Sunday, February 13, 2005


Planning, romance
make a special day

Natalie Cone is director of love at the Sheraton Keahou Resort and Spa on the Big Island's Kona Coast. Tina Canderle is director of romance for the Westin Maui Resort & Spa.

image: mugshots Titles like that could generate prurient thoughts, but get your mind out of the gutter. Tomorrow is Valentine's Day. Time for pure, sweet images of candlelight and roses. Love, in a word. Romance, in another.

The difference: "Romance is putting love into action," Canderle says.

Bottom line, these women plan weddings. Most resorts have people who do this, but these ladies have the cool titles, and so it is to them that we turn for a Valentine's eve talk of love, well organized.

Question: Who's better at a job like yours -- a true romantic or someone who can organize the heck out of anything?

Canderle: "You need a balance of both. You need to be very meticulous; however, you need to have that sense of creativity."

Cone: "I'm not a romantic. I think having a practical, level head helps because if you have two emotional people, we're just all going to be crying. I think it helps to have that calmness to execute their wishes in an efficient manner."

Q: Has there been a wish you couldn't grant?

Canderle: One couple wanted to be married underwater. "I couldn't find a minister who was willing to do that. ... Instead, we had the ceremony poolside, and the couple jumped into the water after." Tuxedo, satin gown and all. The other hotel guests around the pool burst into applause.

Q: What kind of things have gone wrong?

Cone: In one case, the mother of the groom was "not supportive," to put it nicely, and only reluctantly cooperated during the ceremony. "And then she was supposed to stand in the reception line, and she opted to walk away because she didn't want to stand next to the mother of the bride. ... Apparently she didn't get along with the bride's mother, and that was really the bulk of it."

Canderle: Once, the best man left the rings in the safe at another resort. "I had the classic simple, fake wedding bands that we use. ... The bride, when the ring was slipped on her finger, gave a look of confusion to the groom."

Q: Fake wedding bands?

Canderle: "Simple silver bands" (in case of emergency).

Romantic example

Susan Koki, concierge at the Halekulani in Waikiki, recently won the Most Romantic Story Award from Guest Informant Hawaii, publisher of visitor guides.

Her description of the surprise 25th-anniversary celebration that Brent Garback arranged for his wife shows just how much romance can be arranged with a bit of expert help.

Wedding vows were renewed on the flower-draped balcony of the Royal Suite, with a ceremony in Hawaiian, against a background of piano music by Kit Samson. An oceanfront dinner followed at La Mer.

"I made arrangements with La Mer to notify me when their dessert was served, which would allow me just enough time to run up to prepare their room for their return from dinner," Koki wrote.

"Rose petals were scattered throughout their room along with 25 votive candles. Twenty-five yellow roses in a vase with a bottle of Cristal Rose Champagne were also waiting for them in their room. (We) had a CD specially made for them with their favorite tunes playing as they returned to their room to finish off their evening. A wonderful ending to a beautiful day."

Q: What's the different between brides and grooms when it comes to envisioning the big day? Isn't this usually the woman's show?

Cone: "Men are very visual, so they need to see something laid out. A woman can materialize it in her head. ... Sometimes it's just a matter of laying it out for him so she can say, 'See, honey, this is the way it's going to be.' ... But lately more grooms are coming to me by themselves. ... I've had some brides say to me, 'I don't know, talk to the other one, he's the bride.'"

Q: But if there's a disagreement, does the woman get the last word?

Cone: "Oh yeah."

Q: How much money and time should you allow to plan a wedding?

Canderle: Wedding packages at the Westin start at $3,375 for the officiant, marriage certificate, nosegay, cake, champagne and photographer. "You show up with your dress and the hardware -- the rings." (The reception is extra; hotel rooms come at a 25 percent discount.)

Cone: "Give yourself a year. With a year, you have time to evaluate all the options that are available to you."

Q: On the other hand, what about people who don't plan at all?

Canderle: "The groom looked at the bride the night prior and said, 'Let's get married.' ... They came to see me that same night, and I was able to get an officiant. ... They got the marriage license in the morning and bought the rings next door at Tiffany's. ... They didn't want anything elaborate, so I was their photographer."

Q: Is there a common wedding-planning pitfall?

Cone : "So many times, the bride and groom want to please everyone else when really this day is for them. ... A lot of times they say, 'What do other people do? What should we do?' ... I say, 'What do you want? What do you want to do? ... These people are part of your special day, and it's an honor for them to be there. ... Whatever makes you happy is right.'"

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