Happy Mother’s Day! This year Mother’s Day happens to coincide with my wedding anniversary. This was very poor planning on my part as I once again get screwed on the gifts (my birthday is also near Christmas), but when we picked this date seven years ago I wasn’t even sure I wanted kids so coinciding with Mother’s Day was not a concern. Silly me.
Anyway, I though I’d share my wedding story with you today, rather than write some sappy story about how great it is to be a mom. Don’t worry; there is NOTHING sappy about my wedding day. Read on:
As you may know, marrying Chris would not be my first time down the aisle. That, coupled with the fact that all our friends and family were 3,000 miles away, led to our decision to elope. Since I can’t keep a secret to save my life, we didn’t actually “elope” because we told everyone what we were doing. We did, however, jaunt off to Hawaii by ourselves to get married on the beach. I wanted a simple affair, just the two of us on the island of Kauai. I spent more money on my new bathing suit then I did on my wedding dress ($20 at Macy’s). The only missing detail was who would marry us?
After googling “weddings Kauai,” we found a would-be officiant here on this site: www.hawaiiweddings.com. Captain Howie was prominently featured as the man of the hour. He looked a bit like a monk with long hair, a beard and a parrot on his shoulder. That coupled with the name of his site (“Above Heaven’s Gate”) admittedly caused some concern that we’d never return from Hawaii and I would become his twelfth wife. But we were drawn to his seemingly gentle nature and the folksy manner in which he performed his ceremonies: simple, on the beach, with no pretention. His photos seemed a bit cheesy, I will admit, but we weren’t that concerned about the photos; we really just wanted a meaningful ceremony by someone fun and cool. We had a phone consultation with Howie’s wife Deva; she seemed warm and friendly and extremely accommodating. We learned that they no longer did weddings in Kauai, only Oahu, but we really liked them so we changed our plans and a booked a date: Friday, May 13th. We met on a Friday the 13th so we figured it was an auspicious day and why mess with a good thing.
We arrived in Hawaii a few days before our wedding. Captain Howie asked to meet us the day before the ceremony. We assumed this was so he could get to know us and plan the ceremony. We were wrong. We arrived at his self-proclaimed hobbit house and were greeted not by the gentle monk-looking man with a beard and long hair but a freak of nature with a completely shaved head, but for a rat tail. Warning sign #1. He zeroed in on me and acted as though Chris didn’t exist. Warning sign #2. He showed us his hobbit house and “Pukalani falls” which was a small, staged waterfall in his backyard (for which he charged extra by the way, if you chose this locale over the beach). Then he led us inside to select a photo package. He showed us sample photos of a bride looking longingly down at her new husband who was on bended knee, and a close-up of the couple’s hands, crossed to showcase the wedding rings. This type of photography might have been cool in 1971 but in 2005 it had no place. But as I said, we didn’t care about the photos so we picked the most modest package and soldiered on. He talked me into buying a crown of flowers for my head and having my hair and make-up done beforehand, telling me how beautiful I’d look as he leered at me with his crazy eyebrows. I left feeling confused and a bit deflated: was I getting married or was I about to star in some bizarre production of Mama Mia?
On the ride back to our hotel we debated cancelling the whole affair and finding someone else, but we really wanted to get married on Friday the 13th so we kept our plans. When we arrived early on our “wedding day,” Howie’s wife told us the make-up artist would be late and that we should go hang at Subway for an hour or so. God forbid she invite us to enjoy the hobbit house or offer us a glass of water. No dice. This was not exactly the warm, fuzzy partner I spoke to on the phone. Warning sign #3. We went for a ride and came back to meet my make-up artist who was clearly used to making up drag queens. Truth be told, he was the nicest person in the place and I harbor no ill-will towards him. I just wish he hadn’t made me up to look like a Hawaiian Rue Paul.
After a 90 minute hair and make-up session, I donned my $20 dress and my $100 flower wreath, and exited the changing room. I was greeted by Howie, who was wearing a golf shirt and a sarong. His freakish bald head was gleaming in the sun and something in my gut told me that he was wearing nothing under that sarong. Warning sign #4. He was anxious to get going on the photos. Again he greeted me in a friendly though leacherous way and acted as though Chris were invisible. We started at the falls; meanwhile at the hobbit house his wife and their two employees were busy working in the background. Ah, such romance!
We finally moved on to the beach; the only place we’d really wanted to be. The grueling photo session continued and at one point he asked us to sit in the sand for a more relaxed view. As we got down, so did he, and that’s when the unthinkable happened. His sarong fell and I get a view of the crown jewels. There were no tighty-whiteys to obscure the view; just a lovely shot of two saggy balls hanging in the breeze. This is not something I wanted to see on my wedding day, not even if they belonged to my soon-to-be husband. I felt angry, betrayed, shocked, grossed-out. Most of all I felt panic. How would I look this man in the face during the ceremony? I just wanted to get this over and done with.
We finally finished our photo shoot after over an hour of posing. He went off to bring his camera home while we waited alone on the beach. I am not a romantic but the thought of this guy marrying us was starting to make me physically ill. So Chris and I married each other alone on the beach. We exchanged rings, kissed, did it all. Our ceremony was even blessed by a mangy dog who decided to rub up against us while we waited for Howie. This really felt like the cherry on top of our shit-sundae because the dog was beyond mangy: filthy dirty, open sores, foaming at the mouth. Again, exactly what a bride wants on her wedding day.
After more than twenty minutes he finally returned (his house, by the way, was across the street; a two minute walk). Rather than rush to us he stopped to talk to a neighbor, I believe she was the owner of the mangy dog. Could this guy be more of an asshole? He finally approached us and was about to start when he realized he didn’t know one thing about us. He barely knew Chris’s name. We started to tell him about our spiritual philosophy, for lack of a better word, when he cut us off and said “yeah, yeah, you’re spiritual but not religious. I got it.” In answer to my question: yes. This guy could be more of an asshole. The ceremony was fine; it lasted about five minutes. We were married. We went back to his house to sign the marriage certificate. I thought to myself: this is where they’ll get friendly! They’ll pop open some champagne and congratulate us! But sadly no one at the hobbit house gave a rat’s ass about us or our wedding. They kept their heads down and continued with their work. Even Howie neglected to congratulate us. All he cared about were his ridiculous photos. He sent us on our way, another newly married couple who could come by anytime to view our photos. No thanks.
Where was the fun, friendly Captain Howie we’d read about on all those testimonials on his website? Where was the romance, the caring, the support from his lovely wife Deva? They were nothing of the sort. Why am I surprised by this when there were so many warning signs? To put my feelings in as few words as possible: they sucked. Fortunately we stayed at an incredible hotel: the Kahala Mandarin, and they treated us like royalty, saving our wedding day. On our way to dinner a waitress took this photo. It cost us nothing and ended up being the only photo taken on our wedding day that we liked.
Captain Howie: I sit here on my wedding anniversary and recall the most unromantic, cheesy, inappropriate wedding ever to take place. Fuck you for ruining my wedding. I hope you read this, as well as some potential clients, though I seriously doubt you’d remember us since our presence barely even registered in your life.
If anyone out there has ever had a similar experience with Captain Howie, please comment here. I’d love to hear about it!
One further note: Don’t feel bad for me that my wedding was ruined. We had a wonderful time in Hawaii and now laugh heartily when we think of the experience. We are definitely going to renew our vows in three years for our 10th anniversary and throw a big bash. It will be a casual affair; wear what you want, but underwear is an absolute must.
© 2012 KIM KINZIE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. REPUBLICATION OR REDISTRIBUTION OF CONTENT, TEXT OR IMAGE, IN PART OR IN WHOLE IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED WITHOUT PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT FROM THE AUTHOR.Tags: above heavens gate, anniversary, captain howie, hawaii, hobbit house, marriage, wedding