Tahiti Elopement at the Hilton Mo'orea Lagoon Resort
Tahiti Elopement in Mo’orea, French Polynesia
Cynthia and Bryan’s Tahiti elopement took place in Mo’orea - a humble, beautiful island off of Tahiti. But before we get into our epic adventure, let’s back up to our first encounter. Cynthia would walk her dog by our studio almost daily and initially reached out to us for an internship position. About 2 weeks later Bryan proposed to her at a winery in California and she immediately thought of us. We met, they booked us and the rest was history. We shot their engagement session at Monet Vineyards.
Prepping For the Tahiti Elopement
Cynthia and Bryan trusted us 110% to travel 5,000 miles to capture their intimate Tahiti Elopement in the remote corners of the South Pacific Ocean. We flew into Tahiti and were greeted with a warm welcome. We booked an AirBNB and arranged for the host to pick us up from the airport and take us to her rental which was close by. From the balcony of the AirBNB we were able to shoot some content of airplanes landing to give context to the adventure. We actually flew into Tahiti 3 days before our couple came so we can get familiar with the land, play in the ocean, have some personal time, and shoot as much content of the beautiful landscapes as we could.
From Tahiti, we took a 40 minute ferry ride to Mo’orea where they were going to elope. Approaching the island felt like we were entering Jurassic World. The tall and sheer mountains made for a perfect backdrop. We had a rental car waiting for us and another AirBNB that overlooked Cook’s Bay. We were able to shoot more landscape content from the balcony of this rental house as well and yes, we totally planned to do this. Before we left Portland, we spent a solid amount of time researching the island via Google Maps to find vantage points, points of interest, and possible places to shoot. We also used our Photo Pills app to see where the sun would be rising and setting in relation to the rental house. This is how we knew what area of the island we wanted to find an AirBNB at.
Since it was just us (Race and Jessi) travelling, we packed super light. One backpack each for our equipment, and one suitcase that we shared for our clothing, 1 tripod, 1 monopod, and battery chargers.
Cynthia and Bryan stayed at the Hilton Mo’orea Lagoon Resort and Spa where they got ready and had their ceremony. We wanted to implement some lifestyle shots into their film and photo gallery so we captured them drinking wine, hanging out on the docks, and taking a dip in the ocean. The next day we got ready for their Tahiti Elopement. Preps were held in their overwater bungalow and the first look was on their dock. They had a Traditional Tahitian Ceremony on the beach and then went out for a nice dinner. Super simple and beautiful.
Swimming with Sharks and Stingrays
On our final day in Mo’orea we met up with some photographers from Norway. We ended up splitting the cost of renting a boat and we took it out to swim with sharks and stingrays. We can’t express how grateful we are for the opportunity to experience one of the prettiest islands in the world. It was a huge pleasure to capture this beautiful Tahiti Elopement and the best experience we have had to date. Congrats, Cynthia and Bryan. Mauruuru!
A Traditional Tahitian Ceremony consists of:
Reciting of the Vows
As the couple faces the sea, the priest will read in a combination of Tahitian and English from traditional wedding vows and offer a blessing with the sacred auti flower and coconut milk, while joining their hands together and reading from a certificate of tapa cloth, which is made from the bark of the bread or hibiscus tree.
Giving of Tahitian Names
After the exchange of ceremonial flowers and leis, the priest bestows upon the couple traditional Tahitian names, known only to them.
Wrapping in the Tifaifai
The vows culminate with the wrapping of the couple in a traditional tifaifai, a colorful Tahitian wedding quilt as they are pronounced man and wife.
A Celebration of Song and Dance
The newlyweds are then serenaded by local musicians and dancers-as few as two or as many as a dozen-who invite them to the middle of a circle to imitate their hip-shimmying, leg-shaking traditional Tahitian dance moves as drum beats and joyous chants tell everyone within earshot that a wedding has taken place.
Outlive: How did you know Bryan was the one?
It's funny because Bryan is not what one I would call "emotional," but I've never felt so fiercely loved by anyone in my life. That goes without saying there are things about him that drive me insane, but we are so 100% a team in everything we do and there's just no world or path in which I don't see him. -Cynthia
OUTLIVE: Why did you choose to have your elopement in Tahiti?
“We always joked about how weddings were for everyone else but the bride and groom and both agreed that if we got married, we wanted it to be about us. Having that moment together was important, and we wanted to be selfish with it - relish in it and remember all of the little moments that make a wedding day so special. It was amazing to not get caught up in the rush of the day - I mean, the morning of we woke up at 7:30, jumped into the ocean, had breakfast together. I think I even snuck in a nap. I loved our decision and would do it ten thousand times over.” - Cynthia
OUTLIVE: Why did you choose Mo’orea?
“There was such a draw to French Polynesia - it seemed so peaceful - and that's exactly the sort of place we envisioned saying our vows. When we started doing research we kept reading about this small island that was perfect in every way. We were excited about choosing a destination "less traveled", kind of like how we chose our path for marriage.” -Cynthia
OUTLIVE: What advice would you give to other couples interested in eloping?
“Don't second guess your decision. Someone will always be unhappy about your choice, but it's your day to do exactly what you want with. There was something so incredibly beautiful about being just with my husband, and I love that for forever, it will always be our moment to share. No distractions, no show - just us and the ocean.” -Cynthia
OUTLIVE: In short, sum up Mo’orea
“Mo'orea was incredible. It was so much better than I pictured it to be and I can't wait to go back. We had so much fun getting to know the culture and meeting people from all different walks of life - from our snorkel buddies to our ATV guide - it was incredible through and through. It's no use in even trying to verbalize how beautiful this place was because honestly words don't do it enough justice. Go. JUST GO. Beautiful, amazing, stunning, breathtaking, magical, dreamy.” - Cynthia
OUTLIVE: What was your favorite takeaway?
“The day we got married I saw the most beautiful sunset I think I've ever seen. I'm not one to get cheesy about "signs" or "meant-to-be's" but there was so much stillness in my heart that day and I knew that standing on the beach with Bryan was exactly where I was meant to be. My favorite takeaway is that we did exactly what we wanted to do and came out of it with a memory that will never be beat. Also, bring Outlive Creative with you on your adventure because holy moly you guys - having this video for life is invaluable and I can't wait to one day show my children or look back on it when we're old and grey and reminiscing on the past. Thank you so much Race and Jess for being such an integral part of the best day of our lives. We love you guys!!” - Cynthia