Lisa Marie Hart 2016-09-01 06:40:23
Natalie Cortes married Houston Duncan in an oceanfront ceremony at Montage Kapalua Bay. Though most of their friends and family were experiencing the romantic Hawaiian islands for the first time, Natalie Cortes and Houston Duncan had fallen in love with the magical shores of Maui and Montage Kapalua Bay years before. As a destination they’ve retreated to every year since they met, and the meaningful place where Natalie first said, “I love you,” this peace-giving Hawaiian paradise renowned for its glorious sunsets was a natural fit for a destination wedding. During a trip with friends for Houston’s 30th birthday eight months prior to the wedding, this pair with Southern roots agreed they couldn’t imagine exchanging vows anywhere else. Natalie and Houston, who met through mutual friends in 2012 and quickly became best friends before they started dating, envisioned a smaller, more intimate wedding— unlike those customary in their native cities of Savannah, Ga., and Dallas. “We’re rather private and we wanted to feel like guests at our own wedding instead of hosts who are constantly welcoming everyone,” Natalie explains. “Celebrating Houston’s birthday at Montage Kapalua Bay last fall, we thought, ‘This is it.’ We’ve gotten to know everyone who works there, and they always make us feel really special. We wanted to share that feeling with our family and friends.” Choosing to host a destination affair offered the perfect excuse to pop back over to the island one more time before the big day to attend to a few details in person. In January, the couple enjoyed a chef ’s tasting and met with their floral designer. “Our design focused on meshing the picturesque views off The Point with everything else,” Natalie says. She opted for an elegant neutral scheme of gold, blush, peach and white infused with soft tropical greens and natural wood elements. From there, Natalie and Houston entrusted their planner, Lindsay Longacre of LVL Weddings & Events and her established relationships to complete their dream celebration. While Houston’s engagement plans may not have gone off without a hitch—he had a tough time finding a moment alone with Natalie during their first joint family vacation—their oceanfront wedding more than made up for it. Surrounded by 65 guests from across the U.S., the couple exchanged vows on the lush Namalu Lawn overlooking the vast Pacific. A modestsized wedding party of Houston’s dad as best man and four bridesmaids for Natalie added to the intimate feel. Traditional Hawaiian rituals, performed by three individuals including two Montage staff members, of whom the couple has grown fond, complemented a reverend’s officiating. Natalie says the chants were “blessing the land and ocean around us and paying tribute to the sacred ground we were getting married on. We knew no one [at the wedding] had experienced that before, including us.” Houston adds that they believed it was important to incorporate Hawaiian traditions and to let the staff know they were sharing their wedding with them and honoring their land. “We couldn’t have replicated that anywhere else,” he says. Elevated Hawaiian cuisine including huli huli chicken and Kauai shrimp with burnt lime and papaya greeted guests at the reception on The Point. Mai tai cocktails and a vanilla sponge cake with lilikoi (a Hawaiian fruit) filling added authenticity and further introduction to the local culture. Twinkle lights glittered in the clear-top dining tent while bistro lighting hung gracefully above the outdoor dance floor. “We wanted everyone to feel like they were eating and dancing under the stars,” Natalie explains. The band from the ceremony and cocktail hour played during the first half of the reception; a disc jockey played for the second then moved to the Sunset Room for a late-night after-party. “We slept the whole next day,” Natalie laughs. Rounding out the weekend, guests participated in the Feast at Lele traditional luau, a gentlemen’s golf tournament at The Plantation Golf Club, and a rehearsal dinner at Merriman’s, which included a performance by fire dancers. Houston says their friends are already pushing for an anniversary party. “Everything blew away ... [the guests’] expectations, from the views and the scenery to the level of service,” he says. “They were surprised by how quickly the staff knew their name and their favorite cocktail.” Most guests planned a mini vacation around the wedding, ranging from five to 10 days of tropical bliss. “Some of them described it to me that it was as though they were in a movie,” Houston says. “Most people haven’t had that kind of wedding experience before.” SATURDAY, MAY 21, 2016: Getting Ready Dress: Carolina Herrera Jewelry: Eiseman Jewels Shoes: Kate Spade Bridesmaids’ dresses: Amsale and Joanna August Hair and makeup: Ry-n Shimabuku Groom’s attire: Suitsupply Ceremony & Cocktail Hour Venue: Namalu Lawn at Montage Kapalua Bay Florist: Wildheart Ceremony canopy: Hawaiian Style Event Rentals Musicians: Ben and Maila Officiant: The Rev. Amy Crowe of Holy Innocents Episcopal Church Hawaiian practitioners: Silla Kaina, Dee Ann Akina, Wilmont Kahaialii Invitations: Paper Affair Dallas Day-of signage and calligraphy: Miss B Calligraphy ALL DRESSED UP Even Natalie’s gown by Carolina Herrera had its own story: Though she had planned a traditional day of dress shopping with her mom, Natalie couldn’t resist stopping into a Dallas trunk show of Carolina Herrera’s fall bridal collection that had just previewed in New York City the day before. The last dress she tried on fit her as if it were tailor-made, only minimal alterations necessary. “With my mom’s blessing, I bought it. And because I was the first person in the world to ever own it, they sent a photo of me in the dress to Ms. Herrera,” Natalie says. “It was classic, comfortable, and perfect for the Montage setting.” Reception Venue: The Point at Montage Kapalua Bay Catering: Montage Kapalua Bay Florist: Wildheart Musicians: Ben and Maila Disc Jockey: Maui DJ Services Rentals: Paradise Event Rentals, Signature Event Rentals and Maui Rents Bar rental: Set Maui Wedding cake and groom’s cake: Maui Sweet Cakes
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