Hawaii Destination Weddings

Traditional Ceremonies

There’s no doubt about it – Hawaii is definitely one of the world's best spots for a destination wedding. Oh, and it’s not bad for a honeymoon either! But did you know that, over the centuries,  Hawaii has developed its own set of unique wedding traditions?

With so many visitors arriving at Hawaii's airports each year to have a destination wedding, these traditions are now being carried on and shared with people of many cultures. Below are some of the most popular wedding traditions people often incorporate into their Hawaiian weddings, regardless of the size, cost, or simplicity of the wedding ceremony.

John Derrick
Published on: 08-20-2020
Published by: John C. Derrick
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Blowing of the Conch Shell

The traditional conch shell can be thought of as the equivalent to a brass instrument (like a trumpet) to the Polynesians. The blowing of the conch shell (pu in Hawaiian) is a fitting way to begin any Hawaiian wedding ceremony. The long, deep call of the pu is believed to summon all elements – air, fire, water, and earth – as witnesses to the ceremony. It signals that something significant is about to occur, and is usually the sign for the bride to start walking down the aisle.

The conch is very loud! Its rich, deep sound can be heard a long way away. One of the best things about it is that it helps people become fully present in the moment, and appreciate the sacredness of the ceremony in which they are participating.

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Hawaiian Music

When it comes to creating a Hawaiian atmosphere at a wedding, it’s hard to go past the richness and ambiance of Hawaiian-style music. The slack key guitar and ukulele are regional instruments that make the music of the Hawaiian islands legendary. Talented musicians such as “Iz” (Israel Kamakawiwo’ole) have made songs such as  “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” very famous. Many musicians at Hawaiian weddings are able and willing to play both Hawaiian songs, as well as Hawaiian versions of your favorite wedding songs.

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Getting “Lei’d”

You’ve probably heard the joke about people getting “lei’d”, right? The meaning in Hawaii is to be presented with a beautiful tropical lei or circle of flowers, which are usually seasonal. Traditionally, women have full and sweet-smelling plumeria or orchid leis, while men have a maile ti-leaf lei, which is made of the green leaves of the sacred maile plant.

At the start of the wedding ceremony, the couple exchange leis – always with a kiss as custom dictates. The leis represent softness, unity, and love. Some leis are a closed circle (like a large necklace), while others are open (in a U shape). Also, some brides choose to wear a haku lei, a beautiful floral headband that Hawaiian hula dancers sometimes wear, also.

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Ti Leaf and Lava Rock Formation

This lovely tradition represents the union of two people and their everlasting commitment to one another. Lava rock is wrapped in a ti leaf and left at the ceremony site as an offering commemorating the union and is believed to strengthen it. 

**Photo Credit: frequencies.ssrc.org

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Circle of Flowers

A circle (or heart-shaped design) of flowers is used to surround the altar or for the couple to stand together as they exchange vows, rings, and leis. This tropical circle symbolizes a ring of love surrounding the couple, 

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Traditional Hawaiian Chanting

Chanting is a traditional form of storytelling in Hawaii. In a wedding, the ceremony may start with the welcoming chant, then a chant as the bride is escorted down the aisle, and a special lei chant during the exchanging of the leis.

**Photo Credit: mauimagazine.net

There are many Hawaiian wedding traditions. In some way, they all incorporate the beauty, flora, elements, and ambiance of the Hawaiian islands to embellish and celebrate a sacred occasion. If you are planning on having a destination wedding in Hawaii, why not use some of them in your ceremony?

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