Maui Romance

Planning a Destination Wedding in Hawaiian Paradise
By: Kristen Castillo

There’s something about the Hawaiian Islands that’s intriguing. Maybe it’s the sunsets, the friendly people or the laid back vibe. Anyway you look at it, Hawaii has a lot to offer tourists and locals. That’s why a destination wedding on Maui is so appealing to so many couples.

Say Aloha to a Maui Wedding

Carrie Chan and Brian Sinnott who live in San Diego’s Little Italy tied the knot at a private estate on Makena, Maui, Hawaii on Earth Day April 22, 2008. They knew the Hawaiian island was the right place for their destination wedding.

“We chose to get married in Maui because it was the most beautiful, romantic place imaginable and absolutely perfect for a beach wedding,” explains Chan. “Both of us wanted to get married on the beach and could not have picked a better place.”

It didn’t take much to sell the couple on Maui’s charm. The bride loves the beaches and the groom loves the food. “There are so many different types of food to eat in Hawaii,” says Chan. “The fresh produce, especially tomatoes, pineapple, and mango are like no where else. The fish in Hawaii is phenomenal. He loves the Kona Kampachi and the ono.”

Following the wedding, the couple enjoyed a Hawaiian honeymoon too spending time on Maui, Lanai and the Big Island. “We loved that there were so many activities from snorkeling, to kayaking or just laying out on the beach,” says Chan. “It was relaxing and we truly had a fantastic honeymoon.”

Marvelous Maui

Maui is 48 miles long and 26 miles across, making it the second largest Hawaiian island (the Big Island is the largest). It has beaches, tropical rainforests, cliffs and more geological diversity.

“Like the other Hawaiian islands, Maui is a microcosm of the world’s climates and terrains,” says Sandi Yara of the Maui Visitors Bureau. “Less than 25 percent of Maui’s 729 square miles is inhabited, and because much of the terrain is rugged and remote, it remains pristine.”

Aside from its natural beauty, visitors enjoy world-class golf and spa treatments. “The pace of life perfect on Maui ,” says Yara, “Slower than Oahu, but faster than Kauai and the Big Island…the overall feel of the island ranges from casual and laid-back to upscale and dreamy.”

The Maui Bridal Experience

Diane Paralusz and Richard Montgomery of Manhattan Beach married in an intimate morning ceremony on October 24, 2008 at Maui’s Makena Cove, a place the bride calls “stunning.”

“I’ve been to Maui several times,” she says. “Each time I visit I fall in love with it all over again, especially South Maui. The relaxing vibe of Maui entices me to keep coming back. The beaches are stunning with the contrast of turquoise water against the black lava rock and white sand.” Paralusz and Montgomery also honeymooned on Maui to spend time with their families and explore the island on their own.

“Maui has so much to offer because it’s so diverse,” says Paralusz who says she loves the smell of fresh flowers on Maui and the laid back way of life. “You can go to the beach, snorkel, drive the road to Hana, hike, enjoy a glass of wine at one of the vineyards, shop in Lahaina and Wailea.”


There are many choices of resorts and hotels on Maui including The Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui, which means “Heavenly White.” The hotel, located along Polo Beach on 22 acres of tropical landscape, is the only all-suite hotel in Hawaii, offering 413 one-bedroom suites and 37 two and three bedroom villas.

Each year, The Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui hosts between 75 and 100 weddings where the guest list ranges from 20 to 100 people, says Wendy Harvey, the hotel’s director of public relations.

Generally wedding ceremonies start about two hours before sunset for ideal photo opportunities. There are three ceremony sites to consider including the most popular choice Pacific Terrace, “described as a balcony overlooking the wide expanse of the Pacific Ocean and gentle breezes for that awe-inspiring ‘wow’ that is not matched anywhere else,” says Harvey.

Island traditions can easily be incorporated into a destination wedding ceremony. The groom can arrive at the ceremony via canoe, with a conch shell blower announcing his arrival on shore. A Tahitian drummer and Tiki Torch maiden then escort the groom up to Pacific Terrace.

Another tradition to consider is a Hawaiian lei exchange between the bride and groom. “The officiant explains the significance of the lei and what it represents,” says Harvey. “For those that may have lost loved ones which have importance in their life, we also discuss a lei toss into the Pacific Ocean when the bride and groom venture onto the beach for their beach and sunset photos.”

A ceremony at The Fairmont Kea Lani also includes a female hula dancer and Hawaiian musician who perform for the bride and groom following the exchange of rings. “The bride and groom can create their wedding to be traditionally elegant, contemporary or with Hawaiian flare,” says Harvey noting how each wedding is “tailored specifically” to the bride and groom.


Maui is full of adventure and activity like hiking, whale watching and horseback riding. There are 80 beaches on the island where you can relax and check out the various sand colors of red, black, gold and pure white.

The island is also big on culture. “Maui has more than 40 galleries carrying both the best of well known local artists, and internationally acclaimed masters such as Dali, Erte and Gorman,” says the Maui Visitors Bureau’s Yara. “On Friday evenings in Lahaina, art becomes a party. Browsers are encouraged to wander from gallery to gallery. Complimentary food and wine are served. There are art tours that visit the homes of local artists.”

Rent a car and sightsee all over the island. Not only will you enjoy natural beauty, you can check out old plantation towns, museums, and the geysers of Hobbitland. Stop by a flower farm along the Haleakala and Kula Highways and breathe in the smell of fragrant island blooms. Don’t miss the drive on the Hana Highway, the road with 54 bridges in 56 miles!

“Maui’s roads wind along lava shores, through old plantation towns, past miles of beaches and up through towering forests to the top of a volcano,” says Yara. They are well maintained and well marked, making driving a pleasure.” Shop the Lahaina marketplace for scrimshaw, the art developed by the whale men; as well as traditional Hawaiian arts including wood carvings, shells, feather work, and kappa, which is decorated fabric made from tree bark.

“Look for bowls and objects carved in beautiful native woods such as koa, milo and ohia; baskets and hats woven of lauhala; hand painted resort fashions, jewelry; art; and anything with a gecko on it,” says Yara. “The gecko is the latest craze and the chirpy little lizard can be found on everything from t-shirts to 14 karat rings.”

When you get hungry from all the activity, you have about 200 restaurant choices to consider including Japanese, Italian, Chinese and Mexican cuisine. “Even with all the numerous activities, Maui does not feel crowded,” says Harvey. “Maui is known for its laid back attitude with an abundance of Aloha spirit. It is a place that you will want to return time and time again.”

Getting There

In recent months, many airlines have cut service to Hawaii. The Maui Visitors Bureau recommends doing online research before you book your flight. Yara suggests checking out different travel packages and consulting with travel agents who specialize in Hawaiian travel.

“Major airlines like American and Delta continue to have direct flights to Maui and others like United and Continental fly direct to Honolulu and a short 20 minute inter-island flight gets them to Maui,” she says noting that the new Hawaii SuperFerry is a great option for travel between Maui and Oahu.

Planning Tips from Maui Brides

If you’re planning a Maui wedding or honeymoon, take newlyweds’ Chan and Sinott’s advice: “You have to relax and be flexible,” says Chan. “We planned our wedding from 3,000 miles away and everything turned out perfectly! But we were prepared to have some things not go our way, especially the weather. When you aren’t physically there to work with vendors or the wedding coordinator, it makes planning a little more challenging.”

Recent bride Paralusz shares this practical planning insight: “Go and book your plane tickets far in advance! Explore all of the different parts of the island to capture essence of Maui. Each part has so much to offer. You will not be disappointed.”

Maui brides rave about the island and the experience. If you’re considering a destination wedding, don’t forget this tropical retreat.

Maui Planning Resources

The Fairmont Kea Lani Maui’s “Ho’omale” (To marry) Wedding Package

• Personal Wedding Planner
• Choice of a Wedding Location
• White Garden Folding Chairs
• Wedding Ceremony Rehearsal
• Non-Denominational Officiant
• Arrangement of Marriage License Appointment
• Hawaiian Wedding Certificate
• Solo Musician for your Ceremony
• Pair of Personalized Etched Champagne Flutes
• Medium Hand-Tied Bridal Bouquet or Traditional Hawaiian Wedding Lei
• Groom’s Boutonniere or Traditional Hawaiian Wedding Lei
• Two-Tiered Wedding Cake (6”/10”) with Fresh Flowers
• Rose Petal Aisle or Circle of Love
• Hair and Make-up for the Bride at Juvenal & Co. Hair Salon
• 2 Hours Photography Package from our list of preferred photographers to include (24) 4×5 or 4×6 prints and (1) 8×10 portrait with photo album
• Two Nights Accommodations in a luxurious Deluxe Ocean View one-bedroom suite
• Romantic Suite amenity

Price: $6,800.00, plus tax

The Fairmont Kea Lani Maui’s “Hau’oli” (Happiness) Wedding Package

• Personal Wedding Planner
• Choice of a Wedding Location
• Natural Bamboo Chivari Chairs for up to 50 guests
• Wedding Ceremony Rehearsal
• Non-Denominational Officiant
• Arrangement of Marriage License Appointment
• Hawaiian Wedding Certificate
• Musical Trio for your ceremony
• Pair of Personalized Etched Champagne Flutes
• Medium Hand-Tied Bridal Bouquet or Traditional Hawaiian Wedding Lei
• Groom’s Boutonniere or Traditional Hawaiian Wedding Lei
• 8”, 10”, 12” Three-Tiered Wedding Cake with Fresh Flowers
• Rose Petal Aisle or Circle of Love
• Small Hand-Tied Maid of Honor Bouquet or Traditional Hawaiian Lei
• Best Man’s Boutonniere or Traditional Hawaiian Lei
• Hair and Makeup for the Bride and a Guest at Juvenal & Co. Hair Salon
• Two 80-Minute Lomi Lomi Hawaiian Massage
• 3 Hours Photography Package from our list of preferred photographers to include (36) 4×5 or 4×6 prints and (2) 8×10 portrait with photo album
• 3 Hours Videography Package from our list of preferred videographers to include (1) edited DVD with music
• Three Nights Accommodations in a luxurious Deluxe Ocean View one bedroom suite
• Romantic Suite amenity

Price: $13,200.00, plus tax


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