Saying “I Do,” Hawaiian Style

Bride’s notes: Silk gown and bare feet. No veil; instead, a haku lei of pakalana (Chinese violet) and pikake (Arabian jasmine). Venue—must decide soon. Shall it be on the beach? By a waterfall? Atop a hill overlooking the ocean . . . or in the ocean? Menu musts: kalua pig, poi, fresh fish, tropical fruit, and bottomless mai tais.


Story by Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi  |  Photography by Stewart Pinsk

maui weddingsOne of the loveliest ways to make your wedding unforgettable is to add a Hawaiian theme. It’s easy—with a little help from Maui’s expert wedding consultants.

At the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, on Ka‘anapali Beach, sweethearts can prepare for the day when they’ll exchange vows by spending time together at The Spa at Black Rock. The shared experience includes a ti-leaf lei exchange, a hot-stone Hawaiian salt scrub followed by a rinse in the ocean, lomi lomi massage, and relaxation time with fresh fruit and hibiscus tea.

The spa gets its name from the forty-foot promontory islanders today call “Black Rock.” The Hawaiians knew it as Pu‘u Keka‘a; in ancient times, Hawaiian chiefs competed here in lele kawa, leaping feet first from its heights into the ocean. Many couples choose to be married at nearby Black Rock Lawn, so reception guests can enjoy the cliff-diving ceremony the Sheraton Maui has presented every evening for the past forty-seven years.

“The cliff diver lights torches on Black Rock, then dives into the sea as the sun sets—just like the ali‘i [royalty] of long ago,” says Sheraton weddings manager Michelle Chang. “That adds a bit of old Hawai‘i to a wedding that you can’t find anywhere else in the Islands.”

Marriage can also be a royal affair at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. The resort’s Ali‘i Wedding Package includes transportation to and from the wedding venue via horse-drawn carriage, entertainment by a guitar duo and hula dancer, a chant by a conch-shell blower, and a service performed by a Hawaiian minister. Want to have the horse bedecked in lei, or the carriage festooned with fresh flowers in your wedding colors? The Ritz-Carlton’s wedding coordinators are happy to accommodate special requests.

Following the ceremony, newlyweds can welcome guests to a lu‘au-themed dinner at the Beach House Lawn, which overlooks the ocean and the island of Moloka‘i. “Our chefs incorporate fresh local products into a menu that reflects the bounty of Hawai‘i,” says Maria Alvarez, senior sales manager of the hotel’s catering department. Think dishes such as Maui onion and Olowalu tomato salad with fresh pohole ferns; poi; lomilomi salmon; kalua pork; baked mahimahi in ti leaves; and haupia (coconut pudding) flavored with mango, pineapple or wild berries.

The Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa offers many ways to say “I do” with aloha: keiki (children) presenting lei to guests as they arrive, a hula dancer leading the procession by torchlight, a conch-shell blower and a drummer conveying the bride to her betrothed, who awaits in a garland of greenery accented with orchids, red ginger, bird-of-paradise and other tropical flowers. The minister offers a chant and oversees the exchange of lei, vows and rings. A guitarist then sings “The Hawaiian Wedding Song” as the dancer sways gracefully down the center aisle.

One dramatic possibility is a Polynesian show at the reception, culminating in a performance by a fire knife dancer. “That wows everyone,” says Laura Amerio. The Hyatt Regency’s wedding and sales catering manager, Amerio works with couples to find the Hawaiian touches that match their personalities.

“Sharing this memorable time with loved ones is a great way for sweethearts to begin their new life together.”

Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa
(808) 662-8076

The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua
(808) 665-7208

Wedding and Catering Sales
Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa
(808) 667-4430


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