When Ellie Huntley imagined her wedding, there were a few things she knew she wanted.
An intimate ceremony, and to be barefoot on a beach.
Well, she and her husband Jeremy, 32, are Bellingham born and raised. Big families and groups of friends meant their guest list was topping out close to 900 people. And Ellie’s brother and father are commercial fishers in Alaska and could only make it home for a wedding in October, so going barefoot in the fall sounded like an uncomfortably literal case of cold feet.
To make it all work, and work beautifully, the couple opted for a destination wedding at Royal Lahaina Resort on Kaanapali Beach in Maui, Hawaii, where they were married in front of 90 family and friends on Oct. 20, 2014.
“We both fell in love with Maui,” says Ellie, 25. “I’ve always wanted to have a destination wedding since I was a little girl. It was a dream.”
Jeremy’s family has a timeshare on Maui, and he and Ellie both vacationed there often with their families. That and their love of island life — both local (on the San Juans, where they spend much of their time) and tropical — made Hawaii a natural choice.
Everyone was on vacation. Everyone was having a good time. No one had to wake up and go to work in the morning.Ellie Huntley, bride
“It just feels like home to both of us,” Ellie says. “It’s comfortable there and we’re able to truly relax and enjoy ourselves.”
Their guests were able to enjoy it, too, hanging out with the couple for the week surrounding the wedding, going on sunset dinner cruises and trips to shows, and just enjoying the beauty of the beach. The couple spent lots of time with family and friends before heading to Oahu for a week for their honeymoon.
“One thing that just stands out to me is how happy everyone was,” Ellie says. “Everyone was on vacation. Everyone was having a good time. No one had to wake up and go to work in the morning. ... For both of us to look around and see everyone’s faces and see everyone having such a good time, that was awesome.”
It cleared up and the day of our wedding was gorgeous. ... We were definitely really lucky that the storm passed.Ellie Huntley, bride
A Maui-based wedding planner kept everything going smoothly, but the planner couldn’t control the weather. As the couple arrived in Maui the week before their big day, a tropical storm was headed for the island, bringing with it drenching rains, thunder and lightning.
A few friends caught earlier flights so they wouldn’t be delayed by the storm, and there were contingency plans for what to do if it hit. Luckily, the storm changed course.
“It cleared up and the day of our wedding was gorgeous; 85 degrees, sunny and hot, and there was a nice breeze,” Ellie says. “We were definitely really lucky that the storm passed.”
In the end, they got their wedding by the beach, and Ellie still fondly remembers the feeling of soft grass beneath her feet and the smell of the ocean as she walked down the aisle.
“I just soaked it in,” she says. “I will never forget it.”
That’s her advice to other brides.
“Stop and enjoy every moment,” she says. “When you’re talking to your mom or your grandma or your cousin or having alone time, soak it all up.”
Photo by Marbelle Photography & Video