Anytime we get an inquiry from clients who want us to come to Hawaii for a film, we are all about it! But this trip to celebrate Katie and TJ was very special because we’d had a connection to Katie in the past. To tell you about this incredible Hawaiian ceremony film, we have to go back a few years.
BEAUTY FROM ASHES
Our connection to Katie began in 2014 when we filmed her wedding to Major Mike Garling of the U.S. Army. After their wedding, they moved to Missouri, where Mike was stationed. Tragically, just a few weeks after they got married, Mike died in a motorcycle accident. This event would throw anyone’s life into chaos. But Katie decided to move to Hawaii for a new start. As she worked through her grief, she began to practice yoga. Then eventually, Katie attended the Hawaii Yoga Institute. When Katie felt ready to pursue another relationship, she joined Match.com.
TJ was living in Honolulu and stationed at Hickam Air Force Base at the time. He needed to have knee surgery to repair an ACL tear. In his downtime post-surgery, he also joined Match. Katie reached out to him, saying, “I know I don’t live on your part of the island, and I’m a little outside your age, but your dog is really cute.”
Katie’s proposition turned out to be just the right thing to say because TJ and Katie began chatting. On their first date, TJ was still recovering from his surgery and showed up walking with a cane. But the two laughed it off and started dating.
During their time dating, TJ spent six months deployed in the Middle East. While he was overseas, he knew Katie was the one. He began to arrange a proposal a few months after his deployment was over. But even though his plans seemed solid, things started to go awry quickly.
TJ planned to have Katie’s friend take her on a hike while TJ was supposed to be “going to Japan” for work. The original plan was that TJ would be waiting at the top of the trail, ready to propose. But when TJ’s dad ended up having a surprise birthday party thrown for him over the same period, TJ had to shift the plans. The couple flew to San Diego for the party instead.
When they got back from San Diego, TJ stayed behind at the airport, pretending he was going to catch that work flight to Tokyo. But then a friend picked him up from the airport, and TJ laid low for a few days to make it seem like he was out of town. During this time, TJ had a few of Katie’s friends arrange for her to go to a nearby park so Katie could teach a yoga class. But when she got to the park, TJ already had it decorated with paper lanterns and streamers. Katie’s first reaction was, “You’re not in Tokyo!” Then TJ popped the question, and of course, Katie agreed.
Katie and TJ celebrated their relationship with a ceremony at Kualoa Ranch. The couple knew they were going to make a move to North Dakota in the near future for TJ’s next placement with the Air Force. So, they decided to go out with a bang. They hosted a beautiful ceremony and reception, with as many of their friends and family members as they could get to Hawaii.
From a ceremony on a secret island that guests had to get to by boat, to performances by a fire dancer, and traditional Hawaiian leis and flowers, every detail of the celebration was perfect. One part of their celebration they will always treasure is their first dance. They danced to the song “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts. Since Katie’s earlier marriage and loss is a big part of Katie and TJ’s story, this song was perfect for them.