Lisa & Carlos' runaway Hawaiian elopement wedding

November 28 |
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Photos by Jeanne Marie Vigianno

The offbeat bride: Lisa, Nurse

Her offbeat partner: Carlos, IT&S.

Date and location of wedding: Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii — October 2, 2011

What made our wedding offbeat: We were having issues within our wedding party, and suddenly it just wasn't working to have all the people from all of our different worlds together in the same room. When guests started arguing about our ceremony, Carlos and I just decided to leave everyone (and our wedding deposits) behind. We flew to Hawaii to get married alone.

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We had a friend from San Francisco fly there to help with the details and hired a photographer and hair/makeup person to help us. Then we ran around the island for seven days and saw all of Oahu.

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Tell us about the ceremony: It was at sunset on the back lawn of the Moana Surfrider, an old and very vintage-looking hotel. The waves were crashing in the background and the beach was public so a small group of people watched the ceremony.

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Our biggest challenge: Getting everything to Hawaii. We spent hours weighing our luggage to make sure we could get everything there but stay within our budget. I went into hair and makeup blindly since I didn't find someone to do the work until we got there. I had one and a half days once we got there to tie up loose ends. I just remained calm and accepted the good and the bad.

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My favorite moment: We each wrote our own vows since that was really important to me, and they turned out so great. Being alone made it so meaningful to us.

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My funniest moment: We used a CD player from the hotel for the ceremony and we weren't shown how to use it until minutes before the wedding. When the ceremony ended, the CD was set to start playing and it didn't. So Carlos left me at the altar, ran over, and started the CD, then ran back to me and we walked down the aisle.

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Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? My dress. I bought a dress and then had a seamstress try to give it a vintage Hollywood glamour look. I was really worried that it wouldn't look right with the material we used, but I loved it in the end.

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My advice for offbeat brides: To me, the photographer is much more important and rewarding in the end. Find just a few key elements that you love and add those to the wedding, don't stress too much about details.

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Have you been married before and if so, what did you do differently? This was my second marriage. At my first wedding, I did what other people wanted/expected of me. This time it was all about Carlos and me.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Getting caught up in too much "stuff" steals your attention from the reason why you're there. Also, take deep breaths and look around. The time flies and you'll want to remember everything that you can.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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  1. "When guests started arguing about our ceremony," – Yikes! Between this, and the recent post where a bride was getting shit about the color of her dress, I'm starting to feel SOOOO grateful our friends and family stayed out of the planning and let us do our own thing!

    I think it's just plain monstrous to try to control (through guilt trips, arguments, etc.) someone else's wedding like that. All this focus on making fun of (and tearing down) "Bridezillas", and there's no corresponding Word Of Shame for guests who throw the exact same kind of fits!

    I'm so glad you were able to leave it all behind and do something perfect for yourselves! Your dress is gorgeous and I love love LOVE how the dark bouquet matches the evening sky in the photos.

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    • A portmanteau of 'guest' and 'Mothra', perhaps? Guesthra?

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    • I'm definitely glad the two of you were able to have the ceremony you were after! And it is truly amazing how much weddings bring out certain parts of people's personalities – especially when it's not their own. I remember my mother, mad at me over not inviting more family, told me that "I hadn't offended enough people" to be able to elope. Good times.

      I've seen Guestzilla on Etiquette Hell, but Guesthra is pretty fun.

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    • Thank you for the kind comments! We have no
      regrets and can't wait to go back to Hawaii to celebrate an anniversary one day. Thanks for reading my story.

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  2. Wow! I think spending the time alone in such a beautiful place sounds perfect! Kudos to you both!

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  3. It's a good thing I wasn't there, I would have drooled all over your dress. I've never seen anything like it and you look stunning and regal in it. Congratulations!

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  4. Wow…Thank you! I was really happy with my dress and wish I could find another occasion to wear it! Ha:)

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  5. Love this! We just recently did almost the same thing, but we went to Maui.:) Aloha!

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  6. Wow I'm so happy I found this post! Your story sounds so much like ours! We are getting married on Oahu in just 29 days! We are staying just a few blocks from this hotel and our photographer wants to take us there for pictures. We also had quite a bit of drama from family and friends and when someone told us about their hawaiian wedding and how reasonable it was financially we said we are outta here! We do have two guests coming, friends of my fiance, but other than that it's just us, on the beach together as it should be. It's really crazy how weddings are made to be about everyone else and nothing about you. Even most the money you are spending is on your guests. This way all the money you are spending and all the things you will have and remember are all about your and your partner. Kudos to you for taking the reins in your own hands and having such a beautiful special day!

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  7. Just curious where most people get eloped in Hawaii? We've been looking at the island of Maui… Who knows! We have no idea where to start looking! Any help? Thanks

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