Steph & Kyle – Polynesian Wedding at the Pearl Beach Bora Bora

Five years ago, Kyle and I met while working out at the same gym. After a few weeks of flirting from across the weight room, we finally agreed to grab a bite to eat together… and the rest is history. 

After four years together, he asked me to be his wife on a quiet, snowy afternoon alongside the lake by his childhood home. It was like something out of a movie, and the perfect setting for a storybook proposal — although, it was incredibly cold!

That’s probably why we thought it might be nice to go somewhere tropical when we started talking about planning our wedding. The idea of getting married in the sunshine, on a beautiful island with sand between our toes, sounded wonderful. The more we talked about the logistics of planning a destination wedding, though, the more overwhelmed we became. How would everyone get there? Would all of our friends be able to afford the travel expense? What about planning catering and flowers from countries away?

One night, over a bottle of wine and wedding package brochures, we made a decision: rather than drag everyone to an island somewhere, what if we took our dream trip and got married alone… just the two of us? The idea of an elopement was born, and we immediately knew where we would go: Bora Bora.

Shortly after Kyle and I met, we wound up talking about our “bucket lists.” Interestingly enough, we each wanted to visit French Polynesia in our lifetimes and stay in a water hut. What better time to do it than our combined elopement/honeymoon/trip of a lifetime?

We booked our wedding trip in only three months, excitedly securing our beautiful resort (Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort), planning our ceremony on the island, and booking our incredible photographer (Damien Gobron, of course!) to capture the special day. I hastily picked a wedding dress that I wouldn’t mind “trashing” (it was only $200 from Lulu’s and fit like a dream) and packed our bags. Oh, and we went ahead and got legally married through a local officiant, so that we didn’t have to waste any time in Bora Bora in order for our marriage to be official.

We arrived at the resort on a Wednesday morning, and got to enjoy the afternoon in the turquoise water surrounding our beautiful bungalow. We spent Thursday enjoying delicious food, tropical drinks, and all the sunshine we could handle, in preparation for Friday’s ceremony.

On Friday morning, Damien and his wife Sara arrived perfectly on time, right as we were finishing getting ready. It was so wonderful to meet them after weeks of communicating via email, and they immediately set us at ease. Their dynamic while working together was incredible, and we just knew that the day (and the photo album) was going to be perfect. 

Damien and Sara snapped some photos of us on our bungalow’s deck, with the gorgeous Mount Otemanu in the distance. While I wasn’t sure I wanted to take pictures from our room, they wound up being some of my favorites from the entire day… in fact, a photo from this series is the one I chose to hang over our fireplace when we got home!

As soon as we finished up, the canoe arrived to take me to the beach for our wedding ceremony. I said goodbye to Kyle as we rowed away, knowing that the next time I saw him, it would be as I stepped onto the sand to become his wife.

The canoe delivered me to our secluded beach, which was beautifully decorated for the occasion, amidst calls of welcome from my soon-to-be-husband and master of ceremony. I walked up the palm-draped aisle with a smile, and took Kyle’s hand. 

The ceremony was as magical as I expected. It was a polynesian traditional wedding, it was meaningful, and we enjoyed every minute of this special wedding we chose to have. 

After the ceremony concluded, we danced while music was played for us, enjoying a first dance as husband and wife. Then, it was time for Damien’s real magic to begin.

We had decided to trash my dress from the very beginning — after all, how can you not want to jump into that gorgeous clear water in your gown? Luckily, Damien was up for the adventure.

We took gorgeous photos on the beach before wading deeper into the crystal waves. Damien was able to capture some amazing underwater shots, too, which we still can’t believe we were able to get. I was afraid my dress would be ruined (though honestly, that’s why I didn’t choose a very expensive gown), but to my surprise, it’s still in perfect condition! There must be something special about that Polynesian water.

Afterward, we decided to continue shooting on the main island. Damien had scouted out some incredible locations for us, even finding the perfect palm tree to hang a rope swing. 

While Damien made the photos look effortless, it took some real balance to achieve! Oh, and we had a four-legged visitor join us at the end, too.

We then made our way to Matira Beach. This charming cove was as beautiful as it was private. We were able to shoot some amazing images on the sand, with the gorgeous ocean as our backdrop.

Then, it was time for the pièce de résistance: a fully-underwater shoot to emulate some of the dreamy, ethereal images I had found online. Damien and Sara (and even Kyle!) were such troopers and encouraged my vision. Everyone waded out into 15’ of water — complete with a Moana boogie board to help stay afloat — as Damien and I held our breath to capture these shots.

It took a lot of saltwater up the nose (and quickly learning that these images don’t come as easily as they appear), but we got the perfect shots. They are as magical and peaceful as I had dreamed, though we definitely worked to get them! I appreciated Damien and Sara humoring me for that portion of the shoot, and going above and beyond… it definitely wasn’t easy but they were down for the adventure!

When it was time to go home, we were so sad to leave them both. In the few hours since we had met them pre-ceremony, it felt like they’d become lifelong friends of ours. We not only loved every minute of our shoot with them both, but were so appreciative of the effort, patience, energy, and passion that they put into our special day. 

Without a doubt, our wedding (and the memories that follow) would not have been the same without Damien and Sara. There aren’t enough words to praise and thank them for their magical work on our special day!

Stephanie Colestock

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