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College Sweethearts Marry at a Tropical Wedding on Maui

By Shayna Seid | Photography by 

KT Merry

Owner of boutique digital media and creative marketing agency ANR Creative Group Allison Norton and dentist Tim Rolfes met during their sophomore year at the University of Southern California. The two were set up by mutual friends to attend a fraternity date night together. “My girlfriend described Tim to me as ‘just your type: a hot, surfer guy who’s also super smart.’ We had instant sparks and an undeniable attraction,” says Allison.

After a brief separation after graduation, the two reunited, and right around the eight year mark, Tim surprised Allison with a proposal while she was on a trip to Nantucket with her best childhood friend, who was moving to Charleston, S.C., the following week. “It was our last hurrah before we would be living across the country from each other. Little did I know that Tim had coordinated with her to devise a very grand, romantic plan . . . I had recently fallen in love with Nantucket and told Tim I wanted to travel to the island with him someday. This was his way of cleverly making that trip happen!” says Allison. While on a beach walk, Allison’s friend stepped away, claiming she had forgotten something in the hotel, and Tim surprised her with a ring! After a sweet, quiet moment to themselves, Tim’s two brothers and Allison’s sister, who Tim had flown out, joined them, and they all spent the weekend celebrating.

Tim’s family owns a beach-front home in the Lahaina community Puamana that Allison and he had visited many times over the years. They were already planning a trip later that fall, so they added a little wedding venue browsing to their itinerary. “We visited several venues, but when we walked out on the palm tree-lined point of the Namalu Lawn at the Montage Kapalua Hotel, it felt like just the spot,” says Allison. To help plan everything, they tapped Maui’s Belle Destination Events.

To give guests plenty of time to plan for a destination wedding, Allison and her mother worked with Bianca of Studio Luzance to create and design all the save the dates, invitations, a map of Maui with the couple’s favorite spots on the island, and the wedding menu; she even helped select vintage Hawaiian stamps for the envelopes. After receiving more “Yes” RSVPs than they had anticipated (210 guests attended!), they planned a few more events to lead up to the wedding.

They kicked off the festivities by chartering two sailboats on Thursday evening for a sunset cruise, complete with Mai Tais and pupus (Hawaiian appetizers). “We have a lot of seasoned surfers in our crew of family and friends, so we wanted our celebratory week to feel like a fabulously fun surf vacation punctuated with elevated, personalized aspects at each event,” says Allison.

On Friday afternoon, the bride’s aunt threw a bridal luncheon at the Cliff House on the Montage property. Guests wore caftans or sarongs over their swimwear, so everyone could head to the pool afterward.

At the Puamana Clubhouse that evening, traditional Hawaiian Kalua pork was served at the rehearsal dinner with homemade lilikoi juice, made by Tim’s mother. At the start of the evening, Allison surprised Tim with a surfboard guestbook. His brothers had helped her find a shaper on the island who custom-made a board for guests to write on. “He loved it, and it currently hangs in his man cave as a wonderful memory,” shares Allison.

For her wedding dress, Allison knew she needed something lightweight and ideal for a warm climate. She had her eye on her Lela Rose dress months before trying it on. “When I put it on, I knew it was the one and called it ‘my Maui dress,’” she says. For a bespoke touch, Allison’s seamstress added tiny pearls to the center of each of the silk flowers on the bust of her dress to catch the light. For her footwear, Allison chose white Aquazzura heels. And for jewelry, she wore drop pearl earrings, a delicate pearl bracelet, and her traditional gold Hawaiian bracelet, which was given to her by her in-laws the Christmas after she got engaged. In Hawaiian culture, the bracelet is a symbol of everlasting love, and her wedding date is engraved on the inside.

Allison worked with her friend Risa of RISTYLE Consulting to hand select ten bridesmaids dresses inspired by a floral Ulla Johnson dress. “It took us nearly nine months to find the rest of the dresses, but the end result was exactly what I had envisioned,” she says.

Tim and his groomsmen wore tan linen suits from Suit Supply, open-collar white button-down shirts, and brown leather loafers. A week before the wedding, Allison gifted her fiancé with a vintage white linen pocket square to wear, embroidered with their wedding date.

The ceremony took place adjacent to the reception tent, and the couple worked with Mandy Grace Designs to create an arch with tropical greenery to compliment the ocean background. Allison walked down the aisle with her father to Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon,” played acoustic by a local violinist-guitarist duo. The pair were married by Allison’s uncle, who she has been close to her whole life. “At one point during the ceremony, he read words of advice that each couple in our families had written for us. We loved hearing advice from the role model relationships about how to make a marriage last for a lifetime,” says Allison.

During the ceremony, there was also a traditional Hawaiian lei exchange, where the bride and groom gave leis to their respective new in-laws. After traditional and personal vows, the two exchanged rings and had their first kiss as husband and wife!

The newlyweds led everyone to a Sperry tent that had been decorated with pink king protea, woven lanterns, green palms and ferns, blush batik linens, and gold calligraphed oyster shells for place cards, done by Miss B Calligraphy. His and hers cocktails were ready at the bar: an Aperol Paloma for the groom and a lime-coconut martini for the bride.

For dinner, filet and fresh-caught ono were served, while an Oahu-based ten-piece live band called The Island Kings played Motown and classic rock. Tim’s childhood friend Bret sang “Joy of My Life” by John Fogerty for their first dance, while playing acoustic guitar. Allison’s sister and Tim’s brothers, who were the maid of honor and best men, gave speeches. “My sister is truly my best friend, and she touched on so many beautiful memories that made us all laugh and cry. Tim’s brothers brilliantly tag-teamed a hilarious and dynamic speech, generating lots of laughs and recounting wonderful memories beginning in our college years and beyond,” says Allison.

The father-dance was to “Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole, and the mother-son dance was a choreographed number to “You Can’t Hurry Love” by The Supremes. “They nailed it considering they had only begun practicing days before,” says Allison.

After the first half of the reception, the bride changed into a Michael Kors knee-length floral appliqué shift dress to keep cool throughout the dance party portion of the evening. “Several of the men begun unbuttoning their shirts, which then led to them taking their shirts off altogether. Let’s just say it became a trend! Shoes didn’t stay on long either, but luckily, we had planned ahead for this and provided flip flops for ladies to slip on to stay comfortable,” Allison says.

Speaking of shoes, Tim’s surfer friends indulged in “having a shoe-y,” which entails drinking a beer out of a shoe. After the reception, remaining guests headed to a local spot in Lahaina, and the happy couple snuck off to their hotel room together. They didn’t go far for the honeymoon—hopping on a plane to Kauai!

Videographer: Max Cutrone Inc