Saying “I do”? Give her a ring.


Story by Heidi Pool | Photo by Elizabeth Higashino

Carolee HigashinoCarolee Higashino

TITLE: President, White Orchid Wedding

WHAT’S THE PLAN? Carolee Higashino founded White Orchid Wedding twenty-six years ago, before the term “destination wedding” had even been coined. Nowadays, she oversees romantic events on all of the Hawaiian Islands. Planning can include everything from establishing a budget and recommending a photographer, florist, and officiant; to providing advice on beach-wedding attire; to running to the store to replace a lost tube of lipstick; to calming wedding-day jitters. “Every day is different,” Carolee says. “One day I’m spray-painting candlesticks, and the next I’m climbing aboard a helicopter to check out a remote waterfall for clients who want to exchange nuptials in an exotic location.”

“I DO” IT YOUR WAY: Carolee says sunrise weddings at Haleakalā National Park have recently become popular. “But no one believes us when we tell them how cold it is up there.” So Carolee and her crew bundle the blissful bride and groom in down jackets over their wedding attire, take them into the visitor’s center for a brief warming period, then head outside for the ceremony. “The couple remove their jackets, and we take pictures before everyone freezes to death,” she laughs. Recently, a couple asked for a “Glamour Goth” wedding with a red-and-black color scheme. “At the reception, the groom pulled a switchblade out of his sock to cut the cake, which was decorated to simulate blood dripping down the side.”

AND THE BRIDE WORE . . . NOTHING: Perhaps the most unconventional wedding she has ever arranged was one where the bride and groom were married in the nude. “I hired a limousine to transport them from their hotel to a private home in Mākena for the ceremony,” Carolee recalls. “The expression on the limousine driver’s face was priceless. I told her, ‘Just go with it!’”

SAY IT WITH FLOWERS: Wedding planning can even include helping the prospective groom to propose. “Just the other day, we orchestrated a proposal on the beach,” Carolee says. “We arranged bright yellow plumeria blossoms in the sand to spell out, ‘Will You Marry Me?’” And did the young lady say yes? “She absolutely did.”

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