Imagine what it would be like to have your perfect wedding on the sandy beaches of Hawaii…palm trees…crystal waters…tropical flowers…island vibes. Destination weddings allow your wedding to be romantic and elegant with a tropical flair. Waikiki wedding planning makes your wedding everything you’ve dreamed—whether keeping it low key or going all out.
Waikiki wedding planning can be almost anything you want it to be. Waikiki Beach, located in Honolulu, Hawaii on Oahu island, offers the perfect setting for a romantic island wedding, steeped in natural beauty, with plenty of options for almost any budget and style.
If the idea of planning a wedding in your hometown sounds boring or stressful, the solution may be just a Hawaiian beach away! Whether you want an intimate, barefoot ceremony or an extravagant, full-on affair, Waikiki has all of the options. From beach locations to photographers, from ceremony to honeymoon options, the answers to your questions about Waikiki wedding planning are all right here.
Waikiki Wedding Planning Details to Consider
Planning a wedding is all about the details, which means you will need to make some decisions. Even if you choose to work with a wedding planner, they will likely be asking about your preferences on all sorts of elements of your wedding. Some of the details you’ll need to think about when planning your Hawaiian wedding include answers to questions about location, ceremony details, guest list, honeymoon, and more.
Wedding Guest List
First things first. Before you can really get down to anything else, you need to know who you will be inviting to your wedding (and how many of them are likely to attend). Whether you’re planning an intimate elopement with just the two of you, or a larger family affair, knowing who you expect to attend your wedding will inform almost all of your other decisions.
How Many People Can I Have at a Beach Wedding?
Weddings in Hawaii tend to have smaller numbers of guests than any other US state–which doesn’t mean you can’t have a grand affair! However, most people considering a Waikiki Beach wedding are looking for an intimate, private occasion with just a few guests. In fact, many people like the idea of destinations weddings because it allows them to cull down their guest list without offending friends and family.
Whether it’s just you and your spouse-to-be (plus an officiant) or you’re planning on a group of more than 100 people, you’ll need a general idea of who is coming before you can begin making other decisions. Start with a rough draft of a list of the people you think will come, and this number will get you started on the other choices you need to make.
Your Wedding Location
Once you’ve decided on the “who” factor of your wedding, you can start thinking about where you want your wedding to take place. As Hawaiian Islands go, getting married on Oahu is not only beautiful, but it’s also convenient. Oahu is the only one of the Hawaiian Islands that has an international airport and major highway system, making it easily accessible for travelers.
If you’re interested in a wedding on a public beach or in a public park, then you won’t have trouble finding an incredible location in Honolulu. Waikiki beach is made up of eight different subsections, all of which offer options for romantic, idyllic spots that are perfect for your wedding location. Public beach weddings are very affordable (starting at around $50), but do come with certain restrictions, such as the number of guests allowed.
Using a private venue for your wedding location does provide a number of advantages. Private access, secluded locations, accommodation for larger guests lists, parking convenience and more control over the amount of time spent at your location are all reasons that renting a private venue may be preferable over the use of a public beach. But the choice is yours!
Consider these options for your public location or private venue:
Public Wedding Locations
One consideration that will help to determine your wedding location is what time of day you want to get married. Morning and mid-afternoon wedding locations will be different than locations for late afternoon or evening sunset occaisions. Following are just a few of the myriad of options available for scenic wedding locations filled with natural beauty:
One very popular place located just 10 minutes from Waikiki is Waialae Beach, offering natural beauty, incredible photo opportunities, and quaint island backgrounds. The setting is idyllic with plenty of access to beachfront, green spaces, as well as restrooms and public parking. This location is best for the morning or early-afternoon wedding.
Located just 10 minutes from Waikiki, Magic Island is a large park with a view of Diamond Head and the most incredible Hawaiian sunsets. Ceremonies can be performed on the lawn with photo shoots on the white sands. Best times for this location are sunset Monday through Thursdays. This location is not recommended for weekend weddings as it is a popular place for local residents to hang out and may be too crowded.
Liliuokalani Gardens Waterfall
Situated in a residential neighborhood in Honolulu, the Liliuokalani Gardens offer a picturesque waterfall backdrop for your wedding location. Peaceful and secluded, this park is just minutes from Honolulu and is available from 10 am to 2 pm for morning or early afternoon weddings. Many couples enjoy this place for their ceremony, adding a beach location photo shoot following.
Private Wedding Venues
If you have a number of wedding guests and want to be assured that everything will go off as planned, then consider the use of a private wedding venue near Waikiki.
Following are just a few options for private venues:
The beauty of a Hawaiian wedding without all of that sand between your toes! Pukalani Falls offers private access to this tropical garden and waterfall location just 40 minutes outside of Waikiki. With a maximum capacity of 25 people, this is the perfect setting for an intimate wedding location. The ceremony is typically performed at the waterfall location, with access to the Hobbit House for photo shoots. Available M-S from 8am-4pm with licensed officiant, Captain Howie. Cost is approximately $500.
For a more extravagant affair, the Moana Chapel offers the best of both worlds—beachfront property with a chapel atmosphere. Located at the Moana Surfrider Westin Resort, this private chapel opens up to a lush lawn leading to the beach. You’ll certainly make an impression walking down the aisle of the Moana Chapel, as this legendary location was the first beachfront hotel on Oahu island back in 1901. Views of the Pacific Ocean and Diamond Head Crater complete the ambience. The luxurious location accommodates up to 50 people and is available for 5pm wedding times daily. ($2800 for a one-hour ceremony.)
Koko Kai Garden
Located on the waterfront, this garden offers a private, oceanfront setting perfect for parties of up to 50 people. Available most days from 10 am-3:30 pm, this location rents for around $400 with additional options for chairs, tables, décor, etc.
Does a Beach Wedding Require a Permit?
According to Hawaiian law, weddings are considered to be “commercial activity” which means that they require a permit on any beach that is not a federal or state park. Your best bet is to get the help of a wedding planner because of the complications of liability insurance and other rules. Some specific rules about Waikiki Beach weddings may include:
- Time limit of two hours
- You are not allowed to displace beachgoers for your ceremony
- Structures are not typically allowed
- Standing is required for anyone who is able (chairs may be provided for the elderly or disabled)
- Public beach areas may not be blocked off—which means anyone can come who wants to
- Large parties (more than 30 guests) may require additional permits
- Permit costs start at just $50 for a public beach wedding
What else do I need to know about Waikiki wedding locations?
Some other questions you may need to ask about the location you choose include:
- Is a sound system necessary/available? If so, how loud can it be?
- Is electricity available for lights?
- Are bonfires or tiki torches allowed?
- Does the beach have a pet policy?
- Is alcohol allowed on the beach?
- What time is high tide?
- What is the noise nearby expected to be?
The great news about Waikiki beach is that almost any season is a good time for a wedding! Winter is a slight bit cooler than summer, with a small potential for rain. But even at the coolest of times, your Hawaiian wedding is likely to see temperatures in the 70s and summer temps will often top off in the 80s. Winds are the most common concern when it comes to a beach wedding in Hawaii.
If you’re trying to avoid a lot of tourists (and the high airfares and hotel prices that go with them), then you may want to plan your wedding for a time between May and November. Of course, major holidays are likely to bring in the crowds and raise the costs.
Because people who live Hawaii like to enjoy outdoor activity on weekends and holidays all throughout the year, your best bet for a more secluded, private ceremony is to have it on a weekday.
Some other events to keep in mind that could affect your wedding date planning for Waikiki Beach:
- Big Wave surfing events (winter-time between December and February)
- Japan’s Golden Week (late April through early May)
Are certain dates blacked out?
Ask your wedding planner or venue liaison if certain dates are blocked out, such as July 4th or other holidays.
When getting married in Hawaii, you have the option to choose from a traditional Hawaiian wedding ceremony, a western-style version, or something in between.
What is a Traditional Hawaiian Wedding Ceremony Like?
Based on local customs and culture, a Hawaiian wedding ceremony is officiated by a local minister or holy man (kahuna pule or kahu) who may sing chants and blessings in the Hawaiian language. Other parts of traditional Hawaiian wedding ceremonies may include:
- Bride wears a long, flowing white dress with a ring of fragrant flowers around the head
- Groom wears a flowy white shirt with a brightly colored sash around the waist
- A bridal party member blows a conch shell to indicate the ceremony is starting
- Ceremony begins with the couple exchanging flower lei as a symbol of love and affection
- Ceremony may take place while the couple and the officiant are standing knee-deep in water
- Officiant binds the couple’s hands together with a lei to symbolize their union
- Wedding rings are blessed through sprinkling of water to symbolize cleanliness and new life
- At the end of the ceremony, a lava rock is wrapped in ti leaf and left on the beach as an offering to nature and the land
- Slack key guitar and ukulele may be used for island music (often including the song Ke Kali Neui Au)
One traditional option you may want to consider for your Waikiki wedding is the Unity Sand Ceremony. While a couple in a church ceremony might light a unity candle, beach weddings are perfect for a unity sand ceremony instead. Various colored sand is displayed in two separate containers, with an empty vase in between.
During the Unity Sand ceremony, the couple together pours the sand from their individual containers into the empty vase, symbolizing the joining of their lives. Colored sand mixes together to make a beautiful display of the way that the couple’s lives are forever entwined and inseparable, creating a unique keepsake reminder for years to come.
During the unity sand ceremony, couples may recite the Hawaiian phrase: Aloha Aku No, Aloha Mai No. This means “I give my love to you, you give your live to me.
Flowers and Decorations
Hawaiian flowers, called lei, are made into rings to be worn around the neck or head. The unbroken circle represents unending commitment and devotion. The bride may wear a smaller, crown-sized lei on her head. An archway made of tropical flowers or palm leaves makes a beautiful backdrop to go along with the ocean view.
When you get married on the beach, the décor almost takes care of itself! The backdrop of the ocean scene is amazing, but you may want to add some flowers, tiki torches, tents, canopies, fairy lights or other personal touches. For the most part, keeping it simple just makes sense. If you have an off-site reception, then save the biggest number of decorations for that part of the day.
Photographer and/or Videographer
Having beautiful photos and video of your wedding day is important not only for your memories, but to share with others who weren’t able to be present. High quality wedding photographers and videographers help you preserve the emotions and events of your most important day.
A videographer can be especially helpful in capturing moments that you might have missed if you are the bride or groom. Your wedding day can be a blur and difficult to remember, plus you can’t be everywhere at once. A videographer helps you to see things that you might have otherwise missed. Subtle memories of the wedding party getting ready, mom wiping away a tear, or a precious conversation between the flower girl and ring bearer.
In order to capture the best moments, you may want your photographer/videographer to spend the whole day with you. From getting dressed for the occasion, through the ceremony, and on to dancing into the night. Plan to spend $250+ for ceremony photos and add on if you want the photographer or videographer to spend the whole day with you.
Whether you live on the islands or are having a destination wedding, you are likely to have out-of-town guests join you. Take good care of them by providing a little care package of essentials they might need for their time in Hawaii. Consider these little portable items for wedding favors:
- Local treats such as chocolate-covered macadamia nuts or tea/coffee from island growers
- Locally grown tropical fruit such as passion fruit or pineapple
- Brochures with information about local activities and restaurants
- Sunglasses, sunscreen lotion and aloe
- Customized tote bags printed with your wedding logo
Making sure you’re wedding is official in Hawaii may not be quite as easy as a pop-up Vegas chapel, but it’s really not that bad. The requirements are pretty straight-forward.
Of course, you’ll need to have a legal officiant perform your wedding ceremony. The state of Hawaii has many options for who can perform a wedding ceremony (religious or non-religious) but they must register with the state ahead of time. A list of also called “performers”, can be found through the Department of Health but your local wedding planner may be able to provide recommendations based upon your personal preferences.
What is Required for a Marriage License in Hawaii?
No blood tests are required to get married in Hawaii, but you’ll need to fill out an online marriage license application ahead of time. Before the wedding, the couple needs to appear in person before a license agent, providing legal documents such as photo ID and any pertinent divorce or death decrees. The cost is around $65.
Wedding Guest Lodging
Unless you live right in Honolulu (and even if you do!), you’ll probably want to make arrangements for lodging for yourself, your wedding party, and any of your out-of-town guests. Lucky for you, the Waikiki area has a many beautiful accommodations in a range of prices.
As with any destination, hotels in Honolulu will vary in price depending upon the location and amenities. Some hotels are trusted chains, while others are locally owned and operated. When you’re looking for lodging options for your wedding guests, make sure they have what they need at their hotel, such as:
- Free Wi-fi
- Breakfast options
- Swimming pools
- Transportation options (shuttles)
Many of these features are often included with beachfront hotel bookings that start at around $150+ per night, depending on the season. Higher end, more expensive bookings at 4+ star hotels may come with amenities such as free beach chairs and mats, use of beach cabanas, complimentary limo rides, and access to spa facilities.
If you have several rooms to reserve for your guests, be sure inquire about a discount rate for booking a block of rooms. Although you can choose any type of lodging you like, booking a package that includes the wedding ceremony as well as lodging may make things easier for you.
Some wedding planning services partner with hotels to offer lodging along with reception spaces. For instance, Hyatt Place, just steps from the silky sands of Waikiki Beach, partners with Weddings of Hawaii to make your wedding planning arrangements easier.
The best news about your Waikiki wedding is that you’ll already be in the right location for your honeymoon! Options are endless for honeymoon activities in the area.
Maybe you prefer a package with breakfast in bed and meant for lounging on the beach, like this honeymoon special from Outrigger:
- Oceanfront accommodation or suite option
- Bottle of sparkling wine at arrival
- Turndown service first night
- Breakfast in bed on first morning
- 1-day convertible car rental for exploring the island
- 3-night minimum
Or for a more adventurous honeymoon, try something like this all-inclusive package from Aloha Hawaiian:
- Beachfront-oceanside breakfasts
- Scenic hike to Diamond Head summit
- Hawaiian luau
- Island Exploration Tour
- Stand-Up paddleboard lesson
- Whale watching
- Surfing lessons
- Moped rental
- Pearl Harbor Memorial tour
- Polynesian show
- Hanauma Bay excursion
- Canoe Ride
- Deluxe room
Depending on room/hotel choices and flights, packages range from $2100 to $9000 per couple.
Wedding Cost Estimates
Just as with any wedding planning, the amount of money that you spend on your Waikiki wedding very much depends on how simple or luxurious you want your wedding to be.
An estimate for a Hawaii Destination Wedding comes in at around $27,000, not including airfare, lodging, or wedding attire. The breakdown looks like this:
- Venue: $12,346
- Event Planner: $2785
- Photographer: $2604
- Flowers & Décor: $2191
- Wedding Cake: $452
- Music: $1101
- Average Cost per Guest: $85
This cost is probably inflated for a couple of reasons. First of all, most people getting married in Waikiki are looking more for an intimate, beachfront wedding, which would knock the venue cost down significantly. Plus, the estimate at $85/person includes a 60-person guest list, which is probably a bit high for the average person planning a destination wedding in Hawaii.
Weddings of Hawaii offers an alternative cost assessment that makes a Hawaiian wedding come in at less than half of what The Knot is estimating. Their top of the line wedding package costs under $9,000 and includes features such as:
- Limousine Service
- Location assistance and consultation
- On-site wedding coordinator
- Officiant and Ceremony
- Hair and Makeup
- Couples Massage
- Wedding Cake
For a bare bones wedding ceremony, Weddings of Hawaii has Oahu packages as low as $249, meaning that you can really spend as much or as little as you want on your Waikiki wedding planning.
In the case above by Weddings of Hawaii, a wedding reception has not been included in the cost estimates. This would bump up the cost significantly if you are paying for food for each guest (thus, the $85 per guest estimate by The Knot). Many people who have small wedding parties find that it is enough to simply book a room at a local restaurant following the ceremony. Then they don’t need to worry about reception venues, catering, etc. but they can share a nice meal with their wedding guests.
If you’re flying from the mainland, round trip flights come in at around $750 per person on average, depending on the time of year, and the of origin, etc. Some couples only pay for their own plane tickets, while others will also pay for the cost of the members of their wedding party to fly to Hawaii. It really just depends on your budget and logistics of the people you will have involved on your wedding day.
Waikiki wedding planning has the potential to be everything you have ever dreamed your wedding would be. Balmy temperatures, pristine beaches, and welcoming people make Honolulu an incredible place to celebrate your wedding and begin your life together.
What Does Wedding Planning in Waikiki Cost?
The answer to this question can almost be anything you want it to be! From a no-frills wedding with just an officiant on the beach, to a gala affair with a seven-course catered meal, you can find the price range for a Waikiki wedding that will fit your budget. Costs for just a wedding planner may run between $2000 and $3000.
How Far In Advance Do We Need to Book a Waikiki Wedding?
Depending on the location you chose, lodging and airfare may be less expensive when booked with several months ahead of time. Most wedding planners will allow you to get started a year out from the wedding date. Most decisions need to be finalized within 30 days in advance of the wedding date.