In August 3rd, 2014, Rae Pardini and Michael Matson met at a wedding, where they immediately hit it off and literally danced the night away. “We’ve been inseparable ever since!” Rae laughs.
The irony is that several months prior, Rae and Michael’s parents attempted to set the two up on a date, but the couple felt silly about their parents playing matchmakers, so they politely declined. But fate intervened and they connected at their friends’ wedding, proving timing really is everything.
The next year and eight months saw Rae and Michael having one romantic adventure after another and building unforgettable memories together: going on dates, spending time with one another’s families, getting to know one another’s friends and traveling together. Fittingly, the couple said their first “I love you” on Valentine’s Day.
Michael proposed to Rae on April 30, 2015 at “the happiest place on earth,” Disneyland. “It was a truly magical day,” remembers Rae, “and Michael’s family was there to share in the special moment, catching the whole thing on video.” Unbeknownst to Michael, Rae was surprising him two days later with a 30th birthday party in Los Angeles, and had invited close friends and family. The couple spent the next year planning their wedding. “We both love Hawaii and had vacationed there growing up,” Rae explains, “and we both come from large families and have lots of friends. So we knew we’d either have to host a huge wedding in Fresno or get away with a more intimate wedding at a destination location. While it was a very difficult decision to make, as we didn’t want to exclude friends or family, we also wanted to give our guests the opportunity to make a vacation out of the experience. And they sure did!” Exactly one year from their engagement, and on their niece Adriana’s second birthday, Rae and Michael’s love story continued when they tied the knot in an intimate wedding ceremony and reception in beautiful Maui, Hawaii.
Rae and Michael wanted to tie in some local Hawaiian elements into their wedding weekend, beginning with the day before the wedding. “Our families did a traditional lei ceremony blessing on the beach for [my triplet brother, JW] and all of our loved ones that have passed, tossing our Hawaiian lei’s into the ocean after remembrances and prayer,” remembers Rae.
The Hawaiian theme was carried into several other aspects of the wedding by including Hawaiian food on the 5-course reception menu, incorporating lush Protea and orchids into the floral designs, and planning an authentic Hawaiian “Bring in the Night” ceremony with a conch shell blowing before the reception. As Rae and Michael planned their special day, they had several priorities. “We knew we wanted to accommodate our guests, have great food, beautiful flowers, get married in a Catholic church and have good dancing music,” Rae says. “I also wanted to do a spin on a traditional photo booth, so we had Reverie bring equipment for a slo-mo video booth. It was hilarious!”
The ceremony was traditional but intimate, held at the picturesque Maria Lanakila Catholic Church. Rae adds that “an amazing bonus,” was having Father Michael Burchfield from Fresno’s St. Therese conduct the ceremony. Simple but elegant floral designs filled the church and were carried by Rae, her bridesmaids (dressed in soft floral dresses) and her co-maids-of-honor (and sisters), Alicia Fisher and Tara Wagner, who wore a lovely blush pink. The groom wore a sharp vibrant blue suit, and his groomsmen and co- best-men, Trevor Clark and Chris Gutilla Jr., wore suits in a lighter shade of blue.
The bride wore an exquisite dress designed by Lazaro. “I wanted something that fit the Hawaiian setting: nothing too formal or too casual,” Rae explains. “The style was actually not something I ever thought I’d pick for myself. After shopping with my grandma, mom and sisters, I walked out in the gown I ended up choosing, and we all looked at each other and immediately started crying. That’s when we know it was ‘the one.’ I felt so comfortable, sexy and pretty in that dress.”
The outdoor reception, held at Maui’s Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa, had a spectacular ocean view. The tables were arranged in a square formation, with the dance floor in the center, making the reception even more intimate. The luscious tablescapes included Hawaiian floral designs, greenery, gold votives and pineapples. Each chair was festooned with a floral swag.
“Everything about the reception was perfect,” remembers Rae, “but there was one moment that stands out in my mind where I felt this almost unspeakable happiness. In that moment, surrounded by our loved-ones, I was overwhelmed with my love for Michael, and his love for me, and our love for our family and friends. All of our guests were dancing, drinking, or at the slo-mo video booth, and Michael and I both went back to our seats at our table and just overlooked it all. Took it all in. Most all of our loved ones in paradise. It doesn’t get much better than that. The moment didn’t last very long, as we were soon pulled for pictures and dancing. But I’ll never forget it.”
Features Editor Asher Corey
Photographer Reverie Photo & Films Ceremony
Location Maria Lanakila Catholic Church Reception
Location Hyatt Regency Maui
Date April 30, 2016
Total Guests 120