Maui Beach Weddings
A How To Guide
Being a professional photographer on the island for over 20 years I’ve shot many weddings, mostly back in the 90’s and several for friends since 2000. Lots of people come here to get married because of the simplicity. A couple friends on the beach, a minister and a photographer is really all you need. It wasn’t until I decided to get married myself on the beach did I find out exactly what’s involved.
First off you have to pick your beach. This is because the permit needed to have a Maui beach wedding requires 2 things: 1st – a permit from the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) and 2nd – they require event insurance. I first checked with my insurance agent to see if my home insurance had any kind of event coverage. I actually did – up to $100,000 but the state of Hawaiʻi requires $500,000. After getting a quote of $250 from an on island agent I decided to call DLNR to see what exactly was required from them. My call was eventually routed to Steve Molnen who is in charge of wedding permits at the DLNR offices in Honolulu. He was wonderful and let me know insurance could be found on-line. All permitting is done on-line through e-mails. I found an on-line insurer for $65 which got me $2 million in coverage! I scanned and e-mailed Steve the policy and he sent me a code that would enable me to “pull” the permit. He suggested I wait till the day of the wedding to pull the permit in case of weather or unexpected delays. Once it is issued there is no refund. It cost $20 to use 100 square foot of the beach. He also let me know that the general rule is that the wedding party for a Maui beach wedding should be no more than 25-30 people. Any bigger and you should start looking into a private property situation. He said they have never denied a permit and that over 600 weddings per month are permitted throughout the state. I very much appreciated his help.
Next thing for us was to find a minister. Since both my fiance and I have lived on Maui for over 17 years we put the word out on Facebook that we were looking for someone to marry us. Eventually we found Julia Hill at Hawaiʻi Wedding Company through our long time friend Katie. She was fantastic and helped with our wedding vows and arranging the progression of the ceremony. Julia also shared with us the info on where to apply for a marriage license. The local registrar’s name is Cynthia (808-875-8459) and she had an office in her house in Kihei. We called and made an appointment. She said she was quite busy but was able to schedule us in a couple days, so don’t leave this till the last minute.
We mentioned to Julia that we were thinking of having a butterfly release and she directed us to a company who provides Hawaiian Monarch butterflies for weddings. We were excited to have this as part of our wedding and also to be involved with re-introducing a native species of butterfly to the aina (land).
Next we needed flowers. Our good friend Robert Bendivese of Cloud Flower Protea had us stop by the farm and took us out into the fields to pick flowers. It was amazing to watch him put together a beautiful bouquet in about 1 minute. He had buckets of flowers to choose from and it was wonderful to lay out how our circle of flowers would look like that we planned to have on the beach for our ceremony. Our friends daughters also made us flower leis from their plumeria trees in their back yard!
As I have photographed many Maui beach weddings and have seen some great ceremonies we decided to have one with some Hawaiian as well as native american type elements involved. First off for the ceremony I laid out a circle of flowers on the beach. Next I marked the four directions around the circle , north south east and west, with flowers. Using the circle allowed all our friends to encircle us during the ceremony. Our bridesmaids and groomsmen were couples standing at each of the four directions with us and the minister in the middle of the circle. During the ceremony we went to each directional spot and the couples there shared their hopes and wishes for us with us. We then released the butterflies. They were delivered to us at the beach before the ceremony. They were in individual paper boxes in a cooler. We were instructed to take them out of the cooler a few minutes before releasing them but we forgot. When the boxes where opened they were still cool and did not fly away. This turned out to be a great thing as we were able to get some great photos with them before they flew into a nearby tree. Another thing that made our Maui beach wedding so special to us was that there were two turtles (considered a Hawaiian blessing) in the ocean nearby the entire time.
After our “kiss the bride” moment we invited everyone inside the circle for hugs and congrats. We then waded into the water and out onto some rocks to be photographed with the turtles. A second Hawaiian blessing came in the form of light rain showers after finishing the wedding photos which were shot by our good friend Steven Hodges. Rain is rare for this part of Maui as the Wailea area is a very dry part of the island with an annual rainfall of only 4 inches. It was truly magical!
Because we have many friends in Maui and wished to keep things simple we decided to have our reception poolside at our condo in Wailea. The property at the Wailea Grand Champions Villa was perfect for this and not far from the beach where we planned to have the ceremony. We saved a lot of money shopping at Costco and cooking the food ourselves with the help of friends. We made 3 big pans of chicken and crab enchiladas (our wedding was on May 5th, Cinco De Mayo) and everyone had plenty to eat. It was fun to play around in the pool (especially for the kids) and afterwards our friends daughters did hula dances for us. It was an incredible day we will always remember!
There are many ways to get married on Maui and this is just one of them. We actually saw two other weddings, one at the Four Seasons and one at Mana Kai Resort. They both looked like everyone was having an amazing time! We really enjoyed the way our beach wedding all came together and we did save quite a bit of money. Of course any savings were actually spent on some outstanding meals at places like the 4 Seasons Wailea and activities like a road to Hana tour, which is a Maui must do. However you decide to do a Maui beach wedding there is one thing that’s for sure, Maui is an amazing place to get married!
Aloha Nui Loa