There are few things as romantic or dreamy as Hawaii Beach Weddings. First, there’s the setting: golden sand, rolling waves, swaying palm trees, and perhaps the vibrant hues of the sunset filling the sky. Then, there’s the relaxed vibe you can only find on a tropical vacation.
No wonder you see so many weddings on the beach in Hawaii. But have you ever thought about what it takes to plan a ceremony like that?
At Hawaii Aloha Travel, we’ve helped many couples plan their destination wedding travel and seen how romance comes to life on the islands.
Today, we’re outlining everything you need to know about Hawaii Beach Weddings – the rules, the romance, and the how-to of planning. So read along and discover the best way to marry in Hawaii.
Before you dive into the depths of wedding planning, you need to know a few key things about Hawaii Beach Weddings. Here is our handy quick-start guide to marrying in the islands:
- Hawaii Beach Weddings aren’t a complete free-for-all. There are lots of restrictions on which beaches you can use, how many guests you can have, and what you can set up.
- Even though you have to get a permit, the state does not limit how many weddings can happen at any one time at one beach, so that’s why you may see a row of multiple ceremonies stretched out across the shoreline at sunset.
- There are anywhere between 1,000 and 2,000 legal weddings each month in Hawaii. That number doesn’t include vow renewals, commitment ceremonies, and couples who signed their marriage licenses in their home state or country.
- If you plan a wedding on a Hawaii beach, you don’t get to reserve a specific spot or request any kind of privacy or space from beachgoers.
- Marrying on a Hawaii beach can be very cheap since you just need to pay for an event permit, not an expensive venue fee.
We hope that gives you a basic primer on Hawaii beach weddings. If you want to dig even deeper, keep reading. We’ll help break down the rules, recommendations, and benefits of marrying on Hawaii’s shoreline.
Why Weddings Are So Popular in Hawaii
Thousands and thousands of couples get married or renew their vows in Hawaii each year. And it’s no wonder why: the soft sand, glistening water, and gentle trade winds beckon romance. Hawaii is a place to fall in love.
But besides the romance, there are many other great reasons for marrying here on the islands.
For starters, it can be remarkably budget-friendly, especially if you opt for a simple beach wedding. You don’t need any big venue rental or elaborate decor. Just step out onto the sand and stand by a palm tree. Easy and affordable.
Many couples begin by planning their honeymoon in Hawaii. Once they encounter the stress and expenses of wedding planning, they decide to get married here too. Hawaii isn’t the cheapest place to travel to, but an elopement or small beach wedding is quite low-cost once you’re here.
Many couples from the U.S. mainland appreciate that you don’t need a passport to get to Hawaii, but it still feels like a true getaway.
Rules for Hawaii Beach Weddings
Almost all of Hawaii’s beaches are free to access and open to the public. But this doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want on them. The state has a set of rules in place that help ensure that the beaches stay enjoyable for everyone.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) patrols beaches to enforce the rules. I’ve seen agents out on the beach checking for permits. When groups show their permit and prove they’re following the rules, the wedding joyfully continues.
If events are busted for having too many guests, no permits, or setting up too much stuff, they are shut down and forced to leave. Now, that’s a way to ruin a wedding day!
While you don’t have to pay a rental fee to marry on Hawaii’s public beaches, you do need to get a permit.
Individuals can apply for the permit, as long as they agree to the rules and have liability insurance. OR, many planners and officiants offer to get a permit for you as part of their services.
The state doesn’t allow weddings at all beaches, and not all permitted beaches work well. That’s why we recommend working with a locally based travel agent or wedding planner to help plan your ceremony.
Restrictions & Limits
When you get a permit for a Hawaii beach wedding, you’re agreeing to a set of rules that are in place to ensure everyone can fully enjoy the beach. Here are some of the most important rules you’ll need to follow:
- A limited number of attendees, including vendors (it’s typically 30, but they sometimes change this)
- No tables, chairs, or arches. It must be a standing ceremony unless anyone physically needs a chair.
- No amplified music
- No alcohol
- No signs
- No reserving a spot or asking anyone to move from their spot on the beach
- Clean absolutely everything up (a given when you’re visiting the beach for any reason)
You can’t set up any tables or chairs for a beach wedding in Hawaii. Your event can also only last 2 hours. So it’s pretty much impossible to have a reception on the beach. If you plan a ceremony on the sand, you can go to a restaurant to celebrate afterward.
Alternatives to Hawaii Beach Weddings
These rules are quite restrictive, but it works out perfectly for most couples who marry in Hawaii for its simplicity and beauty.
If these rules are too restrictive for your wedding vision, you can still get married in Hawaii! You’ll just need to rent a private/dedicated wedding venue. Many of Hawaii’s restaurants, hotels, estates, and farms have wedding packages that allow you to have a full event, complete with chairs, tables, lighting, a large staff, and dedicated parking.
Most of these locations will be on the grass instead of the sand (since most sandy areas are public property), but you can still be near the water. Or, choose a spot in a lush jungle setting to capture another aspect of the islands’ beauty.
Kualoa Ranch on Oahu has multiple options to choose from for your wedding: a sandy shoreline, an ocean overlook, a jungle setting, or a mountain view lawn.
Best Island in Hawaii to Have a Beach Wedding
Everyone has a different vision and priorities for their wedding, but overall, we recommend Maui for beach weddings—specifically, Wailea.
#1 Wedding Area in Hawaii: Wailea, Maui
There are many romantic and upscale resorts in Wailea, which is located in South Maui. There is also a high concentration of permitted wedding beaches. So you can step outside your hotel to marry in the sand, or take a short drive up the road for a more spacious and quiet location.
Other Great Areas for a Beach Wedding
We think Oahu has the best options for off-beach dedicated wedding venues (places where you’ll pay a site fee to wed on private property).
But if you want a beach wedding on Oahu, you’ve got a few great places to choose from. Waikiki may be the first place you think of, which is fine except for the extreme crowds. While a sunset view of Diamond Head is romantic, dozens of families running around you may ruin your vibes.
For something more serene, we recommend driving out to the North Shore, where things are a little more quiet and spacious.
If you’re marrying on Kauai, planning a wedding on one of its east shore beaches (like Anahola Beach) will allow you to get some of that lush Kauai scenery and get you away from the busyness of Poipu. For something closer to Poipu, Shipwreck’s beach is a good choice since its waters are rougher, making it less popular for families.
How to Plan a Hawaii Beach Wedding
So now that you know why to have a Hawaii Beach Wedding (or why not to have one), it’s time to start planning! Here is our quick guide that will walk you through the key steps of planning a Hawaii beach wedding you can fully enjoy.
- Decide on your Island
Once you decide which island you want to marry on, you can begin hiring your vendors. Most professionals only work on one island (or charge a travel fee to other islands), so this is a must-do before you move forward.
Remember, you can island hop and enjoy a honeymoon on a different island, so you don’t have to commit your entire vacation to just one island.
2. Choose your Guest Count
You may have decided to elope to Hawaii without any guests. Or, you may want to bring along some loved ones. Before you commit to a beach wedding, you’ll want to confirm you’ll have less than 30 people total (including vendors).
If you think you may exceed this limit, marrying at a resort or estate will ensure your wedding doesn’t break any state laws.
- Work with Professionals
While you can completely DIY a Hawaii beach wedding, it’s really not a good idea. Local professionals know how to plan and execute your event while making sure it follows the rules and is truly enjoyable – even if you are eloping to Hawaii without any guests.
Here are the vendors you’ll want to hire:
- A photographer (we recommend hiring someone perfect since this will be what you share with your family and friends back home).
- A planner to help with timing and onsite coordination (some photographers can add this on as part of their services)
- An officiant to marry you and make it legal
- A florist for a bouquet and leis (some planners or officiants might add this to their packages)
That’s it – 4 vendors, and you’re ready for your Hawaii beach wedding. Some couples also book videography, a chauffeur, an acoustic musician, or a hair & makeup stylist.
- Plan your Timeline and Details
A coordinator or photographer can help with much of this, but you’ll want to make sure your wedding is well-timed. For example, the sun sets fast in Hawaii, and a poorly timed ceremony could leave you scrambling in the dark.
In addition to your ceremony timeline, you need to make time in your vacation to get your Hawaii marriage license. You can’t bring a license from your home state and get it signed in Hawaii. However, you can have a full courthouse wedding back home and just have the unofficial ceremony here.
Don’t forget to make dinner reservations! Here are some Oahu restaurants with a view that make for a perfect post-wedding dinner.
- Plan your Hawaii Vacation
Your wedding is just part of your Hawaii getaway. You want to look forward to a romantic and relaxing time on the islands. At Hawaii Aloha Travel, we can plan a custom vacation tailored to your wedding.
Whether you’re eloping to Hawaii or need to plan Hawaii group travel, we’ve got a team of experts ready to help check off your Hawaii vacation wish list.
Hawaii Beach Weddings: Perfect for You?
Are you always drawn to the charm and beauty of Hawaii? Do you want to begin a new chapter of your life in one of the world’s most beautiful places?
Weddings and vow renewals in Hawaii are extra special, and our beaches are the perfect place for a simple yet breathtaking ceremony.
Contact Hawaii Aloha Travel today to begin planning your destination wedding to Hawaii.