You want to get married in Hawaii, but where to start? The islands of Oahu, Maui, Kauai, the Big Island, and Lana’i offer couples a host of stunning wedding venues: sunny oceanfront resorts, secluded private estates, picturesque settings, and even remote locations perfect for adventurous duos.
Here’s a three-step guide to finding your dream wedding location.
Step 1: choose the perfect island
Yes, all of the Hawaiian islands are a beautiful setting for a wedding, but each offers a different combination of accessibility, atmosphere, and activities.
Home to Honolulu International Airport, this gateway island is the most convenient with dozens of daily flights from the mainland and easy access to resorts. A wedding here offers a vibrant urban setting (a downside if you’re looking for a more serene setting), a variety of dining options, and plenty of activities for guests.
Most resorts like Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa; Sheraton Waikiki Beach Resort; and The Royal Hawaiian line Waikiki Beach, most with great views of Diamond Head. Some resorts, such as The Kahala Hotel & Resort and Turtle Bay Resort, are 10 minutes to an hour away and offer a less congested setting.
Also offering easy access (several airlines fly direct here from the mainland and there are several daily flights from Oahu), geographically diverse Maui presents couples with a variety of attractive wedding settings and a wide range of activities, from bird watching whales to wine tasting.
For fabulous sunsets, you can’t beat Ka’anapali Beach, home to the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, and Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa. The most luxurious Wailea is home to the Four Seasons Resort Maui in Wailea and the Fairmont Kea Lani, while the manicured Kapalua features The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. Further afield, the idyllic village of Hana, famous for its black lava shoreline, and home to the Hana-Maui Hotel, is ideal for intimate vows.
Known as the “Garden Island,” Kauai is Hawaii’s most lush island, but sadly, it’s also the rainiest. For scenic beauty — waves crashing onto golden beaches with green velvet (rainbow) mountains and beyond — Kauai’s north shore is a stunning wedding venue. It is home to The St. Regis Princeville Resort, as well as private villas that can accommodate smaller weddings.
For less drama but more sun, check out the resorts that line Poipu Beach, which include the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa and the Sheraton Kauai Resort. Beach weddings are popular here and activities range from sunset cruises along the famous Na Pali coast to zip lining and hiking.
Hawaii’s largest and most fascinating island is home to snow-capped volcanoes and red-hot lava. Since it’s lush and green on one side (near Hilo) and arid and lunar on the other (near Kona), Big Island weddings are ideal for couples who love nature-based adventure. Activities range from diving with stingrays to watching the sunset from the top of the Mauna Kea volcano.
Most of the resorts are on the sunny, lava-covered coasts of Kona and Kohala. They range from the stylish Four Seasons Resort Hualalai and the Polynesian-inspired Kona Village Resort to the more affordable Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa and Hilton Waikoloa Village. The lava landscape here creates a dramatic setting, especially at sunset.
Located on the outskirts of Maui, this small and underdeveloped island is an ideal wedding venue for those who crave a serene yet exclusive atmosphere. Home to two resorts, the beachfront Four Seasons Resort Lana’i at Manele Bay, and the forest surrounded by Four Seasons Lodge at Koele, Lanai offers true relaxation, along with activities ranging from golf to four-wheel-drive adventures.
Step 2: Find a location
Once you’ve selected your island, a beach resort may seem like the obvious choice for your wedding, and it’s for most couples who get married here. But Hawaii also offers many other options. Consider the following:
Having everything, the rehearsal dinner, the ceremony and the reception, at a resort is the most convenient for everyone involved, especially the guests. Most resorts in Hawaii have a wedding planner on staff and they will work to personalize the ceremony and reception, plan off-property activities or events, and arrange group discounts for guests.
The average destination wedding is for about 60-75 people, but many are intimate affairs for a few people and others are extravagant for 200. If you think small, you will have more options, such as renting a villa for the entire wedding party or getting married. next to a waterfall or on a catamaran, but larger weddings may incorporate aspects only in Hawaii, such as a luau rehearsal dinner.
Since your guests can travel to Hawaii on their own, you will need to consider your budget when choosing a location. If you opt for a luxury property, also arrange a group rate at a nearby, more affordable resort.
Many resorts have multiple wedding venues (the beach, a gazebo, or a garden) and often schedule two or even three weddings in a single day. If you want to be the only bride at your resort on your wedding day, ask about the policy before booking.
If you travel all those miles to Hawaii to get married, you may be thinking of doing something totally different. And you can. On the Big Island, you can get married on horseback in the middle of the Waimea grasslands or rent a helicopter for a ceremony on a private black sand beach. On Maui, you can get married in a beautiful tropical garden or even underwater. And on Kauai, you can get married in a fern grotto, on the edge of a canyon, or on a catamaran as you cruise the Na Pali coastline.
Step 3: pay a visit
You wouldn’t buy your wedding dress without trying it on, so why would you book a wedding venue without visiting it?
Pack your sunscreen and schedule a four- or five-night exploration trip (consider the price as part of your wedding cost) on your two main islands and review at least 6-8 options before committing to one. Most resorts, restaurants, and private villas look great in online photos, but they may not meet your expectations in real life.
The last thing you want on your wedding day is to be disappointed.