Weddings, Hawaiian Style

By Team
Photo:  Kualoa Ranch.

Photo: Kualoa Ranch.

Your heart is set on a Hawaiian wedding but what, exactly, is that? The answer, it seems, is whatever you imagine. There’s no formula for what’s “Hawaiian.” For some, a simple sunset ceremony on the beach is a dream come true while others fantasize about a lavish luau-style production complete with hula dancers and drum.

Fortunately, you can find ceremonies and settings tailor-made to fit your fantasies. While a dream wedding is an individual decision, we can point you in the right direction with some ideas that celebrate the unique essence of the Islands. So get creative, have some fun and plan that Hawaiian wedding YOUR way!


On the Big Island, get adventurous and opt for a one-of-a-kind experience like a wedding overlooking Kilauea Crater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park!

On Oahu, you can’t get much more Hawaiian than KeAlohi Weddings, specializing in authentic Hawaiian weddings performed by Hawaiian ministers on a sacred Hawaiian historic site. Ceremonies are staged on picture-perfect KeAlohi Point, part of Heeia State Park in Kaneohe, overlooking the bay, Koolau Mountains and He’eia Fishpond.

KeAlohi Point, “shimmering light” in Hawaiian, was the former site of an ancient Hawaiian Heiau, or place of worship, called Ka’lae’ula’ula. Though the temple no longer stands, its spiritual essence is said to endure. The site is suited to both small weddings and larger affairs, since a banquet hall on the property offers space for a catered reception.

Romantic Kauai has long been a favorite for weddings. Think Elvis in “Blue Hawaii,” floating on barge through coconut palms crooning “The Hawaiian Wedding Song.” Well, you can retrace those famous steps if you opt for the Blue Hawaii Wedding. Marry in the same chapel then float on a decorated canoe with two paddlers through the lovely lagoons and stroll the lush grounds profuse with flowers, foliage and immense palms.

Also on Kauai, you can choose a private, beachfront Hawaiian Wedding Special that includes all things Hawaiian: A Hawaiian minister who provides a blessing in Hawaiian, traditional wedding leis — pikake for the bride, maile for the groom; a Hawaiian conch shell blower; a Hawaiian musician and other extras, like keepsake champagne flutes and wedding photos.

Where else but Hawaii could you arrange a private submarine wedding? Dive to 150 feet off the coast of Maui to say your vows in an underwater paradise teeming with sea life. But that’s not all: expect other Hawaiian touches like a haku head lei, hula dancer, musicians, plus admission for up to 40 friends on this 45-minute adventure under the sea.


The beach is perhaps Hawaii’s quintessential wedding stage. And why not? Long stretches of white sand, brilliant sunrises and sunsets, azure seas lapping at the shoreline, and rocky coves that add just a bit of drama to the scene.

There are so many beaches to choose from that, again, selection becomes personal preference. Keep in mind beach park hours (some close evenings), crowds, wind and heat, and it’s always smart to check the location before your special day. Some beach parks offer covered pavilions and restroom facilities, which can come in handy. Many beach and beach park locations now require permits for wedding parties. Check with the county offices.

Some of the more popular oceanfront settings include: Magic Island, Diamond Head and Kailua beaches on Oahu; Anaeho’omalu, Manini and Hapuna on the Big Island; Shipwreck, Poipu and Princeville on Kauai; Makena Cove, Wailea and Ka’anapali on Maui; and Halawa and George Murphy on Molokai.

If you want to steer clear of the sand and, instead, head for greener pastures, gardens and hillsides, check into the many settings that make Hawaii a true tropical paradise. Choose from tropical or Japanese gardens, waterfalls and picturesque parks that dot all the islands.

The Big Island‘s gardens at the Kona Outdoor Circle are popular for their photo possibilities as are Oahu‘s Waimea Falls Park and Foster Botanical Gardens. Kauai is home to picturesque Kilohana Estate, where you can traverse the landscape grounds in horse and carriage. Maui is home to lovely botanical gardens — Keali’i Nui Oceanfront Botanical Gardens and Garden of Eden Arboretum and Botanical Garden.

Looking for a real Hawaiian sense of place? Consider historic Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Park, a special, spiritual place that is the true essence of old Hawaii and located about 30 mile south of Kailua-Kona on the Big Island. Kukui Heiau on Kauai is one of only a handful of heiau — sacred Hawaiian sites of worship — open for weddings. Kukui is near the mouth of the Wailua River and is especially scenic at daybreak.


Live Hawaiian music can add a sweet note to any wedding ceremony. Guitar and ukulele are traditional favorites, accompanied by traditional Hawaiian ballads, island contemporary music or love songs. Many musicians work independently and through officiants, wedding planners and resorts.

And don’t forget a hula dancer or two — even a full-scale Hawaiian or Polynesian show (drummer and fire knife dancer included!) is possible for the ultimate island experience. Consider a conch shell blower for a majestic fanfare to your vows.

Wondering what to wear? For men, traditional, polished wedding attire includes a crisp white shirt, satin sash, white pants and shoes. Just as likely, though, are men who choose a nice aloha shirt and slacks, even shorts, for a beach wedding. A tux is always right for a formal wedding.

Women too can opt for casual comfort — a mu’umu’u or sundress — or a more formal wedding frock in gauzy white or traditional satin. Again, the choice is yours, based on the ceremony style and location.

Flowers add an all-important touch. Leis are traditionally maile for men and pikake for women, who may also choose a haku head lei, a pretty weave of flowers and fern, or blossoms in the hair. Some women may select a bouquet — orchids are always popular — or an ankle haku for a “barefoot on the beach” affair. It’s also traditional to present leis to members of your wedding party. Tropical flowers also make a pretty addition to wedding cake, especially exotic with a filling of haupia (coconut), pineapple or passion fruit.

Looking to add a few Hawaiian-style touches to your special day? How about a release of Hawaiian Monarch butterflies or rainbow-colored doves, island blossoms encircling you and your beloved, or tiki torches lighting the way to your beachfront altar? The sky’s the limit on your special day so go Hawaiian YOUR way.

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