Wedding Planning

Leila & Tim’s Hawaiian Real Wedding

It is always so much harder to edit a real wedding from someone you know. Because you want to include every picture.

It is always so much harder to edit a real wedding from someone you know. Because you want to include every picture. Leila works with me at mywedding and she pretty much is the life of the office (well, her and her dog Duke).  Her husband, Tim, is equally awesome and an impressive adversary in all things trivia. They got married in Hawaii (Leila’s home state) this last summer, surrounded by family and friends.  Check out the wedding photographed by Stoopidgirl Photography and Tim Sapp Photography, as well as Leila’s DIY wedding advice below (also–note the presence of an actual Muppet at her reception).

I’d love to hear about your vision for the day.

It was a backyard wedding, Hawaiian style. We had luau food, I danced a hula, there was a live Hawaiian style band for the cocktail hour and most of all tons of lei, tikis, beautiful orchids, landscapes and lots of aloha (love).

The entire wedding was pretty much DIY. My stepsister was the florist. My aunt was the Master of Ceremonies. My other aunt was the event coordinator and was able to secure everything from tables, tents and linens to the wedding cake. My cousin was my wedding planner. My high school guidance counselor was our officiant. My friends flew from North Carolina to be the photographer, videographer and to do hair and makeup. For the most part I personally knew all the vendors for my wedding. It was amazing. This was the only way I could envision my wedding: with the help of my family and loved ones, in the warm sun of Hawaii.  Planning the wedding from Washington State, was the most difficult part of the wedding but the day of it was gorgeous, a wonderful affair to remember!

Did your wedding location hold a specific significance to you?

To many, Hawaii is white sandy beaches, sunshine and tropical fruit drinks with little umbrellas. To me, it is my home, my roots. I feel very privileged that my neighbor allowed me to have my ceremony on their lawn. I spent many days at my ceremony site while growing up; launching kayaks, paddling out to surf or some days just sitting on the steps at high tide and letting the warm waters wash over me, almost sweeping me out to sea. I used to pick seaweed in front of their home and spent countless hours swimming and playing with friends.  After my mom died, I would spend long afternoons at the exact ceremony location watching the sun set and thinking. To be able to start a new life on the shores of my childhood, overlooking Maunaloa Bay, Diamond Head and the majestic Ko’olau Mountains is not just a dream come true, it’s a phenomenon.

What was the most meaningful part of your day?

Besides getting married on the shores of my childhood? I think my hula was, to me, the most meaningful part of the day. I practiced for months and though I danced professionally for 13 years prior, I had never danced a hula by myself. I took private lessons from a Kumu (teacher) and from what I was told (I was so nervous I thought I wasn’t going to make it) the hula was beautiful. It was my gift to my husband, a small token of my love. The song was ‘Ke Aloha’ and it was written by my cousin’s grandmother, Lei Collins.

Did anything funny or out of the ordinary happen?

When it came time to slip the rings on each other’s fingers my husband turns to me with a large grin and said,

‘I don’t have the rings.’

It completely slipped his mind. The minister said we could continue without them, but I said no. We made the poor best man go back to my dad’s house and rip apart their dressing room to find the rings and we stalled the ceremony until he returned.

Another part of the wedding that made me smile was my aunt, Pam Arciero, was our Master of Ceremonies.  She is also an award winning puppeteer for shows like ‘Sesame Street’ and movies like the ‘Muppets Take Manhattan’; she’s even done a commercial with Iggy Pop. She’s the most famous person I know. She gave us a surprise speech from her longest running Muppet, Grungetta from Sesame Street. That’s right; I had an actual Muppet at my wedding. A Jim Henson Muppet. It happened. It was rad!


How did you know your partner was ‘the one’?

My husband and I have a unique story. We met in March 2009 when I flew home to Hawaii for a wedding and he was stationed at Pearl Harbor as a nuclear electrician submariner in the Navy. Two of our closest friends introduced us when a bunch of the bridal party and guests went to see a band play. Tim and I were inseparable for the next 3 days I was on the island. A few months later he flew out to the mainland (North Carolina) to visit me and we dated long distance for awhile before I was able to move cross-country to Seattle and he was able to get stationed in Washington. We’ve been together and in love ever since. We fell in love at first sight and after getting to know each other better over the course of our long distance relationship, we fell deep into love and haven’t even begun to surface yet.

Any advice you’d give new brides who are just getting started?

It seems like wedding planners and videographers are often cut for budgeting, don’t do that. I wish I had a wedding planner in Hawaii to help coordinate things. Planning a wedding from another state is difficult.  Between family influences, my personal desires and time difference it was really hard to keep everything organized.

Your wedding day goes by so quickly, blink and it’s over. I couldn’t tell you what I said in my speech or what I did after the ceremony. Having a video of the wedding is going to be my greatest gift to myself. All my friends who got married expressed to me that they wished they had a videographer. I made it a point to have one and I am very happy with my decision.

Don’t let anyone (family, friends, planners) talk you out of having what YOU want at your wedding. It’s easy to get caught up and frustrated and let other people take the reins but this is a celebration of your love and it should reflect you as a couple.


Photographer: Stoopidgirl Photography & Tom Sapp Photography

Venue: Private Residence

Dress: Off the Rack Bridal

Shoes: Torrid

Accessories: Custom Earrings by Heather Clayton, Custom Veil by Wesley Keeton

Groom’s Attire: Macy’s

Groomsmen’s Attire: Macy’s

Flowers: Bought and arranged by my stepsister Brandi Lindsay

DJ: Sweet Sounds Entertainment