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Hawaii is a wonderful place for destination weddings. The numerous islands provide many secluded and public spots for wedding ceremonies, and the various locations on the islands allow for settings to please any couple's tastes. The islands also make it easy to combine a wedding and honeymoon, where a couple could have their ceremony on one island (like Oahu) and then spend their honeymoon on another (like Kauai). Plus, you're staying within the United States for your wedding, so legally it is easier to plan.
Hawaii is the United States' island paradise, and it's been a great romantic wedding destination for years. Hawaii is actually composed of six different islands: the Big Island, Maui, Lanai, Molokai, Oahu and Kauai, and each island offers different types of locations to set the backdrop for your destination wedding. Whether you'd prefer the seclusion of Molokai or the bustle of Honolulu or Oahu, there's an exotic setting that will be perfect for your wedding. There are mountains and waterfalls, not to mention tons of beaches both private and public that are available to hold a wedding ceremony.
Kauai is actually known as the home of wettest spot on Earth, Mount Wai'ale'ale, which has about 485 inches of rain a year! You shouldn't let this statistic dampen your idea of a Kauai wedding, though, because another name for this island is the “Garden Isle”, and its beauty makes a perfect backdrop for any wedding. You have your choice of outdoor settings, resorts or chapels to get married at while on the island, and its secluded nature makes Kauai a perfect place for intimate weddings. The beaches of Lumahai and Poipu are both great public settings, easy to get to and known for their beauty. If you'd prefer a historic and even sacred setting, the Kukui Heiau is one of only a few sacred Hawaiian sites open to weddings – with no rental fee! Kauai has wedding sites to match any taste or budget, and wedding planners are also on the island and ready to help with any arrangement needs.
The Big Island is also Hawaii's youngest island, created by volcanic activity thousands of years ago. The size of the Big Island is twice that of all the other islands of Hawaii combined, but it remains unspoiled and not over-populated. The longest continuously erupting volcano in the world is also located here, Kilauea. Beach weddings are where it's at for this island, with beautiful settings found on Kukio, Hapuno, and Manini Beach (where Captain Cook first landed on Hawaii). There is also a waterfall setting available (Akaka Waterfall) for a different exotic feel. The Royal Kona Resort on the Big Island offers a few resort wedding packages for those who'd prefer that style of ceremony, complete with a wedding coordinator at your disposal. The Big Island makes a great alternative to getting married on one of the more popular islands.
The island of Oahu is Hawaii's most popular (and populous) island. Home to the capital city Honolulu, and the famous Waikiki Beach, Oahu is the place most people think of when they picture Hawaii.
Fancy a wedding at (or even under) sea? Here, you can get married on a boat, or even on a scuba dive, as long as it's within three miles of the coast of Hawaii. If you're even more adventurous, a helicopter wedding may be just what you're looking for. There are also drop sites on Oahu for those who'd like to skydive their vows. There are also plenty of beach settings and opulent resorts to house your ceremony and reception on Oahu – such as the J.W. Marriott Ihilani Resort and Spa, which offers lavish weddings complete with wedding planners for advice and help.
There are two other islands in the Hawaii island archipelago that aren't much talked about: Molokai and Lanai. These two islands are the smallest in Hawaii, but they make up for it with their pristine beauty and charm. Molokai is home to the largest reef system in the US, and is a great spot for weddings on horseback, or in the quiet unspoiled forests and gardens. Lanai is home to two large resorts, the Lodge at Koele and the Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay. These resorts can help you to plan the lavish and extravagant wedding of your dreams, or you can choose the beauty of Puupehe Beach for your nuptials. Both islands are great for adventure seekers as well, with miles of scenic hiking trails and mountains for secluded ceremonies.
There are many wedding customs that are specific to the Hawaiian islands. One of the most well-known of these is the use of the lei, or Hawaiian flower strands, that are looped around the bride and groom's neck and head. In old Hawaiian custom, maile leis were bound about the hands of the bride and groom to symbolize commitment, and the maile lei is still worn today, usually by the groom. Another way to make your wedding uniquely Hawaiian is to wear the right clothing. For a traditional wedding in Hawaii, the bride usually wears a white holoku (high-necked wedding dress) and the groom wears white pants and a white shirt with a colored sash. If you're looking to add a bit of Hawaii to your reception, the Filipino custom of the money dance (where money is wrapped around, or otherwise affixed to, the bride and groom) is also a tradition worth using.
Deciding to both get married and honeymoon in Hawaii presents some unique opportunities that other wedding destinations may not have. If you get married on one island in Hawaii, it is very easy to “island hop”, meaning your ceremony can be in Maui while your honeymoon could be in Oahu, all within the same exotic location. Of course, there are some couples that would rather have their wedding and honeymoon all at one resort. Many resorts on the island offer outdoor wedding packages, which allow you to have your ceremony and honeymoon in the same place, only slightly secluded from the rest of your party.
Getting married in Hawaii is legally similar to getting married in any other state. Getting a marriage license here is straightforward; if you're over 19, the only required ID is a driver's license or other state-issued ID (if you're 18, you'll also need a copy of your birth certificate). There is no waiting period after obtaining your marriage license (fee of $60 applies), and no blood tests are required. There are also no Hawaiian residency requirements. Once obtained, your marriage license is good for 30 days, and the officiant of your ceremony must be registered with the State of Hawaii's Department of Health for the marriage to be valid.
Maui is a great choice for a Hawaii island destination wedding. In fact, the common phrase, “Getting Maui'd” was coined specifically for this locale! Whether you'd like to have a wedding ceremony on the beach, on a boat at sea, or in the beautiful Keali'i-Nui Oceanfront Botanical Gardens, you can do so in Maui.
There are also many different resorts, hotels and inns on Maui that are happy to help you with your special day. The Grand Wailea Resort offers many special packages for ceremonies and receptions, and even offers a seaside chapel for couples who want a romantic beach setting. The Aloha Pualani Hotel Boutique also offers an outdoor setting, in a lush tropical garden or at their Lotus Fountain.
A good place to start when looking for a Hawaii wedding planner is the Internet. Before you start looking for a planner or coordinator, write down what you want in a wedding. If possible, choose which of the Hawaiian islands you'd like to get married on before hiring a planner, that way you can contract with someone who's based out of the area you're getting married in. Make sure to ask for references and see a portfolio of previously planned weddings. Planning out how much you can afford for your Hawaii destination can also help you to have a better idea of what you need before hiring that wedding consultant.