Real Couples // A Hawaiian Elopement: Michael + Jon Mark

In addition to scripting a completely creative and unique wedding experience for themselves, Mike and Jon Mark are a perfect example of an amazing couple who beat the odds: thirteen years ago, they serendipitously met at a Minneapolis gay bar when Jon Mark was visiting from the East Coast and Michael was out with friends: their eyes met across the crowded bar, they struck up a conversation, and they've been together ever since. They both live professional lives in New York City, love to travel extensively (their first date was a trip to Norway!), and have family and friends throughout the country. Because of the logistics of marriage laws, family dynamics, etc., they opted to tie the knot in the most private and pleasurable way possible. They flew to Maui, one of their favorite places on earth, for some sightseeing and relaxation. About a week into their stay, they went to the courthouse Wailuku where Justice Rhonda Loo (reportedly the first female judge in Hawaii!) performed a sweet, tear-filled ceremony for the couple and a witness. After the ceremony, the couple went to a nearby bistro to start the flurry of texts and phone calls to loved ones back home- surprise, everyone, we’re married! After a celebratory meal, Michael and Jon Mark went to a gorgeous beach on Maui's north shore for some quiet time and relaxed portraits by the water as the sun began to set on their wedding day. Their deep connection and gratitude for each other is so plain to see in the resulting photos. 

[Note: As their friend, they brought me to Hawaii to be their photographer, witness, flower girl, and ring bearer all in one. It was just the two of them and me, and it was PERFECT! As with many same-sex couples, there are various reasons why they didn’t/couldn’t have a “real" wedding… so instead they did something MUCH better, and they definitely won in the end. They wouldn’t trade their beautiful wedding experience for the world.]

Words and photos by Lisa Venticinque (aka Lisa25)


Lisa Venticinque (aka Lisa25) is a portrait and wedding photographer based in Saint Paul, MN.  Her life’s work is to reflect her subjects' individual beauty and to tell their stories in an authentic and personal way.  She considers herself a citizen of the world and finds joy in the resplendent diversity of human expression and experience.