Full transparency: this was my first time visiting Hawaii! There’s so much hype about Hawaii that for the longest time I didn’t really want to go. I figured it was just going to be a series of beaches and pina coladas and super touristy activities, and it wasn’t on my radar.
Flash forward to Dustin and Sammie reaching out about eloping in Oahu, and after a few quick Google searches I quickly changed my mind. Oahu (the north shore especially) is straight out of Jurassic Park. Deep, rich emerald green mountains rising out of nowhere next to a stormy ocean, no end of food trucks (you better believe we hit those up), little chickens running wild, and more greenery and exotic plants than I’ve ever seen in my life (I’m a plant lady, so it took everything in me not to sneak some home).
Our original plan was to hike to the top of Crouching Lion, buuut the weather had a different idea (and by different idea I mean flash floods and torrential rain). Fortunately, Dustin and Sammie are the most chill people on the planet and they just went with it. They rented a Jeep and nothing was going to stop us! (not even the foot of water on the highway. That was fun).
I love shooting in the rain. Unlike on sunny days, the mountains had hundreds of waterfalls trickling down in every direction, and thick fog shrouding the mountain tops, adding another level of moodiness. We spent the morning running around the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens getting absolutely soaked (sooo many Notebook vibes), then headed back to their little Airbnb to get ready and eat sushi for lunch.
The elopement itself was perfect. They had scouted out a special spot a few days before free from tourists, the rain died down, and it felt like we had the whole island to ourselves. Dustin and Sammie have been together for years (they’re highschool sweethearts), and the moment he saw her for the first time he teared up. It was short, sweet, and surprisingly hilarious—the local officiant had us laughing the entire time.
After the ceremony we stopped at one of the many random swings on the shore and then booked it over to Kahana Bay—which was itself a risk, because we weren’t sure if we would have enough light in the day. If I’ve learned anything as a photographer, it’s that risks pay off. We had the entire Bay to ourselves (another plus of rain—less people). Even though I slipped off the dock into the ocean pretty much right after we got there (lol. Exactly how you’re imagining it. Right off the dock into the ocean. I did manage to hold my cameras above my head, so all is well. Minus my right foot, which got pretty bruised), we made the most of it, dancing around in the water until the last light slipped away (I love how long the light lasts. We easily shot a good 30 minutes past sunset).
Sammie is my dream bride. She wasn’t afraid to get her dress wet, and stepped right into the ocean, twirling her dress in the foamy waves. It was such a perfect day, and the perfect introduction to a Hawaiian adventure. Love these two and can’t wait to return someday!