The palm trees, warm breeze, air perfumed by flowers, gentle splash of the waves on a black-sand shore—to call Hawaii an ideal destination for a romantic retreat would be an understatement. It is the perfect venue for a wedding, whether it is an intimate affair for just the bride and groom, or a large gathering.
For local touches, the bride and groom can incorporate flower lei into the ceremony (like the fragrant pikake for the bride and maile for the groom), use Hawaiian slack-key guitar and ukulele entertainers, or exchange vows to Hawaiian blessings.
Hawaii makes for a great destination wedding spot as being part of the U.S., it is accessible—no visas, the currency is the same and phone calls are all domestic. Yet, it’s miles away from everything familiar on the mainland.
In Oahu, home of the islands’ largest city and capital, Honolulu, couples can tie the knot on a beach or in a historical church. (Kawaiahao Church is a popular venue, we hear.) Even getting married on a surfboard isn’t out of question here! Couples—and their families—can opt for Honolulu’s urban appeal, or find an isolated retreat or resort far from the crowds. (Bonus: There are more flights to Oahu from Continental U.S. and Asia than to other islands.)
Combining a wedding and honeymoon (as well as keeping the guest list small for a more intimate ceremony) can also bring guests’ expenses down. Before or after the wedding, couples can enjoy rounds of golf, visit historical places, experience a luau or just relax in one of the island’s resorts.
Swathes of space means more options for wedding venues! Couples can choose from a sunset beach ceremony on the Kona or Kohala Coast, or opt for serene pagodas of Liliuokalani Gardens with Mauna Kea towering in the background. They can fill a formal ballroom of a large resort with family and friends or exchange lei at a private ceremony, barefoot in the sand. For a dramatic backdrop, consider an active volcano!
Other options: Sail into the sunset with a ceremony at sea, get married in one of Hawaii’s oldest Christian churches or on horseback in the scenic uplands of Waimea.
Known as the Garden Isle, Kauai has a great range of sites for romantic nuptials. The cliffs of the Napali Coast or the chasms of Waimea Canyon can serve as unbelievable backdrops, and the beaches (over 50 miles!) are also very popular.
Brides and grooms can say their vows under the North Shore sun, on the sands of the South Shore or on a historical estate like Kilohana. “The Hawaiian Wedding Song,” performed by Elvis in the movie “Blue Hawaii” (which was filmed on Kauai), is often sung at Kauai ceremonies.
Bonus: Kauai has a dedicated team of professional wedding planners—the Kauai Wedding Professionals Association. Of course, most resorts have specialists as well.
The islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai are known as the “Magic Isles” (or, collectively, as the “Maui Nui”), and the resort destinations of Kapalua, Kaanapali, Wailea, Makena or Hana are great picks for a destination wedding, a honeymoon or both. Along with plenty of dedicated specialists to help make the big day go smoothly, the Maui Nui resorts offer spas, local cuisine, activities, tropical flowers and many choices for accommodations—from condominiums to full-service suites.
A must for every couple on Maui is an early-morning ride up Haleakal?, where the sun appears to rise up out of the volcano’s crater. It is a breathtaking sight, and romantic.
Small, isolated Molokai is the ideal destination for intimate, personalized weddings. It is also one of the least developed of the islands, which means a ceremony there follows genuine Hawaiian traditions.
Lanai is one of the smallest of Hawaii’s public islands, and gives guests a chance to escape for a private romantic retreat. Couples can say their vows as gentle trade winds blow off Hulopoe Bay, or under the stars in the cool uplands of Central Lanai.
Bill Gates tied the knot at the Four Seasons Resort Lana’i at Manele Bay on a bluff overlooking Hulopoe Bay. For a seaside service on Lanai, guests may prefer the Four Seasons Resort Lana’i, The Lodge at Koele.
Dawg the Bounty Hunter had exchanged vows at the beautiful Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island, with a waterfall and the endless Pacific as a backdrop.
On Kauai, at the brand-new St. Regis Princeville, two private terraces, a beach and a cove are among the possible wedding venues.
On Maui, the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa on Kaanapali Beach is a great location for romance, and the Kapalua Villas suits larger groups and parties. On Molokai, consider the Aqua Hotel Molokai.