Dates: September 13-25, 2017
Destination: Honolulu, O'ahu, HI and Kaua'i, HI
Hawai'i: just seeing the name, you already visualize a tropical utopia in your head. The destination sure did not let down on this either! This trip for us was the trip of a lifetime! It all started sometime before our engagement, we had already determined we wanted a sort of destination wedding, so after kicking around the idea of some international locations, we determined everything would probably be much easier domestically. But there's one place domestic that sure does not feel so domestic... Hawai'i! Kyle had already been once, so he knew just what to expect: some hotel ideas, some restaurants to try, some attractions to visit. So knowing our location, we did a quick search and immediately found Weddings of Hawai'i. We had kept on looking at other companies, but every time we ended up back to them. So, we had basically everything planned, in theory, before we were even engaged!
So once the time came around to plan everything for real (much sooner than I realized it would), Weddings of Hawai'i made it super easy for us to plan everything. They have an awesome in-house travel agent, which made it not only easy to book the wedding, but also the entire trip! They provide a turn-key wedding experience! All you have to do is pack your bags and show up! So pack our bags we did, just a few months later, and our journey began!
Day 1 - The Travel
Kyle and I left Chattanooga heading to Hawai'i on September 13th. We were beyond excited! The trip we had been counting down the days for was finally here and our wedding was the next day, so we really just wanted to get there as soon as we could! Unfortunately, the airlines just didn't see it that way. One delay after another, we ended up arriving 8 hours later than we were supposed to. To start off, in Chattanooga, we had a situation with the airplane's computer, and from that everything just snowballed. Originally it was only supposed to be 15-20 minutes, but then everything hinged on the maintenance guy to show up. So after finding out that it would be an hour before he got there, the flight crew had us deboard. Kyle headed straight to the gate agent, who booked us through Los Angeles as a back-up. Though we really didn't want this, it ended up being our only option. The Chattanooga delay caused us to miss the original Atlanta connection direct to Honolulu, so off to LA we went.
We really didn't want to see Los Angeles as early as we did, as by the time we left there, we were supposed to already be in Honolulu. And to be honest, we spent even more time there then we really wanted to. Again on the plane...
Kyle and I just looked at each other... The pilot went on to explain that the plane had lost an emergency exit decal in a previous flight and we weren't going anywhere until it was back on. He assured us it would be quick, 15-20 minutes. Again, we looked at each other, we had already heard that once today. So naturally, 10-15 minute later...
They went ahead and turned on the in-flight entertainment and then, as promised, an hour later, we were in the air over the Pacific Ocean.
After the exhausting day of traveling, we were so happy to finally be there! We arrived at our hotel to find what is basically the prettiest place ever. The Royal Hawaiian is stunning! We made it to our room and quickly got into our swim suits and went down to stick our feet in the ocean. We had committed before we left Chattanooga that we were getting in the ocean that day. After the crazy beginning we had made finally it to paradise!
Staying a week at the Royal Hawaiian makes you never want to stay at any other hotel ever again. The Royal Hawaiian opened on February 1, 1927, and is known as the Pink Palace of the Pacific. We both love old historic buildings so that made this stay that much more special. The details in the hotel design and everything was unbelievable! We sometimes just stood at the door to our room, it alone wowed us a lot with very intricately detailed woodwork. Our room had an oceanfront view of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head. Finished in pink and pineapple print wallpaper, it was quite elegant and very comfortable. And the "Royal" in the name is no joke, you're truly treated like royalty here. Everyone was friendly and helpful. The hotel knew from our travel agent that we would be here on our honeymoon, so they pre-stocked the fridge with a beautiful bottle of the Royal Hawaiian's pink champagne (they embrace their hotel's color!). The hotel's courtyards were almost magical at night, with lights seeming to float down from the trees and the torch-lit pathways topped it all off. There were several events at the hotel while we were there too, including a local firefighters' gathering, with a firefighter band performing some great Hawaiian music within an earshot of our window. The stay was an unforgettable experience thanks in part to this hotel alone for sure!
See more Royal Hawaiian in our Royal Hawaiian gallery.
Day 2 - The Wedding
Our second day was our wedding day! Because of all of the delays the day before, there was plenty of things to do that morning that we had planned on doing the day before. Most importantly was our marriage license, if we didn't get that, then the whole trip would have been for nothing! So we went to the Department of Health first thing! This was our day to experience TheBus. It certainly got us around well until we got a rental car a few days later, though we only used it this one day. From here we went back toward the hotel, once there, I stayed around the hotel to find some flowers for my hair, while Kyle went to his haircut appointment. There weren't any florists right at the hotel, so I sacrificed one of our island greeting leis for my hair. Our package with Weddings of Hawai'i provided in-room hair and makeup, so that is mostly what I did while he was gone. Kyle went down the road to Phil's Barber Shop for a shave and a haircut. He had pre-planned it for something to do while I was getting my own hair done. So then after this, it was wedding time!
Not long after he was back and we were both dressed, we went down to the lobby to meet with our limousine to take us to Wai'alae Beach, where we were married. We had an awesome ceremony right on the beach and then afterwards got back in the limo for a ride to the Lana'i Lookout (also known as Heaven's Point) for more photos and video. Both places were so beautiful that we returned later for more photos, but that time with us on the right side of the cameras!
That afternoon, we wanted to have a nice meal after the events of the day, so we decided on Taormina Sicilian Cuisine, which I had found before our trip on TripAdvisor. That decision was far from a regret. We had never had service so awesome at a restaurant before. The host asked us what the occasion was when she seated us, so that set the tone for the night. I had some grilled chicken topped in brown butter sauce and Kyle tried the Truffle Carbonara. Both dishes we agreed were some of the best food we had each ever had! For dessert, the restaurant gave us a special Tiramisu plate that had "Congratulations!" written in chocolate on it. Perfect way to top off the day! This restaurant really wowed us; all the employees worked together, the managers were not just visible, but helping, and everyone was sure to greet us. Even one of the cooks said goodbye as we left! That kind of service is just not something you see in a restaurant very often! We then hit up Lewers Street and Kalakaua Avenue and browsed through the many shops before returning to the hotel for the night.
For lodging, the Royal Hawaiian just could not be beat! We did peek into some of the adjacent hotels and all were very nice too, but the Royal Hawaiian has a certain ambiance about it that the others do not.
For dining, Taormina Sicilian Cuisine was definitely the highlight of the trip, as far as all of the fine dining was concerned.
For shopping, basically, if a brand exists, there is a store for it on Lewers St or Kalakaua Ave. There are also many local artwork, decor, and apparel store chains that you can only find in Hawai'i that are worth checking out. We really liked Island Art and Sole and SoHa Living. Be sure to also check out the Waikiki Christmas Store, they will personalize ornaments right in front of you by hand, true artists! The Royal Hawaiian had some nice stores inside it as well, so be sure to check them out and pick up some pink souvenirs!