Paris in the Pacific: A Designer Wedding Reception
The ruins of the old Haiku Sugar Mill are a magical setting for a destination wedding in Maui. Once a thriving enterprise back in the 1850s, the mill has been lovingly restored over the last twenty years into a kind of secret garden. Tucked away in the lush landscape of Maui’s hills, this is a place that inspires romantic reveries. Girls, young and old, step through the ancient archway and, without fail, an audible sigh escapes their lips. Ornate cast iron columns rescued from the Paris flea markets now stand in the old mill, along with other French antiques that present owner, Sylvia Hamilton-Kerr, procured to transform the mill. She shares the story of the columns, which originated in the “belly” of Paris known as Les Halles, an open market where Parisians shopped for fresh produce and consumables. Historically, the whole market was held up with columns designed by Francois Balthere, a premier architect and designer in France during the same period the mill was being built. Sylvia and her beau enjoyed traveling through the south of France to gather these antique treasures along with other important pieces, such as the statues from Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. “It has been a labor of love for both of us,” says Sylvia.
Dotted with vibrant old pots from a small French village, the mill is a fitting setting for an Hermès-inspired wedding reception. Also known to illicit sighs of desire, the French luxury goods of Hermès are the quintessence of refined elegance. The family-owned empire of Thierry Hermès began on the cobblestone streets of Paris as a humble harness workshop in 1837. Word of his devotion to quality and integrity spread quickly to high society, and soon the Parisian beau monde and European royalty who owned the most exquisite coaches in Paris came calling. Six generations later, the same high standards apply to every object that is sold by the House of Hermès, from the famous Birkin bag to an array of silk scarves—the company offerings now run the spectrum of china to apparel. Each is presented in the iconic orange box edged in black trim and embossed with the regal carriage logo. In the rustic setting of the mill, the vivid citrus hue of Hermès was the design impetus for a reception infused with the same fine details of this legendary fashion house.
To welcome guests, Hawaii florist, Fong Tagawa, created a unique sculptural grid to grace the reception table, employing orange 'Milva' Equadorian roses, bleached Mitsumata branches, white hydrangea and fresh oranges. A logo with the couple’s monogram and a horseshoe mounted on tangerine fabric are a nod to the masculine equine origins of Hermès. Stacey Nomura, lead designer of Bradley and Lily Fine Stationery, created the monogram along with an invitation suite in an equestrian motif. As celebrants arrive, they are offered an icy glass of puréed mango juice garnished with a rock candy stir stick. Horseshoes tied with the circular logo tag are sure to bring family and friends good luck long after the event. Coasters and favor boxes repeat the monogram for continuity.
At dusk, the Haiku Mill is of another world with twinkling lights and a glimmering French chandelier illuminating the dining area. A grand table is set with towering floral sculptures of orange flame calla lilies intertwined in sleek square vases. A burst of white gladiola stems, calla lilies, Campanula and stark Mitsumata branches top each of the tall centerpieces. Spanning the length of the table are low rectangular boxes covered in white faux leather and filled with mini flame calla lilies, orange ranunculuses, ‘Milva’ orange roses, hydrangea and gladioli. Lounge seating beyond the dining table invites guests to linger under the stars. Just above the stone steps, a waterfall flows behind immense vintage French urns. The overall effect is both modern and sophisticated in the timeless setting of the mill—a blend of the old and new that is a signature of Hermès.
A divine display of sugary treats emphasizes the orange and white motif. Guests may select from an extravagant array of confections: chocolates, biscotti and truffles from Big Island Candies; white chocolate monogrammed petit fours from Beau-coup Fine Favors; truffle towers and a fondant cake created by Maui Wedding Cakes; and beautiful gourmet chocolates by Norman Love Confections. Personalized ice tea infusers, also from Beau-coup Fine Favors, are in keeping with the color palette. Fong Tagawa designed the floral sculptures to work in concert with the stationery, mimicking the scrolling of the invitations with curving flame calla lilies. Each floral arrangement serves a purpose beyond the aesthetic, with bright orange candies housed on top. Standing on the famous Hermès boxes, the chocolate truffle cakes reflect the French heritage and pure luxury of the atelier itself.
Stationery by Bradley & Lily Fine Stationery; cake by Maui Wedding Cakes; linens + lounge seating by Pacific Event Group Inc.; hair + makeup by Jessica Waite; chiavari rentals by Mosaic Atelier; special thanks to Lance Duyao of Big Island Candies; wedding gown by Tamara Catz; ribbon + favors by Creations by You, Beau-Coup Fine Favors, Norman Love Confections; model Leiohu Richmond