Epic Maui Marriage Proposal


The following is the personal account from our good friend Ken, of whom recently proposed to his fiance in one of the coolest ways ever (at a packed Makana concert at the Castle Theatre by having a gracious Makana and his symphony give him his moment!)

By Ken Busto

Streetlight CadenceLast night, Nicole and I attended a very special concert at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center: a collaboration between slack key guitar master Makana and the Hawai’i Pacific University Symphony Orchestra.  Great seats — second row center, directly under his mic.  Sonically dazzling, to say the least.  You can read about that event here: Makana at the MACC

(A band called Streetlight Cadence also performed, and they were fantastic. Worth checking out.)

At the end of his encore, Makana continued to vamp on the gentle chords of Hi’ilawe, and over the hushed, captivated crowd posed a question.


“Ken…did you do it?”

From the second row: “Not yet.”

“Are you ready?”

“Yes, sir!”

“Well, stand up…”  [I do not actually remember exactly what he said at this point, but I’m sure it was recorded somewhere and can edit this later.]

Me, to Nicole: “I REALLY had no idea how this moment was going to come together, but I do know this:

There is truly only one thing I need to make any moment perfect, and that is to be at your side.”

[Fishes ring from pocket, gets down on one knee. Gasps and whoops from the audience. Nicole is at this point giggling and crying.]

“Nicole, will you marry me?”


 makana concert maui

Cheers and thunderous applause fill the auditorium, which included the orchestra still seated onstage.  Someone in the front row yelled, “Kiss her!”  Apparently I was busy thanking the performer.  Another standing ovation for Makana — I don’t even remember when he stopped playing — but it sure did feel like the thunder was all ours.

Happy couples at the MACC



Following the show:

first kiss engaged on mauiF’ing heroic.  Nic’s sister and brother-in-law were there to celebrate the moment with us, as was a good friend of theirs, who happened to be the photographer for the concert (Jessica Pearl).  It was like having our own paparazzi.  She lit us up with mad shutter clicks through every last step until we left the MACC grounds.  She did a mini photo shoot in the theater at our seats, including shots with Nic’s sis and BIL.  As we made our way to and then through the lobby, concert-goers congratulated us and wished us blessings.  Some through tears, saying how beautiful it was and others high-fiving me, “Good job!”.  Everyone beaming.  And, of course, Jessica the photographer’s flash.  One giant white dude offered his congratulations and then said that I just made it harder for everyone else.

On the lawn in front of the theater, another photo shoot.

 makana hugs

Finally, we made our way back to the lobby, where Makana was signing CDs and greeting the fans.  Thanked him in person for making that joyful moment happen.  Posed for a few more photos.  Forgot to get an autograph.  Floated home, giddy like a sumbitch.


prep for proposal

The setup:

I had the ring but no plan.  The first brainstorming session yielded little more than maybe some kind of Easter egg hunt.  I really didn’t want to wait that long.  Then last Friday evening, home alone and inspired by a few spirits, I decided to email Makana about my intention to propose the night of the concert (for which we’d already bought tickets).

 Much to my surprise, he replied immediately and enthusiastically: “F’ing EPIC, brah!  I love your story.  Mahalo for sharing!”  And while no specifics or guarantees were stated or implied, he did ask me to email him a reminder the morning of the show.


Now here’s where the small world bit comes in…


I copied Makana’s publicist on the message, as she is listed as the contact via his website.  Upon searching for her on facebook, I learned that she happens to be friends with Natalie and Chris, Nicole’s sister and BIL.  Naturally, I decided to enlist them in my scheme.  They bought tickets for the concert and reached out to Katie McMillan the publicist.

 Katie McMillan

Katie got back to me the morning of the show, saying that Makana would dedicate a song to us.  That’s all the info I got.  I didn’t know which song or when in the program it would take place.  I didn’t know whether I’d have a moment to say a few words.  So, I prepared a few different speeches depending on how things played out, and at intermission I gave Nicole a card into which I had penned some dope heartfelt ish.  I wanted to preface the moment in case I didn’t get a chance to deliver my spiel, but because of all the misdirection I’d been perpetrating, she didn’t allow herself to expect a proposal then and there.  And like I said, I really didn’t know how it was all going to go down.  That magnificently talented bastard Makana made me wait until the very last possible moment, which in the end was absolutely perfect.

Best concert experience of my life, perhaps eclipsed only by Toto at Summerfest with my friend Tommy and that South Side Chicago brother who knew way too much about the band and bought us beers.  You never saw a 25-year-old black dude that loves Toto so much.


See More of Jessica Pearl’s Event Photos

And Makana’s own Recap of the Event


Please forgive us for censoring some of Ken’s original story.  We took out 3 naughty words and a controversial sentence (which in our opinion actually makes this story far better.  BUT some of our readers would throw bricks through our windows.)


3 thoughts on “Epic Maui Marriage Proposal”

  1. Fabulous! I’ve known Nicole since before she was born! I am thrilled and thankful for her beautiful joy. Blessings galore to a fabulous pair. Keep the romance going ! Love, Gerry Vogt.

  2. The Father of the Bride-to-be thinks this was a wonderful way to propose! I look forward to having Ken as a part of our growing family!


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