Wedding: Joe & Tom

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Image by Kelli Bullock

The couple:
Joe Pineda & Tom Merrick, Honolulu, Hawai‘i

Years together:
13

The wedding:
We went to Lana‘i with another gay couple to celebrate two of our birthdays. We were staying at the lovely Four Seasons Lodge at Koele and were so taken by its beauty that we woke up one morning, looked at each other, and said, “You want to get married here?” Tom proposed to me back in November and we were planning to get married later this year but decided to ditch it all and get married right then and there. Twenty-four hours later, on Monday, February 3, 2014, we were married. It was the very first same-sex wedding on the island of Lana‘i since it became legal, so we were very honored.

Additionally, Tom helped build the resort when they were first constructing it, so we felt we had a special connection to it. Everything happened so fast that we were unprepared and did not bring anything. We bought matching aloha shirts at the gift shop. They didn’t have a jewelry store on the whole island of Lana‘i so we had to borrow our friend’s rings for the ceremony. I guess you can say that our shirts were “something new” and the rings were “something borrowed.”

About an hour and a half before our ceremony, this lovely lady and her husband came to the resort looking for us. She had heard about our same-sex wedding from the resort staff, who mentioned that we did not have any flowers. She showed up right before our wedding and gave us these beautiful leis that she spent all night making. She said that she was so happy that it is finally happening for same-sex couples and that it was her gift to us. She and her husband were so wonderful and their gesture so amazing that we cried.

Why Lana‘i:
Considering that it was spur of the moment and everything came together within a day on an island as remote as Lana‘i, our wedding turned out perfectly. I don’t think we could’ve planned it better if we had all the time in the world to do so. Everyone pitched in—the resort staff, strangers—to make it such a beautiful and special occasion for us. It makes you realize that weddings are not about expensive flowers, glamorous venues, fabulous dishes, gorgeous dresses, and the fancy folks—it should be all about each other. That’s what our wedding was: a beautiful day celebrating our union, shared with our dearest friends, and made possible by the lovely and generous folks that surrounded us.

Wedding tips:
Just do it! Hawai‘i is gorgeous and the perfect setting for a wedding. Get married and have your honeymoon here too. You don’t have to worry about travel documents like passports or visas, currency exchange rates, or different languages.

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