Hawaii is a great place for a wedding. The islands exude romance and natural beauty, and after the ceremony, you're already on your honeymoon. And the members of your wedding party will most likely be delighted, because you've given them the perfect excuse for their own island vacation.
More than 20,000 marriages are performed annually on the islands, mostly on Oahu; nearly half are for couples from somewhere else. The booming wedding business has spawned more than 70 companies that can help you organize a long-distance event and stage an unforgettable wedding, Hawaiian style or your style. However, you can also plan your own island wedding, even from afar, and not spend a fortune doing it.
Doing It Yourself
The marriage-licensing agents, who range from employees of the governor's satellite office in Kona to private individuals, are usually friendly, helpful people who can steer you to a nondenominational minister or marriage performer who's licensed by the state of Hawaii. These marriage performers are great sources of information for budget weddings. They usually know wonderful places to have the ceremony for free or for a nominal fee.
If you don't want to use a wedding planner (see below), but you do want to make arrangements before you arrive in Hawaii, our best advice is to get a copy of the daily newspapers on the island where you want to have the wedding. People willing and qualified to conduct weddings advertise in the classifieds. They're great sources of information, as they know the best places to have the ceremony and can recommend caterers, florists, and everything else you'll need. If you want to have your wedding on the Kona/Waimea side of the Big Island, get West Hawaii Today, P.O. Box 789, Kailua-Kona, HI 96745 (tel. 808-329-9311; westhawaiitoday.com); for the Hilo/Puna side, try the Hawaii Tribune Herald, P.O. Box 767, Hilo, HI 96720 (tel. 808-935-6621; hilohawaiitribune.com). On Maui, get the Maui News, P.O. Box 550, Wailuku, HI 96793 (tel. 808-244-3981; mauinews.com). On Kauai, try the Garden Island, 3137 Kuhio Hwy., Lihue, HI 96766 (tel. 808-245-3681; kauaiworld.com). And on Oahu, check out the Honolulu Advertiser, P.O. Box 3110, Honolulu, HI 96802 (tel. 808-525-8000; honoluluadvertiser.com); the Honolulu Star Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 500, Honolulu, HI 96813 (tel. 808-529-4700; honolulustarbulletin.com); and MidWeek, 45-525 Luluku Rd., Kaneohe, HI 96744 (tel. 808-235-5881; midweek.com).
Using a Wedding Planner
Wedding planners–many of whom are marriage-licensing agents as well–can arrange everything for you, from a small, private, outdoor affair to a full-blown formal ceremony in a tropical setting. They charge anywhere from $225 to a small fortune–it all depends on what you want. On the Big Island, contact Paradise Weddings Hawaii (tel. 800-428-5844 or 808-883-9067; paradiseweddingshawaii.com); on Maui, contact A Wedding Made in Paradise (tel. 800-453-3440 or 808/879-3444; wedinparadise.com); on Kauai, try Coconut Coast Weddings & Honeymoons (tel. 800-585-5595 or 808-826-5557; kauaiwedding.com); on Oahu, contact Aloha Wedding Planners (tel. 800-288-8309 or 808-943-2711; alohaweddingplanners.com), which offers wedding services on the other islands as well. The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau can provide contact information for other wedding coordinators, and many of the big resorts have their own coordinators on staff.
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