For couple Simone & Ben, having a wedding is not a necessity to prove to everyone how much they both love each other. They’ve been together for 17 years! What more proof does the world need? They’ve been engaged for 9 years but neither of them was in a hurry. But one random vacation in the beautiful island of Hawaii, Simone got the idea to tie the knot there secretly. No one else in their circle of family and friends was in attendance but their lovely daughter, Esme… the only guest that actually matters. Despite the simplicity of the ceremony and the reception (or lack thereof), their wedding still looked elegant and it’s certainly one for the books. Congratulations Simone & Ben (& Esme)!
We met at a New Year’s Eve party almost 17 years ago. We were ‘set up’ by a mutual friend, who takes full credit for her accurate matchmaking! Our relationship has always been solid and we have never been in a rush. Seven years into our relationship, Ben proposed to me in Paris during a vacation in Europe. I said yes, of course! It was wonderful to be engaged … but the actual wedding was never a big priority. We did other things instead. We travelled more, and then had our daughter, Esme, almost 6 years ago. I think most people had given up on us ever actually tying the knot! Then earlier this year, while planning a vacation in Hawaii, I floated the idea of getting married while we were there. Ben said yes, let’s do it! So we did. Finally … nine years after getting engaged!
What makes the two of you a perfect match?
I think we complement each other very well. We’re both loyal and care very much about our family and each other.
What were some challenges you faced planning your wedding & what would you have done differently to avoid them?
We had a destination wedding which we planned from afar so we had to put a lot of trust in our planner and vendors. Thankfully everything worked out – I can’t think of single thing that we would change! One thing that can be tricky when planning a wedding in a location you have never been to is understanding the geography. We found out when we arrived that we had chosen a ceremony site a long way from our hotel. There was only one road to get there which became frequently congested with traffic – and even sometimes shut down, if there was a traffic accident. Luckily none of those things happened!
We had a beach wedding so our ‘decor’ was simply the gorgeous surrounds of Polo Beach, Maui. I chose the beach carefully after looking at lots of photos of different ceremony locations. Polo beach had everything I was looking for. Lush green vegetation, black volcanic rocks and soft, warm light. There was no need to add anything else!
We didn’t really have a budget.
Where did you save the most money?
We saved money by choosing a simple ceremony on the beach. We wanted our wedding to be a very personal and emotional experience. Neither of us are very comfortable being the centre of attention so a big wedding was never on the cards.
None! We eloped. Just me, my husband and our daughter, Esme. No one knew about the wedding. We surprised our friends and family when we returned. When we told everyone that we eloped, some people wondered: were your families upset at not being invited? The truth is, we never wanted a big wedding – we always wanted something small and personal and meaningful. Our families knew we felt that way so they were not surprised when eloped! They are incredibly supportive and happy for us and have enjoyed reliving the moment with us through our beautiful photos.
No music. Just the sounds of the sea!
Where did you go on your honeymoon?
In a way, we were already ‘on honeymoon’ when we got married! In total we spent two weeks in Hawaii. First on Oahu and then on to Maui for the wedding. We joke that we had the honeymoon before the wedding! It actually worked out really well because by the time we got married we had already been on vacation for nearly two weeks so we were very relaxed and stress-free!
A long and happy life together with our growing girl. Lots more travel. Returning to Hawaii one day to celebrate a special anniversary is definitely on the cards. Its a beautiful place.
We booked our wedding only seven weeks before getting married … and I am actually really glad we only had a short time to plan. It meant I had to make quick decisions, and it was so liberating! No agonizing over things or wondering whether to go for this or that. I just went for it. And it really showed me how much less stressful event planning is when you are decisive. You just don’t have time to worry about everything. So my advice would be to make good, considered decisions and then move on – don’t agonize about every detail. It will all work out.
I think the overall story is about how even a small wedding or an elopement can feel just as special and amazing as a large wedding. For me it was all about the experience. I tried very hard to be as relaxed as possible about it, and I was rewarded with a day that far exceeded my expectations. We planned a lovely, simple wedding in only a few weeks, without any stress, and without anyone knowing. And it was perfect!
Ben bought his suit before I chose my dress. He found a light blue-grey Hugo Boss suit he loved. It fitted him so well – he had to have it! I loved the colour on him and it worked so well with the location. Light and summery but still formal. For my dress, I wanted something really comfortable and flattering, with a bit of a 60s retro feel. With only 7 weeks to plan, I had to find something off the rack. I flew up to Sydney (we live in Melbourne, Australia) to try on some dresses by Australian designer Alex Perry. I found a short, off-white lace dress that fitted perfectly. It was ‘the one’. I’m actually surprised I ended up with a cream dress – I’m not very traditional and had expected to choose a colour. But the dress just jumped out! For my daughter’s bridesmaid dress I sought out a dress that complementary to mine but not too match-matchy. I found a lovely, simple cream Dollcake dress with a beautiful ruffled skirt and a touch of pink that would match my bouquet. Esme loved her dress! She looked adorable on the day. I bought my jewellery and hair accessories in a local boutique in Hawaii. It was a nice touch to be wearing something with a connection to the location. Ben’s wedding band was also from a local jeweller. We had the Hawaiian phrase for forever, Mau Loa, engraved inside.
It’s hard to pick – I loved every minute! The ceremony was particularly beautiful. Our officiant, Kahu Kale, encouraged us to be very focused and very present, to take in the sights and sounds around us and to preserve the moment in our minds. And I’m so glad he did. Our ceremony was very touching and very emotional – a surprise to both of us! I felt so incredibly lucky to be there; on that stunning beach with my gorgeous little family, marrying my perfect partner.
What were the highlights from the ceremony & reception?
We didn’t have a reception as such as it was only the three of us. We booked dinner at a restaurant nearby. They set up a lovely semi-private gazebo for us, overlooking the gardens and the beach. I think every member of staff came over to personally congratulate us, which was lovely! A couple dining in the restaurant sent us over a bottle of champagne. We went over to thank them and found out they were celebrating their 10 year anniversary. We vowed we’ll do the same for another couple when we reach ten years!
Photographer: Karma Hill Photography
Floral Designer: Dellables
Makeup Artist: Maui Make up Artistry
Other Location: Polo Beach
Event Planner: Simple Maui Wedding
Officiant: Kahu Kale Kaalekahi
Groom’s Suit: Hugo Boss
Bride’s Dress: Alex Perry
Flower Girl’s Dress: Dollcake