Hawaiian Destination Weddings
Whether you’re opting to elope in a secluded lagoon, plan a small affair with your nearest and dearest with an ocean view, or throw an unforgettable party on a white sand beach, Hawaii is an incredible destination to host your dream wedding. With every island offering unique scenery and excursions, there are options for everyone. We’ve put together a guide to help you get started planning your Hawaiian destination wedding.
This destination wedding in Hawaii was one of the most beautiful we have shot. We photographed it on the Island of Kauai
Pick an Island
There are four main islands to choose from when you’re picking the perfect place to say “I Do”.
Otherwise known as The Big Island, Hawaii is the largest of the Hawaii islands. Because of its size, it hosts a variety of scenery and landscapes from sandy beaches to lush rainforests and snowy mountaintops. If you’re hoping to snorkel, hike among volcanoes and waterfalls, and tread through the forest with your guests during your downtime, this is the perfect place for you.
Kauai Is home to some of the most beautiful natural wonders, from sea-worn cliffs to jungle paradises and tropical waterfalls, visitors love Kauai for its natural beauty. Being less developed than the other islands, there are lots of stunning photo opportunities here, and amazing opportunities for your nature-loving guests to hike coastal canyons and snorkel its shores.
Oahu unlike Kauai, is more of a commercial island. Honolulu is a main tourist attraction of Oahu and is densely populated, boasting rich culture, and plenty of nightlife and entertainment. If you have a party crowd attending your wedding, Oahu is a great place to let loose, eat great food, and hit the beaches when the sun comes up.
Lanai is a laid back, quiet island with lots of natural beauty to take in. Perfect for a romantic getaway, Lanai offers a true tropical paradise, with quiet beaches and luxury resorts, this is the perfect island for two lovebirds to tie the knot oceanside.
Check the Weather
While Hawaii is known for its temperate climate year-round, weather patterns definitely vary from island to island, and can even vary from coast to coast on some islands. Once you decide the perfect spot for your nuptials, be sure to do your research on which months will have the best weather for your big day. Speaking generally, April through October is Hawaii’s summer season, and the rainy season runs from November to March, but the temperatures only range from eighty degrees in the summer to mid-seventies in the winter. So pick a climate and make sure you let your guests know to pack accordingly!
Pick a Date
Experts in the Hawaii wedding industry suggest hosting a weekday wedding if you’re planning to take advantage of their famous beaches for your ceremony. You can expect a more private setting during the week, and since your guests will likely be traveling for the wedding, they’ll be taking time off work either way. Most of your guests will take the opportunity for an extended getaway, so moving the ceremony up a couple of days shouldn’t be too much of a burden and will make things a whole lot easier for you, not to mention more intimate! While picking a date, keep in mind the specific weather patterns for the region you have in mind, and check with your chosen venue and hotel to be sure they’ll be able to accommodate you and your guests before locking down the details. Keep an eye out for any big events scheduled around the time of your wedding, as these small islands can be overwhelmed by visitors during annual cultural events and festivals such as big wave surfing events.
Remember that you’ll want to send out save the dates at least 8 months in advance for a destination wedding, so try choosing a date at least a year out to give yourself and your guests plenty of time to plan childcare, take off work, and save up for a getaway.
Hire a Wedding Planner
Planning a wedding from afar can be a difficult task without someone on the ground to take care of the wedding planning minutia you can’t be there to do in person. A local wedding planner will have connections with other vendors they trust and can help connect you with people who can help bring your wedding daydreams to life. They’ll also be able to pull together resources on the island that will limit the amount of decor and items you have to bring over to bring your vision to life, and can make sure everything is running smoothly in the weeks leading up, like pulling permits for your beachside ceremony. They’ll also be able to bring some of the local cultures into your event and make it feel even more authentic and special for you and your guests.
However, as important as it is, hiring a planner isn’t a substitute for a visit to your chosen island to meet your vendors and see the venue layout, so we recommend taking a trip before the big day so you can have a clear idea of the space and vendors you’ll be working with.
Plan Your Excursions
It’s typical for the bride and groom to plan at least one group excursion for their wedding guests when planning a destination wedding. Pick something fun that everyone can take part in early in the trip so your guests can mingle, relax, and get acquainted. Be sure to work this into your budget, it will go a long way in showing your guests how much you appreciate them being there for you and is a great way to welcome them to the island.
Apply for a Marriage License
While you don’t have to be a resident of Hawaii to get married there, you’ll need to apply for a marriage license before you go. You can apply online, and pick up the paperwork once you arrive. Keep in mind both you and your partner must appear before the marriage license agent when you pick it up and provide a valid driver's license or birth certificate. Your license will be valid anywhere in the state within 30 days of obtaining it, so you can pick up your license on a different island than you intend to wed if you need to!
Have Fun Planning!
No matter which island you plan to visit, these tips should help you get started. Remember that planning a destination wedding is a bit different than planning a local event, so we recommend checking out our definitive guide to Planning a Destination Wedding to get even more great tips before you dive in! Happy Planning!