Can you say "Lava"? Emeline and Ryan didn't want their elopement to be any old wedding on the beach - they wanted something extraordinary and that's exactly what they got. This Big Island Lava wedding didn't start on the lava field, but that's where it ended up. This elopement was absolutely epic and full of adventure. From huge waves crashing against the rocky shore to a shoe melting hike to the lava flow at dawn, this was an elopement adventure like no other.
I'd been excited ever since first talking to Emeline and Ryan about the plans for their wedding. A Big Island Lava Wedding!! I was super excited! I love a good adventure and there is nothing more adventurous than hiking over the lava fields to take wedding photos.
The big day was planned for December 21st - the winter solstice. Despite the weather on the Big Island being a little unsettled, the ceremony still occurred on the shortest day of the year.
Orginally, the plan was to hold the ceremony on the lava field, but the rain caused a change of plans and the ceremony was held on a gorgeous black sand beach near Hilo with the waves crashing in the background and a snow topped Mauna Kea. This provided an epic backdrop to the beautiful exchange of vows.
Though windy and cloudy, the ceremony was wonderful and you could just feel the love in the air. I'm a sucker for emotional weddings and when Emeline had tears of joy running down her face, it took a lot of willpower not to cry with her. The vows were beautiful heartfelt expressions of the tremendous love Emeline and Ryan have for each other.
After the beautiful ceremony performed by Cheryl Pascual of Aloha Weddings in Paradise, we got to the adventure part of the day. The waves were crashing! Winter in Hawaii (especially on the east side of the Big Island), means sometimes we have big waves and dramatic cloudy skies (and sometimes heavy rain) more than we have stereotypical sunshine and calm water. Though the semi-stormy conditions certainly gave us an amazing backdrop to this love story.
Emeline and Ryan climbed barefoot over the lava rock (and if you've ever walked on lava rock - it's pretty sharp), to reach a spot where the waves were the largest past all the honu (green sea turtles) that were languishing inside the ponds away from the turbulent ocean.
The next morning we all met in the Kalapana Lava Viewing Area to begin our trek out to the Pu'u o'o lava flow. Thankfully, we didn't have to walk the road to the field. We were blessed enough to meet someone on our exploratory hike earlier in the week that took us to the 3rd gate (and picked us up when we were done too!). If you are ever wanting to hike to the flow, but not necessarily walk or bike the 2+ miles before entering the lava field, I highly recommend Stretch from Finish Line Bike Rentals (206-218-7795), he's not one of the bigger operations, but he is truly "good people."
We started the hike to the lava field in the dark, before dawn had even started to break. Hiking the lava field earlier in the week made it much easier to know where we were generally headed. The lava field is certainly not a place you want to get lost.
There was a tour group also headed out from Epic Lava Tours. The guides were nice enough to point out fresh breakouts and the safer places to walk even though we weren't part of their group.
We managed some really epic photos (and even some while Emeline and Ryan were barefoot). Lava rock is sharp and walking on it is like walking on slivers of broken glass. They kept their boots on for most of the lava wedding photos.
I am extremely grateful for their sense of adventure. It was truly an epic and magical experience.
Ready for your own Big Island Lava wedding? Click the button below to start planning your epic adventure in Hawaii.
Special Thanks to Cheryl Pascual of Aloha Weddings in Paradise for her flexibility with the all the changes and rescheduling, Stretch from Finish Line Bike Rental without whom we would have had a lot more blisters and Epic Lava Tours for pointing out the "hot" spots and cheering on the newlyweds and, of course, the Hawaii Volcano National Park.