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Just Maui'ed
More than 6,000 couples a year come to Maui to tie the knot,
with many of them choosing unconventional venues and dress.

Wednesday, February 3, 1999
MORRI H. MOSTOW
Special to The Globe and Mail

Maui, Hawaii -- We knew our wedding on Maui was going to be unorthodox when Rose Roselinsky arrived at our rented condo with Hymie, a singing Amazon parrot who refused to sing.

This was our first face-to-face meeting with Rose, who would be conducting the ceremony. A self-styled "cantorial soloist" with Maui's Gan Edan Reform Congregation, Rose officiates at dozens of Jewish wedding services a year. I had hired her sight unseen, by phone, almost a year earlier.

This was a second marriage for both Doug and me. This time, I wanted to be married under the chuppah, or Jewish marriage canopy. While no ordained rabbi would marry us (Douglas isn't Jewish), Rose, who subscribes to a kind of New Age Judaism, was happy to oblige. To complicate matters, this was to be a joint simcha (celebration), also honouring the 50th-wedding anniversary of my parents, Harold and Lillian. So, we had a lot to discuss with Rose in the few days before the big event.

Hymie, the parrot who assists Rose at her outdoor ceremonies, was banished to the lanai, where he communed with the abundant bird life in the adjacent ravine. Blessed with a powerful music-hall voice, Rose was still basking in the glowing reviews from her recent one-woman musical in Wailuku, Maui's county seat. My father seemed apprehensive; Rose tended to wander off on tangents and break into impromptu song. Despite a repertoire reputed to include arias, Hymie refused to join in.

When we decided to wed on Maui, we knew it wouldn't be an ordinary event. But then, that's what "Getting Maui'ed" is all about -- making one-of-a-kind memories in one of the world's most stunning settings.

While we opted for a traditional, formal wedding in the Seaside Chapel on the spectacular grounds of the Grand Wailea Resort, many of the more than 6,000 couples a year who come from around the world to tie the knot in Maui choose more unconventional venues and dress.
In bikinis and holokus (the traditional Hawaiian wedding dress), sandals or bare feet, couples exchange vows while paragliding or scuba diving; at remote waterfalls accessible only by helicopter; aboard sailing yachts, in lush, tropical gardens; on black-lava beaches or in secluded coves.

Some locales, such as historical churches, botanical gardens and parks, need to be rented in advance; others, including all of the beaches on Maui, are public and free.

Weddings -- and vow renewals, for romantic married couples -- are big business on Maui. From Lahaina and Kaanapali in the northwest to "Heavenly Hana" in the east and Wailea and Makena in the south, virtually every major resort and hotel on the island has a wedding co-ordinator on staff, ready to handle every detail of your big day.

To keep things simple, you might want to buy a hotel wedding package. It could include the services of a minister or other officiant, the use of the hotel's indoor chapel or outdoor terrace, a champagne-and-cake reception or formal sit-down dinner, a photographer and/or videographer, flowers and music. Most hotels also offer a discount on their room rates if you hold your wedding there.

If, on the other hand, you want to explore your options, you can engage the services of an independent wedding consultant, or co-ordinate the event yourself, by phone, fax and E-mail. The Hawaii Wedding Professionals Association (HWPA) numbers more than 130 accredited wedding service providers on Maui. Whether you want to seal your "I do's" by releasing doves or butterflies, order a fanciful wedding cake, rent your gown and tuxedo, reserve a limousine or horse-drawn carriage, an HWPA member can satisfy your every whim.

Doug and I, accompanied by three of our five children, arrived a week ahead to finalize the arrangements. My parents, in Maui six weeks beforehand, had become our de facto wedding planners, a role that proved more daunting than they had expected. Somehow, they had lined up suppliers from all over the island: a pastry chef from Wailuku, a florist and photographer from up-country Makawao. The logistics were frightening. In the end, we replaced most of them with suppliers around the corner. We did retain Stedman, the pastry maker, whose passion-fruit-filled wedding cake proved to be as delicious as it was gorgeous.

Asa, the Grand Wailea's florist, created our spectacular orchid leis, sprays and boutonnieres, my trailing orchid-and-tuberose bridal bouquet, and my mother's haku, the traditional dried-flower head wreath that, quipped my eldest daughter, Cassandre, made her look like a character out of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Obtaining our marriage licence, at a cost of $50 (U.S.) was as easy as making an appointment with a licence agent in nearby Kihei, whose home office opened onto her driveway. As is customary, we doffed our shoes at the door and filled out the forms barefoot. Maui has no waiting period or residency requirement for a marriage licence. We simply produced our passports (a birth certificate or photo ID will suffice) and divorce decrees (although only dates and locations are officially required.)

Despite a missing hotel wedding co-ordinator at the chapel (she suffered a major asthma attack; her replacement had not been briefed), everything came off splendidly. As always on Maui, the weather was perfect -- warm, with just enough cloud to cast a soft, flattering late-afternoon light during the photo shoot on our, well, mature faces. As Rose sang the Hawaiian Wedding Song, accompanied by a harpist, we strode down the aisle to the orchid-festooned chuppah (supplied by a theatrical-props company, with flowers by Asa and co-ordination by the parents of the bride).

Light streamed through the chapel's magnificent stained-glass windows, with their larger-than-life murals of traditional Hawaiian figures. Rose chanted and recited the wedding ceremony in Hebrew and English. My parents joined her in a blessing. We exchanged vows, and Doug concluded the ceremony with the traditional stomp and smash of the glass -- all caught on film by Making Maui Memories photographer Jillian Rocha and her videographer husband, Joe.

Afterward, our guests joined us at a reception on the terrace of the Diamond Resort's Bella Luna Ristorante, with its breathtaking view of Wailea Bay. As the sun slipped into the ocean and humpback whales breached and blew, Rose broke into a spontaneous a capella rendition of Sunrise, Sunset from Fiddler on the Roof, and suddenly it was all over.

We can't wait to come back and do it again, for our 50th.

Morri Mostow is a Montreal marketing-communications consultant. She and her husband, Douglas Long, were married in Maui in March, 1998.

IF YOU WED

Getting There. After more than a dozen trips to Maui using a variety of carriers and routings, we have found Air Canada to be the most convenient way to get there from Eastern Canada. In high season (December to March), Air Canada flies non-stop to Maui from Vancouver, three evenings a week. Canadian Airlines does not fly into Maui, but will route you there -- often on other airlines -- in about the same amount of time, via Honolulu, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago or even Boston, depending on your departure city. Travel agents have details of seasonal (October or November through April) Canada 3000 flights into Maui or Honolulu from a number of Western Canadian cities and into Honolulu from Toronto.

Where To Start. Order your free copy of the Maui Wedding Planner, from the Hawaii Wedding Professionals Association, HWPA Office, P.O. Box 2255, Wailuku, Maui, Hawaii 96793. It provides a complete roster of HWPA members, plus lots of useful information covering every aspect of a Maui wedding. Check out http://www.maui.net/prof profwed.html for supplier links.

Useful Contacts. Grand Wailea Weddings: (808) 875-1234, fax (808) 874-2412.; wedding services manager, Maui Prince Hotel (Makena): (808) 874-1111, fax (808) 879-6907; wedding co-ordinator, Kea Lani Hotel (Wailea): (808) 875-4100, fax (808) 875-1200; wedding services, Hyatt Regency Maui (Lahaina): (808) 667-4433; Making Maui Memories Photo/Video: (808) 875-8461,
http://www.mauiphoto.com .

Something To Consider. Hawaiian culture and language are experiencing a renaissance on the islands, but most native organizations are seriously under-funded. You might consider asking your wedding guests, as we did, to make a donation to a native organization in lieu of gifts. For example, a donation to Kauahea, Inc. Building Fund, P.O. Box 966, Wailuku, Hawaii, 96793, will help this non-profit organization build a traditional learning centre where Hawaiian language, art, culture, healing and spiritual practices can be taught and shared.