Couple defends their wedding chapel business

Couple defends their wedding chapel business

AINA HAINA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Mirasol Domingo books the weddings at the Punahele Place house she and her fiance, Justin Panoke, rent.

"A lot of it are photo shoots, mock weddings for advertising purposes," she said.

But some neighbors in the Aina Haina area who have taken photographs and videos of the events insist the couple doesn't live there. They complain that the business draws unwanted crowds and is inappropriate for the neighborhood.

Panoke said they do live in the home and therefore working out of it is legal.

"People do accounting out of their homes. Various people have halau that they do on their property," Panoke said.

He said they have hosted parties for relatives and friends, but they were not paid events, and they try not to exceed noise levels or block access to the street.

"I have 13 brothers and sisters, 61 first cousins on my father's side alone. They all like to come to the property and hang out," he said.

The couple said a chef also lives in the home, as does Justin's dad, and both of them work on the weddings.

"The home occupation states that everybody within has to live on the property, the minister in the photos is my father," he said.

Neighbors have complained that the weddings create congestion and point to a tour bus that was parked on Kalanianaole Highway. Panoke said they had a permit. Domingo said most of the wedding parties are intimate affairs.

"We want to make sure it's really small and quiet," she said.

Panoke worked for a home-based wedding chapel that shut down last year. He said this company is different despite what his neighbors may think, and he's tired of them sneaking around snapping photographs.

"In a way we feel like it's a witch hunt with pitchforks, and the neighbors are out to get us," he said.

"They really need to come and just speak to us, and not peek through our bushes and fences because I feel like that's invasion of privacy," Domingo said.

The couple said they are prepared to follow suggestions from the city to keep their business of backyard weddings in line with the law.

The Kuliouou Neighborhood Board will hear from the couple and their neighbors at its meeting Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Aina Haina library.

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