If you feel the pull of the ocean tide on your heart, there’s no finer wedding destination for you than Hawaii. Whether you say “I Do” to Honolulu, Oahu’s vibrant cultural center, or to the pristine beaches of Maui, your Hawaiian destination wedding will be a tropical beauty. And don’t forget to capture all your Hawaiian moments—your beach dress, romantic sunset, tiki-lit first dance, and loved ones toasting their fruity cocktails—by choosing a wedding photographer with top reviews to photograph your wedding!
If a destination wedding in Hawaii sounds too good to be true, don’t worry! It’s not. Hawaii is home to 20,000 weddings a year—and that’s not due to a local tradition of tying, un-tying, and re-tying the knot multiple times per year! Most Hawaiian weddings are planned by non-local brides, just like you. In years to come, as these brides flip through their wedding photo albums, they all agree on one thing: the extra work of planning a destination wedding was worthwhile.
So, what challenges are you up against?
The photos of your Hawaiian wedding may be all sunshine and tropical breeze, but some aspects of planning a destination wedding are anything but a breeze.
Here are some of the challenges that your wedding photos won’t reveal:
- You might be unable to see venues and meet vendors in person. Unless you are able to take off extra time from work and plan a scouting trip to Hawaii before your wedding, meet with vendors, and visit venues, you will have to rely on your googling prowess to choose your wedding crew and location.
- You could have a difficult time locating some items. Hawaii floats in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 2,400 miles away from the nearest landmass. While the island’s bustling wedding industry (complete with venues, caterers, dress makers, cake designers, and photographers) can answer most of your wishes, unusual tastes or specific, sentimental “must haves” will require extra planning for importation.
- Making a guest list is difficult. Hawaii is probably a dream vacation spot for most of your friends and family members, but that doesn’t mean they are going to be able to jump up and fly to Hawaii on your command. Your friends and family might waffle on whether or not they can attend, and fluctuations in your guest list will be a major headache as you make travel and accommodation reservations and submit headcounts to your venue and caterer.
- Your guests will have to find accommodations. Hawaii is full of picture perfect hotels and resorts, as well as B&Bs and private estates—but all of these will be an additional expense for those who attend your wedding.
- Marriage requirements could be different than your state. In order to get married in Hawaii, you and your fiancé must bring photo IDs to a courthouse in Hawaii and sign for a wedding license . Once you have the license, there is no waiting period. A licensed Hawaiian officiant can marry you any time up to 30 days after the license has been issued. After the ceremony, your wedding officiant will return the license to the department of health, and you will have to wait to receive an official marriage certificate in the mail. Because mail from Hawaii can take a while, you might be waiting for a few weeks.
- You might need a beach permit. Some of Hawaii’s most photogenic wedding backdrops, like beaches, parks, and state protected areas, are highly regulated. You will need a permit to host your celebration in some of these locations. Check with your photographer if your location is among those requiring a permit.
- Island time. There may be significant time differences between yourself and Hawaii, which can make communicating with venues, caterers, and photographers difficult. Because destination weddings in Hawaii are very popular, wedding service people are in high demand. Their work schedules are intense, and they receive a ton of voicemails every day.
What are the solutions?
Don’t let yourself be too intimidated by the challenges above! Remember, over 20,000 weddings take place in Hawaii each year, and your wedding can too! Be persistent in your communication with vendors and venues, and stick to your planning timeline.
Here are the solutions to your challenges:
- Learn to recognize quality venues and vendors online. Quality venues and vendors will have clean, easy to use websites and tons of pictures for you to browse through. They may have blogs that feature the stories of previous weddings they have been involved with or offer you guidance on planning your wedding. They should also have a large volume of positive feedback from previous clients. When you find a venue/vendor with beautiful photos, clear authority, and positive reviews, reach out to them with a phone call or Skype call and hash out the details of your wedding. Even a top quality vendor might not be the right fit for you, so shop around and compare multiple venues/vendors until you find your perfect match.
- Plan ahead to accommodate your unusual items. When possible, buy any unusual must-haves (like vintage cake plates, monogrammed kites, or shoes the color of your favorite sports team) ahead of time and pack them in luggage. When impossible, search for a supplier who can deliver to Hawaii. Make sure that you weigh the cost of importation against the importance of this item. Do you really need that bouquet of peonies, or would you be just as happy with a splash of tropical wildflowers?
- Set your RSVP date in stone and have a second reception. You must give your venue and caterer a headcount before your wedding, so make sure you let your loved ones know that your RSVP date is set in stone. If you feel shy about asking guests to travel, you can always have a second reception after you return from Hawaii.
- Look into resort packages. If you have a crowd of guests coming in for your wedding, you can get a reduced price on accommodations when you book rooms for all of them in one place. Some resorts also include entertainment like spa treatments or snorkeling trips in their packages. Guests will be happier to pay to attend your wedding if they are getting a vacation in the bargain!
- Plan ahead to meet marriage requirements. Book an appointment to get your license and avoid spending time in line when you could be soaking up the colors and smells of paradise! Also, make sure you bring all the documents needed to get a license along with you. Nothing would be more disappointing than arriving in Hawaii, with a plane full of your loved ones, only to find out that you can’t get married because you left your photo ID at home! If you’re under a time crunch to receive your marriage certificate and can’t wait on snail mail, you can walk into the department of health to pick up your certificate.
- Develop a generous timeline. The recommended amount of time you spend planning a destination wedding is 9-15 months. The farther ahead you plan, the better rates you can get on travel, and the more options you will have in reserving venues and vendors like your photographer. Create a checklist of everything you need for your wedding and make sure all the boxes are checked at least a month before your big day. That way, if any last minute glitches pop up, you will have time to solve them. An on-site wedding coordinator can also help you get prompt responses from venues and vendors as well as facilitate other aspects of wedding.
What makes Hawaii worthwhile?
For many couples, vacationing in Hawaii is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Multiply that once-in-a-lifetime vacation times your once-in-a-lifetime wedding day, and you will begin to understand the magic of a destination wedding in Hawaii.
Hawaii’s booming wedding industry is also a jewel for you, as a bride to be. The islands are teeming with wedding venues, caterers, dress stores, cake designers, honeymoon resorts, and photographers. When you hire local services, you will receive the insight of both a native islander and a wedding industry leader. For example, when you hire a Hawaiian wedding photographer, you hire a professional who knows all Hawaii’s hidden pockets of beauty, how to take a picture of your dress melting into the sea foam, how to capture the rich gold of a Hawaiian sunset bathing your skin, and how to immortalize the effect of the bright, Hawaiian spirit in each of your guests’ smiles.
Choosing Hawaii for a destination wedding is truly one of the most rewarding decisions you can make for your special day!