Our wedding, in 1983, was held at the Kahala (then the Kahala Hilton), an upscale hotel on Oahu’s southeast shore tucked away in Hawaii’s most exclusive residential neighborhood. We were married on the grounds, overlooking the beach, after which we immediately went indoors for the delicious brunch buffet that awaited us and our two-hundred-plus guests.
Having lived in Hawaii all our lives, it never occurred to us to schedule the ceremony or the picture taking to coincide with sunset or sunrise… neither did we even think about including the beachscape as a part of our pictures! After all, our thoughts were more on the honeymoon that would take us to Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, and Lake Tahoe, where my first experience with snow was to occur!
Hawaii weddings are almost an icon in the nuptial world due in large to the interest amongst the Japanese to have their weddings here. It’s not uncommon at all to be at a popular beach or some other scenic spot when a limousine pulls up and out jumps a bride and groom, accompanied by a small entourage and a photographer who then proceeds to direct all of them through a series of poses intended to take advantage of the area’s scenery. In fact more than “not uncommon” the frequency of these sightings is “quite often!
After years of assuming that the Japanese tourists were so extravagant to come to Hawaii and get married, I eventually found out that their weddings in Hawaii are actually the less expensive option for a couple to be wed, much less expensive than having the wedding back in Japan!
It seems that Japanese protocol places such a high emphasis on social obligations that a family would feel it less than honorable to have a wedding and not invite all they knew. Understandably, “saving face” by including all one’s relatives and friends could make for a huge and costly affair! So rather than insult any you might not be able to include in the celebration, a wedding away from home offers an honorable and convenient way to get married with just an intimate group of invitees. You could always get a box of macadamia nut chocolates to take back to all your friends, an act which would be quite the honorable thing to do.
Hawaii beaches offer some of the most dramatic and romantic backdrops for a couple to exchange vows. But there’s a lot more to Hawaii weddings. Take the couple who’d prefer a Hawaii church wedding but would like to also frame their once-in-a-lifetime attire against the raw beauty of a lava-lined coastline with waves crashing onto the shore just feet away… not a problem!
One can choose from a number of different churches from informal and quaint chapels to some pretty ornate houses of worship. And, of course, Hawaii’s diversity also makes for a wide spectrum of faiths to match its multi-ethnic and cultural mix.
The bourgeoning “wedding business” in Hawaii has enabled the growth of a mini industry that includes specialized services targeted to the needs and whims of these romantic visitors to the islands. Limousines, specialized photography, bridal shops, videography, and wedding planners have all found an excellent niche in Hawaii’s wedding market along with other more traditional visitor-related services.
We didn’t use a Hawaii wedding planner because everything took place on the grounds of the hotel. But if you’d like to take advantage of locations other than private property, a Hawaii wedding planner can pay big dividends in making sure that your exchange of vows won’t be a source of embarrassment for years to come. Can you imagine going through your ceremony then having someone tell you that what you’re doing is not permitted there… or having a bunch of unexpected passersby gawking at you and your guests?
But for those of you first-time-arounders who might be looking for something out of the ordinary, Hawaii weddings are only limited by your imagination! Here are a few ideas for starters!