2570 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815


Planning a Destination Wedding in Hawaii - 5 Pro Tips

Written by: Jenni Liu, Sales & Events Coordinator

Wedding season is in full swing here, and we couldn’t be more excited and busy. Here at Tiki’s, we love love! We also love seeing more and more destination couples coming with their friends and family all the way to our little islands in the Pacific to celebrate their most memorable day. Hawaii sees about 20,000 weddings a year, so if you’re considering making the trip to the land of Aloha, just know you’re in good company! But where to start? Here are 5 Pro Tips for planning a wedding in Hawaii that will make your experience as stress-free as possible--well, the wedding planning part, at least. When it comes to the tough job of deciding between shave ice flavors or picking a poke spot, you’re on your own.

1. Pick an island, any island!


So you want to get married in Hawaii? Great! So, which island? The 50th state is actually made up of an island chain of over 100 islands; out of the 8 main islands, 7 are inhabited. But which one is right for you?

Oahu and Maui are the most populated of the islands, and may offer more in the way of venue options. These islands are great for those who have never been to Hawaii before, or who have many guests coming who will need to entertained. Oahu in particular is very tourist-friendly, with a lot of attractions that range from historical to adventurous; famous Waikiki Beach (where Tiki’s is located) on the South side of the island offers the most choices for hotels and accommodations.

Hawaii island (“Big Island”), Kauai, and Lanai are more remote and less populated. These islands are laid-back, and may be more conducive to an intimate celebration with fewer guests, or for people who do not like a lot of stimulus or city attractions.

2. From the mountains to the ocean...


Each island’s lush landscape offers different backdrops for your event, but let’s focus on our island of Oahu here. There are a number of options for a wedding venue on this island, and choices can range from a traditional church ceremony to a toes-in-the-sand beach experience, private estate, hotel, or anything in between.

Figure out what would be best for you and your guests. If all your attendees are staying in Waikiki, then it would make more sense to have your wedding on that side of the island at one of the many restaurants or hotels. If your friends and family are renting vacation homes on the Windward side of Oahu, or if you want the experience of hiring a charter bus or private trolley to take your guests across the island, consider a private estate. Keep in mind that the weather and seasons in Hawaii may be different from where you live, and to factor in the hot Hawaiian sun and unpredictable rain when booking an outdoor space. And when booking the venue, consider that maybe your 85-year-old Nana wouldn’t do well at a sunny, sandy beach, or that your cousin’s five kids might not sit still in a church. And speaking of your guests...

3. Who’s coming?


Trust us, EVERYONE wants to come to your wedding in Hawaii: instant vacation! At least, everyone will say that they want to come to your wedding in Hawaii. But who is actually making the trip out here?

A well-known saying is “Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched”; a lesser-known destination wedding saying is: “Don’t count your wedding guests before the plane ticket is booked” (although it does help to take an informal poll after sending out the invites). Make sure you know your venue’s minimums, maximums, and deadlines for final counts before booking so that you give yourself enough wiggle room for any changes, and know that sometimes the RSVP deadline will bring about a massive increase rather than a decrease from the original estimated count.

4. Say “I Do” to a coordinator


Think of a good coordinator as your wedding coach, and their job is to get you to the finish line, help you win the game, score the goal, and any other sports metaphor you can think of. A coordinator can help you turn your #Goals into reality, and help you avoid any #PinterestFails (and, let’s be honest, you really do not want to be glue-gunning seashells onto vases the night before your wedding, or asking your closest friends and family to tie 150 bows on 150 chair covers in the hot sun before your ceremony. Hire. A. Professional!).

A good coordinator knows the lay of the land, the best local spots for that time of year, the best vendors (and the ones who may not be the right fit for you). They can even help you plan the other wedding-related events such as the rehearsal dinner, welcome party, or post-wedding brunch. Even if your dream wedding day is low-key and intimate, wouldn’t you want an actual unicorn-fairy-genie on your side? While there are a number of variations and nuances among all coordinators and companies, depending on your needs, there’s a coordinator out there for you.

5. Don’t forget to E.N.J.O.Y.


E - Enjoy this time with friends and family in our beautiful islands. If it’s feasible, take time to schedule informal and planned activities with your loved ones such as a beach day, luau, or one of the other awesome island excursions Hawaii has to offer.

N - Notify your guests of all details with a wedding website. Many of your guests may not have traveled to Hawaii before, and even if they have, they’ll definitely want to know what the scoop is and what you’ll be doing while you’re here! Avoid a million text messages and put your plans on a wedding website. This could include the formal group events such as the rehearsal dinner or welcome party, the address and directions to the wedding venue (very important if you’ve never been here before and can’t pronounce the street names!), and also ideas for leisure activities and recommended dining spots for guests to enjoy on their own.

J - Jump at the chance to get package deals. Whether it’s your hotel, coordinator, venue, or even an attraction and activities site, there are some great bundle packages out there that will not only save you time and money but also make your experience easier. While you may want to customize every detail of your event and, it’s going to save you a lot of work and planning from afar to go with a special deal or offer.

O - Organize your details in a binder or notebook, and make sure you keep track of important dates such as hotel and venue deadlines. Unlike normal weddings, a destination wedding also has the added element of traveling, which could fill a whole other blog post! If you stay organized with your travel plans, it will make the wedding planning go a lot smoother.

Y - You don’t have to do everything. Whether it’s your coordinator (see: fairy godmother), maid of honor, best man, parents, or other friends and family, just know that you have support and don’t need to go it alone! Event planning is known to be stressful, and your wedding is supposed to be magical! So how do you reconcile those things? By taking a deep breath, asking for help, and knowing that at the end of the day, you’re going to have memories that will last a lifetime.

While every wedding is different, especially each destination wedding, the framework is the same. Once you consider these Top 5 Tips, the rest of the details can fall into place. We wish you a fun and fruitful summer, and look forward to giving you more great insights in the next post! Aloha, and Happy Planning from Tiki’s Events!