Utah Couple’s Hawaiian-Boho Inspired Wedding at Provo Library Ballroom

written by Ashley Baker

Ema McCarthy and Trajan Pili, were married exactly one year to the day after their first date. 

Ema is originally from Hawaii, and while growing up, two of her closest friends happened to be Trajan’s first cousins. 

“I’m best friends with two of his cousins, so I’d heard Trajan’s name from his aunts before. They would say to me, “I have this nephew you need to meet.”

As it turns out,  they were right.

Trajan grew up in Las Vegas, NV and moved to Utah to play football for BYU.

Ema moved from her island paradise to snowy Utah in the summer of 2016. “It made zero sense at the time, but now I see why that had to happen,” Ema says. 


How They Met

Photo credit Anela Benavides | Hawaii


Photo credit Abby Anderson | Provo Library

“My friend and I were at church one day and I saw Trajan. I told her that I thought he [Trajan] looked good. That’s when she asked if she could finally line us up.”

But Ema wasn’t the only one who was interested. Trajan had caught a glimpse of Ema on his cousin’s snapchat account and immediately had to know who she was. 

“We went on a double date with his cousin, then two days later we were still texting back and forth,” she recalls. “We just never stopped dating after that.”  

The Proposal

Photo credit Abby Anderson | Provo Library


“We’d been dating for 9 months when he proposed,” Ema says.  On the night he was planning to ask, Trajan convinced Ema that he was taking her to dinner to meet his football scholarship donor. “He told me that it was going to be a really nice dinner and to dress up for it.” 

Trajan told Ema to be ready by 7 p.m. and that he would pick her up. 

“I was mad at him for not coming to see me because he’d been gone on a two-week football retreat with his team and he’d just returned home that day,”she says. “He picks me up for dinner that night, and we begin driving to the restaurant, or so I thought. While we’re in the car, Trajan tells me that Corbin, his friend from football, is going to let us know when our table is ready.”

Photo credit Abby Anderson | Provo Library

“It was raining, I was hangry, and already upset at him and then we pull into this park,” Ema says. “I saw his sister there and then she began snapping photos. That’s when I knew something was up. Trajan leads me to this trail that was lined with lit candles, scattered rose petals and photos of us that we’d taken throughout the duration of our relationship. I wasn’t grouchy anymore and I just felt happy. As he dropped to his knee, the rain stopped,” she says. 


The Dress

Photo credit Anela Benavides | Hawaii

Local fashion designer, Afa Ah Loo designed Ema’s dress. Ema knew of his work because they attend the same church and he designed her sister-in-law’s wedding dress. 


“While I was shopping for, and trying on dresses my shoulders wouldn’t fit comfortably in any of the dresses I. They were too tight in that area, and if I went up a larger dress size, they would fit my shoulders, but they were too loose everywhere else. I wanted a boho-chic look, so I found inspiration on Pinterest and gave the pictures to Afa. He made the dress out of imported silk and it turned out even better than I expected,” she says.  


The Day of the Wedding

Photo credit Abby Anderson | Provo Library


Photo credit Abby Anderson | Provo Library

Ema and Trajan were married December 2, 2017. 

“I never thought I’d have a winter wedding. I remember that I was really worried, I wanted everything to be right, but I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day.  It was the happiest day,” she says. 

Photo credit Abby Anderson | Provo Library




Photo credit Anela Benavides | Hawaii



Watch Trajan + Ema’s Wedding Day Video


Photographer (Bridals in Hawaii) Anela Benavides
Photographer (Wedding Day) Abby Anderson
Videographer  Jackson Averett 
Wedding Dress Custom design by Afa Ah Loo
Flowers Flowers by Milli
Mens Wedding Ring Wilson Diamonds
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