Okay babe, vows done, let's go surfing
Why not planning your wedding might be the best plan of all
It's been three months since we ran off and got married on our favorite ocean.
True, the whole wedding thing was a bit too spontaneous for everybody except us. After all, we've been together for 11 years already, wouldn't you expect that we had a little more time to plan the whole thing?
Well, yes. But that's not who we are.
I remember that, right after the engagement, we were sitting next to each other on that rooftop in Rome, Prosecco in paper cups and the yellow lit city at our feet. And I was like: you know, no one needs to know about this, if we don't tell anyone. We could keep this engagement for ourselves.
But you didn't want that.
And it's not how engagements work.
So how do they work, exactly?
In a relationship that was all about equality and about making decisions togehter, why does the man suddenly have to take the first step, kneel down and present a ring that costs as much as a weekend escape? (Whereas I think, the money is always better invested in a weekend escape. And luckily, you knew that.)
We are the generation Y, the free spirited, the generation that cannot commit and even less decide, and that doesn't even have to, really. So how come that, as soon as it comes to weddings, we're getting all traditional?
Girl friends of mine, who are doing PhD's or carreers in corporate consulting, raised their eyebrows when I told them I didn't have an engagement ring.
Familily members that we haven't talked to in years suddenly demanded to be invited to a wedding that we hadn't even planned yet.
Parents were sending pictures of castles and carriages.
The other parents asked for a band. Or at least a trumpeter!
And friends (who have been through this whole mess before) told us to start stressing early enough - or all the good caterers would be booked.
The problem was, that we didn't want to stress at all. We don't like catering buffets. We don't like castles, and we think that carriages are super cheesy. We also never said: Oh great, look! A trumpeter is giving a concert in the city! Let's go and listen to him!
And did you know that on Pinterest, you can find instructions on how to pee in a wedding dress?
We've seen all the movies that we were suppoed to re-enact for our wedding. We've been to these events. Some were beautiful, some were boring. Most of them predictable. And they weren't us.
Us, that is planning a flight to India and ending up in a crowded, lightless train from Colombo to the North of Sri Lanka instead. That is lunch from paper boxes. That is bathing with elephants in Chiang Mai or diving with Manta rays on the Big Island. That is grilled crocodile and living mussles and buffalo skin. It is river tubing in Laos and crossfit and surfing and yoga and not knowing where we'll go for our next trip. It is wet sport cloths in the backof the car, messy hair and a lot of laughter.
So we closed the "five-steps-to peeing-in-your-dress"-instruction on Pinterest. And we had this thought: What if?
What if we just don't do what everybody expects us to? What if we just skip the whole cotton candy thing and promise to each other, without 100 pairs of eyes in our necks? What if we don't buy rings and pin more pins about decoration ideas on Pinterest?
After all, the picture-perfect place was already there, down at that beautiful beach on Kaua'i. And it wouldn't need any decoration at all.
We had this trip to L.A. coming up in October '17. It was a business trip for our start-up, and we wanted to spend a couple of days in San Diego, too. Just surfing, chilling, doing some Crossfit. But then, we realized that from San Diego to Kaua'i, it would only be a six hours flight.
And once that thought was there, it wouldn't go away so easily.
We were like: hey, let's ask our friends on Kaua'i. Maybe they are around in November. And maybe they would have us for this spontaneous thing? Just in case, you know, if we really wanted to do this ...
Of course, the decision was already made at that point.
I studied on Hawaii, and we've been to the islands twice together. We absolutely love them. Kaua'i especially. It's our favorite. Every time we go, it feels like entering Jurassic Parc, just without the dinosours. Quite the contrary to Maui or O'ahu, the island is kind of rough and rural, and the weather and waves are always unpredictable. But hey, so are we, we thought - and booked the tickets.
That was in October. And my parents weren't the only ones who were shocked. When I tried to organize our beach permission and the wedding officiant, the lady on the phone asked me if we were talking about the 2nd of November 2018.
No, I said. Next month! And we would like the wedding officiant to marry us on the water, please.
You mean on the beach, she said.
But well, no, that's not what I meant.
The lady said: You cannot marry on the water in Tunnels. Not in Novemebr, anyways. It's in the very North of the island, and winter is coming. The swell is unpredictable!
Yes, I know, I said.
The swell could pull you out, the lady warned, you and the wedding minister.
That's why we need somebody who loves the water, I said.
Of course, the lady was right. On the most unpredictable island of Hawai'i, we had picked the most unpredictable spot - and the most unpredictable time of the year.
Two days before our wedding, a tropical storm hit Kaua'i. The rain was massive and wouldn't stop. We could hardly leave the house. There were flash floods all over the island, streams of mud surging down the mountains and into the ocean, which turned into a bubbling, brown soup. The radio was giving warnings to move to higher ground.
Move to higher ground? we thought. We need to go down to the beach tomorrow!
It was the night before our wedding day. And it was still raining.
We called the lady who had organized the beach permission. She said: The bridge to the North Shore is flooded. There is no way to get there. I told you, November is difficult!
And our friends said: On Kauai, rain on a wedding day is a sign of good luck.
And the island said: You asked for the unpredictable, here I am!
And the radio said: Flash flood warning! Move to higher ground.
We didnt' move to higher ground. We went to bed, accepting things like they were. After all, we didn't come for the weather. We came because we love the island. Still loved it, even though it was acting sarcastically.
And then, we woke up with a clear blue sky and the crowing of roosters in front of our window. Every plant and every tree was dripping with water. But the sun was out. And we wouldn't see a single cloud for the whole day.
Man, you are lucky! our friends said (the very same who told us the night before that rain is a sign of good luck.)
They asked: So what are your plans for this beautiful morning?
I don't know, I said.
The ceremony would only be at 3pm. And we had no guests to entertain, no last minute organization or decoration, no need to get any hair or even make-up done.
We had time to do whatever we wanted. Which turned out to be the biggest blessing of all.
So we did what we would ususally do on a holiday: Go to our favorite café (it's on 4-368 Kuhio Highway by the way, try the Roots Bowl and their home made macadamia nut milk!)
Do some Crossfit, take a shower in the gym's garden shower, which was crammed with surfboards. Go on a little road trip. Stop for more food. Climb a muddy path down to a secluded beach. Have a swim. Rent surfboards.
The week before, I had bought a last-minute-dress at Macy's in San Diego. (The only one in the shop that didn't need any peeing-instruction, so the choice had been relatively easy). We had put the dress in the back of the car, together with Roman's cloths. And when we arrived at Hanalei, we simply changed cloths in the fitting rooom of the surf shop.
At the same time when we rented the surf boards, a queue of surfers was bringing theirs back.
The bay is closed, they told us. The water is all brown and murky, there is sharks evrerywhere.
Oh great, we thought.
And got a special discount on our boards.
Ironically, Hanalei Bay was the place that the lady had suggested instead of Tunnels Beach. It ususally has the much calmer water. No unexpected currents that you could possibly lose a wedding minister in.
It's a nice little bay with a beautiful pier. But the storm had turned it into a catch basin for the island's mud. And into a paradise for sharks.
All in all, I don't know how we could have been so lucky with everything.
The water at Tunnels was all clear and beautiful when we arrived. Our friends were there too, waiting for us with flower Leis. Luckily, we didn't lose the wedding officiant, and he wasn't eaten by a shark either.
It was simply a beautiful day - simple and beautiful, that is. And so hot that we stayed in the water until sundown.
On the way back, be bought some wine and beers for everybody, as well as ahuge tray of burgers from our favorite food truck (it's Bubba Burgers on 4 Kuhio Hwy in Kapa'a). Not quite what you would expect from a wedding buffet. But it just fit this whole, fuss-free day. And, even more importantly, it fit us.
I guess it's a luxury to have burgers on your wedding day, if you feel like having them.
Four last thank-you notes:
To Peter for taking these awesome pictures.
To Jessica for being so patient with us and for organizing the beach permit.
To Doug and David, for allowing us to stay with them again, and for spending this awesome day with us.
To everybody who stayed up and celebrated with us from the other side of the world, despite the 12 hours time difference.
We are going to host a proper party for you guys! 11 years and 11 months after the start of our relationship. I told you, we like silly numbers plays.