This Maui couple will see. . . Stars shooting. . . at their wedding

They are looking for votes on social media, too, as one of five finalists in ‘Tie the Knot’ sweepstakes with $15,000 prize

Kihei couple Brent Young and Kathryn O’Connor are in the running to win $15,000 for their wedding next year. They plan on gazing at the stars as part of their reception. O’Connor is a resident astronomer at the Hyatt Regency Maui’s “Tour of the Stars” excursion. People can vote for the couple to win the prize on The Knot’s Facebook page now through Dec. 10.

The celestial heavens will be beaming with lights when Kathryn O’Connor and Brent Young tie the knot next year.

O’Connor, a resident astronomer at Hyatt Regency Maui’s “Tour of the Stars” program, made sure her nuptials coincide with a celestial event. The Kihei couple’s wedding on Dec. 8, 2017, possibly in Wailea, will be during a Geminid meteor shower, she said. Shooting stars will light up the sky as orbiting rocks and debris burn up in the atmosphere. Her wedding will fall on a night where there will be a late rising moon, and with Maui’s minimal light pollution stargazing should be ideal, O’Connor said.

At the reception, telescopes will be set up for guests to view the show. Narrating will be fellow Hyatt Maui Director of Astronomy Eddie Mahoney, whom O’Connor calls “a great story teller.”

“This will make our guests not to forget our wedding,” O’Connor said.

Her unique touch to her wedding made the couple a top-five finalist in the “Tie the Knot” sweepstakes, in which the couple with the most votes on social media wins the grand prize of $15,000 for their upcoming wedding. The five finalists beat out more than 1,700 other entrants nationwide. The Kihei couple, the only one from Hawaii, was chosen from a pool of participants who were asked to share a unique detail of how they plan to “tie the knot.”

To vote for the couple, see The Knot on Facebook or at Voting is ongoing until Dec. 10, and people can vote every day. One voter will win a $500 certificate, according to The Knot’s website. SUPERPRETZEL, a brand of soft pretzels sold in grocery stores, has partnered with The Knot, a wedding resource and marketplace, to give away the grand prize. In 15th century Switzerland, royal couples would break apart a pretzel (similar to a wishbone) to seal the bond of matrimony, according to contest officials.

O’Connor said she was surprised to find out she was a finalist several weeks ago. She said she was on The Knot’s website working on her wedding plans when she found out about the contest. She entered and then just forgot about it.

“I never thought this would ever happen to me,” the 35-year-old said. “I’m so blessed. All I had to do was share my love.”

“It’s exciting to share your story with people,” added O’Connor, who works full time as a teacher at Lokelani Intermediate School in Kihei delivering instruction in math and astronomy.

Her fiance is a painter with Akamai Painting. He celebrates his 40th birthday today.

The two met while paddling for Kihei Canoe Club. Flirting began around a year ago when club members paddled 26 miles from Maui to Molokai in the Pailolo Challenge.

O’Connor said she and Young at first didn’t want to tell anyone they were dating. She had butterflies in her stomach when the two flirted, and she said it was as if she were back in high school.

This past September, the couple and other club members paddled to Molokai again. And, it was on a deserted beach on Molokai that Young popped the question.

He “had my ring tied in his board shorts,” she said. She recalled thinking, “Oh my God, if you lost it in the ocean.”

“I always like to say (it was) on a white sandy beach in Hawaii,” O’Connor said of her proposal. “He did a good job.”

Now that the secret of their romance is out, the couple are asking all of the Kihei Canoe Club members to vote for them. The same goes for O’Connor’s teaching colleagues. She hopes that Maui and the state will turn out to vote.

O’Connor said her father, Roderick, has also pledged to pay for some of her wedding, of which he had saved up for when she was a young girl. (Mr. O’Connor is also helping pay for another upcoming wedding for another daughter. He still has one more daughter to save up for.)

Kathryn O’Connor said she told her father that he can keep his money if she wins.

“He has to help all of his three girls. Hopefully (winning) will save him some change,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor’s father is in Arizona, where she grew up. She moved to Maui 11 years ago. Young is from Utah and also moved to Maui 11 years ago. But the two didn’t meet until a couple of years ago.

Whether the couple win or not, O’Connor was hoping to secure her venue in Wailea this week. She also has a dress in mind that she saw online for around $150.

“But if we win, I’m just kidding. (Maybe) I can spend a little more.”

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji