Sara + Raphy | Hawaiian Paradise Wedding

Sara didn’t plan on returning to Hawaii after graduation. The friendship she had begun with Raphy looked like it was coming to an end. But when she did come back, and they picked up where they left off, the two friends realized their relationship was turning into something more.

From the Bride: My husband and I met the summer of 2016, but we didn’t start talking and hanging out until December 31, the last day of the year. Shortly after a dinner at the Salt Lake Chinese Restaurant, we coordinated a day to hike the Koko Head Arch and chill at the beach down below--just as friends. 

After the new year on January 14, 2017 I received an unexpected text message from him asking me to dinner, as friends. So we shared spaghetti and meatballs at Buca Di Beppo in the Ward Center. We got boba drinks afterwards and drank them at the Tantalus lookout. And then, on the ride back to my place, we sang Disney songs for the entire drive. 

Raphy walked me upstairs, hugged me goodbye, and then I left for Portland the following day. It was a night to remember, but I thought that would be the extent of our friendship since I didn’t plan to return to Hawaii after graduation. We kept in touch through the occasional phone call and sporadic text messages. 

I ended up coming back home after graduating in May, and on June 2 we planned a day to hang out and celebrate each other's birthdays after being an ocean apart. The day started off with Raphy surprising me with the Disney Aulani Character Breakfast in Ko'olina. In turn, I surprised him by taking him to Moanalua Gardens and dancing hula for him. We ended with worship performed by Jeremy Camp at New Hope. It was another memorable time together.

About a week later on Trinity Sunday my friends threw a surprise graduation celebration for me at a friends’ home in Kapolei. There was so much food and laughter. Raphy even showed up later on, another surprise for me! The celebration went on until there was just seven of us left. There was hula dancing, singing, and guitar playing. Towards the end of the evening, Raphy asked me if I'd like to enter into a courtship with him, and I said, "yes!" 

That October, I took a trip to Europe with my mom, and we explored Switzerland and Italy. I had the amazing opportunity to go inside the Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican in Rome. I knelt down to pray at one of the altars, specifically for Raphy and our relationship. After I was done praying, I saw a small sign at the front; it was the altar dedicated to St. Joseph, Raphy’s confirmation saint. I fell to my knees in tears and knew I was ready to tell him I loved him when I returned from my trip. 

I arrived home in the morning, rested, and then reunited with Raphy for date night and adoration. As we were sitting in his car at the end of the night, he asked to be vulnerable with me for a moment. That's where he professed his love for me for the first time. I professed my love for him too, and this love that we had for each other grew into the love we share today.

The next April, Raphy took me to the adoration chapel at Our Lady of Good Counsel, Aiea to pray a holy hour together. Prayer is the priority and foundation of our relationship, so we always made time to pray together. 

During the middle of our holy hour, Raphy excused himself because of a stomach problem (nerves!) and asked me to meet him at the car after I was done praying. When I approached his car there were candles lit, the bible was open to the story of the Annunciation, Raphy's journal was lying nearby, and one of my favorite love songs played in the background: "We'll Be Okay" by Imagine Dragons. 

The journal entry I read shared how he felt about our relationship and led me to a garden dedicated to the Blessed Mother. That's when he started serenading me with his favorite love song, "Perfect" by Ed Sheeran. After finishing, he professed how much he wanted to love and serve me for the rest of his life. Raphy went down on one knee and proposed. 

With tears in my eyes and a big smile on my face, I gave him my yes! We embraced each other and prayed in front of the Blessed Mother to intercede and guide us as a newly engaged couple. 

In preparation for marriage, we attended a weekend Engaged Encounter retreat in Kauai. After many long and deep conversations about our plans for marriage, we made a formal pledge of betrothal to each other. Becoming betrothed in the Catholic Church is a deliberate, free, mutual, and true promise, externally expressed, of future marriage between both parties. 

We understood that marriage was a sacrament and that we needed to prepare ourselves physically, mentally, and spiritually. And so we committed to growing in holiness with each other. One of the boundaries we set was no wedding planning on Sundays, the day of rest.

On our wedding day, Father Peter Dumag, our celebrant, shared with everyone that there is the engagement ring, the wedding ring, and the suffering. On that day we gave our 'yes' to God to live out our vocation of marriage. 

They say the wedding day is the day when two become one, but it is the two of us becoming one in Him. They say when you get married you're settling down, but you're actually elevating! My marriage brings my soul so much joy and peace. This is my path to heaven with my husband, through our Blessed Mother who brings us to her Son, Jesus Christ. We are so blessed for the many family and friends who witnessed our union in the sacrament of holy matrimony.

Photography:  Brandon Smith's Photography | Church: St. Elizabeth’s Church - Aiea, HI | Reception: Bird of Paradise Restaurant - Ewa Beach, HI 96815 | Rings: Honolulu Jewelry Co. | Flowers: Simply Elegant - Hawaii | Invitations: Shutterfly | Dress: David's Bridal | Veil: Amazon | Shoes: Macy’s  | Bridesmaids: David's Bridal | Hair & makeup: Lynn Yee Makeup