This is the complete guide to eloping in Hawaii!
Whether you are just toying with the idea of eloping in Hawaii, or you’re knee-deep into the planning, this guide will help make the process simple and stress-free!
This gorgeous and unique state is unlike anywhere else. While the state of Hawaii has eight main islands, the four most visited islands are Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island.
The first time that I visited Hawaii, I fell in love within minutes of arriving. The beauty of the islands is absolutely breathtaking, and there’s a peaceful energy here that is unlike anywhere else in the world. With over 50 state and national parks, and over 100 unique beaches, there are so many places to choose from for your elopement or intimate wedding in Hawaii.
If you’re not sure yet if eloping is right for you, check out this blog post.
This guide is broken down into six steps for how to elope in Hawaii:
Choose an island
Narrow down your date
Hire a photographer
Apply for your marriage license and permit
Hire other vendors
Have the best day of your life!
1. Choose an island!
Each of the Hawaiian islands is unique, and I recommend selecting your island as one the first step in planning your elopement or intimate wedding.
If you’re not sure which one to pick, here’s some information about the four main islands. Each of these islands have amazing beaches and epic hikes!
Oahu (aka “The Gathering Place”)
Oahu is the most populated of the Hawaiian islands, with nearly one million residents, and half of the tourists to Hawaii landing on this island during their trips.
The size of Oahu is 597 square miles, with approximately 1,600 people per square mile.
Areas such as Honolulu and Waikiki are very busy with lots of nightlife and shopping, while the windward side and North Shore are much more laid back and less busy areas of the island.
Maui (aka “The Valley Isle”)
Maui is the second largest of the islands (after The Big Island), and it is far less busy than Oahu.
The size of Maui is 727 square miles, with approximately 200 people per square mile.
Maui has much more of a small-town feel to it, and there is a wide variety of landscapes including waterfalls and a mountain that reaches above the clouds.
Kauai (aka “The Garden Isle”)
Kauai is the least developed of the four main Hawaiian islands.
The size of Kauai is 552 square miles, with approximately 130 people per square mile.
This island is very lush, and it can be easier to find a secluded spot here than some of the other islands. One of the rainiest spots in the world is on Kauai (Mount Waialeale).
Hawai’i (aka “The Big Island”)
The Big Island is large enough to fit all of the other Hawaiian islands inside of it!
The size of the Big Island is 4,028 square miles (and continuing to grow due to the active volcano on the island!), with approximately 45 people per square mile.
This island is very diverse, with one of the driest spots in all of Hawaii (Kona) and one of the rainiest (Hilo).
If you’re not quite sure which island is right for you, I can help! I also have another blog post all about choosing which island to elope on, you can check it out here.
There is no shortage of gorgeous locations for your Hawaii elopement! Despite what some may think, Hawaii has so much more than beaches. While there are many amazing beaches throughout the Hawaiian islands, there are also waterfalls, mountains, volcanoes, unique coastlines, forests, and unbelievable views.
If you love hiking, consider a hike for your day! Some of the most amazing views on the islands require a bit of hiking, but I can promise you that the views are worth it.
I provide all of my couples with custom location scouting to help them find the perfect spot for their day, and you can check out some location ideas for your Hawaii elopement or intimate wedding here.
2. Narrow down your date.
This may seem obvious, but the weather in Hawaii is incredible. Even when I’ve stayed in places on the islands with air conditioning, I never use it. The breeze makes most days very comfortable, especially if there’s some shade around. The best part of the weather in Hawaii? No snow! (Well, except occasionally on a few mountain summits on Maui and the Big Island).
While rain is common in certain parts of the islands, it is nothing like rain in other states. The rain is refreshing and still warm! Embracing the weather of the islands is part of visiting this magical place, but if you’re concerned about rain on your day, I can help you select a part of the island that rain is less likely in. The rainiest season is typically November – March. If it does rain, the warm weather and breeze will help dry you off quickly!
The good news for picking a date is that there is truly no bad time to visit Hawaii! As I mentioned, there tends to be more rain on the islands during November – March, but this is also Humpback Whale breeding season, which means you’re likely to see baby whales in the ocean! And July – August is typically the hottest time of the year in Hawaii.
The least expensive times of year to fly to Hawaii are typically April through May, and again in September and October. But this does vary quite a bit. I recommend checking out google flights and signing up for a service like Scott’s Cheap Flights to get alerted to the best flight deals! If you travel often, a travel card like the Capital One Venture Card (my personal favorite!) is amazing for the travel rewards.
For the time of your elopement or intimate wedding, I cannot recommend sunrise enough! It is the least crowded time of day, with slightly cooler and more comfortable weather, and the sun isn’t as intense early in the day (no one wants to get sunburnt on their wedding day!). If getting up early isn’t your thing, you can also plan your elopement or intimate wedding around sunset, but keep in mind that there will be less secluded options at that time of day.
3. Hire a photographer.
When you’re eloping, your photographer may be the only other person besides your partner that is with you all day, so it’s so important to work with a photographer that you connect with and trust.
Many photographers, including myself, provide custom location scouting and planning assistance for your day. And honestly, I’m much more than just a photographer! I’ll start learning about you two and what’s most important for your wedding day from our first conversation. And as we begin dreaming up your day, I’ll spend the time to get to know you both better and help you with finding the perfect location and planning out your dream day.
Whether you need help with location scouting, permit research, timeline and activity suggestions, vendor recommendations, or you just want to talk through an idea – I will be here for you every step of the way.
I also provide all of my couples with an in-depth elopement and intimate wedding planning guide that will help you two determine what’s most important to you on your day and give you ideas and inspiration.
I’ll be your photographer, your guide, your cheerleader, and your friend on the best day of your life!
4. Apply for your marriage license and permit.
The process of getting legally married in Hawaii is relatively simple, and it is open to anyone (not only United States residents). To get started, you fill out a marriage license application here, then both of you will need to meet with a marriage license agent once you’ve arrived on the islands. The total cost is $65.
You will also need an officiant who is registered with the state of Hawaii. While I cannot perform your complete ceremony (as I’ll be busy photographing!), I am legally ordained and can sign your marriage license as an officiant in the state of Hawaii. If you’re wanting to privately exchange vows without an officiant walking you through a formal ceremony, this could be a great option for you as I don’t charge any additional fees for this service. If you’d prefer a more formal ceremony or someone to walk you through your vow exchange, I can recommend some great local officiants. You also don’t need any witnesses to sign your marriage license in Hawaii, which makes the process even easier!
You also have the option of getting legally married at home and then having your elopement or wedding in Hawaii. The date on your marriage license does not determine your anniversary date – you do!
The other consideration is the permit required for your location. The cost varies based on the location you pick, and weddings are not permitted at every spot on the islands. It helps to hire a photographer or planner who is familiar with the area and can help you with all of the permit requirements!
5. Hire other vendors.
Once you have your photographer, date, time, and location selected – it’s time to hire other vendors for your day! As your photographer, I help all of my couples with recommending vendors for their day.
Some vendors to consider hiring for your elopement or intimate wedding are a planner, videographer, florist, officiant, or private chef (many couples prefer a private reception at their Airbnb opposed to a restaurant!)
6. Have the best day of your life!
After all the time you’ve spent planning and preparing for this day, remember to take it all in! Sometimes things don’t go exactly as planned – and that’s okay! What is most important is that you are celebrating your love with your favorite person in the world.
Your wedding day is so much more than a ceremony and photos. It’s an entire experience. From start to finish, spending the day doing exactly what you want to do with the love of your life. No stress, no pressure, no obligations. Just the two of you, celebrating your love. Isn’t that how every wedding day should be?
No matter where or how you choose to elope in Hawaii, I’m here to help guide you through the process. There are endless amounts of epic locations in the Hawaiian islands, and I would love to help you pick the perfect location and find a unique spot for the best day of your life!
Let’s create the wedding day of your dreams!