Oceans Couldn’t Keep Us Apart
Don and Keleko say “I do” in a traditional Hawaiian ceremony

Maui would probably land on just about any engaged couples’ dream destination wedding list. But for Don Pierce and Keleko Smith, it was the only place they could imagine tying the knot. After all, the couple lives in Lahaina, Maui, so they didn’t need to go far to find the wedding locale of their dreams.

Meeting in person, however, was a different story. Don and Keleko actually met online, and thanks to the power of the Internet, were living an ocean apart: Keleko in Maui, Don in Laguna Beach, Calif. “We met on Compatible Partners and communicated for four months before I ever went to visit,” Don says.

But after their first meeting and Don’s trip to Hawaii, the couple knew they were meant to be together, despite the brief relationship. And not long after Don returned to California, the couple was engaged and Don was shipping his belongings to Maui. The only thing they seem to disagree about is who actually proposed. “I think he did, he thinks I did,” Keleko says. “But he was at church getting ready for choir when I called and by the time the processional began, we were engaged.”

And as fast as the couple’s relationship progressed, the wedding details evolved even faster. Don and Keleko planned nearly every aspect in just three months. The ceremony included many Hawaiian customs, and was small and intimate, with just 50 family and friends, including their Westie Benson. They opted for a large white tent in their backyard, which overlooks the Lanai’i channel. Tealeaves covered the tents poles, and tablecloths were hand-painted with tropical plants. Don and Keleko also wore Hawaiian wedding shirts, as well as traditional tealeaf and maile leis made by local women the night before the ceremony.

The ceremony began as all Hawaiian weddings do: with the time-honored Oli Aloha marriage chant while Keleko walked down the hill toward Don. “We exchanged vows and our minister from the mainland and the Hawaiian spiritual leader presented us with flower leis of white tuberose and red rose buds,” Keleko says. “It was everything we hoped for and more.”

After the two exchanged vows, guests enjoyed a customary wedding hula dance, and then dined on a fabulous menu of Hawaiian dishes catered by personal friends, including poki (sushi), kalua pig, laulau (salmon and pork wrapped in taro leaf), poi, Hawaiian green salad, fresh local fruit, chicken long rice and chicken adobo. The wedding cake was a chocolate custard-filled sheet cake.

But the celebrating didn’t end after the wedding. “We didn’t go on a honeymoon,” Don says. “We decided to spend a day snorkeling, and beached with the guests that had come from the mainland instead.”

“The entire event was very spiritual and happy,” Keleko says. “We couldn’t believe it was over and kept staring at each others rings.”