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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

By: Dena Roché

Everywhere you go in Hawaii greetings of “Aloha” ring, but in Hawaiian culture Aloha isn’t simply a way of saying hello, it’s a lifestyle that offers wisdom for newly married couples.

Paradise Helicopters

Paradise Helicopters

Cultural Director Lily Dudoit of the Sheraton Kona tells me that Aloha stands for being modest, united in harmony, being pleasant, humble, teachable and patient. Not bad pillars for newlyweds to embrace as they start married life together in paradise.

Hawaii is diverse, and each island offers special experiences for all kinds of couples. If you want to visit all the major islands, allow plenty of time, lest your honeymoon goes from relaxing romance to travel hopping stress.

Relaxed Paradise

Westin Maui Resort & Spa

Westin Maui Resort & Spa

The Westin Maui Resort & Spa Ka’anapali beach – Maui

If you’re looking for romance, and you’d better be on your honeymoon, Maui is your destination. Quiet breezes, beautiful beaches and ocean sunsets define the island that Conde Nast Traveler has called the best in the world over 15 times.

Enjoy this tropical paradise with a suite at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa at Ka’anapali Beach. This lush resort features a white sand beach, five pools, golf and a Heavenly Spa. The property affords views of Lana’I and Moloka’I.

Maui is known for its Road to Hana, a twisty 68-mile stretch featuring 59 bridges, jaw-dropping waterfalls and bamboo forests before arriving at the Seven Sacred Pools in Kipahulu where you can take a relaxing dip.  Another iconic must-do for many is a visit to Haleakala National Park, the world’s largest dormant volcano.  Early risers will love the sunrise from the summit. Adventurous types can partake in zipline courses, horseback rides, or snorkeling or diving at spots throughout the island.  Guests at the Westin can join a catamaran sail directly from the resort’s beach. The trip is a must do during the winter months when it is whale season.  At the nearby Sheraton Maui the daily cliff diving ceremony, which honors the legend of the last chief of Maui, Kahekili, who proved his spiritual strength by leaping from Black Rock into the ocean, is an ideal way to spend a sunset happy hour.  Or for the true romantics, the Westin can arrange a private dining experience in a cabana overlooking the beach.  The four-course meal with champagne and wine paired with a stunning sunset can’t be beat for a honeymoon memory.

Garden Paradise

St. Regis Princeville

St. Regis Princeville

St. Regis Princeville – Kauai

Kauai isn’t called the Garden Isle for nothing.  Mother nature has blessed the oldest Hawaiian island with greenery, tropical foliage, rivers, mountains, waterfalls and the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Waimea Canyon, a 3,000 foot deep canyon that is a must see. A popular activity is to begin a sunrise or sunset bike tour at the rim and glide down 12-miles of winding road.  Since so much of the island’s interior can’t be seen by car, try other methods like a kayak paddle up the Wailua River to see the landscape featured in Raiders of the Lost Ark, or an ATV tour through unspoiled thick vegetation, rugged terrain and breathtaking landscapes.

While the island exudes a decidedly laid-back, hippie vibe in its tiny towns, for your honeymoon it’s time for casual elegance and sophistication at the St. Regis Princeville. On the north side of the island, it’s the ideal place to simply relax and enjoy time together at the 5,000 square foot infinity pool, or the beach fronting Hanalei Bay. The waters are protected by the Anini reef so they’re calm and the snorkeling is amazing.  Stand-up paddle boarding, diving and sailing are also available.  Enjoy a couples Ali-I Lavender Butter Pohaku massage in the Halele’a Spa couples suites.  The treatment uses basalt river stone and a lavender butter made on Maui to melt away knots. After the service relax in the co-ed couple’s lounge before heading to a romantic dinner at Kauai Grill, a Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant that Zagat calls the best dining on the island.

A Whole New World

Sheraton Kona

Sheraton Kona

Sheraton Kona _ The Big Island

The Big Island is all about roots and new beginnings. The youngest of all the islands, it’s known for volcanoes, and the best way to see God shaping the world is from the air on a tour with Paradise Helicopters. The three-hour flight takes you over all five of the island’s volcanoes, affording sights of simmering lava tubes pitching smoke in the sky, calderas, smooth and jagged lava rocks and red hot flowing lava.  From the air you’ll get a true sense of the diversity of this island, which boasts 11 of the world’s 13 climate zones, and see black sand beaches, lush valleys with walls peaking over 2,000 feet, and waterfall after waterfall.

To experience lava rock up close, stay at the Sheraton Kona which sits on 22-acres peppered with black lava rock on historic Keauhou Bay, the birthplace of King Kamehameha III. The recently renovated resort sets itself apart by bringing the Hawaiian culture to its guests. Daily cultural tours provide insight into Hawaiian history, and resort activities ranging from hula lessons to lei making lets travelers interact with the culture. Exclusive to the property is the opportunity to sail the bay on a guided tour in a Kini Kini Sailing Canoe. Book the Kiele Suite featuring an expansive lanai to soak in the swaying palm trees, crashing waves and other-worldly rocks. In the waters directly in front of the property there is a unique opportunity to snorkel at night with Manta Rays. These gentle giants, whose wing span can reach 18-feet, are playful creatures that love to interact with snorkelers.  With no teeth, barbs or stingers there’s nothing to fear when one decides to shimmy up your belly as they make graceful flips in the water.

Coffee lovers might turn their noses up at Starbucks after days waking up to the famous Kona coffee.  Kona’s high elevation, volcanic soil and cloud cover create this unique coffee bean. Most coffee plantations, like Kona Coffee, Greenwell Farms and Living History Farm offer tours.

A Classic

Royal Hawaiian

Royal Hawaiian

The Royal Hawaiian _ Waikiki Beach

With a direct flight from Phoenix to Oahu, starting married life with a stay on the famous Waikiki Beach is easy, and the place to do it is at the Grande Dame of hotels, The Royal Hawaiian. The iconic pink hotel has been the place for luxury since 1927 and makes a great base for lolling on the beach, snorkeling, sailing or climbing Diamondhead.

But first things first; after a long day of flying, refresh at the spa at the Westin Maona Surfrider, the oldest hotel on the beach, and the property that ushered in Hawaii as a tourist mecca.  Relax together in a spa suite enjoying the new lomi lomi facial designed to rehydrate and massage away jet lag.  Cap the day with a romantic cabana dinner back at the Royal Hawaiian’s Azure restaurant, drinking in the sunset while enjoying farm-to-table cuisine, or head to the property’s luau show, the only one featuring this classic Hawaiian entertainment paired with a sit-down dinner.


I Do

Tying the Knot in Hawaii

While Hawaii is a great spot to relax after the hustle of the wedding, it also makes an ideal locale for the wedding itself. A big plus for brides is that there are no legal or language barriers to work through to tie the knot.

For many brides, planning a destination wedding incorporating the local culture into the ceremony is a must. At the Sheraton Kona, couples can add traditions like having the service conducted by a Hawaiian Kuha (minister), a Hawaiian chant to accompany the bride down the aisle, or a Hawaiian blessing during the service.  Weddings are done in the onsite chapel or at many outdoor locations around the property. A popular service at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa is the Hawaiian Ceremony, which features a traditional lei exchange and blowing of conch shells during the ceremony.  Newlyweds also like to do this as a renewal of the vows they just took and a remembrance of their honeymoon.

For couples looking for a more traditional ceremony, the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa’s Ali’I Package offers a private heart-shaped lawn at the pinnacle of the famous Pu‘u Keka‘a cliff (Black Rock) to say I do and serves up the wedding night in the presidential suite.  The Maona Surfrider on Oahu has the only private beachfront in the state of Hawaii that can serve alcohol, making it an ideal locale for ceremony or reception. At the Royal Hawaiian, brides can tie the knot in the Coconut Grove, which was featured in “Mad Men” and then have their reception in the Monarch Room which is known as The Carnegie Hall of the Pacific, having played host to legendary Hawaii entertainers since the 1920s. For the quintessential Hawaiian postcard wedding, the St. Regis Princeville is the only hotel on Kauai that can perform ceremonies at the most prime viewing point overlooking Hanalei Bay.