Leah + Alex | Ulla-Maija Wedding from Austin Gros Photography

What do you get when a biologist from ‘Oahu, Hawaii and an entomologist from Lincoln, Nebraska tie the knot in style? The most idyllic and tropical setting in Punalu’u, Hawai’i on the North Shore of ‘Oahu made complete with a botanical garden reception rich with Hawaiian culture and native flora and Leah + Alex as a very fashion forward bride and groom. I mean, wow – this wedding is an instant favorite!  I love the groom’s traditional lei…the green maile leaves are such an awesome texture (so masculine) and a perfect pairing with Leah’s Ulla-Maija lace gown, coral lips and opal studded vintage hair piece. So good.

Leah + Alex | April 20, 2013 | North Shore of ‘Oahu, Punalu’u, Hawai’i | Dress Listing: Ulla-Maija ‘Bianca’

The Ceremony
I wanted to get married on ‘Oahu where I grew up, outside under a big tree, but my husband wanted to get married where he was from in Lincoln, Nebraska in a Catholic church. We compromised and got married on ‘Oahu in a Catholic church and had the reception in a botanical garden. The Catholic Church, while located right on the beach, was originally acquired for missionary priests to relax. So the chapel is small and humble. I didn’t bother bringing my own decor, because it is often hard to coordinate the wedding colors and the colors already present in a chapel. I just kept it simple; white walls with the wood details in the rafters. And because of the size of the chapel, we only invited our wedding party and immediate family to the ceremony. The rest of the guests waited for us at the reception site with cocktails.

The Reception
As agreed upon, we had our reception at a botanical garden and set up long rows of tables and chairs under a big Monkeypod tree. The garden is located in Waimea Valley, in Hale’iwa, on the North Shore. It used to be a thriving Native Hawaiian community, with people tending the land and fishing the sea; a very sustainable way to live. Later, with the remnants of the Hawaiian village, it became an educational botanical garden where lots of different species of plants from around the tropical world were planted and people are educated about Hawaiian culture. The surroundings and flower decorations were important to my husband and I, as I am a biologist and my husband an entomologist. So naturally, along with hand picking the different flora and fauna used, we exhibited preserved insects on every bouquet, boutonnière, and flower arrangement. It fit us just right.

Leah’s Dress Search
I had many styles in mind from scouring Pinterest and wedding magazines. In the end, I thought I wanted a white strapless dress with a sweetheart neckline and a fit and flare silhouette. However, when I started trying on dresses I realized that a lot of the dresses looked a bit too generic, and being petite, I felt that all the white fabric was swallowing me. My eye started to gravitate towards faintly colored dresses; soft pinks and golden ivories, but wasn’t sure if I could pull it off. On my second shopping trip, I found the perfect dress. It was the Ulla Maija Bianca dress – a one shoulder strap, semi-sweetheart neckline, with a column/sheath silhouette and a nude colored slip under an intricate lace overlay. While it wasn’t what I expected to want in the beginning, it was just the bit of unique whimsy I was looking for and couldn’t describe. It was perfect for me and my botanical themed wedding.

How Leah Felt in Her Wedding Dress
Classy, Unique, Ready

Why Leah Decided to Sell Her Wedding Dress
I am a practical thinker, and despite loving my dress, I realized I would not wear it again and would much prefer another bride to feel just as special as I did in it.

Wedding Dress: Ulla-Maija ‘Bianca’ | Photography: Austin Gros, Nashville, TN | Ceremony Venue: Saint Joachim Catholic Mission Church, Punalu’u, HI | Reception Venue: Waimea Valley Botanical Garden and Arboretum, Hale’iwa, HI | Floral Design: Passion Roots, Waimanalo, HI | Cake: Made by the bride via Martha Stewart inspiration, for display only | Sheet Cake: Dee Lite Bakery, Honolulu, HI | Hair and Make-up: Amanda Paige