Sweet Aloha


Big Island wedding of Tony Arata and Paige Barry-Arata

As a glowing sun melted into the horizon along the Kohala Coast of Kahuwai Bay at Kona Village Resort on the big island of Hawaii, love glowed, too, at the wedding of Paige Barry and Tony Arata.

Set right along the shoreline, the bride (in a beautiful strapless couture gown by Anna Maier~Ulla-Maija), strode up a sandy aisle strewn with petals on the arm of her father, Roger Barry.

And because both bride and groom were adorned in leis (the Islands' traditional symbol that marks important events in a person's life ... especially, love) the couple got to share a kiss before the ceremony even began.

Well, Alo-ha!

The Bay Area natives (Tony grew up in Atherton, Paige in Palo Alto) knew each other as children but had lost touch as adults.

Tony's father, Alvin Arata and his wife Linda Arata, ran into Paige two years ago at a holiday party hosted by Paige's uncle, Keith Doerge.

"Very impressed by grown-up Paige, I kept after Tony," said Al at the rehearsal dinner he and his wife, hosted, "Telling him he really, really should look Paige up."

Then one random night, Tony thought he spotted Paige at Finnegan's Wake in the midst of a City Hall gathering there. He approached and asked if she was, indeed, Paige Barry.

Paige, who now serves as Finance Director on the Newsom For California Exploratory Committee, was used to (and sometimes annoyed by) people seeking her out in order to access her boss, Mayor Gavin Newsom.

She replied, tersely, in her most savvy City Hall speak: "Yes. What do you want?"

Things went much more smoothly after an official first date and within six-months, it was clear this delightful couple were made for each other.

So it came to pass that some lucky 70 family members and friends gathered at the Kona Village Resort (a longtime holiday haunt of the Barry Family) for fun, sun, mai-tais and Paige and Tony's Nov. 1 marriage.

This rusti-gant (rustic-elegance) spot is sort a grown-up version of Gilligan's Island: nary a high-rise in site, guests are housed in lovely individual hales (Polynesian-style thatched-roof bungalows) and treated to a delightfully down-home Aloha hospitality.

So much so that after a typical round of "Aloha" and "Mahalo" from the super Kona Resort staff, one guest wondered: "Do we say "thank you" this much at home?"

And with so many City Hall staffers in attendance (Mayoral Chief of Staff Steve Kawa; Mayoral Communications Director Nathan Ballard and his wife, Legislative Aide Sarah Ballard; Mayoral Protocol Director Matthew Goudeau; Mayoral Director of Scheduling Anne Taupier; as well as the bride, herself), Al Arata wondered, "Does the Mayor's Office really run when none of you are there?"

Becca Prowda, also of the Mayor's Office of Protocol, assured Al that all was well back at home. And she paid tribute to Paige's many civic talents: from her uncanny ability to identify people by their footsteps -- even from down a long hallway -- to her bionic ears.

She also offered Tony some helpful pre-wedding advice.

"After years of sitting next to Paige in the Mayor's Office, I know that a glass of Chardonnay is the perfect antidote to even her toughest days," advised Becca. "But if you want to make Paige the happiest, continue being your charming self. I have never seen Paige as content or happy since you re-entered her life!"

Paige's uncle, musician Craig Doerge, there with his wife and musical partner, songbird Judy Henske, deftly crafted a little ditty for the couple set to the challenging lyrics of Cocktails for Two.

This your wedding day is without equal/ Out by the beach/ Who needs a steeple?/ The love the two of you have just professed/ Is way/ The best/ Best karma for two.

Doerge also added an aside agreed upon by everyone: "Yay! Hawaii!"

After the next day's tender and touching sunset marriage ceremony, a rollicking dinner-dance party followed, hosted by Paige's parents, Roger and Martha Barry.

The magical setting on the Kona Village property was replete with a waterfall, glowing lanterns, native music and tables groaning with great grub, primo vino (Silver Oaks Cab) and gorgeous tropical blossoms created by Heidi Yamamoto from the next-door Four Seasons Hualalai Resort.

Raising his glass to the new couple, Roger said that in the early days of the Newsom administration, he often worried if they were taking good care of "his baby."

"But that question caused me to pause because I realized, Paige, 'my baby' was all grown up and taking great care of them!"

Roger then toasted (and roasted) his new son-in-law, whom he described as "intelligent, witty and even a bit zany," with a few teasing caveats: "Tony needs to take golf lessons, evolve his taste in wine and adjust his timing in voicing opinions at family dinners.

"But you love our daughter and that's the most important thing!"

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