Real Couples // Intimate Same-Sex Wedding on a Boat in Hawai'i

Number of Wedding Guests: 50

Total Wedding Budget: $12,000

The couple: Kate is originally from Youngstown, Ohio, and she moved to Oahu five years ago. She is a registered nurse working in the ICU. Jo is originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and she moved to Oahu eight years ago. She is also a registered nurse in the ICU at a different hospital.

How We Met: We are both friends with another nurse named Brian via social media. One day, Jo came across my (Kate's) Instagram profile and saw that we had multiple common interests. She didn't pursue me right away, but I followed her back and commented on a picture of her at the beach. The caption read, "Beach today. Traumaland tonight." ("Traumaland" because Jo works in the surgical-trauma ICU.)

I replied, "Sexy by day. Hero by night." A regular Rico Suave, I tell you. Jo responded back, and we began talking via text, exchanging witty banter, and flirting. Jo was so busy with class, work, volunteering, and tutoring that she barely had time to breathe let alone date, but we had become so fond of each other already that we went on a hike at 5:30am to watch the sunrise. 

As soon as we reached the summit, I wrapped my arms around her, and we had our last first kiss. We moved in together six months later, were engaged after a year and a half of dating, and were married one year after our proposal on September 9th, 2016.

The Proposal: We often talked about getting married. We were always very sure of each other, and I was certain I was going to be proposing to Jo, but we waited respectfully while my sister planned her own wedding. Then, a few weeks after my sister got married, Jo’s parents visited Oahu. 

First Jo told me that she had to work and that her parents would be busy. Unsuspecting me got an invitation that day from a girlfriend to go check out a lava tube on the east side of the island. When we arrived, the lava tube was decorated with twinkle Christmas lights, paper lanterns, and flowers, and Jo was waiting at the end with her parents and a guitarist. 

As we stood on the edge of the ocean being serenaded, she said, “I know you've always felt like you had to do this, but..." She got down on one knee. "Will you marry me?” I said yes, of course, and we celebrated with bottles of champagne and many kisses.

The Wedding: We chose to get married on a catamaran because we wanted something fun, intimate, and cost efficient. Venues and vendors are very expensive in Hawaii, and we wanted to spend more money on our honeymoon. Most of our vendors are close friends. If we were going to spend money, we wanted to give it to people we knew personally if possible, and we always try to invest our money in small local businesses.

On the day of the wedding, a trolley took us and our guests to the boat dock. Local friends had arrived early to decorate the catamaran, which we are forever grateful for. We sailed to a calm spot overlooking the Koolau Mountains and Diamond Head Crater, and we handed out leis that were handmade from flowers and kukui nuts, making sure to kiss and thank every single guest. 

My friend Darius officiated from the helm. My sister and Jo's brother were matron/man of honor and walked first to "Seasons of Love" from the Broadway musical "Rent." Our mothers walked us down the aisle, one after the other, to Adele's "Make You Feel My Love." We chose this song because I sang it to Jo in the car on a date early in our relationship, and it was just a cute/fond memory of our early dating days. We recited personal vows we wrote ourselves that made everyone cry, and we kissed multiple times before saying "I do," making everyone giggle. 

Since we're both nurses, we agreed no large diamonds, and instead have mis-matching platinum bands from Tiffany.

After exchanging rings (and a few more kisses) we had a great meal, heard some heartfelt toasts, and danced to great music. My sister and I performed a spoken word piece as my wedding gift to Jo.

Finally, we sailed back to the dock and went to a local bar that has a great second story outdoor space that overlooks the ocean. We chose to follow Kate's hometown tradition of a cookie table instead of a wedding cake, and we ended the night enjoying cocktails and cookies and taking pictures.

It was a perfect day, complete with a rainbow.

Words by Kate (one of the brides), as told to Amber Marlow, photos by Smitten Chickens

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Photography | Smitten Chickens
Ceremony Boat | Tradewind Charters
Officiant | Darius Dillard
Hair | Meghan Crum
Catering | Firehouse Truck
Music | Randy Allen



Smitten Chickens is a photography team based in New York, NY, providing emotional, authentic, and inclusive images for people in love.