Love Always Wins | A Real Bride’s Heartfelt Story & Casual Beach Wedding

Love Always Wins | A Real Bride’s Heartfelt Story & Casual Beach Wedding

Love Always Wins | A Real Bride’s Heartfelt Story & Casual Beach Wedding. Mobile Image

Dec 18, 2023

This casual beach wedding gives us all the feels but for reasons you may not expect. It may look like paradise, but for Sarah & Kawehi Kaina, their special day was nearly out of the question after tragedy struck their town. With a lot of love, compassion, support, and faith, they were able to pull off what seemed to be the impossible. If we learned anything from their story, it’s that LOVE ALWAYS WINS! Keep reading for the most inspirational story that became beauty from ashes.


The Maui wildfire on August 8, 2023, changed Sarah and Kawehi’s lives forever. Many of us around the world have been following the news on the disaster, but Sarah and Kawehi lived it. In the thick of it, Sarah decided to document her experience of this devastating event and the small miracles that made their wedding day possible. Keep scrolling to read some of her journal entries leading up to their casual beach wedding day below.



August 8, 2023
The day started out as any other, with a kiss goodbye on their way to work, but there was an undertone of caution. The Kaina’s were aware there was a fire, but by 9 a.m. the fire was declared 100% contained. Unfortunately, as the day went on, the circumstances got worse as wind speeds picked up to 80MPH.

“In a split second, a gust of wind carried smoke, ash, and debris all the way to our home at the bottom of the road. Without official evacuation orders, we knew it was time to leave. I ran to the tiny home and grabbed a bag with the documents folder, the first shirt I saw, a pair of sweatpants, some cash I had saved for the wedding, and my pet bunny, Pip.

Cars were frantically racing down the hill and were hesitant to let us in at the risk of their own safety. I looked out my window to see Kawehi continuing to cut down the fallen tree. In a pure panic, I rolled down my window and yelled, “Don’t be a hero, get in my car!” He refused, not wanting to leave Uncle Brad behind. I drove away, not sure when, or even if, I would see my fiancé again.”


A Miracle
Through the chaos of escaping, faith is what helped Sarah stay strong. Emotions were high as she searched for safety, and had no cell service for hours. A miracle came as she regained cell service and saw a call coming from Kawehi.

“I just started crying. I nearly stopped in the middle of traffic to take advantage of the only spot with cell reception. In the brokenness of the call, I just heard him speak, “I’m safe. Come meet us at the mini golf park in Maaleaa. I love you.” The line dropped, and I broke down in tears of joy and gratitude. An hour and a half later, I pulled into Maui Golf & Sports Park and saw Kawehi in the parking lot waiting for me. Immediately, I jumped out of the car, and he grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go. At this moment, nothing else mattered. I just wanted to be with my person.”

Finally able to take a breath, Sarah and Kawehi analyzed the situation. Without much relief, they realized their battle was just beginning.


August 9, 2023
With little to no sleep from the night before, Sarah began to process what she had just witnessed. It was a difficult day not knowing if her family and friends were safe, if their home was still standing all the while she was responding to those who had reached out and were concerned for her safety.

“It was hard to keep my composure. Texts started flooding in from family expecting to come out for the wedding and wondering if they needed to cancel their trip. I didn’t have any answers. I didn’t even know what would happen in the next hours or days, let alone three months from now. It was all so overwhelming. Then my landlord called to check in. “Sarah, your wedding dress…” She didn’t even have to finish her sentence before it sunk in. We had just taken a girl’s trip to Oahu a few weeks back and came home with a beautiful wedding dress, perfectly fitted and stored in the closet at my landlord’s home so Kawehi wouldn’t see it. I was sad for a moment, but ultimately just so relieved to be safe and with the people I loved. I couldn’t focus on the other stuff.”

Thankfully, with the help of loved ones, they fell asleep with full stomachs and the relief that as long as they had each other, nothing else really mattered.


August 10, 2023
Generosity manifested in the following days through donations of clothing, gift cards, hot meals, and a temporary place to stay. The power of community and humankind created great change as people started coming together to help each other in the face of tragedy. Even though Sarah and Kawehi were struggling, they saw people in need and did what they could to help. The couple drove across the island to gather supplies. They helped others find hot meals and shelter with help from the local church.

August 18, 2023
A few days had passed and they were able to reconnect with those from their church including their pastor, Sarah Beckman. She was planning to officiate their wedding in November.

“She checked in on us and we talked through how we would move forward from here. Kawehi and I were still grieving the loss of the future we thought we would build together, or at least what we expected it would look like… Now, all of our plans were up in the air and we were spending half of our time away from each other. Pastor Sarah suggested we elope. What sounded like a crazy idea before, now made perfect sense. Why wait? With some friends from our main campus church in town, we decided we would have a {casual beach wedding} after service on Sunday.”


August 19, 2023
Things started falling into place as the power of love and community came together for Sarah and Kawehi. They were gifted a beautiful wedding dress from Elly’s Formal Wear & Bridals so she could look and feel her best self on her wedding day for their intimate beach minimony.



“We applied for a marriage license and were able to meet with an agent the next morning to get it approved. Now that it was all happening, I ran some errands around town to get ready for our impromptu wedding… My landlord suggested I check out Elly’s Bridal in Kihei to see if they had any dresses on sale in my size. I decided it wouldn’t hurt to check it out, and called the store to see if I needed to make an appointment.”


Dream Bridal Appointment For a Beach Minimony
“Terri started asking some questions, and when I told her my story, she was happy to make time for me! Upon arriving at Elly’s, Terri gave me the warmest welcome, and I showed her a picture of my original dress that was lost in the fire. She started pulling some similar options and I really started to get excited at the prospect of wearing a real wedding dress. We tried on so many beautiful options, but the last one had a striking resemblance to the style of my original dress. I tried it on and fell in LOVE. I asked what the price was, and Terri responded, ‘I wouldn’t feel right charging you for this dress. You deserve to feel beautiful on your wedding day.’



She went on to tell me she would have it altered and ready for our wedding the next day. It’s important to note, that it was already about 3:15 pm when she committed to such a big undertaking. My jaw was on the floor, and I was so overwhelmed. I didn’t know what to say. In tears of joy, I left the store just so grateful. I came back that night, and Terri had been working tirelessly through the day to have it altered. I couldn’t believe how perfectly it fit me! The phrase I kept repeating was “beauty from ashes.” She truly made beauty from ashes with this dress!”



August 20, 2023: Casual Beach Wedding
Their impromptu wedding turned into an amazing event. Friends and neighbors stepped up to photograph, do hair and makeup, and offer their time and skills to their special day. Sarah and Kawehi celebrated their love in a way they will never forget; with the ones they love and a casual beach wedding.



“The day was better than anything we could have possibly dreamed of, and even better, we have the best story to tell our children one day.”



And in case anyone wanted an update:

“My newlywed husband and I are now walking this journey out together, hand-in-hand, and rebuilding our future from the ashes. I have a feeling it will be better and more beautiful than anything we’ve envisioned! Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this journey. We are forever grateful.”



Love is a powerful force for good! Sarah and Kawehi’s love story shows the power of endurance, commitment, and making the best out of unexpected circumstances. Sarah was such a beautiful #MaggieBride and we are honored to have been a part of her and Kawehi’s love story. The romantic yet casual beach wedding made for some beautiful memories they will never forget. We are so proud to partner with generous and compassionate retailers like Elly’s, who went above and beyond to make this bride’s dream a reality. And to the beautiful couple, we wish you nothing but love and happiness for the rest of eternity! Your story shows that love always wins!



PC: Mike Yeany Photography