A Guide to Planning Your Authentic Traditional Hawaiian Wedding

A Guide to Planning Your Authentic Traditional Hawaiian Wedding

In a world where weddings often reflect a blend of cultures, traditions, and personal tastes, an authentic traditional Hawaiian wedding stands out for its profound connection to the rich cultural heritage of the Hawaiian Islands.

This celebration is not just about the union of two hearts but also about honoring the land, its people, and the ancestral traditions that have been passed down through generations.

Planning such a wedding requires sensitivity, respect, and a deep appreciation for the customs that make Hawaiian weddings uniquely beautiful and meaningful.

Understanding Hawaiian Wedding Traditions

Hawaiian wedding traditions are deeply rooted in the natural beauty of the islands and the values of the Hawaiian people.

At the heart of these traditions is the concept of aloha, which encompasses love, peace, compassion, and a mutual respect for all beings.

1. Lei Exchange

A significant ritual in any Hawaiian wedding is the exchange of leis between the bride and groom, symbolizing their commitment to each other.

The lei, often made from native flowers like plumeria or orchids, is a circle of love without end. In some ceremonies, parents also exchange leis with the couple as a symbol of welcome into the family.

2. Kapa Clothing

Traditional attire for the bride might include a holoku, the Hawaiian wedding dress, which is elegant and flows with the island breeze.

The groom may wear white pants and a aloha shirt, or even a malo, a traditional Hawaiian loincloth, for a truly authentic look.

3. The ‘Awa Ceremony

Less known outside Hawaiian culture, the ‘Awa (kava) ceremony involves the couple drinking from a single cup of ‘Awa, symbolizing their unity and the bitterness and sweetness of their future life together.

4. Hawaiian Chants (Oli)

Chants are a powerful part of Hawaiian culture, used to invite the presence of the divine and to honor ancestors.

Having a kahu (priest) or a chanter perform an Oli at your wedding adds a profound spiritual dimension to the ceremony.

Choosing the Right Location

Selecting a venue for your authentic traditional Hawaiian wedding is about more than just finding a beautiful backdrop; it’s about respecting the land (‘aina) and its significance.

Beachfront venues offer stunning vistas and a direct connection to nature, while private estates can provide a more intimate setting.

It’s crucial to avoid areas considered sacred by Native Hawaiians and to choose locations where your celebration will be in harmony with the surroundings.

Engaging with the local community and seeking their blessing can also add to the authenticity and respectfulness of your event.

Selecting Your Vendors

The choice of vendors is pivotal in creating an authentic experience. Opt for caterers who specialize in traditional Hawaiian cuisine, musicians who can bring the soulful sounds of Hawaii to your celebration, and photographers who understand how to capture the essence of a Hawaiian wedding.

Seek out vendors who are Native Hawaiian or who have spent many years living in the islands and understanding its culture.

These individuals often bring authenticity and respect to their work that can significantly enhance your wedding.

Invitations and Decorations

Your invitations are the first glimpse your guests will have into the theme of your wedding.

Opt for designs that incorporate traditional Hawaiian motifs, such as the taro leaf or the hibiscus, and use language that reflects the warmth and welcoming nature of Hawaiian culture.

For decorations, consider using materials that are native to the islands, like bamboo and coconut fibers, and flowers like orchids and bird of paradise.

Integrating these elements can create an atmosphere that is both beautiful and deeply connected to Hawaiian traditions.

Dress Code: Embracing Traditional Attire

Encouraging your guests to embrace traditional Hawaiian attire can add a layer of authenticity and fun to your celebration.

For women, this might mean wearing a muumuu or a sarong, while men can opt for aloha shirts and even malos if they’re feeling adventurous.

The color and pattern of an aloha shirt can signify different meanings, from royal blue representing royalty and governance to bright reds symbolizing the strength and valor of the warrior.

Encouraging your guests to learn about and choose their attire with these meanings in mind can add a deeper level of engagement with the culture.

Planning the Ceremony

The ceremony is the heart of your wedding day, and incorporating traditional Hawaiian elements can make it truly unforgettable.

Choosing a kahu who resonates with your values and understands the depth of the traditions is essential.

One of the most touching moments in a Hawaiian wedding is the blowing of the pu (conch shell), which symbolizes the start of your new life together and calls upon the blessings of the ancestors.

Following this, the couple may be wrapped in a kihei or a tapacloth, symbolizing protection and unity.

Food and Entertainment

No Hawaiian wedding would be complete without traditional foods and entertainment.

Dishes like poi (taro paste), laulau (pork wrapped in taro leaves), and kalua pig (slow-cooked pig) are staples that will delight your guests and provide a true taste of Hawaii.

As for entertainment, live Hawaiian music and hula performances are not just entertainment; they tell the story of the Hawaiian people, their land, and their history.

Engage with a halau hula (hula school) that practices and performs the ancient styles of hula, offering your guests an authentic and moving experience.

Honoring the Land and People

An authentic traditional Hawaiian wedding is not just about the aesthetics; it’s about a deep respect for the land and the people of Hawaii.

This means ensuring that your celebration is environmentally responsible, seeking permission when using specific locations, and understanding the cultural significance of the elements you wish to incorporate into your wedding.

Many Hawaiians will appreciate the effort to learn even a few words in the Hawaiian language or to understand the significance of the traditions you are incorporating.

This effort goes a long way in showing respect and can make your wedding more meaningful for everyone involved.


Planning an authentic traditional Hawaiian wedding is a beautiful declaration of love—not just for your partner but also for the vibrant culture and age-old traditions of Hawaii.

This venture is one of thoughtfulness, respect, and a deep desire to delve into the rich customs that Hawaii offers.

As you set forth on this remarkable journey, bear in mind that the true spirit of a Hawaiian wedding is encapsulated in aloha—embodying warmth, celebration, and a profound respect for all around you.

Armed with this guide, you’re poised to orchestrate a celebration that not only pays homage to your profound love but also reverently acknowledges the rich cultural tapestry of the Hawaiian Islands.

If the dream of a Hawaiian wedding captures your heart, but a journey to the islands isn’t within reach, consider bringing the spirit of Hawaii to you. Aloha Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas offers an enchanting blend of traditional Hawaiian wedding experiences away from the islands.

We invite you to reach out to Aloha Wedding Chapel to discover how we can turn your dream of a Hawaiian-themed wedding into a stunning reality, right in the heart of Las Vegas.

Let’s make your wedding day not just beautiful and authentic but also uniquely memorable.

Cheers to embarking on a journey toward a breathtakingly beautiful, authentic, and memorable Hawaiian Las Vegas wedding chapel experience.


What are the key elements of a traditional Hawaiian wedding ceremony?

A traditional Hawaiian wedding often includes key elements such as the exchange of leis, a ceremony conducted by a Kahu (Hawaiian priest), and Hawaiian language chants called ‘Oli. These elements emphasize the connection to Hawaiian culture and the aloha spirit, making the ceremony heartfelt and meaningful.

How can I incorporate Hawaiian music and dance into my wedding?

Hawaiian music and dance can be integrated into your wedding through live performances of traditional Hawaiian songs and hula dancing. Consider hiring a local Hawaiian band or a hula halau (dance troupe) to perform during the ceremony or reception, providing an authentic and enchanting atmosphere.

What are some traditional Hawaiian foods to include in a wedding menu?

To give your guests a taste of Hawaii, including traditional dishes such as poi (taro paste), laulau (pork wrapped in taro leaves), poke (seasoned raw fish), and haupia (coconut pudding) in your wedding menu. These foods are staples in Hawaiian celebrations and offer a genuine culinary experience.

What should I consider when selecting a venue for a traditional Hawaiian wedding?

When choosing a venue for a traditional Hawaiian wedding, consider locations that highlight Hawaii’s natural beauty, such as beaches, botanical gardens, or cultural sites like historical Hawaiian heiaus (temples). These settings not only provide stunning backdrops but also resonate with the cultural significance essential for an authentic Hawaiian wedding.

Are there specific Hawaiian customs or etiquette I should know for my wedding?

Hawaiian culture values respect and harmony, so it’s important to approach your wedding with sensitivity to local customs and traditions. This includes asking for permission to use certain locations, understanding the significance of sacred sites, and ensuring that your celebration honors the cultural heritage by incorporating authentic practices rather than resorting to commercialized versions.