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Tongan - Japanese couple marry in cultural celebration

Maile Chiye and Va‘eomatoka (Toka) said their wedding vows on July 12, 2014, at St. Edward Catholic Church in Seattle and then celebrated with 400 wedding guests at Union Station in Tacoma.

The two met several years ago at the University of Washington and were engaged for 11 months. In planning their wedding, they decided to celebrate their respective cultural heritages, to make them visible throughout the day.

The wedding celebration was a four-day affair. It began with a Tongan social night on Thursday. “Traditionally, it is a way to break the ice between the two families,” says Maile. There was a wedding rehearsal on Friday, and then the ceremony on Saturday. Finally, there was a celebration of Maile and Toka’s first Sunday at church as a married couple. “We couldn’t have asked for a more memorable celebration and summer,” says Maile.

“We had planned for 375 guests, but we were sure that more than 400 showed up,” says Maile. “Even so, it only contributed to the joy, love and an incredible energy that lingers even today.” Guests came from Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium and several U.S. states.

Using colors of dark teal with a lime-green accent, the bride and groom envisioned giving their wedding a timeless, classic feel. They wanted to celebrate family, culture and love.

The groom’s family decorated the church with fine woven Tongan mats, draped over the wedding couple’s seating.

The reception featured a display of 1,000 Japanese paper (origami) cranes, hand-folded by the couple, family and friends. The cranes were hung in the shape of a Japanese kimono.

The wall behind the wedding party’s table at the reception was draped with a large mat featuring a Tongan design. The couple’s mothers made tent cards with the table names. The tables were named for Tongan homesteads and for towns in the state of Hawaii, where the bride’s family legacy originates.

Guests received shortbread cookies from Hawaii, packaged in small boxes made of woven “lauhala,” or pandanus leaves.

Maile is a counselor at a school, while Toka is a higher-education professional. They make their home in Seattle.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Wallflower Photography
CEREMONY: St. Edward Catholic Church
RECEPTION: Union Station
CATERER: Pacific Island Grill
CAKE: TM Dessert Works
FLORIST: Denney Designs
RENTALS: Grand Event Rentals

Click on a photo to enlarge.

Published on April 4, 2016.

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