Weddings are crazy.
So crazy, in fact, that it’s not uncommon for otherwise doggedly observant brides and grooms to later recall not a thing about such trivial concerns as what flowers were in the bridal bouquet, or what the invitations looked like, or what kind of frosting was on that wedding cake.
But for Elsie and Conrad Palafox of Aiea, in the details lie the true marks of devotion.
Elsie, whose parents split when she was just a toddler, was raised by an aunt in Wailuku and attended Baldwin High. Conrad grew up in Spreckelsville and went to St. Anthony. Both served in the Army after graduation.
They met at a friend’s wedding and were soon so inseparable that when Elsie moved to Honolulu to work for Hawaiian Airlines, Conrad followed right behind and got a job at the Pearl Harbor shipyard.
It was hardly a surprise when the two announced they were getting married back on Maui. Yet they were very young, and their deep well of resourcefulness wasn’t enough to compensate for their lack of actual financial resources. They had no idea how they were going to pull off a wedding.
But that’s what family is for, right?
Elsie’s elder sister Dorothy Bell took control of planning. It was her idea to use magnolias from outside the family home for the bridal bouquet. A local florist put it all together for a nominal fee.
The invitations — elegant white cards with regal black lettering set within a relief border — were designed and printed by Elsie’s cousin Jackie Wong and her husband, Bruno, who owned a print shop in Wailuku.
The wedding cake, a three-tiered beauty with intricate latticework design, was a gift from cousin Buddy Goo, who had taken over his mother’s famous Lucy Goo’s Pastry Shop, and his wife, Jane.
Despite all of the loving help, the wedding itself almost didn’t happen because the couple had applied for a marriage license in Honolulu instead of Maui. A mad dash to the county courthouse followed, with bride and groom taking separate cars lest Conrad see Elsie before the ceremony.
"I don’t know exactly what happened," Elsie says, laughing. "Somebody knew somebody and it all worked out."
Next May, Elsie and Conrad will celebrate the 50th anniversary of that most unusual and wonderful day with as little fuss as possible. Who really needs another big to-do?
And yet as time passes and the milestones accumulate, more of the people who helped make their wedding day drift to infirmity or become lost in their own memories or simply die. And the opportunities to say thank you are lost.
"My husband and I had a very full life together," Elsie says. "We just want people to know that we have never forgotten what they did out of love for us, and we are very, very thankful."
Reach Michael Tsai at email@example.com.