancing and celebrating began to settle, sparklers were handed out to guests and a long exit tunnel formed out on the driveway. The newlyweds excitedly departed through past their guests as they headed off to start their adventure into marital life. This is known as the grand exit. Whether it's sparklers, bubbles or floating lanterns, I will always be in favor of ending your wedding in the most memorable way.

Thank You

Christian & Essen, I just want to thank you again for working with me! It was such a journey from the first time we got together to talk story, all the way to the completion of your beautiful wedding album. I sincerely hope that these memories will last forever in your hearts and minds, as you take time each year to thumb through your album and cherish the moments you had with your friends, family and with one another. I pray that you have MANY more years of memories and good times to come in life. - Aaron Najera