Guide to a Beach Wedding in Hawaii
White, sandy beaches and clear blue waves are undoubtedly what many fantasize about when it comes to Hawaii - you're not alone in wanting to have your dream wedding on a beach there. One big perk you get from tying the knot on a beach in Hawaii instead of at a hotel or events venue is that you can also save a lot of money as it requires only a permit with a nominal fee starting at $20 USD.
Below we've outlined the steps necessary to plan and get going on having your dream beach wedding in Hawaii.
Step 1: Decide on which island you want to get married on
The first and foremost question is based on geography. Hawaii is made up of 7 major islands, with each having its distinct personality and logistical challenges. Therefore, it is important that this question is answered first, because if you change the island you decide to marry on, many other factors like choosing an officiant or a photographer, will also need to change.
Don't worry - each Hawaiian island has many, many beaches and you won't be limiting yourself in terms of beach choices by committing to a single island. If you really can't decide on one Hawaiian island, perhaps you can make a Plan A and Plan B, each with their respective logistical and other plans.
For more advice on how to pick an island for your Hawaiian wedding, see our guide "Which Hawaii Island Should I Get Married On?"
Step 2: Decide on a beach to get married on
Once you've decided which Hawaiian island to get married on, you've successfully narrowed down your choices and can get started on the next steps of your wedding plan. When going through this step, you should consider a variety of factors:
Of course, almost all beaches in Hawaii are beautiful and you can't go wrong here. But perhaps you think that black lava is particularly beautiful in contrast with the blue ocean. Or maybe you think that a lush green rain forest backdrop would be mindbogglingly gorgeous. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so don't hesitate to look around, either on Pinterest of Google images for a beach that really speaks to you and your ideal backdrop.
How will the beach look in photos?
If you care a lot about the photography and how your photos will turn out, consider the photography angles and lighting conditions. Some beaches may look beautiful in person, but not necessarily in photography. For example, if the beach you choose has a very large sand area, from a photography perspective this could mean your photos appear washed out and not as interesting as a beach with rocks or lots of trees in the background for some interesting dynamic and contrast. We recommend discussing specific beach locations with your Hawaii wedding photographer, as they would know best depending on your own style and time of day, etc. Or, you could even suggest having your wedding photoshoot take place at multiple beaches so you can incorporate as many varieties as possible!
How far is it from where I need to be before and after?
If you are going through with a full make-up service and wear your dress prior to the beach wedding ceremony, you will want to choose a beach that does not require a 10 mile hike! Similarly, if you have a reception or dinner scheduled right after, you may want to pick a beach that is relatively close to your reception venue. If you haven't picked your wedding reception venue yet, you may want to pick a beach close to a relatively large commercial area so that you have more options when it comes time to choose one. Also keep in mind rush hour traffic if you choose a beach near high-traffic areas (e.g.: Waikiki beach) as your wedding venue.
Will it be crowded?
Because all beaches in Hawaii are considered public parks, you cannot reserve a space on a beach and prevent other beach visitors from hanging out. This is where it might be wise to scope out the beach you're deciding to get married on beforehand. We suggest visiting around the same day of the week and time of day as your wedding date/time to get as accurate of an idea as possible on how crowded it would be. It's also a good idea to avoid holiday season if you want to preserve as much intimacy and privacy as possible.
Step 3: Look for a wedding officiant
Once you have a beach picked out, start looking for a wedding officiant who is willing to travel to the beach you have chosen.
For more details on how to find a wedding officiant, please see Step 2 of our legal guide to getting married in Hawaii here.
When choosing your Hawaii wedding officiant, you should ask if they have a wedding permit and insurance that covers all beach weddings. Chances are, if they officiate weddings often enough, your wedding officiant will already have an insurance policy and permit that will apply for your wedding, and having them officiate your Hawaii beach wedding will save you time and money to skip the steps of securing the beach permit/insurance (see below).
Step 4: Secure a wedding permit and insurance, if necessary
Even though a beach is not a private venue, the government requires you to purchase a permit and insurance to approve use of the space. This is to ensure that if anything happens (injuries, etc) the government is not liable for any damages. Read more here on the process from our guide on how to get married on a beach in Hawaii.
And that's it! Easy enough, right? Not to mention, all that extra cash you get to save from having your wedding on a beach can go a long way in allowing you more budget for a fancy honeymoon on either the same Hawaiian island or another one (or two, or three islands!).