Mixing Pot of the Pacific

Thursday November 23, 2017

Everyone knows that in Hawaii, cultures are mixed and traditions are a must, and weddings are no exception. Check out these local customs and how Hawaii brides put their personal spin on it.

Banzai! Banzai! BANZAI!

In Japanese culture the banzai toast is a very popular local wedding tradition. The word banzai literally means 10,000 years, so to "banzai" is to celebrate and wish the couple happiness for 10,000 years. In this context, two separate banzai toasts are usually given at a wedding. The first, "Shinro Shimpu, banzai" means "long life and happiness to the bride and groom" and is typically given by a friend of the couple. The second, "Raihin Shokun, banzai" means "long life and happiness to all the guests" and is typically given by a family member. After each toast, participants cheer banzai three times in unison and raise their glasses and arms in celebration, drinking after the third. Way more fun than just "cheers!"

May I have this dance?

A fun tradition that originated in Poland is the money dance, also known as the dollar dance. One belief is that the money dance started when arranged marriages ruled. Since the groom didn't receive any dowry until consummation, the couples performed this money dance to set up their household. In exchange for the dollar (or more!), the guest would get a chance to dip the bride or sway with the groom. Nowadays, the money dance has become a guaranteed way to get face time with your guests!

Not Lion, This is Awesome

An entertaining Chinese tradition that dates back to 3rd Century B.C. is the Lion Dance. Two performers (one in the head and one controlling the back) work together in perfect harmony to bring the lion costume to life through dance. In Chinese culture, lions represent joy so the artful dance and the loud beating of the drums ward off evil spirits. Typically, you'll see one or two lions at a wedding working the crowd, dancing around the entire room, being "fed" dollar bills by your guests before making their way to the bride and groom for their final feeding. Perfectly synced to the drums, the lions bow, shake, stand tall and raise the excitement in the entire reception. Fun fact? There are several types of lion dancers in Hawaii. The Northern Chinese lion dance is more acrobatic and their lions are red, orange or yellow. The Southern Chinese lion dance is performed specifically to scare evil spirits and summon good luck. These lions are much more decorative and come in a variety of colors.


An ancient Korean tradition is displaying a pair of hand-carved, wooden ducks at the head table at the reception. Mandarin ducks mate for life and symbolize fidelity and loyalty and are supposed to represent the bride and groom. Couples nowadays can choose to have a simple, wood finish, slick porcelain texture or select a colorful, decorative pattern to display (you can buy them online!). After the wedding, the ducks are taken home and displayed somewhere in the couple's home. Tradition says if they're nose-to-nose the couple is happy. Or if they're tail-to-tail, they're having a tiff! That's a lot easier than updating your Twitter!

Just My Cup of Tea

Chinese wedding tea ceremonies are very common in Hawaii. Monks began studying tea after it was accidentally invented in 2737 B.C. and since then has become known as China's national drink. On the day of the wedding, the tea ceremony typically begins at the bride's home where she serves tea dutifully to her parents wearing a traditional chum song (traditional Chinese attire) to show respect and honor for her family. Then, after the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom serve tea to the groom's family. Kneeling, with the bride always on the left side of the groom, they serve his parents first. The couple continues to serve tea to the groom's family from oldest to youngest, bowing and showing gratitude to each family member. The tea is sweetened by adding lotus seeds and two red dates symbolizing hope for a sweet relationship between the joining families. Once the tea is sipped by both the bride, groom and relative, the relative offers a gift to the couple - most commonly a piece of gold jewelry or "lee see" (a red Chinese envelope that contains a monetary gift). Tea ceremonies are a touching, traditional and beau-TEA-ful addition to a cultural wedding.

Flower Power

Hawaiian legend believes that the Goddess Hi'iaka made the first lei out of Lehua blossoms (the fire flower) and gave it to her sister Pele, Goddess of Fire. In ancient Hawaiian culture, leis were worn by royalty to show status and power. In modern day Hawaii, everyone is welcome to wear a lei as they share the warm aloha spirit, representing appreciation, congratulations, love and celebration. Local weddings incorporate the lei exchange because the lei, like the wedding ring, has no ending or beginning and represents a couple's unifying commitment to one another. A lei ceremony traditionally includes a few Hawaiian words of wisdom that's personalized to the couple, followed by the exchange of lei and a kiss on the cheek. The most popular lei for the exchange is the maile for the groom and a pikake for the bride, although leis come in a variety of beautiful flowers to suit any couple. This Hawaiian touch is truly a mark of a wedding in paradise.

Mismatched Is The New Black

Wednesday November 22, 2017

It's no secret that the wedding world is constantly changing. From crazy cakes to non-floral bouquets, anything goes... including mismatched bridal party attire! Brides want their BM's to look and feel comfortable, and we all know how tough it is to make everyone happy. Many brides near and far have been opting for this cute and cohesive mismatched look for their closest girls. Read on for the dish on how to make sure your gal pals look unique and unified!

Same Same but Different: For a quick and easy way to mismatch your bridal party, opt for dresses that are either the same color, different style or the same style, different color. With these options, bridesmaids are given some freedom to choose a dress style or color they feel comfortable in. The same-same feel of these dresses are a surefire way to ensure the unified look/feel of your bridesmaids!

Shade On Me: Choose one of your wedding colors (like coral) and allow your bridal party to choose any style of dress in that color range. The mix of like colors will create a gorgeous gradient that's super satisfying to the eye! TWC TIP? If you're not planning on going dress shopping with your gals, nab paint swatches from any home improvement store with the color range you have in mind. Then give them to your BMs as a guide.

Pops of Print: Mix it up and add some fun to your bridesmaid's dresses with pops of print. Working off of “shade on me”, choose a hue that matches your wedding color scheme. Then, add fun florals or girly geometric prints to jazz it up! Fun fact? Country singer, Miranda Lambert, opted for pastel solids and floral prints for her bridesmaids! The result? Casual cute cohesion!

Length Wise: When choosing mismatching dresses one thing to keep in mind is dress length. To avoid any fashion faux pas on your big day, keep the length of the dresses the same. Ask your BMs to all go for knee length or floor length to keep the dresses cohesive. This will prevent the look of too much mismatching and sloppiness.

Extra, Extra: Allowing your lucky ladies to wear something other than cookie-cutter bridesmaids dresses means lots of awesomeness for everyone. Check out our mini list of mismatched dress pros below:

  1. Your best buds will feel oodles better, as the dress they choose to rock will be more flattering to their individual body types.
  2. By allowing them to choose their dresses, they (or you, if you foot their attire bill) will save a few #dollahdollahbillsya! Scope out your local department stores for adorable alternatives.
  3. Since most bridesmaids dresses are more on the formal side, going this route means your besties can buy a dress they'll use more than once. What bride isn't striving to have their bridesmaids re-wear their dresses??
  4. For a fun twist, buy fabric (think chiffon or cotton) to give to your bridesmaids, then have them get the dresses made. The result? A cute, but coordinated look!

Non-matching bridesmaid dresses are a fun way to spruce up the look of your bridal party. The different, but unified looks will combine for an elegant and sophisticated look and make your bridal party feel truly special.

Smile For The Camera!

Wednesday November 22, 2017

Your dream venue is booked and you've had your first fitting in your drop dead gorgeous gown... now it's time to select your photographer. Memories are PRICELESS, especially on your wedding day! With so many talented photographers out there, how do you choose the photographer that's right for you? Keep these key points in mind and choosing your wedding photographer will be a breeze. Trust your inner bride and pick that match made in “photo” heaven.


There are oodles of ways to get your research started. Peruse your favorite wedding blogs, flip through a friend's wedding album, scout photographers at bridal expos and flip through the photo albums here at The Wedding Cafe. DOUBLE THE FUN - Bring your hubby-to-be, MOH, or gal pal along! Who said studying wasn't fun?!


In Hawaii, one of the most popular ways to learn about anyone or anything is through the grapevine (a.k.a. The coconut wireless). So go ahead, ask away! Ask your married friends, your BFF's, co-workers, your yoga instructor... anyone! Referrals are gold. Plus, nothing beats hearing those real life stories and classic experiences.


Photojournalistic vs Traditional? Hold up, photo... what?! Define your photography style and let your photographer know what your vision is. Most photographers focus on one or the other, or can capture a blend of both, but let them know what you want up front so they know if they're the right photographer for you. TIP: Not sure what your style is? Pick out some of your favorite wedding photos from magazines or websites and bring them to your photo consultation. Hmm, pictures really DO speak a thousand words!

Traditional: Most people are familiar with the traditional style of photography. It's the classic style of picture taking where photographers will generally pose and help the subjects create the image they want. These photos are shot with perfection in mind, ranging from the lighting and background to hand and head placement. Kris Labang of Kris Labang Photography describes traditional photography as being, "very clean, well composed and perfect." With this style, a shot list is created to ensure that all pictures requested by the bride and groom are taken. Traditional photography is perfect for family photos, group shots, wedding details and bride & groom portraits.

Photojournalistic: This style is a new, more creative way of photo taking that's more than just a candid shot. These types of photos freeze that one special moment in time. They capture real life moments and emotions as they unfold before your very eyes. With this style, there is rarely any posing and the photographer captures spontaneous moments throughout the day. Kris Labang says that photojournalistic shooters, “shoot more edgy and extreme in the way they present their captures... they just go for the moment regardless of where and what shape it is in.” Leave the picture taking to them and they will capture the photos that will re-tell your story over and over from beginning to end. Photos may vary from different angles, altered lighting, focus points, showing motions of movements and more, all showing off the photographer's style of art.


Communication is key... especially when it comes to your wedding! You've spent months bringing your dream wedding to life, so be sure to communicate your vision with your wedding vendors. Remember to ask those important questions so everyone is on the same page. Here's some important questions to ask your photographer:


Q: How long will your photographer shoot for?

The hours will vary from photographer to photographer and will be based on the package you select. Generally, photographers will have packages that range from two hours to entire day coverage. Decide how much of your wedding day you want photographed (just your ceremony or your whole day from makeup to dancing) and check with your photographer to make sure they have a package that fulfills your needs.

Q: Are there any extra fees?

Photographers may charge for extra shooting hours, travel time, hotel lodging (destination wedding), additional shooters, etc. Don't be afraid to ask your photographer if you'll be charged for anything extra when you're discussing costs.

Q: How will you be getting your pictures - DVD? Jump drive?

Normally photos will be given on a DVD to you, although some photographers may opt for a usb drive so they can fit more images. Many photographers are also able to design your wedding album. Ask to see what options your photographer has for you.

Q: When will your pictures be available to view?

Photos are normally ready to view as early as a week to three months after your wedding. Perfect for viewing when you return from your blissful honeymoon! Ask your photographer for a general date of when your photos will be ready to view.

Q: Does your photographer charge for travel time?

Photographers may charge for travel time depending on your location. If you're having a destination wedding on another island, or at your dream spot on the Sydney Bridge, you'll most likely pay a travel fee, including airfare and accommodations. If you're planning on having a local wedding, but want to shoot your pre-wedding photos, ceremony photos, and reception photos in different locations, ask your photographer if there will be an additional fee. Also, a secluded wedding location away from the heart of Honolulu (think: Turtle Bay Resort or Kualoa Ranch) may have a travel fee, so be sure to ask your photographer.

Q: Does your photographer have any other types of album layouts or styles to choose from?

A photographer normally has several album styles to choose from. Talk to them about the styles and what can be customized.

Q: What happens if your photographer can't make it? Do they have a backup plan?

Photographers may run into a snag and you want to be sure they've got a backup plan. Many photographers may have a backup assistant specifically for emergencies or they may call on a fellow photographer. Be sure to ask them what they plan to do if an emergency arises.

Q: How many photographers will there be on your wedding day?

Sometimes photographers will bring one assistant or an entire team with them. Be sure to ask if there will be more than one photographer and if there is an additional fee. The more photographers you have, the more angles and better shot options you'll have! NOTE: If your photographer is with you all day, brides normally include him/her in the meal count.

Q: Do you own the rights to your photos?

No. Your photographer owns the rights to the photos, but they may give you a print release so you can create those photo thank you cards or post them on your wedding blog! Check with your photographer before duplicating any photos. HINT: Often times, the photographer will give you a DVD of images that may be too small for a high quality print, especially if you want to enlarge a photo at Costco or Sams Club. Communicate what you need from your photographer to make sure your prints come out picture-perfect.

Q: What's a shot list and who creates it?

A shot list is a list of the pictures you absolutely must have taken on your wedding day. A shot list is used more frequently with the traditional style of photography. The photographer requests this in order to know what types of photos and of who you'd like in them. It's best to give your shot list to your coordinator (if you have one) or your photographer a week before the wedding, but ask if they'd like it sooner.


Once you meet someone in person, you know if you click or not. It's that “I-feel-like-I've-known-you-my-whole-life” feeling, right? Well, same goes for photographers! You'll be spending more time with your photographer than your groom on your wedding day, so be sure to meet them before the big "I Do." Ask yourself: Can you picture them with you 24/7 on the big day? Kudos to Jon from Visionari for the great tip!


  1. Is your favorite photographer already booked on your wedding date? Ask them for a recommendation for someone similar in style! Photographers often mingle with other photographers they respect and admire. Their referral is priceless.
  2. Can't decide on just one photographer? Hire two! One for the engagement and one for the wedding. Or one for the wedding and one for a “trash the dress” shoot. The options are endless. You'll get the both of best worlds with their varying photography styles.
  3. The experts say to start with 10 possible photographers and narrow it down from there.
  4. On a budget? Photographers may have special promotions or can modify a package to match your budget. Hey, it never hurts to ask! :)
  5. Worried about your venue shots... how they'll turn out? Ask your photographer if they have any albums shot at your specific location. PLUS, you'll score some great ideas!