How to plan a Hawaii elopement - the ultimate guide

Your dream Hawaii elopement – the ultimate planning guide

UPDATED FOR 2024-2025

AT A GLANCE

Best time to elope in Hawaii

For the best weather: March to September

For whale watching: December to April

Can foreigners get legally married?

Yes, it’s very easy for anyone to get married legally in Hawaii.

Cool piece of info

Hawaii is the only U.S. state where you can experience all four of the world’s major climate zones—ranging from Wet Tropical to Polar Tundra—due to the diverse elevations and environments found across its islands.

Embark on a journey to the heart of paradise with your dream Hawaii elopement, where the whispers of the ocean meet the embrace of lush landscapes and volcanic majesty. Hawaii offers a mesmerizing backdrop for couples seeking an intimate union, wrapped in the warmth of aloha spirit and breathtaking natural wonders. From the serene beaches with their golden sunsets to the mystical heights of its active volcanoes, planning your Hawaii elopement is an invitation to experience love in its purest form, against the canvas of one of the most enchanting destinations on earth. Let this guide be your compass to a celebration as boundless and vibrant as the islands themselves.

How to elope in Hawaii – a quick checklist

  1. Choose the best time of the year to elope
  2. Choose your elopement location
  3. Choose the duration of your stay (I recommend anywhere between 7 to 15 days to fully discover the islands)
  4. Book your flights
  5. Book your accommodation
  6. Book your activities
  7. Get your wedding license
  8. Need help? Check out my Hawaii elopement packages

Let’s dive in…

How to plan an elopement in Hawaii

How to elope in Hawaii legally

You have two options when it comes to your Hawaii elopement:

01. Make your elopement the legal day of your marriage. This is very easy to do since Hawaii has a very simplified process for a marriage license, even for foreigners. First, you’ll need to apply online on the EMRS website, and pay the $65 fee. Then, you’ll need to find an official performer, approved by the State of Hawaii. The comprehensive list can be found here. This celebrant will be the one issuing the official marriage license to you, and you can then have your license with you for your ceremony to be legal.

02. Make your elopement a symbolic day and get legally married in your state or country of origin beforehand. This is another option if you don’t want or can’t get officially married in Hawaii. You can check your government’s website for marriage regulations and get legally married in your town, then have a symbolic elopement in a beautiful place in Hawaii, stress and legal-stuff free!

Can foreigners elope in Hawaii?

Yes! Wherever you come from, and whatever your gender, religion or sexual orientation is, you can get legally married in Hawaii!

Top 5 spots to elope in Hawaii

how to plan an elopement on the na pali coast in hawaii

The Na Pali coast by boat

This beautiful mountain range merges into the sea, with dramatic drops and a breathtaking forest landscape. The NaPali Coast is best discovered by boat or helicopter, since there are very few hiking spots and it is very high, plus it’s illegal to get married on the land or to take wedding photos. But it’s great location for afterwards!

Kokee State Park

With beautiful vistas and deep forests, this state park is a beautiful place for your Hawaii elopement! You can exchange your vows at sunset overlooking some beautiful landscapes, after an easy hike to a viewpoint of your choice. For your ceremony, a permit is required and you won’t be allowed to take photos everywhere in the park.

how to plan an elopement in hawaii - kokee state park
elopement in hawaii - waimea canyon during spring

Waimea Canyon State Park

This is my favorite place in Hawaii for elopements. If dramatic landscapes are your thing, the Waimea Canyon is an absolute dream come true for exchanging your vows! Right now, the regulations don’t allow for any kind of wedding or photoshoots in the park, but it might change in the future!

Mahaulepu Beach

With limited access, this beach is best visited by horse. However, it is worth the hassle, because you won’t encounter many people there. You will be able to enjoy some dramatic, beautiful landscapes. The ride to go there itself is worth the detour. You will need a Wiki Permit to have your ceremony there.

elopement on mahaulepu beach in hawaii
where to elope in hawaii - hawaii volcanoes national park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

A must-see during your visit to Hawaii, this state park requires a permit but it is definitely worth the hassle! You can exchange your vows at sunset, overlooking a bright red lava fall, for example! You will need a National Park permit to have your ceremony there, and it will be limited to specific spots in the National Park.

Did you know?

There is so much more to Hawaii than its pristine beaches. When you decide to plan your elopement with me, I will curate a personalized list of 4 to 5 extraordinary off-the-beaten-path locations that align perfectly with your preferences. Let me guide you to the hidden treasures of Hawaii, far from the usual tourist spots.

When to elope in Hawaii

When to plan your Hawaii elopement

WINTER

Hawaii’s winter is much warmer than the other states (or pretty much any other country actually). In January, the average temperature is 18°C (66°F), which is really nice when it’s pretty cold at home. It will rain more in the winter, but the rain tends to fall during the night in Hawaii. This is great because it doesn’t interfere with your day plans.


If you have the soul of a surfer, Hawaii’s biggest waves also come in the winter. Therefore, if you’re looking to catch some giant waves, be sure to visit during winter and head to the North Shores of Oahu!

SPRING

When spring comes, the rainy days of winter are just a distant memory. The weather is warm and nice, and the crowds of tourists haven’t arrived. The prices for flights and accommodations are also on the lower side.


May has been the preferred month for weddings in Hawaii. You will
enjoy nice weather, less rain, no crowds, amazing hiking opportunities
and less expensive accommodations and flights.

SUMMER

Summer is the peak tourist season. Therefore, prices are high and it is crowded everywhere. However, if you follow my tips to avoid Oahu and preferably travel to the other islands, you will definitely enjoy some quieter areas to exchange your vows. Summer is hurricane season in Hawaii, even if storms are very rare. The Big Island and Kauai are the least visited islands, so if you want to avoid people, be sure to check them out first!

Summer is also the best time for diving and snorkeling. You will be able to discover many different fish species, while enjoying calmer, nicer water without the big winter waves.

FALL

November is the best month (as well as April) to visit Hawaii. The
tourists are gone and you will still have very nice weather and beautiful views. Early fall is the best time to be hitting the trails, if hiking in Hawaii is your favorite elopement experience.

Unique Things to Do When You Elope in Hawaii

Hawaii offers a wealth of adventurous and outdoorsy activities that provide unforgettable experiences beyond the typical tourist attractions. These activities offer a blend of adventure, natural beauty, and unique experiences that will make your trip to Hawaii truly unforgettable. Plus, they provide opportunities to connect with the islands in a deeper and more adventurous way.Here are five incredible activities to consider for your Hawaiian elopement:

What to do on your Hawaii elopement - Molokini crater snorkel

Snorkel in Molokini Crater (Maui)

Explore the crystal-clear waters of Molokini Crater, a submerged volcanic crater just off the coast of Maui. Snorkeling here offers a chance to witness vibrant coral reefs and a diverse marine ecosystem. It’s a unique and less crowded way to appreciate Hawaii’s underwater beauty.

Hike to Waipio Valley (Big Island)

Embark on a challenging hike into the lush Waipio Valley on the Big Island. This remote valley features towering waterfalls, black sand beaches, and dramatic cliffs. The journey to the valley floor offers breathtaking vistas and a glimpse into Hawaii’s wild side.

What to do on your Hawaii elopement - hike Waipio valley
What to do on your Hawaii elopement - helicopter

Backcountry Helicopter Tour (Kauai)

Discover the hidden landscapes of Kauai with a backcountry helicopter tour. Unlike standard helicopter tours, this adventure takes you deep into remote valleys and canyons that are inaccessible by foot. Witness cascading waterfalls, rugged cliffs, and the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” from a unique perspective.

Kayak to the Mokulua Islands (Oahu)

Escape the crowds and paddle to the Mokulua Islands off the coast of Oahu. These twin islands are known for their pristine beaches and abundant wildlife. Kayaking allows you to explore secluded coves, spot seabirds, and enjoy a tranquil day in nature.

What to do on your Hawaii elopement - mokulua islands kayak
What to do on your Hawaii elopement - manta ray snorkel

Nighttime Manta Ray Snorkel (Big Island)

Experience a thrilling and otherworldly adventure by joining a nighttime manta ray snorkel on the Big Island. You’ll snorkel near the surface with manta rays as they feed on plankton, illuminated by underwater lights. It’s a surreal and enchanting encounter with these gentle giants.

What to wear for your elopement in Hawaii

What to wear for your Hawaii elopement

Even if elopements are generally considered to be laid-back and casual, this is not necessarily the case. Elopements can also be luxurious, delicate affairs and will require some special adjustments. Feeling beautiful while exchanging your vows and wearing something truly special for this moment might be something you truly care about. This section will cover everything you need to know when it comes to what to wear for your elopement in Hawaii.

The Dress

Don’t forget about the weather! Hawaii is a very warm place and wearing a warm, heavy dress is not an option for your elopement.
When you choose your dress, try to go for a flowy, layered dress that will flow with the wind. It will also dry easily if you get it wet. Don’t forget you will also walk a lot in your dress, so make sure it is comfortable when you are putting it on for the first time. A beautiful dress will look awesome for pictures and will enhance the way you will feel on this special day!

The Shoes

You should try to avoid heels and shoes you will not feel comfortable walking long distances in. Adventure elopements are about finding that beautiful, personalized place just for you. However, it might include some short hikes to get there. You will definitely love a good pair of leather hiking boots that will pair nicely with your wedding attire. It will add a touch of radness and adventure to your elopement pictures!

The Suit

You should definitely avoid a three-piece tuxedo, you will be very uncomfortable in because of the warmth. You can be elegant, while still wearing something light and airy, without having to wear an Hawaiian shirt! You can wear short sleeves with nice linen pants, paired with the colors of the dress. White is always classy but can stain easily, especially if the ground is muddy. Try to think about where you will exchange your vows, and choose your color accordingly.

Other things to consider

Always carry emergency supplies with you like water, a first aid kit, mosquito repellent, snacks, a water pouch for your bouquet, safety pins, a layer of warmth for each of you (it can get cold very quickly, once the sun sets in Hawaii), an extra pair of shoes, bobby pins, and everything you might need while being out in the wild for several hours.

Typical food and dishes from Hawaii

You might want to integrate into your elopement day

Hawaiian dishes to try on your elopement day - Lu'au

Lu’au

Lu’au dishes, served at traditional Hawaiian feasts, showcase the diverse flavors and ingredients of the islands. From succulent kalua pig slow-cooked in an imu oven to laulau, a bundle of tender meat and fish wrapped in taro leaves, these dishes exemplify the art of Hawaiian cooking. Accompanied by staples like poi, lomi lomi salmon, and haupia, a creamy coconut dessert, lu’au dishes offer a rich and vibrant culinary experience that celebrates the cultural heritage and abundance of the Hawaiian islands.

Kalua pork

Kalua pork, a beloved Hawaiian dish, showcases the island’s rich culinary traditions and the art of imu cooking. The tender, smoky shredded pork, traditionally prepared by slow-roasting in an underground oven, is a testament to the deep connection between the people, the land, and the flavors of Hawaii. With its succulent meat and hints of sea salt, Kalua pork embodies the spirit of aloha and is a centerpiece of festive feasts, where friends and family gather to share in the deliciousness of this iconic dish.

Hawaiian dishes to try on your elopement day - Kalua pork
Hawaiian dishes to try on your elopement day - chicken longrice

Chicken long rice

Chicken longrice, a popular dish in Hawaiian and Filipino cuisine, offers a delightful blend of flavors and textures. Tender chicken is simmered in a savory broth infused with ginger, garlic, and soy sauce, creating a deeply comforting and aromatic base. Served over a bed of delicate rice noodles, Chicken longrice is a warm and satisfying dish that embodies the spirit of Asian-inspired comfort food.

Hawaii elopement packages and pricing

All my packages include:

  • From 1-2 locations to a full 7 days honeymoon and elopement adventure photography coverage
  • Custom planning by a travel agent and elopement planner with:
    • A list of 3 to 4 location recommendations based on your vision (waterfall? black beach? volcano? jungle? mountains? You name it!)
    • Complimentary transportation for your day(s)
    • Concierge service for vendors, accommodation, restaurants, you name it! And the option of having it all included in your package
    • Help with anything related to accessibility, permits and rules
    • A printed “how to elope” guide with everything you need to know
    • A custom timeline for your day(s)
    • The possibility to get legally married by your photographer (we’re all US ministers!)
  • Online gallery you can share with the world
  • My travels feels to anywhere in Hawaii are already included!
  • Starting at $10.750

Last details before you leave for Hawaii

Ready to set off and discover the islands of sun and surf? Here are a few final pearls of wisdom.

Packing list

For your trip to Hawaii, prioritize lightweight clothing, a light jacket for cool nights, and robust sun protection including sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat. Sturdy hiking shoes are essential for exploring, and snorkeling gear will enhance your ocean adventures. Remember to pack eco-friendly items like a reusable water bottle and coral-safe sunscreen to protect the island’s natural beauty.

Renting a car

Renting a car in Hawaii is highly recommended to fully experience the islands’ diverse landscapes and hidden gems. It gives you the freedom to explore at your own pace, from secluded beaches to majestic waterfalls and scenic drives. Ensure you book in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, to secure the best rates and availability. Remember to familiarize yourself with local driving regulations and consider eco-friendly rental options to minimize your environmental impact.

How to island hop

Island hopping in Hawaii is primarily done by air, with frequent flights connecting the islands for quick and convenient travel. For a unique adventure, consider a helicopter tour for stunning aerial views of the diverse landscapes. While there’s limited ferry service, specifically between Maui and Lanai, flying remains the best option for exploring the distinct beauty of each island efficiently. Plan ahead to make the most of your Hawaiian journey.

How to pay in Hawaii

In Hawaii, the U.S. dollar is the standard currency, and credit cards are widely accepted. It’s advisable to have some cash for smaller transactions, but for most expenses, using a credit card is convenient. ATMs are easily accessible across the islands.

Language in Hawaii

In Hawaii, English is the main language, with Hawaiian also officially recognized and widely celebrated in cultural expressions and place names, enriching your visit with local heritage.

Formalities – do we need a visa to visit Hawaii?

If you’re from the US, you don’t need to do anything. If you’re from another country, check out this map to know if you need a visa to visit Hawaii:

Who can visit Hawaii for their elopement without a visa

A small conclusion: Why elope in Hawaii?

Beautiful weather

Hawaii is a tropical location. If you’re looking to elope in a warm and sunny place, Hawaii will be the perfect location for you. In fact, every season
has something beautiful and new to offer!

Incredible diversity

Hawaii is an adventurer’s dream come true. You will find pristine beaches, dramatic cliffs, peaceful mountains and roaring volcanoes. You can hike in a green valley in the morning and dip your toes on a sandy beach at sunset in
Hawaii.

Very easy process

Making your elopement legal won’t be a problem in Hawaii. You can read the preceding section to learn more about how to make this big day legal, but it is definitely one of its
amazing perks.

7 day all inclusive hawaii elopement package

Let’s chat!

Are you eager to start planning your elopement in Hawaii? I’m here to help you envision, plan and immortalize this beautiful adventure! Contact me now for a free consultation!

Welcome to the Adventure of a Lifetime

Amber, elopement photographer

Hey there, I’m Amber! I’m your elopement photographer and planner – your one-stop-shop for absolutely everything you need for a magical, incredible elopement day. 

I offer all-inclusive elopement packages for couples who want to relax and let me handle absolutely everything, as well as options for couples who like a little bit of DIY! I’ll find the perfect place for you to exchange vows, recommend vendors, help you figure out travel and lodging, make a timeline, and more – personalizing each part of your elopement day to perfectly suit the two of you. And of course, I’ll be there to take the photos and document this once in a lifetime adventure.
You aren’t like every other couple, and your wedding day shouldn’t be either! I’ll help you craft a day that’s true to you, authentic, and real, allowing you to immerse yourselves in the experience as you say your “I dos.”

How to elope in Hawaii - the ultimate guide
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