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Maya & DenzelBohemian Hawaiian-Inspired Point Loma WeddingSan Diego, CA

Last summer, Maya and Denzel hosted their bohemian, Hawaiian-inspired wedding overlooking the San Diego harbor. Maya and Denzel met in the Air Force Academy and were still attending school together in Colorado while planning their wedding. Maya’s parents live in San Diego and played a huge role in the planning process. Her dad was the one who scouted out the perfect venue for them in Point Loma.

The forecast threatened rain, but by some miracle, the clouds held out for us. Instead, the bay was transformed into a foggy wonderland that created an extra enchanting atmosphere. It was perfect weather and you could just make out the tiny city skyline over the water. Boats of all shapes and sizes sailed by that afternoon.

Maya and Denzel opted to forego a first look in favor of tradition. As an alternative, we snuck them into an empty room where they stood back to back and prayed together. As a result, the build up to that first look moment down the aisle was pure electricity. Denzel’s reaction to seeing Maya ensured there wasn’t a dry eye in the whole house.

After an emotional ceremony, we snuck off to Sunset Cliffs in Point Loma for their couple portraits. In stark contrast to the grey clouds hanging over the venue, the cliffs were drenched in gold. On an edge overlooking the sea, Maya and Denzel raised their arms to the wind. You could feel their joy pulse and radiate. We didn’t have much time, but it was enough. The party awaited.

As a nod to Maya’s Hawaiian roots, their wedding day was infused with little island twists. Maya rocked a bohemian lace gown from Dreamers and Lovers. Her aunts created beautiful arrangements of greenery for the ceremony and reception spaces. Maya’s dad dawned a lei and Maya wore a haku following the ceremony. Chocolate macadamias were given to every guest as a wedding favor. And during the reception, one of Maya’s bridesmaids surprised us all with a traditional hula dance.

Scroll on for some of my favorite imagery from this day, accompanied by insight from Maya herself. Congrats you two. This song “Soulmates” is about your love in a nutshell.

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“I was randomly searching for bohemian wedding dresses one day (instead of doing homework) when I found Dreamers and Lovers’ website. I immediately knew I wanted to try on some of their pieces when I got home to California. The dress I had been eyeing for a few months ended up being the one I chose for the wedding. It was a lace with long-sleeves and an open back that was very light and simple-kind of like me! I wore an heirloom that my Aunt gave to me when we were getting ready in the dressing room. It was my grandmother’s ring. She passed away three years ago and I was so grateful to have a piece of her with me.”

San Diego harbor wedding by Paige Nelson

“I loved doing a first look with my dad. I’m such a daddy’s girl and we both cried like babies. He was such a presence of peace when I started getting anxious before the ceremony. ”

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“To honor his father, Denzel walked down the aisle with one of his jackets. We left a seat open next to his mom so he could hang the jacket on the back of the chair during the ceremony. One of my favorite moments of the day was seeing Denzel for the first time from down the aisle. Looking through the images still makes me emotional. I’ll never forget that feeling of walking up to the rest of my life with so much gratitude and confidence.”

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“Denzel and I took communion in the middle of our ceremony as a way of submitting our marriage to God. Another tradition our officiate suggested was to name three things we loved about one another during the ceremony. It was the first time we heard what the other person wrote and it was a really sweet moment for both of us.”

San Diego harbor wedding by Paige Nelson Hawaiian inspired Point Loma wedding in San Diego

“Our wedding theme was bohemian chic with a Hawaiian twist. Our colors were blue, grey, and tan. Denzel’s suit was blue, his groomsmen wore grey, and my bridesmaids wore different shades of tan in mismatched styles.”

Hawaiian inspired Point Loma wedding in San Diego Hawaiian inspired Point Loma wedding in San Diego San Diego harbor wedding by Paige Nelson

“I didn’t wear a veil…it never really fit with me for some reason. Instead, I wore a haku for our couple portraits and the reception.” (Hawaiian word for flower crown)

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Denzel: “Her strengths are my weaknesses. She helps me better myself in areas I struggle. Her weaknesses remind me that our spirits complete each other for God’s glory. Maya’s heart is pure and honest. She loves unconditionally. I can be vulnerable and intimate with her because of her open love for me. Her grace when I fail reminds me of God’s complete grace. He gives me over my life.”

Bohemian Sunset Cliffs wedding in San Diego by Paige Nelson Bohemian Sunset Cliffs wedding in San Diego by Paige Nelson Dreamers and lovers boho African American bride

Maya: “I think Denzel’s humor is probably one of the most contagious things I’ve ever experienced. Laughing with him is one my favorite things to do. When I’m with him, I feel like I was created to find joy in unexpected places. Denzel just gets me when no one else does. He understands what I’m really trying to say, the stuff underneath all of the words. He’s patient in figuring out what my heart is actually feeling (no matter how long it takes). I also admire Denzel’s pursuit of Jesus. Throughout his journey, he’s been the first to share his weaknesses with others. I find safety in knowing I’ve found a man who can lead me closer to God from a place of grace and humility.”

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“My parents visited the venue a few times to sample the food a few months in advance so we could get a feel of what was good. We went with a simple menu–a couple meats paired with simple sides and wine. We were able to do an hour of free wine and beer and called it the “Hour of Power.” We thought our friends from school would appreciate it!”

San Diego summer harbor wedding

“My aunts created all of our floral arrangements for the bouquets, boutonnieres, and the head reception table. They decorated each guest table with lots of greenery and tucked little pieces of baby’s breath into all of the napkins. My mom, aunt, and cousin stuffed Hawaiian macadamia chocolate in cute little burlap bags as wedding favors. My neighbor, Sharon, baked our blue marble cake and all of the other deserts for the sweet table. There was a donut wall, cookies, and peach cobbler. We also set up a remembrance table for Denzel’s father.”

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“Denzel and I wanted to have a fun wedding. Good food, good drinks, good people, and a lot of dancing! We really enjoyed coming out with our bridal party at the beginning of the reception. All of us started feeding off of each other’s energy before we hit the dance floor and the pictures prove it!”

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“For our last dance, one of our slightly intoxicated friends decided to lift up a lit candle. Pretty soon everyone had a candle in their hand. We both really loved the idea because people still had them out when we made our grand exit through a tunnel of light! It was LIT!”

Bride and groom grand exit ideas, candle tunnel

Remember to invest more into your marriage than your wedding day. The last week before the wedding got a little hectic, as usual, but you will forget all of that when the big day comes. Choose to embrace the things you can’t control and do your best with what you have! Something that was really important to us was documenting our wedding, which Paige and Jamie blew out the water. Not only did they capture special moments, they did it in a way that made Denzel and I comfortable in our own skin.”

Bridesmaids Robes: Turkish Bath Towel; Etsy // Cake: Sharon Kinikin, Gotta Have Some Cake // Catering, Linens & Tableware: Admiral Kidd Catering & Conference Center // Coordination: Hayley Radford, Celebrations by DI & Co // Dress Designer: Aurora Lace Gown, Dreamers & Lovers // Entertainment: Chris Morales, Amazing Events DJ // Florist: Paula Dean & Dare Omoto (Bride’s Aunts) // Groom’s Suit & Apparel: Men’s Warehouse // Hairstylist: Candise Wayde (Bridesmaid) // Invite Suite: Vista Print // Lighting: Brilliant Event Lighting // Make up: Brooke Smith // Officiant: Jim Lee // Second Shooter: Jamie English // Shoes (Bride): Fioni Brown Heels // Ring Designer (Bride): Kay Jewelers; Groom: Larson Jewelers // Venue: Admiral Kidd Catering & Conference Center // Videography: Steve Hadyrch, Pure Dynamic Studios // Wedding Favors: Hawaiian Host Chocolate Macadamia

If you enjoyed this wedding, I recommend checking out Kirsten & Chris’s romantic portraits on the beach or Jessica & Jeff’s Day Before session at the cliffs of Garrapata.