Globetrotter: Destination Wedding Photographer Donna Von Bruening in Maui

Photo by Donna Von BrueningPhoto by Donna Von Bruening

Savannah-based destination wedding photographer Donna Von Bruening is on the road a lot, and we love keeping up with her travels. She recently returned from Maui, Hawaii, where she was shooting a birthday party at Montage Kapalua Bay. She managed to snap a few shots for us in her downtime; here’s her report. 

“Earlier this fall, work brought me to the shores of Maui’s Kapalua Bay for a week at the exclusive Montage Resort. I was in good company, there with top event designer Luke Wilson of Luke Wilson Special Events in Charleston and NYC.

Our first day revolved around an intimate birthday dinner at the 500-square-foot Cliff House. Montage restored and manages this 1940s-era plantation house, a piece of Kapalua history you can rent for special events  It hangs over the waters of Namalu Bay, and the glass walls of the tiny abode slide back to fully absorb in the ocean sounds and breezes — really amazing!  Guests can watch swimmers jump the cliffs while enjoying cocktails on the lower level, and the near-distant island of Molokai is the backdrop at dinner on inside the house.  Luke is a master designer but even he noted what a challenge it is to top Mother Nature by throwing an event here!

Photo by Donna Von BrueningPhoto by Donna Von Bruening

Later that week,  Luke designed a few samples for the client’s upcoming spring wedding.  He chose the semiprivate Namalu Lawn at the edge of the Montage property, using the neighboring island of Molokai as the focal point.  The Namalu Lawn’s rustic fence was adorned with large rose bouquets, while palm trees swayed behind us — simple and beautiful.

Photo by Donna Von BrueningPhoto by Donna Von Bruening

The reception tablescapes continued the idea, complementing Mother Nature for an elegant but natural look. But these are samples so things might change — you never know with Luke, he’s so creative!

Photo by Donna Von BrueningPhoto by Donna Von Bruening
Photo by Donna Von BrueningPhoto by Donna Von Bruening
Photo by Donna Von BrueningPhoto by Donna Von Bruening

Of course, we couldn’t miss the chance to soak up a few days of relaxation for ourselves after we finished working. Montage was originally designed as a residence, and it truly feels like home. Your journey begins at a koi pod at the entrance to the hotel, where a bridge leads into the main part of the 56-room resort.

Photo by Donna Von Bruening Photo by Donna Von Bruening

Quiet, private spaces can be found throughout the meticulously landscaped grounds, highlighted by a series of connecting pools. At every turn, there’s a spectacular view or beautiful private space.

Photo by Donna Von BrueningPhoto by Donna Von Bruening
Photo by Donna Von BrueningPhoto by Donna Von Bruening

The adult pool peers at the ocean from just beyond the alfresco restaurant. From here, you wind your way down paths to the bubbler pools, waterfalls and protected ocean swimming spot.  I literally spent an entire afternoon moving between water features, trying to decide on a favorite; in the end, I couldn’t — it was all heavenly!

Photo by Donna Von BrueningPhoto by Donna Von Bruening
Photo by Donna Von BrueningPhoto by Donna Von Bruening
Photo by Donna Von Bruening Photo by Donna Von Bruening

I started each day with a hike along the ocean trail on Kapaula Bay. You pick up the trail on property and it takes you along the coast, winding between private residences and other resorts. These morning walks were so spiritual and serene, and a favorite part of my stay. The trail switches between the lava-rock shores, sandy beaches and grassy paths, and I stopped many times just to take it all in, giving hikers a quiet nod in solidarity to the beauty of nature.

Photo by Donna Von BrueningPhoto by Donna Von Bruening
Photo by Donna Von BrueningPhoto by Donna Von Bruening

Montage was unexpected luxury, a place of renewal and joy — even when you’re there for work! I can’t wait to go back!”

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