Venue Spotlight: Na Aina Kai, Kauai by Jena Garlinghouse

Na Aina Kai is a truly, truly special place. (And I promise I’m not biased… even though it’s the venue my husband and I got married at!).

“Na Aina Kai” means “Lands By The Sea” and it’s located on the North Shore of Kauai. It’s made up of over 240 acres of land and has eight separate venues to choose from (what could be more amazing than that!). All venues are so unique in their own right… you can choose from a private, secluded beach, a Japanese tea garden, a residence overlooking the ocean, a bluff overlooking the ocean or groves and groves of hardwood trees that create the most magical forest wonderland you could eve imagine. Take your pick!

Ceremonies can take place at any of the locations mentioned above and typically, and your receptions are held in the Lotus Meadow or at The Residence. What’s great about this is your guests get to enjoy a variety of views all within the same venue! (And let me tell you, the team at Na Aina Kai is so wonderful to work with.)

Take a peek at a few of the pictures below to get a better idea of what this incredible spot on the North Shore of Kauai is all about.

hardwood forest, na aina kai, kauai
na aina kai hardwood forest kauai
 Birds-eye view of Lotus Meadow.

Birds-eye view of Lotus Meadow.

Check out this gorgeous wedding video shot at Na Aina Kai!

16th Street Station, Kristin and Matt by Jena Garlinghouse

There’s so much to say about Kristin and Matt’s amazing wedding day. They came to me about 8 months before their wedding day with a few very unique (but even more-so amazing) requests, which were:

  1. Please include a cirque du soleil-type performance

  2. Dance instructors that will teach all 100+ wedding guests the tango

  3. Oh and we’d love for all of this to be held in an abandoned train station in Oakland that does not have any power, running water, or toilets!

With nothing but excitement (and a little fear because let’s be honest, this was quite the task), I dove in and started planning. We enlisted the best of the best Bay Area vendors, developed productive, supportive relationships with each and every one of them that allowed us to actually pull this thing off, and when their wedding day rolled around, it went off without a hitch (well except for one… Kristin and Matt got hitched). Get it!?

Take a peek at the gorgeous video below by Tews Visuals and the photos shot by the very talented Miki Vargas Photography. These do a beautiful job at showcasing what an awesome, incredibly fun wedding this was.

Here’s to hoping for more acrobatics and tango lessons in future weddings!

bride and groom in oakland
bride and groom in oakland
bride and groom oakland
bride and groom oakland
bride and groom first dance oakland

Oahu Wedding, Ryder and Melissa by Jena Thurmer

June Cochran really outdid herself with this one. Melissa + Ryder got married in Ka'a'awa on Oahu and boy-oh-boy is their wedding magical. June is as talented as they get and she has designed the most fabulous life by splitting her time between Hawaii and Colorado. What could be better than that? I've fallen head over heels for her photos and not only is her work out of this world beautiful, but June herself is just the sweetest. Exactly who you'd want by your side on your wedding day.

Thank you, June, for these photos and congratulations, Ryder + Melissa! You two look so in love. Read on to see some of my favorite pics... and pay close attention to the ones of Melissa where she is just the most beautiful bride, beaming from ear to ear.  

>> From the Bride + Groom <<


FAVORITE MEMORY FROM YOUR WEDDING DAY: After the ring bearer presented the rings he shouted, "You can open it now!"

WHAT'S YOUR ADVICE TO BRIDES + GROOMS PLANNING NOW? Don't let your fiancé  tell you that the small details don't matter. Those are what made the day perfect! (From the groom.)

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO GET MARRIED ON OAHU? The brides family is from Oahu so it made sense and was a perfect excuse for a vacation for the grooms side. 



Catering: Catering Connection // Venue: The Plantation Estate (VRBO

Hanalei Bay Elopement, Nicole and Ryan by Jena Thurmer

I came across Joshua Rose, the brilliant photographer behind these photos, about 3 months ago as I was nonchalantly perusing (ok, stalking) all of the vendors on Kauai via Instagram. When I stumbled upon his page, my heart exploded. His pictures are filled with emotion; there's a sense of calm in his photos and he's artistic without trying too hard! I just love them. Can't get enough. 

So, given what a huge fan I am, I asked if I could feature one of his weddings as my very first blog post (this!). Nicole and Ryan are from Australia and they held their elopement on my favorite place on Kauai, Hanalei Bay. I'm so excited to share their wedding with you. It was so uniquely them! Very simple and uncomplicated... but so, so beautiful. 

FROM JOSHUA.  To date, Nicole and Ryan's Hanalei Bay elopement is one of my most memorable photography experiences. The most powerful photos always come from capturing those experiences that truly embody real emotions and feeling, and this wedding was such a great example of that. It was a pleasure working behind the scenes capturing so many sweet smiles, laughs, and sincere moments throughout the day. Nicole and Ryan were dream clients, and I was so happy to be apart of such a meaningful day! I hope you enjoy their beautiful Kauai elopement. 

FROM NICOLE.  Our wedding day was a true reflection of who we are as a couple; a relaxed, raw and intimate elopement with the most important people in our lives. We wanted to remind everyone what love is about.

FAVORITE MEMORY FROM THE WEDDING DAY. How can I pick one! There's just so many throughout the day. The emotions I felt walking down with my Dad to be passed onto my future husband. The fact that Kauai was meant to have the most amount of rain on our wedding day, only to rain in the morning with a clearing up to the perfect day. (That's lucky, right?!) From the moment I saw my daughter, niece and nephew all together for the first time, playing in the lush Hawaiian sand while we eloped. To Ryan and I trying to pose so seriously for Joshua... to bursting out laughing when we couldn't hold it in any longer. Or, the reception where we enjoyed beautiful Hawaiian food and drink with our closest family and friends and finished the night with a cheeky pool and spa dip. I can still hear the echoes of our laughter throughout the night as we all striped down and jumped in... in the pitch black of midnight! Those spontaneous moments will be my everlasting memories.

ADVICE TO BRIDES PLANNING NOW.  My Nan gave me great advice which is really what established our wedding style (I kept it in mind constantly when we were planning) and that's to always remember what the day is about! It's about you and your partner and the love you share. You can show that in so many ways. Don't stress about the small stuff. Decide on a few key details that reflect you and concentrate on that. You and your groom will make the day what it is. I also kept a wedding journal which helped me so much in keeping all of the details organized... and I would suggest using the internet for inspiration, planning and vendor reviews. I planned my whole wedding from Australia without ever stepping foot on Kauai before. You'll be surprised how much help you can get from people all over the world. It just takes one email. 

Congratulations, Nicole + Ryan! Your wedding day was magical. Thank you for sharing. 

With love + aloha!



Catering: Paige Krest // Flowers: Passion Flowers Kauai // Wedding Officiant: Kevin Ho // Makeup: Beauty Bar // Bride's Dress: Grace Loves Lace