Meant to Be(ach)

You met the cutest guy on a post grad-school surf trip to Kauai. He was your friend’s friend’s friend, and you bonded over your shared love of clean waves, early U2, games of any kind and fried chicken. Matched as partners for the gang’s “Vacation Olympics”, you dominated in Pictionary and in Jenga, and also squeaked out the win in the 2-day cup pong tournament, earning the title of “South Shore Beer-Pong Champions.” What a trip! Neither of you wanted the fun to end . . . so you made sure it didn’t.

You’d been dating for about a year back home in Los Angeles when during a cozy round of Backgammon he snuck an engagement ring into your dice cup.

When it was your turn to roll, the sparkling diamond tumbled onto the felt. He cued up “With or Without You” on the bluetooth, got down on one knee and started to sing to you.

And that, as they say, was it.

Wedding Plans

This week you returned to Kauai with that same cute guy who is now your fiancé, and you are about to tie the knot. The South Shore, where you first met, was a no-brainer choice for your wedding, and your ceremony, reception and guest accommodations will all take place at Koloa Landing Resort.

The property embodies what you both love about Kauai: lush greenery, meandering waterfalls, ocean views. The casual elegance, comfy villas, and friendly staff also suit your laid-back vibe.

For the past few months you have FaceTimed from home with the Koloa Landing wedding planner, and she and her team have handled all of your requests: from cakes and music, to flowers and favors. Eager to include some Kauaian culture, they suggested a kahuna pule minister to officiate, a conch-shell heralder and some local artisans to help your bridesmaids make white “haku” floral crowns during a Mai Tai happy hour the day before the ceremony. The planner even hooked you two up with a pro and some surfboards for a midweek day trip to the North Shore. “Just go and relax, you lovebirds,” she ordered.

Could you possibly be getting hitched without a hitch? Let’s find out:

Your big day:

7:30 a.m. — You wake up feeling calm and grateful in the ocean-view villa you’re sharing with your sister. After the longest hug ever, she steals you away to Little Fish Coffee down the road for cappuccinos and a heart-to-heart. Your last outing as a single woman!

9:00 a.m. — Massage appointment at the on-site Spa at Koloa Landing with your bridesmaids. You luxuriate in their Japanese Ofuro soaking tub. Pure serenity . . . (And no shortage of giggling.)

10:30 a.m.— Brunch is delivered to your mother’s villa from the resort’s Holoholo Grill from a menu created by celebrity chef Sam Choy. Your bridesmaids, mother and aunties trade plates of banana macadamia nut pancakes, avocado toast and crab Benedicts while trading hilarious stories of past wedding snafus.

12:00 p.m. Your wedding planner escorts the hair and makeup team to your villa. They set up palettes and hot wands and get busy beautifying your crew. They also help your bridesmaids pin on their flower crowns. You snap the best selfie ever with all the girls out on your lanai above the sparkling Pacific. #surferbride #walkdowntheisle

2:00 p.m.— You and your bridesmaids meet up with the photographer for a shoot around the grounds: by the waterfalls, on the wooden footbridges, amidst the tropical foliage — with plenty of goofy shots, too.

3:00 — Your planner leads you to your private bridal room attached to the ballroom, and you are surprised to find bottles of sparkling rosé on ice — a gift from your almost-husband with a note:

“Can’t wait to be your forever partner — in games and in life.” (You love it when he gets mushy.) And the wine is right on time to soothe your jitters. You raise your glass to your bridesmaids and clink.

3:45 p.m.— The tones of a slack-key guitar waft up from the meadow and the dreamy Hawaiian music you selected all those weeks ago further calms you. Your bridesmaids report that most of the rows of white chairs are full of guests. So far, so good — which seems like a minor miracle.

4:00 p.m.— You hear the conch shell signal that it’s go time! Your bridesmaids file out just as your dad appears for you. And though he is grinning from ear to ear, his eyes are brimming with tears. You grin, too, and try not to cry. He offers his arm and escorts you to the lobby and an island-flavored “Bridal Chorus” begins. You squeeze his hand, and the two of you step out into the spectacular Kauai sunshine.

You enter from an orchid-draped footbridge and the scene is even better than you’d envisioned. With over 16,000 square feet of outdoor venue area, it all feels airy and grand, and there, on the lawn amidst the swaying palms, fluttering flower petals and the ocean beyond, is everyone you know and love.

You lock eyes with your fiancé and he is crying, too. You feel giddy and filled with an indescribable joy. Your dad’s arm steadies you as you head down the plumeria-strewn aisle, past many happy faces — toward the next chapter of your life.

4:30 p.m.—After the ceremony, you greet your guests with hugs all around. Then you sneak off for a few fun photos with your brand-new husband by the waterfall at the Tranquility Pool. It’s magic hour and the island is aglow. You can’t believe you are actually married to your best friend.

4:45 p.m.—Cocktail hour is rolling! The outdoor bar, festooned with his-and-hers surfboards strung with flowers, is serving a signature martini — passion fruit, of course. Tray-passed hors d’oeuvres are straight outta Sam Choy’s kitchen: poke stuffed cucumber, petite albacore rolls and the most elegant fried chicken bites ever. Cuz you made each other a promise: There will be fried chicken.

Soon the three beautifully decorated beer-pong tables on the lawn are surrounded by guests. Your OG crew waves you over, eager to take you on again. You and hubby high five and it’s ON.

6:00 p.m.— The buffet opens inside the 12,000-square-foot ballroom with an eye-popping feast of gourmet seafood, sushi and short ribs — all artfully laid out in modern style. Dining tables grace the 8,000 square-foot lanai and onto the meadow under the twinkle lights. Dinner officially begins as the sunset streaks the sky pink.

7:00 p.m.—After the champagne toasts by the maid of honor and best man — and there isn’t a dry eye in the house — a pair of ukulele players appears and serenades you and your husband with a sweet version of U2’s ballad, “One.”

7:30 p.m.—To demonstrate just how “one” you two are, you surprise everyone by taking to the floor and starting the first dance as a hula to Elvis Presley’s Hawaiian Wedding Song. Cheers, laughter and some hilarious heckling ensue just as your hula morphs into an all-out romp to the Proclaimers’ 500 Miles. Soon everyone hits the floor — dancing the night away.

9:00 p.m.—You cut the impossibly gorgeous cake: an ooey gooey pineapple upside down cake made with White Sugarloaf pineapples grown only on Kauai. You feed each other bites of cake politely; a pact you made almost as solemnly as your fried chicken promise.

You hit the beer-pong tables one more time with your friends. After all, you wanted a wedding that was a reflection of who you are as a couple. And right now, who you are as a couple means reclaiming that title of titles: “South Shore Beer-Pong Champions.”


Dreaming of a Kauai wedding all your own? We are at your service. Visit our Weddings Page for more info. Simply fill out one of our handy contact forms or call our team for a chat at (808) 742-2494. Aloha!

Erica Karlin — Koloa Landing Resort