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The Complete Guide to Elopement Planning in Hawaii

Updated: Jan 5, 2023

Your Hawaii Wedding Planning Checklist

Take a moment to imagine this: standing across from your significant other on a breathtaking Hawaiian beach, looking into their eyes, the sun setting behind the ocean waves, and exchanging your vows. Hawaii is one of the world's most beautiful places to get married — it’s a tropical paradise! If you’d like to ditch the idea of a big expensive wedding and jet set to a stunning island for a Hawaii elopement instead, here’s a quick checklist to get you on the right track:

How to Plan for an Elopement

Planning an elopement is a lot different than planning a traditional wedding. There are a few things you need to do differently, and there are some things that you don't need to do at all. Planning an elopement is not as complicated as it sounds. You just need to make sure you have everything on your checklist and that you follow the timeline so that you can enjoy your special day!

What to Consider When Planning an Elopement

  • What are you looking for in a wedding?

  • How much time do you want to spend planning the event?

  • How many people will be in your wedding?

  • What is your budget?

  • Do you want an intimate ceremony or an extravagant one?

  • Do you want a religious ceremony or a secular ceremony?

  • What is your personal style?

A Detailed Guide to Elopement Planning in Hawaii

  1. Choosing the Right Location For Your Elopement

  2. Book Your Travel Accommodations

  3. Pick a Date & Time

  4. Hire a photographer

  5. Choose an Officiant

  6. Get a Beach Permit

  7. Hire A Florist

  8. Hire A local Musician

  9. Apply for a Marriage License

  10. Other Important Details

What is the Difference Between a Wedding & an Elopement?

There are several differences between a wedding and an elopement. For example, wedding ceremonies tend to take place in a church, while an elopement ceremony can take place anywhere. Another difference is that elopements usually only involve the bride and groom and their closest family members, while weddings are typically more public events.

An elopement may also involve a smaller guest list than a wedding, as it is not necessary for guests to be present in order for the bride and groom to marry.

Finally, when there are children involved, an elopement may be an easier option for parents

Choosing the Right Location For Your Elopement

As a destination wedding photographer and wedding blogger, I am often asked by couples getting married, "What is the best location for an intimate wedding or marriage ceremony?"

Choosing the perfect location for your elopement can be overwhelming. There are many different factors to take into consideration. You want it to be beautiful, yet affordable. You want it to be special, yet private. You want it to be romantic and intimate, yet accommodating for your guests.

Ask your local Hawaii wedding photographer if they have anywhere that they recommend, especially if you're coming out of state.

It is important to note that not all beaches and public areas in Hawaii allow for weddings to take place. A permit will be needed.

You can’t really go wrong when choosing a beach to elope on Maui, but I’m happy to provide recommendations if you contact me!

Book Your Travel Accommodations

The first step toward making your Hawaii elopement happen is booking travel accommodations! One of the hardest parts is choosing the island you’d like to elope on — and where you’ll have your built-in honeymoon! Since I’m a Maui elopement photographer, I naturally recommend Maui because I’ve witnessed the most magical elopements on the island.

While you may know to book your flight, hotel, and excursions — many people tend to forget to book a rental car. Rental cars are necessary when visiting the island because they allow you to explore without limits! Since there’s currently a rental car shortage in Hawaii, you should book a reservation before your trip.

Check out Maui Accomadations Guide, my friends blog for all your accomadation needs on Maui.

Pick A Date & Time

Next, you’ll want to choose a date and time to have your special ceremony.

If you are having guest attend your Hawaii elopement, I recommend booking at least 6 months to a year ahead to give them plenty of time to prepare to come to your special day.

You can’t really go wrong when choosing either sunrise or sunset time, I would recommend staying away from mid-day ceremonies due to the heat and bright sun. You don't want to look sweaty or angry on your special wedding day, trust me!

If you have specific wedding vendors in Hawaii that you would like to work with you might have to work around their specific availabiliy. Hawaii being one of the top destinations for weddings, an excellent wedding vendor can be snached up by brides fast!

Hire A Wedding Photographer

As photographer myself, who specializes in elopements, I highly recommend finding a wedding photographer that has a keen sense of the emotional impact of an elopement and be able to capture those candid moments that will tell your love story.

I actually have another blog post "5 Things To Consider When Choosing An Elopement/Wedding Photographer" To help you choose which photographer is best for you.

Get a Beach Permit

This detail is one that many couples are unaware of when booking their Maui elopement — you need a permit if you’re getting married on the beach! It’s inexpensive to get married on a Maui beach (especially considering the money you’re saving by skipping the large wedding expenses). It costs $20 for 200 square feet and $0.10 per additional square foot. Most of my clients find that 200 sq ft is the perfect space for an elopement. Permits are included in most officiant or photography packages.

Choose an Officiant

When choosing someone to officiate your elopement ceremony in Hawaii, you’ll find that our beautiful state does things a bit differently. In Hawaii, you may only use state-approved performers to legally officiate your wedding. I understand this fact is disappointing if you wanted a family member or close friend to officiate.

Here’s the good news: the officiant will handle all the paperwork! You can find state-approved performers here.

Hawaii Wedding Officiants help couples create a ceremony that reflects their own personality and style. Every couple has to make this important decision as to what kind of ceremony they want. Whether it's religious or not, the officiant is the one who will get the ceremony underway.

The officiant's job is to help you through all of the legal and ceremonial parts of your wedding ceremony. They will be there with you to make sure you've dotted all the "i's" and crossed all the "t's" and that every part of your ceremony is a reflection of what you want on your wedding day.

If you are eloping on Maui here are two of my favorite officiants to work with:

Hire A Local Florist

It is important for an elopement to have a floral arrangement because flowers bring color, life, and energy to a space. They are also symbolic of love, friendship, and happiness.

In Hawaii, for instance, floral arrangements in the form of leis are traditionally worn as a sign of respect to someone else or as an expression of love


Hire A local Musician

A wedding is a day to remember for a lifetime, but your memories will be even more special when it is filled with the soundtrack of your favorite songs. Music can be memorable and set the mood for your wedding. It is a big part of any wedding and should not be overlooked.

The music for your wedding should be something that you are happy with, so it is important to do your research and narrow down your choices to find the best match for you.

The use of a ukulele player is becoming more important to weddings. Professional players are local and experienced, and they will help set the mood for your day. As with any musician, it's important to book a ukulele player who's a good fit for your style, budget and timeline. Speaking of timeline, you'll want to book your ukulele player as soon as possible after you've picked a date so he or she can confirm availability. If you're looking for someone who can travel to your elopement location, keep in mind that not many musicians are willing to do so without an additional fee.

Apply for a Marriage License

Luckily, applying for a marriage license in Hawaii is relatively easy. You’ll just need to fill out an online application, have a valid ID, pay a $65 fee, and present the application to a marriage license agent in Hawaii. If you were married before, you’ll also need to bring documentation to prove that you are no longer married. Hawaii makes it easy — you can get married the same day you get your marriage license!

Other Important Details

After you iron out the other points to make your elopement in Hawaii happen — you’ll need to remember a few more fun details! You should book a Hawaii elopement photographer to capture your special day, determine whether you’d like additional decorations for the ceremony, and make a nice dinner reservation you two lovebirds can enjoy after officially becoming spouses.

I hope to meet you and capture your special Maui elopement — wishing you the best time on our magical island!

Hiring a photographer can be a difficult process but don't worry, come work with us and you will have a professional team to help you along the way. We are an experienced elopement photographer offering our services in Hawaii. We specialize in creating beautiful and natural images of couples on their wedding day.

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