The Ultimate Hawaii Destination Wedding Guide

    hawaii destination wedding

    As one of the most coveted wedding destinations in the world, Hawaii is like a gold mine of phenomenal venues and vendors, all offering you the expert support needed to craft the wedding you used to think was only a fantasy. While all of the islands would serve as wonderful destinations for your nuptials, we’ve found that Oahu, Maui, and Kauai provide the most appealing settings and services. From resorts that stretch from rainforest to sea, historic plantations, and botanical gardens, to an acclaimed nature preserve, vine-covered ruins, and picturesque coves, these three islands offer something for everyone. One thing you can be sure of is that if a Hawaiian island is listed on your wedding invitation, you’re unlikely to receive any “regrets.” Once you’ve reviewed the general destination wedding checklist and found a wedding website to help you keep everything organized, here’s all you need to start planning your dream Hawaii wedding.

    Oahu

    A compelling blend of new and old, Oahu offers cutting-edge eateries, chic boutiques, and modern hotels, while maintaining its old world charm with laid back beaches, immaculately preserved expanses of tropical rainforest and architecture that is like a time capsule back to the late 1950s when the island earned statehood. The wedding venues and vendors on the island reflect this eclectic nature, helping all couples enjoy the wedding of their dreams on its sparkling shores or lush interior.  

    Most Popular Venue: Turtle Bay Resort

    There are few locations as dreamy as the North Shore of Oahu, which effortlessly enchants guests with its pristine beaches, mesmerizing waves and a tapestry of jungles and forests. These features are exactly why Turtle Bay Resort, located in the heart of this magical expanse of shore, is such an acclaimed destination for Hawaii weddings. With 25,000 square feet of indoor space, 850 acres of outdoor land, and five miles of exquisite beach, you’d be hard pressed to not find an event space here that you adore. Whether you’re dreaming of a barefoot ceremony on the sand, with the glowing sunset and glimmering ocean as your backdrop, nuptials on a lush lawn overlooking the sea, I do’s under a canopy of towering trees, or a celebration within an open-air pavilion coated in twinkle lights, Turtle Bay Resort will make you swoon.

    Typical Cost: Ceremony packages range from $10,500 – $12,500 and reception packages range from $6,500 – $15,000

    Capacity: 800

    Bonus: You and your guests get to revel in the good life during your stay at this world-renowned resort that’s so admired it’s been featured in seemingly endless films and shows.

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    Most Affordable Venue: Haiku Gardens

    A Hawaiian fantasyland, Haiku Gardens is a jewel in the midst of Haiku Woodlands, as it’s coated in lush layers of tropical foliage and set against the stunning Koolau Mountains. This four-acre site offers four ceremony venues, including a private botanical garden, open-air chapel and a white gazebo accented by a serene pond. But regardless of where you choose to say your I do’s, the enthralling energy of Hawaii will be present.

    After you’ve pledged your love, the celebration will be moved to the on-site, award-winning Haleiwa Joes Seafood Grill, which overlooks the gardens. Sumptuous menu options like Thai fried calamari, poke, tempura crab rolls, fresh island fish, and other items that make your mouth water just reading about them are offered, and sure to make your big day a memorable, joy-filled experience for all. If you’re searching for a dazzling venue that exudes magic and wonder, Haiku Gardens should be top of your list.

    Typical Cost: $3,800 to $15,000

    Capacity: 175

    Bonus: Special extras such as leis, musicians, hand-tied bouquets, rose petals coating the aisle, and more are included in many of the packages.

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    Most Scenic Venue: Kualoa Ranch

    This 4,000-acre nature preserve was the filming site for little known movies like Jurassic Park, Jumanji, Pearl Harbor, and Godzilla, and was the sacred residence, refuge and training grounds for Hawaiian royalty in ancient times. Nowadays, this mystical island is primarily home to 600 head of cattle, 120 horses and 200 sheep and whatever creatures live in its 125-acre, 800-year-old fishpond. Needless to say, Kualoa Ranch is a pinnacle of outdoor venues for couples that relish dramatic displays of nature, ambrosial aromas of vibrant flowers, and the soft kiss of the warm ocean breeze.

    Couples can choose from exotic event spaces that range from secret beaches to tropical gardens and will have seemingly endless options for photo backdrops, as nearly every inch of the preserve is coated in lush foliage. When it comes to food, you’ll receive a delicious farm-to-table dining experience from the onsite catering service, which uses Kualoa grown beef, oysters, shrimp, fish, fruits and vegetables.

    Typical Cost: $2,400 to $3,500

    Capacity: 600

    Bonus: This location is so aesthetically stunning, few decorations are required.

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    Preferred Photographer: Jenna Lee Pictures

    While there are a plethora of amazing photographers on Oahu, Jenna Lee crafts photos that are not only visually stimulating but also accomplish the difficult feat of capturing the essence of the unique couple. There is nothing generic about her photos, which masterfully incorporate the magical personality of the island, while finding ingenious ways to give each image a twist with an intriguing angle, prop or dramatic natural phenomenon (like a wild wave or gust of wind!) Jenna and her team not only go above and beyond to take astonishing staged shots, but have an uncanny ability to take candid photos that tell a vivid story from wedding prep to the last dance. If you’re looking for a photographer that will pour her heart into taking the most moving moments of your big day and freezing them in time, check out Jenna Lee Pictures.

    Typical Cost: Package starts at $2,800

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    Preferred Florist: Watanabe Floral

    Flowers are often the unsung heroes of an unforgettable wedding’s charm. The award-winning Watanabe Floral understands this and takes their role seriously, absorbing the vision of the couple and turning it into a magnificent reality by sourcing flowers from around the world, and utilizing their masterful team of florists. As the largest florist in Hawaii, Watanabe has an extensive procurement network, allowing them to receive phenomenal deals on flowers – a savings they pass on to clients. Beyond classic arrangements, bouquets, boutonnieres, and corsages, Watanabe can create leis, mailes and hair pieces. Whether you’re dreaming of flower arrangements that say whimsical fairyland, bohemian haven, tropical oasis, romantic wonderland or any other theme you can imagine, this expert florist has you covered.

    Typical Cost: $2,000

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    Preferred Caterer: Food For The Soul Catering and Events

    Offering exceptional service, Food For The Soul Catering and Events stays true to their name by designing meals that not only honor the couple’s specific preferences but create an experience that unites guests in one of life’s most pleasurable acts… eating. The wide array of options they provide, which includes American, Eastern European, French, Fusion, Indian, Italian, Latin American, and Middle Eastern nosh, in the form of passed appetizers, buffets, or seated meals, allows couples to receive the exact dining adventure they were hoping for. Another serious perk of Food For the Soul is that they’re exceptionally skilled at communication, which is especially important for caterers in Oahu, as many clients don’t live on the island and can’t visit for food tastings or in-person meetings. For a meal so good you don’t care how tight your dress is becoming, check out Food For The Soul.

    Typical Cost: $50 – $75 per person

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    Maui

    It’s hard to believe that an expanse of land as radiant as Maui actually exists outside the confines of the silver screen. And yet, there it is, waiting in the heart of the Pacific Ocean for couples hoping to achieve a wedding that is sewn together with natural splendor, exquisite service, and endless love. To simplify your planning, we’ve sought out some of the most acclaimed event spaces and vendors on the island.

     

    Most Popular Venue: Olowalu Plantation House 

    Imagine sipping a glass of champagne on the lanai (veranda) of a historic plantation house, as you watch the setting for your wedding come alive on a sprawling manicured lawn that seems to melt into the sea. Because of this stunning canvas, couples and wedding planners alike adore Olowalu Plantation House, as there is no theme this venue can’t pull off. After you enjoy a sun-kissed ceremony on the lawn, you can relocate to the large paved area overlooking the beach, which is ideal for receptions and dancing. This area rests under a large tree and canopy of twinkle lights, making it a prime location for your celebration to flow from day to night. And then there are the backdrops for photos, which are some of the best in the world, offering everything from the classic beach ambiance to a rich display of palms and other tropical plants surrounding the property. This is a must-see venue for couples envisioning classic Hawaiian nuptials on the shores of the Pacific.

    Typical Cost: $3,000 – $8,000

    Capacity: 200

    Bonus: As this venue is far removed from commercial or residential areas, you receive structure-free views and an empty beach.

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    Most Affordable Venue: Duke’s Beach House Maui

    A landscape of soaring palms, vibrant greenery, immaculate sand, and views of Molokai and Lanai across the sparkling Pacific is what you’ll discover at Duke’s Beach House, where couples can host both their ceremony and reception at rates that won’t make you sweat. Enjoy an outdoor ceremony on a manicured lawn beside the beach, before heading to the open-air dining area where a delectable selection of fresh sustainable fish (that was likely caught that day!), premium steaks, and sides crafted from produce procured from local farms will be served. And because cocktails are a favorite part of many celebrations, you can choose from signature cocktails such as the ‘Dig Me’ Daiquiri, Molokai Margarita, Lava Flow and more. When you step inside this eatery, you’ll be treated to a nostalgic journey through Hawaii’s past as you check out the Ohia wood, lava rock, native artifacts, and historical photography. For laid back, yet remarkably charming nuptials, Duke’s Beach House is hard to beat.

    Typical Cost: $800 – $5,000 for the event space, and $2,000 – $6,000 for food and drink

    Capacity: 100

    Bonus: The hospitality is top notch, with many couples reporting that the staff was so helpful and friendly they felt like friends.

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    Most Scenic Venue: Haiku Mill

    Off the Road to Hāna you’ll discover Haiku Mill, a botanical paradise that makes you feel as though you’ve dropped into the tropical version of Alice in Wonderland, and half expect the Cheshire Cat to materialize, offering directions to the vine coated restored ruins. Speaking of storybooks, many guests describe this venue as a fairytale, especially when couples choose to hang chandeliers, long strands of tropical flowers or delicate, billowing fabrics from the ceiling of the al fresco spaces. Adding to the winsome ambiance of Haiku Mills is the owner, Sylvia, who has poured love and exquisite attention to detail into the venue, ensuring the grounds emanate Aloha – love, peace and compassion.

    Typical Cost:  Starts at $7,000

    Capacity: 100

    Bonus: The chandeliers are included with the rental fee.

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    Preferred Photographer: Anna Kim Photography

    Anna Kim has the invaluable gift of telling a story with her images, capturing the big picture moments, while also having an astounding eye for the details that make each wedding unique. As you browse Anna’s portfolio, a surprising theme is exposed—and the theme is that there is no theme. Because Anna brings such a strong commitment and intuition to representing the idiosyncrasies of each couple, every shoot is different from the others, ensuring that your final product is far from generic. Couples rave that Anna’s stellar communication, dedication to doing whatever is necessary to get the ideal shot, and warm nature makes it easy to trust her with such an important task, and even easier to have a blast while shooting with her.

    Typical Cost: $3,700

    Follow Anna Kim Photography on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

     

    Preferred Florist: Fukushima Flowers

    The kind, quality florists at Fukushima Flowers are dedicated to crafting arrangements that meet the exact needs of clients, and ensure that the weddings they collaborate on are infused with majestic displays of floral masterpieces. Fukushima is able to offer this remarkable level of service because the owners were born and raised on Maui and have the inside scoop on where to source the best flowers. Once the flowers have been gathered, a great deal of love and care goes into handcrafting each bouquet, ceremony arch, flower crown, lei, boutonnière and reception arrangement. They know their stuff, and they care.

    Typical Cost: $2,000

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    Preferred Caterer: The Mill House

    The skilled cooks at this lauded restaurant, led by award-winning executive chef Taylor Ponte, extend their services to catering, allowing them to work with couples to manifest innovative, sumptuous dishes that significantly enhance the joy and connection of every wedding they serve. A primary factor in their ability to produce phenomenal food is the fact that they source their fare from local farms, ranches, and roasting companies, ensuring that every morsel that touches the plate is of the highest caliber. From pork musubi, Korean Kalbi steak and sliced fish crudo, to hand-cut pasta, taro leaf risotto, and purple sweet potato chips, The Mill House is a foodie’s dream caterer.

    Typical Cost: $20 – $75 per person

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    Kauai

    Known as the “garden isle,” Kauai is one of the most visually stunning Hawaiian islands, as it’s filled with tropical wonders such as Banyan trees, birds-of-paradise, bougainvillea, bromeliads, hibiscus, orchids, plumeria, and a rainbow of other flora. And then there’s the exotic fauna roaming the clear waters. A snorkel off the pristine beaches of Kauai could have you meeting a monk seal, green sea turtle, humpback whale, or manta ray. This thriving, nature-based island makes it an alluring choice for couples wanting to utilize some of the most glorious organic settings in the world.  

     

    Most Popular Venue: Grand Hyatt Resort and Spa

    This is the place to go if you want your wedding to feel as though it was pulled out of one of Hollywood’s greatest romantic features, creating endless “pinch me” moments as you enjoy a ceremony and reception amongst picturesque oceanscapes and elaborate gardens. The palatial Grand Hyatt Resort and Spa can craft a jaw-dropping environ for I do’s on the beach in Keoneloa Bay, replete with a handcrafted alter, or in the fantasy-esque gardens of the Grand Lawn Gazebo, which offers sweeping views of the ocean and resort. From there, your wedding only becomes grander as guests flow to Ilima Terrace where they will delight in the finest cocktails and hors d’oeuvres while meandering past waterfalls, koi ponds, lush garden displays, and of course, ocean vistas. A sit-down meal can then be enjoyed in this tropical haven. Beyond the splendor of your big day, you and your guests will be treated to luxe accommodations and endless opportunities for adventures, such as scuba diving, snorkeling, zip lines and helicopter tours, at this award-winning resort.  

    Typical Cost: $5,000 to $7,500 for ceremony, and $3,500 to $5,000 for reception, not including food and drink

    Capacity: 300

    Bonus: The breeze created by the trade winds in this area help to ensure that your dress doesn’t develop sweat stains as you’re reading your vows.  

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    Most Affordable Venue: Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu Autograph Collection

    It’s pretty surprising to find wedding packages (in Hawaii!) for such affordable rates, especially at a resort offering a luxury experience drenched in tropical vibes. With 25 acres of classic Hawaiian landscaping, a maze of garden pathways, and a sprawling water world of pools, which includes a 6,100 square foot family lagoon pool, 2,000 square foot tranquility pool, and 350,000-gallon main pool, it’s easy to feel like you’ve stumbled upon utopia. Primary event spaces include a grand ballroom that can be cordoned off to create more intimate spaces and two large lawns surrounded by lush flora. Food and drink is provided in-house, but that’s only the beginning of their stellar service, as the resort prides itself on meeting almost any wedding wish you can think of, such as a steel guitar serenade as you walk towards your soon-to-be husband or wife, an orchid-covered bridge serving as your aisle, a ukulele quartet playing your song during the recessional, or a tiki-lit lanai for an epic dance party. Koloa Landing Resort might just be the wedding dreamland you’ve been searching for.  

    Typical Cost: $3,000 to $8,500

    Capacity: 540

    Bonus: The resort’s wedding designer is top-notch when it comes to all things, but especially communication. She’ll have as many video or voice calls with you as it takes to ensure almost everything is taken care of to your liking by the time you reach Kauai.

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    Most Scenic Venue: Na ‘Aina Botanical Gardens & Sculpture Park

    A luminous koi pond reflecting water lilies and native moorhens, a seemingly endless mosaic of gardens, featuring a winding maze, a private beach looking out onto the untamable power of the ocean, a Wild Forest overflowing with a kaleidoscope of unfettered flora and fauna, a Japanese tea house emanating whimsy and romance… all of this and more awaits at the otherworldly Na ‘Aina Botanical Gardens & Sculpture Park, making it one of the magical locations in the world to make the ultimate commitment of love. Spilling out over 240 acres, the astounding breadth of these world-renowned gardens allows couples to create the illusion that they, and their most beloved friends and family, have stumbled upon a secret oasis in the tropics. If you have a deep affinity for nature and want a plethora of event space options, you’ll likely find this wonderland to be just as dreamy as we do.

    Typical Cost: $4,500 to $7,500

    Capacity: 150

    Bonus: As these gardens are run by a non-profit organization, your rental fees will support their invaluable sustainability and conversation initiatives.

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    Preferred Photographer: Lauren Dixon Photography

    Lauren is a lovely combination of being an artistic, free-spirit, who also possesses an admirable dedication to craft and reliability. One of the first elements that stand out when observing Lauren’s work is the light; she has an uncanny gift for framing a shot in such a way that the bride glows, the kiss is accented by a halo of light, and the twinkle lights cast a dramatic pattern on the joyful faces below. In addition, her work doesn’t feel staged, instead of giving the sense that she was an invisible presence able to capture a couple’s most romantic moments, the nostalgia-fueled emotions family members express when they think no one is watching, and the untamed revelry of the guests. If you want photos that go beyond the surface of your celebration and encapsulate the deeper emotions of the day, give Lauren Dixon a call.

    Typical Cost: $2,000 to $2,999

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    Preferred Florist: Passion Roots

    When observing the arrangements of Passion Roots, you get the sense that each flower and piece of greenery was handpicked and carefully placed. This sense is accurate, as attention to quality and detail is one of the biggest priorities for this favored florist, second only to ensuring the arrangements meet the exact specifications of the couple. They’re able to accomplish this heightened level of service by spending ample time talking to clients about their vision for the wedding events, and brainstorming various ideas if the couple doesn’t yet know what they want. In addition, they’re like magicians who can conjure flowers so uncommon and spellbinding you almost wonder if they were sourced from another planet. Many couples report that the final products were even more spectacular than they had imagined, which is saying a lot, as many brides have incredibly detailed preferences and high expectations. For a master curator of all things floral, consider Passion Roots.

    Typical Cost: $5,000

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    Preferred Caterer: Contemporary Flavors Catering

    The go-to caterer for Pacific Rim and cross-current Asian cuisine, Contemporary Flavors Catering allows couples to treat their guests to an edible exploration of Hawaii’s culinary culture with specialty items like poke, Kalua pig, sushi, fresh ceviche, and many other local favorites. But Contemporary Flavors Catering goes beyond expected dishes, offering unique and mouth-wateringly delicious twists on comfort food like pot pies, quesadillas, and fried chicken. In addition to pouring amble care into the taste of their food, they also have a keen eye for aesthetic, creating visually appealing dishes that effortlessly enhance the ambiance of the celebration. Throughout the 20 plus years Contemporary Flavors Catering has been in business they’ve won numerous awards, making them an easy choice for Kauai weddings.

    Typical Cost: $74 – $180 per person

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    Bailey Gaddis is the author of Feng Shui Mommy: Creating Balance and Harmony for Blissful Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Motherhood, a childbirth preparation educator, birth doula, and hypnotherapist who works with mothers-to-be, new mothers, and their support teams. She is also a regular contributor to media outlets including Disney’s Babble, Working Mother, Pregnancy & Newborn, Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, Redbook, and Woman’s Day. In addition to her childbirth-prep work, she volunteers for families in need of postpartum support. She lives in Ojai, California.

    You can find Bailey on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

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