For many couples every year, Hawaii is the pinnacle location for a destination wedding. And every year contemporary and savvy brides struggle with the wide array of venues and opportunities that the Hawaiian Islands offer in wedding experiences. Are you looking at an intimate event or a larger, social event? Dreaming of a sunset ceremony on the beach or a sunrise event on the edge of a volcano? Traditional or rustic chic or elegant and contemporary? Hawaii offers it all, but it can be overwhelming if you’re going it alone. We’re here to help, and you’ve got time to consider these factors.
Getting your ducks in a row as far as your marriage license if pretty seamless, but there are quite a few other aspects to look at:
First, get an idea of what your dream Hawaiian wedding is going to look like, then start googling. There are plenty of venues from which to choose, offering the traditional and the contemporary. The Knot has a fairly comprehensive listing here. For adventurous brides and grooms, seeking the extreme wedding experience, Hawaii Adventure Weddings offers quite the array of experiences. Lee Saltonstall tells us that the dolphin encounter wedding and the horseback wedding are very popular. For thrill seekers, Lee and company also offer parasailing, sky diving and shark cage encounter ceremonies.
Next it would be wise to take a look at your budget. What can you realistically invest in this event? Weddings on the Islands can take place for as little as a thousand dollars right on up to a few hundred thousand dollars. Most weddings fall somewhere in between, thankfully. There is distance and expense to consider and carefully reviewing your guest list is vital. While a smaller guest list will cut down on expenses, the other considerations are travel costs, accommodations, plus the cost of the ceremony and the reception. On the Islands, a welcome dinner is typical in the tradition of the Hawaiian luau and possibly a post ceremony brunch the day after before the newlyweds officially begin their honeymoon. Other events might be a rehearsal dinner and a sightseeing outing. There are also wedding and welcome gifts for the wedding party and attending guests.
Planning a wedding from several thousand miles away is a challenge on a good day and daunting at any other time. A guest list of over fifty can turn the calmest and sweetest brides to be into Bridezilla in a matter of moments. If you’ve chosen a resort venue, by all means, check with them to see if they have a wedding planner on staff who can assist you. Most resorts offer inclusive wedding packages and even offer a great number of custom features, depending on the size of your event.
If you’re not feeling a personal connection with the resort planners there are lots of reputable Hawaiian wedding planners from which to choose, who will provide you with the personal touches you desire for your special day or evening event. A really great resource are the bridal forums, where you can find discussions involving other brides who recently wed in Hawaii, which planners they chose and what their experiences were. Check out these forums here, here and here.
When considering your guests, do be sure to plan well in advance and be sure to send out beach- or Hawaii themed Save the Date cards as soon as is humanly possible to notify your potential and possibly quite distant guests of the celebration, allowing them plenty of time for planning, scheduled vacation time from work and saving for the trip. We also strongly recommend a wedding website, like the ones here or here, where you can post information about flights, hotel accommodations and vehicle rentals. Be sure to have the site address included on your Save the Date cards!
Considering your priorities is definitely a must with a Hawaiian destination wedding. Is a sunrise ceremony in a hot air balloon your ideal? A killer sunset? How great of an issue is a little – or a lot – rain going to be? Going for a beach wedding? All of Hawaii’s beaches are public, so if you don’t mind crashers in bathing suits, you should be good. Read about the best public beaches for weddings over here. If you do mind, a private resort venue is probably a better choice.
Weather is always a consideration at an outdoor wedding, and Hawaii is certainly no exception. The months of December through March are known to be wetter than others, and the windward sides of most of the islands are usually rainier as well. Most of the rain in Hawaii is a night time event, but there have been some damp sunset weddings as well. If you’re not bothered by the rain, that’s awesome. If you anticipate rain being a deal breaker, either plan your event to be under cover or have a contingency plan that is an indoor back-up.
You say you’ve always dreamed of a sunset beach wedding and you’ve found the perfect location for your ceremony? That’s awesome and we’re so very happy for you. Please do yourself a favor and make sure that your venue is actually facing west and ask questions about there the sun actually sets in relation to the specific location of your exchange of vows.
Think about “going native” as much as possible. You’re in a tropical environment, packed with gorgeous and fragrant flowers. If you have your heart set on pink roses, you’re going to have to have them shipped in at a significant expense. The local flowers of Hawaii are fabulous, super fragrant and just delightful. Orchids, ginger, plumeria, bird of paradise and hibiscus are all fantastic and make gorgeous bouquets, centerpieces, leis and crowns. Take a look at these Pinterest boards for some floral inspiration, as well as our own over here.
It is really a good idea to make your wedding to the love of a lifetime the first time you visit the Hawaiian Islands? Mmm. Probably not. Visit your venue, see it in person, and visualize what this event is going to look like. Pictures on a website might look incredible; in person, maybe not so much. Also, visiting several resorts or venues on this scouting trip, comparing the benefits of each and being comfortable with your final choice is really key to a seamless celebration.
Hawaii really is one of the most romantic places for a wedding, and at Invitations by R Squared, we love romantic! The islands are packed with romance and beauty, and there’s really no need to plan a honeymoon; you’re already there! The members of your wedding party and guests will be delighted, since you’ve given them the perfect excuse for their own island vacation.