Thursday, February 19, 2009

Weddings on Kauai

Dream of exchanging vows on a white sand beach, with the golden sun setting over the crystal blue sea, and the palms gently swaying in the distance? You can be like many others before you and get married on Kaua‘i. Though most locals head over the Las Vegas to exchange vows, heaps of mainlanders have made Kaua‘i the wedding destination of choice. Since this is an already paved road, there is a big business set up to help with wedding plans—from coordinators to florists, DJs to luau organizers, folks who will marry you in the sky, underwater, as well as sunrise weddings along the Coconut Coast. Basically anything you can imagine has been done. For a price. Like with any other popular destination wedding locations, when people hear weddings, the dollar signs pop up in their eyes.

For a traditional wedding package, organized through any of the major resorts, expect to pay a lot, but not have to do much work. Each resort has a variety of packages, including intimate affairs of candlelit dinners on the sand to blow out parties for every person you know. The resorts that specialize in weddings are the Waimea Plantation Cottages, Grand Hyatt Resort, Princeville Hotel, Hanalei Bay Resort, Hanalei Colony Resort, Sheraton Kaua‘i, and the Lihu‘e Marriott.

Many of my friends have chosen to stitch together an affair on their own. Unless you are local (or plan to live on the island until your wedding), most people recommend getting a wedding coordinator. The Kaua‘i Visitor’s Bureau (808-245-3971; has a comprehensive listing of wedding service providers both online and in their travel planner. Some coordinators popular with tourists are:

A Vow Exchange: (800-460-3434;

Island Weddings and Blessings: (808-828-1548;

Rainbow Weddings and Celebrations: (808-822-0944; They also perform commitment ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples.

If you choose to skip the whole coordinator thing, you might want to explore the Kaua‘i Wedding Professionals Association ( website for information about locations, caterers, florists, photographers, carriages, tent rentals, etc. The Yellow Pages offers comprehensive listings of wedding services, including the above-mentioned information, officiates, churches, rehearsal dinner locations, musicians, and more. It is important to note that if you want a friend or family member from the mainland to perform your ceremony, you must also hire a locally certified officiate to preside over the event (and make it legal).

So what happens if you arrive here and are swept away by the romance of the isle and decide at the last minute to get hitched? Plan to stay a few extra weeks because Hawai‘i has some strict licensing requirements. Though no blood tests are required, both parties need to be present (with cash in hand and valid ID) before the date of the wedding at the Kaua‘i Governor Liason’s Office (808-274-3100; You must make an appointment (and often they only accept them two weeks prior to the event) with an agent to sign the appropriate papers. Note that licenses only last for 30 days.

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