Looking to get married on Kauai? I have gathered these valuable tips over many years doing Kauai Wedding Photography and observing hundreds of weddings on Kauai.
Knowing these tips will help you make informed decisions and shed light to some questions that may come up over the course of your wedding planning.
Let’s get started.
Kauai is home to amazing natural beauty, hence it is the perfect location to get married for nature lovers. The North Shore has the most scenic beaches such as Ke`e, Tunnels, or Hanalei, and is the most popular region for elegant elopements and small intimate weddings. With its breathtaking scenic backdrops and remote feeling, outgoing adventurous couples love the north shore.
The South Shore, especially Poipu area, is known for larger resort weddings with just one primary beach some couples prefer, however it tends to be more crowded with more than one wedding happening on any given day.
The East Side is the most convenient and budget friendly for both elopements and larger weddings. Do note that East side beaches and views are less compelling than the north and the sun does not set on the water. If you have never been to Kauai, I strongly recommend hiring a professional wedding planner based on Kauai. They can help guide you in what location suits you the best as a couple.
2. Time of year
Busy season is April through August. September through November are quieter months and great for a romantic getaway with many options and less crowded beaches and hikes. Christmas through February are a busy time for families, tourists, and snowbirds.
The tropics have unique weather which is very difficult to predict, more so in the last few years. Kauai’s Spring can go either way, Summer tends to be the driest, and the hottest. Autumn is ideal with cooler temperatures and beautiful skies. Precipitation in the Winter months vary, and it is the season for the most rain, also knows as rainbow and waterfall season – As Kimo says ‘ no rain no rainbows’. Some of the best photos happen when there is some weather as the sky and lighting tends to more dramatic, and the waves put on quite a show in the Winter time.The rain is sacred to Hawaiians, as it nourishes the abundant flora and fills the rivers and streams.
Mother nature does sometimes throw an occasional storm towards Kauai, and wedding professionals know how to watch the patterns and advise you best. If weather is a serious concern for you, explore having a back up plan for your peace of mind.
On most occasions when shooting outdoor weddings on Kauai, we usually just wait until the showers pass over and everything goes on as planned. I have seen ‘miracles’ happen for couples when the rain stops, or a rainbow appears, or the sun shines the entire time when every forecast predicted rain. If you ask my professional opinion, I love cloudy days for my Kauai wedding photography sessions as they generally make for better lighting and a much higher chance of rainbows, fun photos, and adventure!
4. Wedding Time
I strongly suggest to aim for a late afternoon or sunset wedding. Early morning when the sun is low in the sky is good as well. Do not even think of a high noon wedding as it tends to be hot, humid, & uncomfortable on sunny days. In the past I have said yes to such requests, and each time the couple and myself were sweating profusely and regretted it. Most of all, the best photos are taken in softer light at the start and end of each day. Morning weddings are especially nice with less people and brilliant colors.
5. Wedding Planning Services
Hiring a local professional wedding planner is the best decision you can make. Their expertise, vendor relationships, and intimate knowledge of Kauai and choice locations is invaluable. A wedding planner will take care of the details for you so you can fully enjoy your Kauai vacation and wedding day without worrying about confirming vendors, etc. You can leave all the many details for your planner to handle so you can enjoy your vision turning into reality without having to do all the work.
My wife & I did our own wedding thinking it would be best since we are wedding experts. We and our friends and family were running around for days leading up to the wedding to get everything done. We had minimal time to just relax and make the most of the special time we were all gathered. Not to mention the lack of personal time on the actual wedding day. If it’s in your budget, by all means hire a certified pro, you will be very glad you did! My preferred wedding planner is: Ali`i Kauai Weddings
6. Beach vs Private Venue or Resort Wedding
Small intimate beach weddings and elopements are very poplar on Kauai.
As per Kauai County law, beach weddings must not exceed 30 people, hence for groups larger than 30 people a private location is required. Although google can offer some ideas, your wedding planner will be the most reliable source for such information.
Also, if your wedding vision includes an arch and seating for your guests, these are not allowed on public beaches, and all beaches are legally public in the state of Hawaii. At private venues you can create any design you desire, from arches, to benches, chairs, cocktail tables, bar, etc!
7. Private Estate / Oceanfront property
Oceanfront property or a private estate is a great private option, if budget allows. Especially relevant is to make sure the property gives permission for your event. Only a very few properties on island allow it and your planner will have the right connections to get a property that meets your needs. This option requires generous budget as most rentals have a minimums of 5-7 days plus an event fee.
For an outdoor reception it is best to have a tent or covered area. In case of either heat or rain, you will be protected. Clear top tents are highly recommended to maintain the view of nature and at night they give the wonderful feeling of being under the stars. There are also a few private venues that offer day rental for receptions and prices are quite varied.
The island does not have a lot of taxi options so it is advisable to sort out transportation beforehand. Furthermore, renting a private shuttle is a great way to go.
Surfing, Hiking, Snorkeling, Swimming, Helicopter & Plane Tours, Ziplining, 4-Wheeling, Ocean Cruises, & Horseback rides, Luaus, & Golf are excellent activities abundantly available on Kauai. Most wedding planners can help guide you to the best of these!
Whether you are coming as a couple or with a group. it is highly recommended to plan a few fun activities for your Kauai vacation.
Tropical abundance makes for breathtaking floral designs. It is best to hire a professional florist to design your decor as they are aware of seasonal trends and have access to the best options. Certain flowers have to be shipped to Kauai as they do not grow here and a seasoned event designer can help you make the best decisions with regards to your vision.
Discuss with your partner what type of ceremony you would like, and together make decisions regarding your wedding officiant/celebrant. Decide what type of ceremony would be most meaningful to you and your relationship: some couples prefer a very traditional ceremony, and others like to create their own using elements of their different cultures and backgrounds. Anything is possible, there are no hard rules, just be sure the officiant you choose is open to your ideas. Keeping that in mind, you can work with your personal minister, family member or friend to be your officiant, they just need to be registered with the state of Hawaii.
If possible set your wedding date early in your trip so you have plenty of time to relax and enjoy your honeymoon afterwards!
14. Big Picture
I understand that small details matter but I encourage my clients to keep the big picture in mind. Invariably something will be out of place or missed, try not to freak out and stress about things. Whatever happens becomes part of your love story. At the end of the day you are on Kauai and getting married to the love of your life. It does not get much better than that.
15. Fine Print
Make sure to go through the fine prints of your vendor contracts, especially with Tent and Wedding venues. Some of them do not offer full service such as set up and break down. The last thing you want to do is set up tables on your wedding day or do break down & clean up the day after your wedding, and this is something your wedding planner can advise about.
16. Story boarding
The best way to express you vision is through photos. Research what you like on the web, Instagram, Pinterest. Use that to communicate with vendors and your planner so nothing is lost in translation.
17. Kauai Wedding Photography
Make sure your photographer provides you the copyright release, as a result you can easily print your photos at any lab you desire.
And that’s it, enjoy the planning and have a beautiful Kauai wedding!
In case you like my photography style, do get in touch by filling this Inquiry Form. I would be honored to capture your love.
Aloha and have fun on your wedding day!