Only on Maui could we see eight, count ‘em, eight, weddings on one beach, all at one time. Well, almost at one time. At least four or five, I think, were happening simultaneously, while others were on deck. It was quite a scene, like something out of a Fellini film.
We had gone to snorkel at Kapalua, the next beach up from Napili Bay. Kapalua regularly makes it on “10 Best” lists of U.S.A. beautiful beaches. Picture perfect (aside from the recently built expensive condos behind the center of the beach, which used to be grass and palm trees), a classic crescent, rocky promontories on each end, gentle waves, excellent snorkeling.
About five, an hour or so away from sunset, a wedding party appeared on the beach. And then another. And another. And up on the promontory belonging to the Kapalua Bay Hotel, another. I guess Sunday in April is a popular time to get married on Maui, which allows you to use the phrase we saw on a sign affixed to a car in the beach parking lot, just above a garland of Coors Light beer cans hanging from the rear bumper: “Just Mauied.”
The weddings we saw on Kapalua Beach, as we perched in the middle of the festivities on our fiber mats, casually dressed observers in our bathing suits, are a marvelous blend of traditionality and originality.
The Kapalua Bay Hotel wedding was quite formal, with the bride wearing a full length white gown. After the vows the wedding party came down to the beach for more photos, and we noticed that the bridesmaids, all wearing pink taffeta dresses, had matching pink flip-flops on their feet. Heaven knows where you find pink flip-flops; that must be what wedding planners are for. Then the bridesmaids pulled up the bride’s dress to reveal her white flip-flops while the photographer and videographer captured the moment as the sun set behind them.
Also, as snorkelers paddled away behind them, fully absorbed in what was beneath the Kapalua waters, while for us the real show was happening on the beach. This is one of the downsides of getting married at Kapalua. Your wedding video has a great chance of including a pot-bellied tourist waddling down the beach, festooned with newly rented snorkeling gear. Some people didn’t even bother to move as weddings took place on either side of them, creating a rather bizarre juxtaposition of nattily clad wedding celebrants standing next to scantily clad beachgoers lying on their towels.
Another wedding featured a bride wearing a white dress with a long gown and several men in black suits. All barefoot. We loved it. The bride’s mother (we had to assume) followed along with her, picking up the train of the dress when it got close to the water or rocks. They too came down to our end of the beach for some post-ceremony photos. The mother, also clad in white, had brought a long stick with which she carefully inscribed something in the wet sand (a heart, I believe, with the couple’s initials inside). She put some flowers in the inscription and the couple stood next to it as photos were snapped. Another special Maui moment.
What else? A Hawaiian “minister” chanting in his native tongue, seemingly in a renewal-of-vows ceremony, since the only attendees other than the couple were two teenagers. Another male “minister” (somehow the word doesn’t fit with the people we saw conducting the beach ceremonies) had long blond hair, snazzy black T-shirt and slacks, a Hawaiian necklace, and a way-cool silk batiked sort-of-robe, sort-of-shawl with a sun on the back.
Everybody appeared relaxed and having a good time, unlike the tension you often feel at weddings where everything has to be perfect, just so. When you get married on a public beach where it can be raining one moment and sunshiny the next, perfection lies in taking what Maui gives you—which today was just perfect, no matter the snorkelers and portly beachgoers swimming/sauntering by.
The Crazy Shirts bag in which I brought home a T-shirt yesterday pretty much sums up a core tenet of the Mauian philosophy of life: “Be Original. Be Crazy!” Good advice for all of us, on Maui or not.