5 tips for planning a Hawaii destination wedding

Destination weddings continue to grow in popularity every year. One of the most significant benefits is being at your honeymoon destination immediately following the wedding. The biggest challenge in planning a destination wedding is that you have to do it from a distance.

During the pandemic, many couples have been challenged with scaling back their weddings and are deciding to elope or plan an intimate destination wedding instead.

Why Hawaii?

Hawaii is the perfect setting for a destination wedding. With ideal weather year-round, plenty of stunning wedding venues, and beautiful scenery everywhere you look, Hawaii is an obvious choice.

For couples in the United States, Hawaii is a great tropical option because it requires no passports for either you or your guests. Did I even mention the epic wedding photo opportunities?

There is a lot that goes into planning a Hawaii destination wedding. These 5 tips will help you plan the destination wedding or elopement of your dreams.

1. Know your islands

The first step to planning a Hawaii destination wedding is choosing which island to get married on. If you have yet to visit the major Hawaiian islands, it can be challenging to select the perfect location for a wedding or elopement. Here are a few facts about each island to help you get started.

The Big Island of Hawaii (officially Hawaii Island) is known for its diverse climate and active volcano, Kilauea. The Big Island is also a fantastic place for snorkeling and diving. With several beautiful resorts in the dry and sunny Waikoloa area, the Big Island has everything you can ask for in a destination wedding location.

Oahu is the island that most people think of when they think of Hawaii. Known as “The Gathering Place,” Oahu has the state’s largest city, Honolulu, and is home to more than 1 million residents. This island is also the most popular for tourism. If you’re looking to “get away from it, all” Oahu may not be the place for you. However, if you’re looking for vibrant city life, high-end shopping, or hundreds of fantastic restaurants, you can’t go wrong in Oahu.

In contrast with Oahu, Kauai is the place you’ll want to go if you’re going to “get away.” Kauai is the perfect destination wedding location for nature lovers. From epic hikes to kayaking to secret waterfalls, Kauai has something for anyone who enjoys the outdoors. While it lacks the nightlife and shopping of Oahu, it more than makes up for it with breathtaking ridge hikes and epic snorkeling adventures.

You know that I can’t talk about Hawaii destination weddings without bringing up Maui. Maui is the second-largest island in Hawaii and is famous for its fantastic beaches, whale watching, and some of the most amazing sunsets you’ll ever see. It is also world-renowned for romance travel, making the island a top destination for weddings and honeymoons. Maui is the perfect blend of the other islands, with dining and shopping options, but also plenty of outdoor activities.

For even more info on the main islands in Hawaii, check out, “which island in Hawaii is best for honeymoons?

2. Set a budget

The very first thing you should do with any wedding is setting a budget. For Hawaii destination weddings, this is no exception. The best thing to do is sit down with your fiance and discuss how you envision your big day. You’ll also want to consider things like flights and activities on the island before or after the wedding.

In addition to setting an overall budget, it may be helpful to set a budget for the individual components of your weddings. Keep in mind that Hawaii is generally more expensive than most locations in the United States, and that will also apply when it comes to weddings. The average wedding cost in 2018 was $37,827. The good news is that an elopement or intimate wedding in Hawaii can be much less expensive.

3. Plan very, very well in advance

As a courtesy to your guests, you’ll want to plan very well in advance. This will also ensure that you’ll get the best rates instead of scrambling to find flights, venues, or vendors at the last minute.

The best wedding vendors in Hawaii tend to book fast, especially photographers and videographers. I might be biased as someone who photographed weddings for ten years, but I believe that photography is one of the essential parts of your wedding day. It’s best to plan early is to secure the venue, photographer, wedding planner, etc. before they are fully booked.

An intimate Maui destination wedding that I photographed in 2018.

4. Considering hiring a wedding planner

Planning a wedding is a lot of work, and it’s even more work when you’re doing it long distance. If hiring a wedding planner is within your budget, it will take some of the stress out of wedding planning.

If you decide to opt-out of hiring a wedding planner, it can be helpful to hire a “day of” coordinator to help you on your big day. Most venues will also have coordinators, and that often comes as part of the package. However, if you’re choosing a venue without a coordinator, it may be worth hiring someone to help you on the day of the wedding.

5. Work with a Travel Agent

The logistics of getting yourself and your guests to Hawaii can be daunting, especially with the rules of travel constantly changing. Working with a Travel Agent who specializes in Hawaii destination weddings and honeymoons will ensure that the travel process goes smoothly.

For elopements and small, intimate weddings, the right Travel Agent can take on some of the jobs that a coordinator would traditionally do. From recommending venues and vendors to booking guest stays, there’s a lot that a Travel Agent can do that may surprise you.

Travel and entreprenuership writer. || IG: amyfillinger || contact: amy@amyfillinger.com || travel blog: www.amyfillinger.com

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