Hawaiian Wedding Traditions

Create your own Polynesian-themed wedding by incorporating some Hawaiian wedding traditions into your big day.

Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places to have a wedding. With backdrops of pristine white sand beaches to unique lava rock or dramatic sea cliffs, Hawaii’s natural beauty and splendor has it all.

In the Hawaiian Islands, beauty is everywhere. Beach weddings have always used nature’s canvas to create some of the most romantic settings.

Hire a “Kahu”, Hawaiian Holy Man, to be the officiant for the ceremony. His Hawaiian attire and chanting will add exotic flare to the event.

Conch Blower – blowing of a conch shell that creates a horn sound is done by a boy or the Kahu to start the processional.

Wedding Attire
In traditional Hawaiian weddings, both the bride and the groom wear white. The groom wears a coloured sash around his waist, while the bride wears a “Haku Lei”, a garland of flowers in her hair, rather than a veil.

Hawaiian music has a romantic sound like no other. Traditionally, a slack-key guitar or a Ukulele musician would play the Hawaiian wedding song, “Ke Kali Nei Au” (Waiting for Thee), during the wedding ceremony while hula dancers interpreted the movements.

Lei Ceremony
Traditionally the bride and groom exchange a “Lei”, a flower garland, instead of rings.
- The Lei symbolizes “Aloha” which means love.
- The bride’s Lei are made of White Ginger or Pikake. The groom’s Lei are made of Maile a very fragrant leaf. The Maile Lei often has tuberose or Pikake flowers in it.
- The Lei exchange can take place at the beginning or end of the ceremony.
- The Kahu will bless each Lei and then wrap the couple’s hands together with the Maile Lei. This signifies the binding of their souls.
- The groom will place the Lei around the bride’s neck first; then the bride will follow.
- The bridal party and close family members usually receive a Lei at the wedding.

Hawaiian Reception
Traditionally, Hawaiian wedding reception luaus are filled with food, music and dance.
- The main dish is “Kalua”, roast pig, cooked in an 'imu' or underground oven.
- Other popular luau foods include ‘Lau Lau’, (fish or pork wrapped in a ti leaf) or chicken or tuna.
- ‘Poi’, is a taro-root paste, served with Kalua pig.
- Popular drinks are pineapple and coconut juice.
- “Kulolo”, a coconut pudding, is served for dessert.
- At the reception, Hawaiian musicians play traditional songs with bamboo trumpets, nose flutes, drums, ukulele, rattles and slack-key guitar while hula dancers entertain the guests.

Traditional Hawaiian Beliefs 
- When the wind stirs at your wedding, it’s the presence of your “Ohana”, (family), that cannot be physically present (departed). They are surrounding you with love and their blessing of the union.
- It’s customary for the bride to fold a 1001 paper cranes for good luck and a long life together.
- Relatives or friends offer a ‘Bonzai’ toasts to the bride and groom, wishing them long life.
- Hawaii weddings customarily have ‘Pandango’, money dance, to express their best wishes with a monetary gift.