So you’re thinking of eloping in Hawaii! Awesome! Maybe you’re into a beach elopement, a wedding day with a snorkeling adventure, or maybe you’re up for a mountain top ceremony at sunrise. Whatever you’d love, you’ll definitely find a beautiful destination wedding location in the Hawaiian islands! But what is involved in planning your Hawaii elopement, and what do you have to consider beforehand? Read on to learn everything you need to know about how to elope in Hawaii!
A little about Hawaii + Getting There
The US state of Hawaii is made up of eight major islands (and several atolls, islets, and seamounts) across 1,500 miles in the Pacific Ocean. The most well known islands are Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii (or “The Big Island”), with Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, and Niihau being less visited. Each island has its own characteristics and highlights, although all are full of lush green forests, beautiful mountains, and amazing beaches. If you’re visiting from the mainland US, no passport is needed, but travelers from other countries will need a valid passport. The best way to get to the Hawaiian islands is to fly, but flights are easy to find, especially from airports like Los Angeles, Phoenix, Seattle, San Francisco, and many international airports.
Hawaii Marriage License and Laws
Legally eloping in Hawaii is not very hard, but you do need to know how to get a Hawaii marriage license and what the state’s laws are. (If you want a quick overview, watch this video about the process of getting married in Hawaii.) Hawaii does not require US citizenship or a blood test to apply for a license, which makes it easy for couples coming from another country to get married on the islands. Yay! You can start the process by filling out the application for a marriage license online. That way it’s taken care of ahead of time, and you can even pay in advance as well. You and your fiancé will need to present the application and proof of your age (a valid ID or driver’s license if you’re over 18) in person with a marriage license agent in Hawaii. If you’ve been married before, you’ll also need to present proof that the marriage has ended. The cool thing is that you can get the license same-day and even have your wedding the day the license is issued! Just make sure it’s on a weekday (non-holiday) and during business hours and that you have your ceremony within 30 days of the license being issued. You’ll pay a $60 application fee, and a $5 administration fee. Read more about Hawaii marriage license laws and apply for one on the state website.
Disclaimer: This is just my interpretation of the process for getting married in Hawaii. Please consult the state department for official instructions and laws before you begin the elopement process. 🙂
Who Can Marry You in Hawaii?
Hawaii does things a little differently than most other US states when it comes to who can officiate your elopement. Only state-approved “performers” can legally marry you on any of the Hawaiian islands and handle the post-wedding paperwork. This means you can’t bring in a friend or family member to legally officiate your ceremony. You can search by location for a marriage performer in the area of Hawaii you’d like to elope. Once you’ve reserved a performer to officiate your elopement, and have filled out the license paperwork online, you’re ready to get married!
Where to elope in Hawaii + What island should you get married on
You’ve got eight great islands, and so many amazing locations on each, so how do you choose where in Hawaii to have your wedding? Start with which island best suits what you’re looking for. Here’s a little bit about each major island, but check out the Hulaland blog for great information on each island!
Oahu Elopement – Popular island that’s easy to get good flight deals to. Lots of amazing hiking, beautiful beaches, and great food. Highlights: the North Shore + Lanikai Beach
Kauai Elopement – Less developed than other popular islands. Many of the main attractions involve a helicopter ride, boat tour, or major hiking to experience. Highlights: Nā Pali coastline + Waimea Canyon
Hawaii “Big Island” Elopement – Highlights: recently active volcano at Hawai’i Volcano National Park + Punalu’u black sand beach
Lanai Elopement – Peaceful beauty on Hawaii’s smallest inhabited island. Luxury resorts and beautiful nature. Highlights: Spinner dolphins at Hulopo’e Beach + Keahiakawelo (Garden of the Gods)
Molokai Elopement– The least visited island, and probably the most authentically Hawaiian. Expect empty beaches and friendly locals! Highlights: snorkeling/diving at Molokai’s reef + Halawa Valley
Pick a Location for your Hawaii elopement ceremony
Sandy beaches are classic for an elopement ceremony, but Hawaii has so many other amazing outdoor locations to offer. If you love rocks and beaches, consider one of the many oceanside cliffs or lava rock tidal pools. All the of Hawaiian islands have loads of amazing hikes through the tropical forests, many of which end in amazing mountain or coastal views or beautiful waterfalls. You can check out a great list of places to elope on Oahu that aren’t beaches for some inspiration! And I highly recommend hitting up multiple stops for an epic elopement adventure – that way you can take advantage of all the amazing scenery, have a variety of photos from your Hawaii elopement photographer, and just have a really amazing experience. If mobility is an issue for you or your guests, don’t forget that there are plenty of easy to access areas at the beach, overlooks, mountains, and rainforests that don’t compromise in beauty! The same goes for if you want an amazing experience without having to hike a lot on your wedding day. You can also do a helicopter tour, ride a boat, a submarine ride, kayak or stand up paddle board to an island, or any other adventure you can think of. Basically, Hawaii has something for every couple getting married!
What does it cost to elope in Hawaii?
You’re probably wondering, “how expensive is it to elope in Hawaii?” The answer really depends on what level of luxury you want, and other variables like where you’re flying from and if want a posh wedding venue or to elope in the wild nature of the island. I will also note that you can do all inclusive Hawaii elopement packages if that’s something you’re interested in. Just know that you won’t have much say in the planning, which may not be the best option for adventurers who want to make their day super fun and unique.
Traveling to Hawaii in the off season, and flying out of a major airport will help keep your flight costs down. Check out my favorite cheap flight alert service, Dollar Flight Club, to get the best deals! I also recommend staying at an Airbnb accommodation with a kitchen in a smaller town to save on lodging and food costs. (Get $55 off your first Airbnb rental with that link!)
If you’re eloping by yourselves or with just a few guests, it’s easy to keep your Hawaii wedding costs low. Wedding venue prices can be high on the islands, but if you’re reading this you’re probably a non-traditional and adventurous couple who wants to elope somewhere wild anyway. 🙂 There may be a permit fee needed if you want to get married on the beach, so make sure you check out the rules about your ceremony location. You’ll need to hire an officiant to marry you, and of course you’ll need to purchase or rent your wedding clothes (read more on how to pick an awesome (and often inexpensive) adventure wedding dress! You may want to hire a florist in Hawaii to create an awesome bouquet or leis, but you can also buy or make your own from local flowers and greenery at farmers’ markets or even Whole Foods.
An of course I’m going to say spend the majority of your wedding budget on an awesome elopement photographer – but I really do mean it! Make sure your photographer is the right fit for you and is up for whatever adventure your elopement will have. You should totally love your photographer and trust them with documenting your epic elopement. That could be a local person who knows Hawai’i well, or a destination wedding photographer (like me!) who is a pro at scouting wedding locations (read more about the pros and cons of a traveling wedding photographer). Either way, find the perfect elopement photographer for you!
When to Elope in Hawaii
The temperatures in Hawaii are pretty much the same year-round, so you don’t have to worry too much about that. There are rainy seasons and popular tourist seasons to take into account, especially depending on where you want to get married in Hawaii. For time of day, you’ll want to check with your elopement photographer or officiant about when the light is prettiest at your elopement location. Typically the best lighting for amazing photos (and for just a good experience) is around sunrise or sunset. If you’re getting married on the east side of the island, you’ll want to start at sunset. And if you’re on the west side, or have a location that looks west, you’ll want to have your ceremony and photography end at sunset.
How to Plan Your Hawaii Elopement with the Weather
My main advice is simple: bring a rain jacket! Rain showers can pop up quickly on the Hawaiian islands, and can be unpredictable. Sometimes the rain is off and on throughout the day, and sometimes it quickly disappears. So just be prepared with good rain gear and shoes or boots that you can take in the mud. Because it’s usually constantly around 80 degrees in Hawaii, you don’t have to worry too much about bringing a jacket to stay warm (except at high elevations like Mauna Kea).
So that’s just about everything you need to know about planning an elopement in Hawaii! Eloping on one of the Hawaiian islands is guaranteed to be an amazing, beautiful, and adventure-filled experience. If you have more questions, I’d love to answer those for you or update this with more information. Just leave a comment or email me! And if you’re looking for an adventure wedding photographer for your Hawaii elopement, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’d love to help you plan out your unique elopement in Hawaii!
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