It was 2005 when Catherine Lee and Sammy Sy first met at a mutual friend’s dinner party in California. “We had fun getting to know each other, but we didn't stay in contact at the time because Sammy lived in the San Francisco Bay Area while I was in Taipei,” Catherine explains. “Then one day about six months later, we unexpectedly ran into each other at the Taipei airport. Our story began there.”
When it came time to propose, Sammy planned a romantic weekend getaway to the Hamptons. He presented Catherine with a leather-bound photo album he’d made with 400 snapshots of their adventures together over the past eight years – and tied to the book was an engagement ring.
“WE UNEXPECTEDLY RAN INTO EACH OTHER AT THE TAIPEI AIRPORT. OUR STORY BEGAN THERE.”
Without hesitation, both the bride and groom-to-be chose to have a destination wedding in Hawaii. “Sammy and I had visited the islands multiple times, and we always had a lot of fun there,” Catherine shares. “To us, it always felt like a happy and relaxing place, and is perfect as a wedding destination. It also helped that it's a convenient midpoint between our family and friends from Taiwan and the west coast. We were also confident our friends from the east coast would love this excuse to visit Hawaii.”
“Our venue, Haiku Mill, was absolutely magical and we fell in love with it the moment we laid eyes on it,” she continues. “We love the quaint and natural feel of the venue – so unlike a standard beach wedding at a hotel resort. We appreciate that the venue became exclusive to us, where we could have a very intimate celebration with our closest friends and family. The rustic charm of the mill reminded us of a place full of stories and memories. It doesn't need much else to become a beautiful wedding venue.”
Wanting to highlight the greenery and charming ruins of the Haiku Mill, the couple chose to plan an elegant and romantic celebration with island-inspired details like coconuts and a live ukulele band. Stylishly packaged Haiku Mill mango preserves were given as wedding favors, and DIY elements were incorporated into the seating chart, menu, place cards, welcome signage, and dessert signage boards.
Despite a hectic few days leading up to the wedding, Catherine and Sammy felt surprisingly relaxed when the big day finally arrived. “To see our close family and friends all arriving from so many different places at the same place to celebrate our day together, we felt joy mixed with some happy tears,” the bride recalls. “The wedding planner coordinated everything smoothly, so we got to enjoy every moment without worrying if our guests were well accommodated.
It was definitely emotionally overwhelming during the moment of exchanging vows. The speeches by the maid of honor and best man, retelling our stories from their own humorous and tear-inducing perspectives were definitely one of the special moments.”
After the wedding was over, the newlyweds began their honeymoon – a lifetime adventure around the world, which they’ve decided to spread out over the next 50 years. Catherine says, “We started in Hawaii and have since visited Canada, France, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Mexico, Spain, and Thailand, with more to come!”
Photography: NV Maui Media, Maui, HI