About / Your Planners

Our field crew is available to service your every need. Whether it be the service of our finest chefs or a massage to calm your nerves… we have just the person for you. These are many of the wonderful people who help make White Orchid the team we are proud to be a part of!

carolee higashino

Carolee Higashino

President and Founder of Purple Orchid Wedding, White Orchid Wedding, Paradise Weddings Hawaii and Wailea Weddings

Carolee was one of the founding members of the Maui Wedding Association and served as President for two terms. (1996, 1997) Selected as a representative by the State of Hawaii as one of the Hawaii 2000 Millennium Event Coordinators, Carolee is still promoting romance in the islands to locals and visitors alike. Married to a local boy for over twenty years she knows first hand what it feels like to plan a Maui wedding.

For several years Carolee has been the recipient of Pacific Business News “Women Who Mean Business” top 25 women owned business award every year from 2002 until 2014.  White Orchid was honored for many consecutive years as one of the “Fastest 50″ growing companies in the State of Hawaii 2002, 2003, 2004-2009 by Pacific Business News as well. Carolee was nominated for “Businesswoman of the Year” for the State of Hawaii in 2003 and White Orchid was awarded one of the top 25 women owned business for Hawaii in 2003. In her spare time she served as one of the Board of Directors for the Maui Visitors Bureau and as a Board Member for The Neighborhood Place of Wailuku. She also assists in fundraising efforts for several charities such as The Maui Aid’s Foundation, Raja’s Light of Youth Foundation, A Keiki’s Dream Foundation, Maui Athletic Leagues and NPW.

Most importantly, Carolee is a proud mother of four and loves what she does. Her primary desire is to see that happiness is abundant and that life is lived to the fullest. It is with great care and a personal approach that she has operated her wedding company and she will see to it that your experience will exceed your wildest expectations!

Carolee Higashino
Owner/President of POW, White Orchid Wedding, Paradise Weddings Hawaii, and Wailea Weddings
carolee@whiteorchidwedding.com
Toll Free: 1-800-240-9336
Tele: 808-242-VOWS (8697)
Fax: 808-242-6853

KeanuKeanu M. Thomas

Wedding Coordinator

Keanu is a Native Hawaiian educated at Hawaii’s prestigious school for children of Hawaiian ancestry The Kamehameha schools, and he  wants to show you his Hawaii.  Filled with aloha, there is no better place than what Mark Twain referred to as  “the loveliest fleet of islands that lies anchored in any ocean.” .  Keanu knows this, as he has traveled throughout North America, Europe, and North Africa.  “Cultures are al the same at a base level we love we form families, farm and create and pass it on to the next generation.”  In Hawaii we sum it all up in one word Aloha, we love from the time we say hello to the world til the time we bid farewell.

Growing things is a past time he learned from his Grandfather a Hapa Hawaiian man who witnessed the changes that came to Hawaii with the advent of the tourist industry, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and statehood.  Keanu is also a vegetarian and animal advocate, more values passed from ‘pop” to his mother and down to him,  Aside from his rescue dogs, he raises money each year to fund an animal rescue, spay neuter program in San Felipe, Mexico. on the Sea of Cortez.  Yet ask Keanu where he feels most at home and it is in the beautiful warm waters of Hawaii where he surfs, sails, snorkels, and dives for shells and natural treasures.

Keanu’s career path has primed him to spearhead Purple Orchid Wedding and to be able to create memorable wedding ceremonies and lifetime events.  He has worked as a visual merchandiser and decor designer for the Hard Rock Cafe amongst other notable national businesses.  He has owned his own retail clothing store, a hair salon and multiple cafes.  He has managed a multi million dollar restaurant/cabaret where he oversaw a staff of 40 including Chefs and performers alike.  “They’re all Divas” he quips.  He has served two years on the Board of directors for a 54 block business improvement district on the historic HWY 80 and as the secretary of the organization. Keanu while happiest behind the scenes has also been in 2 feature films acting opposite Joe Delasandro of Andy Warhol factory fame, and with Jean Smart, Robert Wagner and Johnny Depp, His onscreen credits also include 3 national commercials and numerous music videos.

Hawaii, and more specifically, Maui is his home and it is his knowledge of the culture, special places, notable periods of time, legends, and lore that make a Hawaiian experience with him as your wedding planner a memorable one.  Keanu likes to say “Aloha is simple’… we do the rest.

Keanu M. Thomas
Wedding Coordinator
keanu@purpleorchidwedding.com
Toll Free: 1-800-240-9336
Tele 808-242-VOWS (8697)
Fax: 808-242-6853

barbara2b

Barbara Gerraty

Event Coordinator

Paradise Weddings Hawaii is now located in the “City by the Bay”! Meet Barbara Gerraty. Our magnificent mainland premiere coordinator has actually brought the islands to you. Raised in the east bay area in a small town called Piedmont, California, Barbara now resides on the other side of the bay in Mill Valley. Just minutes over the Golden Gate, Barbara is in high demand assisting island bound brides on the West Coast and in all areas surrounding the bay.

After graduating with high honors from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in Economics and Math/Finance, Barbara worked in the world of finance for many years where she was publicly awarded for her services. Her desire to travel landed her on the Island of Maui with her family who resides there. Having visited the islands every year, she knows island lifestyle and is considered a “kama’aina” by the locals. It was then on to Europe where she taught in Switzerland at the American Academy. After backpacking across London, she settled in Australia and enjoyed many-a-shrimp-on-the-barbie. Missing home, it was time to return to the Bay.

It has been many years since then and the same years spent owning her own successful business consulting firm as a project manager and event consultant in Mill Valley. Now with three beautiful keikis in school, she has expanded her horizons as our very own Paradise Weddings Hawaii expert. With her contagious enthusiasm and genuine spirit, she is quickly embraced by all of her wedding couples. It is her passion to share a ‘hands on’ experience with them.

Barbara Gerraty
Event Coordinator
barbara@whiteorchidwedding.com
Toll Free: 1-800-240-9336
Tele 808-242-VOWS (8697)
Fax: 808-242-6853

 

steven_cook

Steven Cook

Event Coordinator

WOW is thrilled to formally introduce you to the incredible Steven Cook! A WOW planner for over five years, Steven is seasoned and ready to assist you in creating your magical dream wedding on the Big Island…sure to exceed your wildest expectations.

As an island resident for over twenty years, Steven is well versed in island customs, traditions and culture adding to your authentic Hawaii wedding experience. Although he is now considered a ‘local boy’, Steven is a native Zuni Indian who was raised on the Hopi Reservation in Northern Arizona. Having a desire later in life to “explore the world” , Steven moved to other states including Utah, New Mexico and Minnesota. Steven enrolled at the Brigham Young University where he majored in Film and minored in Interior Design after his early education. His passion for learning included a broad range of subjects including historical cultures, architecture, art, humanities, speech and debate. His playful side dabbled in the theatre arts as well.

Post college, Steven continued his journey with travels across the United States, Canada, Mexico, South America and Australia where he resided for some time. A few of his favorite things include travel, food and culinary experiences, swimming, surfing, hiking, working out and ….. a trip to the bowling alley! Oh yes, and by the way he is a Capricorn. After landing on the island of Maui, Steven’s journey came to a halt when he was dazzled by the sparkling blue Pacific in 1990, now this is his home.

When working with Steven you will notice his incredible positive attitude and excitement that exudes from him as he sincerely enjoys working with each and every couple in creating their special event. You will enjoy his humor and talented design ideas as well as his prompt attention to detail. He will make your wedding not only fabulous but you will enjoy the process as he has a keen sense of style and vision of current trends which he will share with you along the way. It is with great pride that we have him as a part of our team and we are excited to offer his services as your event planner.

Steven Cook
Event Coordinator
steven@whiteorchidwedding.com
Toll Free: 1-800-240-9336
Tele: 808-242-VOWS (8697)
Fax: 808-242-6853

linda

Linda Santos

Event Coordinator

Another of our “local girls” is our fabulous wedding coordinator Linda Santos. Linda is an expert on island culture as she was born and raised on the island of Maui. Linda spent her early years on the island of O’ahu, and has even lived for several years on the island of Moloka’i, however moved with her o’hana to Maui where she calls home. She has literally “danced” her way through life (hula that is) and her passion of singing entertains all of us throughout the day. She was chosen as the representative for the island of Moloka’i in the prestigious Merrie Monarch Festival, which is quite an honor.

As a representative in the tourist industry for most of her life, Linda’s focus was primarily in the entertainment and airline industry. She then moved with her interests into the food and beverage industry where she remained in management for many years. Her expertise in catering and customer service is superior as you will see.

Known on the island as being filled with the aloha spirit, we are blessed to have Linda be a part of White Orchid. Linda’s happy demeanor and warm sincerity coupled with excellent communication skills will be immediately prevalent when planning your special event. Linda works “from the heart” and takes the time it requires to make sure your day in the islands is exactly what you were dreaming of. It is her wish to invite you to her “home” where you will be welcomed with open arms.

E Komo Mai!

Linda Santos
Event Coordinator
linda@whiteorchidwedding.com
Toll Free: 1-800-240-9336
Tele: 808-242-VOWS (8697)
Fax: 808-242-6853

 

patty

Patty Flax

Event Coordinator

Please allow us to introduce you to the amazing Patricia Flax!  This Premiere Event Planner has become one of WOW’s most sought after coordinators worldwide. Having assisted couples not only across the nation, but also across our borders “Patty” is known for her keen sense of style and attention to detail.  Primarily a representative for our White Orchid Premiere Wedding Division and our Wailea Weddings Division, Patty’s attention to new trends, fashion and detail is extraordinary.  Her delightful professional manner, personal assistance and self described ‘perfectionist’ spirit enable her to take any event to its fullest potential — she will start with a simple vision and produce a masterpiece beyond your wildest expectations!

Having traveled the globe with her start in London, England, Patty feels that being born and raised in Britain and having traveled extensively throughout Europe has afforded her an adventurous spirit and playful eye.  She also lived in Brazil with her family for several years where she fell in love with the people and cultures of South America and learned to speak Portuguese. Thrilled by the variety of cultures and arts absorbed along the way, Patty continued to expand her horizons through her education.  Patty’s extensive professional background began at University in San Diego where she studied philosophy.  Following this, she furthered her education by attending the prestigious University of California at Berkeley.

Patty began her professional career by immersing herself in the retail world as a representative for more than 30 manufacturers from the United States and Europe developing propriety merchandise for prominent retailers and of course… her keen eye for only the finest!  Having taken time off to raise her young children, and feeling the need to utilize her creative talents, Patty next focused her efforts on an educational non-profit in the San Francisco Bay Area, developing and managing business programs for the foundation whose fundraising efforts exceed $2.2 million dollars annually.  Patty maintained at the same time a position with White Orchid as a consultant for several years assisting clients with our larger and premier events.

Patty has two teenage daughters and a wonderful husband who is CEO of a third generation art supply phenomenon in San Francisco and they reside in the Bay Area, Mill Valley to be exact.    Finding her passion for weddings and celebrations of all sorts with WOW, Patty has officially dedicated herself full time to WOW and is now available to all of our clientele for upcoming events.  You will certainly be thrilled should you select Patty as your planner.  She is known for her witty sense of humor, meticulous and detailed planning, fun spirit and mostly her true desire to create happiness and unique celebrations.  Oh yes, and if you have a racket, she is always game!  Tennis anyone???

Patricia “Patty” Flax
Event Coordinator
patty@whiteorchidwedding.com
Toll Free: 1-800-240-9336
Tele: 808-242-VOWS (8697)
Fax: 808-242-6853

bernadetteBernie Freitas

Event Coordinator

Filled with the Spirit of Aloha is our fabulous Bernie Freitas! Straight from Upcountry Maui, Bernie was raised on the island on Maui yet is a graduate of the Kamehameha Schools on Oahu. It was there that Bernie acquired a variety of interests including Hawaiian studies, music, singing, traveling and dance. As one of many in her large local ‘ohana, (family) Bernie enjoys spending quality time with friends and is married to her one and only high school sweetheart. She is a wonderful mother and very active in the community.

Having worked in the hospitality division of the hotel industry for over seven years, it is evident that Bernie loves people. Her infectious smile and bright demeanor will make your celebration full of wonderful energy. This experience coupled with her nine years in the financial services industry give Bernie the extra knowledge that will be helpful when creating your wedding design in an efficient and organized manner which she is admired for.

Having planned countless events for groups large and small, her main priority is helping clients create special memories with outstanding results. Tailoring each and every detail with the direction of her clients needs and wants, Bernie listens to you and will meticulously design your special day with her precise attention to detail. We are so proud to have her be a part of our family at White Orchid and know that you will be thrilled to have her as your planner.

Bernadette Freitas
Event Coordinator
bernie@whiteorchidwedding.com
Toll Free: 1-800-240-9336
Tele: 808-242-VOWS (8697)
Fax: 808-242-6853

 

jackieJacqueline Uilani Ishikawa

Event Coordinator

Raised on our beautiful island she is now happily “Maui’d with children”. After graduating from Maui High School, Jackie soon packed her bags to explore the Mainland on her own and settled in Ontario, California. She was determined to enter the travel industry and enrolled in the International Air Academy where she graduated a few years later. Longing for her home of sunshine and swaying palms, Jackie returned back to the valley isle to settle into her new career.

Jacqueline continued in her field and spent many years as a passenger service agent on Maui where she became well versed in the travel, air and accommodations industry. Her expertise in this field has been an asset as she is familiar with all aspects of travel and the various accommodation options in Hawaii. As a wedding coordinator with White Orchid, Jackie’s expertise of island resorts is immeasurable as she literally knows them “inside and out”.

Jacqueline is very quick to respond to customer needs and is incredibly efficient! She loves to make planning a fun experience and often becomes a bride’s best friend. Her prompt style of doing business will be appreciated as destination weddings can be difficult to plan. We are proud to have Jacqueline as a part of our O’hana and are sure you will be thrilled to have her as your wedding planner.
Jacqueline Uilani Ishikawa
Event Coordinator
jacqueline@whiteorchidwedding.com
Toll Free: 1-800-240-9336
Tele: 808-242-VOWS (8697)
Fax: 808-242-6853

U'ilani

Uilani Beltran

Event Coordinator

U’ilani or “Ui” as we know her began her life right here on the island of Maui, born and raised in Wailuku Towne. Island life instilled in U’ilani that celebration was a part of each and every day. Her upbringing was filled with joyous occasions including song and dance. In fact, a typical evening at the Uilani home would kick off with her father to busting out the ukulele and breaking into song. Ui would join along with the rest of them and sing, dance hula and just plain ‘talk story’. Her hula background came in handy at such celebrations and the spirit of aloha permiates her being.

After growing up and working as an elementary special education instructor she headed for the ‘big island’ or shall we say the ‘mainland’. Spending time in Shasta, California and settling in San Diego, she became a full time student and a graduate of the University of San Diego. Having obtained a degree in Business Administration, Ui decided it was time to head back home and carve her future back in the islands.

We were blessed to have her join our staff and she is now one of the most desired coordinators on our team. As your coordinator, you will quickly appreciate her promptness and professionalism. The ‘great listener’ that she is will ensure you that her attention to detail is unparalleled. Having both an understanding of mainland living and island style, Uilani will assist you in making your wedding a dream day come true. When asked why she wanted to become a coordinator, Ui says “It is with a sincere hope that each and every bride and groom feel special when working with me. I want their day to be exactly what they envision and I will make sure that it is all that and more.”

U’ilani Beltran
Event Coordinator
uilani@whiteorchidwedding.com
1-800-240-9336
808-242-VOWS (8697)
Fax: 808-242-6853

kendall higashino - event coordinator hawaii

Kendall Kealaanuhea Higashino

Wedding Coordinator

From an island in the middle of the sea, to the city of lights, this island girl has certainly experienced everything from tiki torches to glitter!  Though she travels across the sea this girl is an island girl to her very core.  From early on Kendall was always known for her infectious smile and warm demeanor.  You will know when you are in her hands that you will be treated with golden glove service and a warm aloha genuineness.

Kendall Higashino was born and raised in Waiehu, Maui but now resides in Las Vegas.  She is finishing her last year in school at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.  Her final year will bring her a degree from one of the top Hospitality Schools in the nation.  Throughout her college career and throughout high school she’s gained knowledge and experience in almost all aspects of the hospitality industry.  Kendall has an amazing drive and has worked for us at White Orchid Wedding throughout the years starting from the ground up.  In addition to this, she has built quite a resume while completing her studies including the following; employment at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, marketing and promotion for events for CBS College Sports, culinary experience at some of the finest restaurants and bakeries in Las Vegas as well as Hawaii, as well as participating in internships with premiere event planners as an assistant for weddings, trade shows, mixology competitions and conventions.    Along with her experience in the industry, she also earned certifications in CPR, CVENT, and ServSafe.

In her free time she enjoys spending time with her friends and family.  As a part of the Delta Zeta Sorority, she enjoys participating in their intramural sports program, which she lead and coordinated events for.  Along with staying active, she also loves to bake delicious goodies! (Trust me…our office loves it when she is in town!)  Kendall is avid in health and fitness as well and has made that a priority in her life.  She loves soccer, swimming, hiking and hitting the gym!

Currently Kendall is part of our Social Media and Design team but plans to continue her career with WOW as an event coordinator.  After graduating with a degree in Meetings and Events, Kendall plans on moving back to the islands.  We could not be more excited to have her back with the WOW ‘Ohana.  For now, you will see her name on your design boards and site sketches as well as in our social media.  So happy to have her and can’t wait until she in back on the island full time!

Kendall Kealaanuhea Higashino
Social Media and Design Marketing
kendall@whiteorchidwedding.com
1-888-240-9336
808-242-VOWS (8697)
Fax: 808-242-6853

ETHEL

Ethel Leval

Office Manager

Our “local girl” was born and raised on the island of Maui. You will often hear her voice during the course of your wedding planning as she is the White Orchid Office Manager. With a degree in Hotel Operations and numerous years spent in the food and beverage industry, Ethel has invaluable expertise in the area of catering and receptions.

Filled with the spirit of aloha, Ethel is always there to lend a helping hand to assure our clients that there every need has been handled —and boy will she see to it! An expert on local customs and ceremonies, Ethel is truly one of a kind and a pleasure to have as a part of our team.

Ethel Leval
Office Manager
ethel@whiteorchidwedding.com
Toll Free: 1-800-240-9336
Tele: 808-242-VOWS (8697)
Fax: 808-242-6853