How to Elope in Hawaii: Tips for Planning Your Hawaii Adventure Elopement!

{UPDATED DEC 2022} WONDERING HOW TO ELOPE IN HAWAII? CHECK OUT THESE 8 SIMPLE STEPS FOR PLANNING YOUR HAWAII ADVENTURE ELOPEMENT. ALSO, DIVE INTO TWO TIDE PHOTOGRAPHY’S FAVORITE RESOURCES FOR REPUTABLE VENDORS, VENUES, AND THE STATE OF HAWAII WEDDING LICENSE APPLICATION PROCESS.

Big Island Elopement

So, you’re thinking of ditching the big wedding and dreaming of a destination Hawaii adventure elopement!  Amazing!  I could write a book on all the reasons why after 12 years as a photographer in the wedding industry, I am so SOLD on elopements!  They’re intimate, simple, unforgettable, meaningful, and affordable!  Yes, you heard me right.  A Hawaiian elopement can cost a fraction of a traditional wedding.  What I love most about elopements is the day is solely about you two! 

So often, weddings can be dominated by sleepless nights thinking about centerpieces, catering, or which family member you’re going to piss off if you don’t take their suggestions for dinnerware.

For many couples, the vision for going the less traditional route is there, but you don’t know where to start in your research. Well, search no more because I have created this handy 9-step process for how to plan your Hawaii adventure elopement!

In this article, you will also find reliable vendor recommendations, as well as how to do the less glamorous tasks like applying for a Hawaii marriage license.

 

Why a Hawaii Adventure Elopement? Breaking it Down with Margaret and Charley

 I’m so excited to share this recent adventure elopement!  Margaret and Charley are evidence that when you put your mind and heart into it, you can make ANYTHING possible. Margaret and Charley knew from the get-go that they wanted to elope in Hawaii.

The three of us put our heads together and managed to plan an EPIC Hawaii adventure elopement in less than a month!  And they didn’t have to break the bank to make it happen. Their day was absolutely magical.  And not because everything went perfectly according to plan.

Quite the opposite.

We battled crazy rainy weather on and off the entire day.  It was raining so hard that my camera began to malfunction at some points.  At the end of the 5-mile hike, Margaret’s dress was covered in mud!  At one point, I fell flat on my butt in a huge mud puddle with all of my equipment in hand.  I don’t know if I have ever laughed so hard during an elopement.  

But, what I learned the most from my time with these two is that much like a traditional wedding, even the most perfectly planned elopement will not always go accordingly. They could have easily been so disappointed with the weather on their much-anticipated wedding day.  But instead, they took it in stride and enjoyed every moment as it came!

I will never forget as the three of us were 4 miles into our hike back to the car, covered from head to toe in mud while the rain poured on us, she looked over at me with a huge smile on her face and said, “Hey, at least we’re not trying to figure out what to do with tables for 300 guests right now!”  

Enjoy taking a gander through the 9 steps to planning a Hawaii Elopement and Margaret and Charley’s elopement story!

Big Island Elopement

9 Steps for Planning Your Hawaii Elopement

ONE | Decide What Kind of Elopement You Want

Elopements come in all shapes and sizes.

You can have a simple one-hour elopement on the beach with a dozen of your closest family and friends.  Or it could be JUST the two of you have a private ceremony with just you two, a photographer, and an officiant in a secluded setting. Or, maybe you want to have a simple ceremony for you and a few guests and then want to take off from there to a dramatic landscape where you two can privately share your vows and have fun exploring together!

Truly, the options are endless.

Dream together or brainstorm with your photographer on creating the perfect day that best represents what you two want!

Big Island Elopement
Big Island Elopement
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Big Island Elopement

TWO | Pick an Island for Your Hawaii Elopement

Oahu?
Maui?
Kauai?
Hawaii Island (aka Big Island)?

Honestly, you can’t go wrong with whatever direction you take here.  Each island has its own unique characteristics and stunning landscapes.  Not all of the Hawaii Islands look the same.  In fact, they are all quite distinctly different.

The Big Island can often be described as rugged and dramatic and dryer in some parts, whereas on Oahu, you have the beautiful city of Honolulu as well as a plethora of white sand beaches.

Just make sure to keep in mind, if you already have a photographer in mind, which Island they are located on.  Most elopement photographers are more than happy to travel inter-island but keep in mind they typically have a travel fee.

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Big Island Elopement
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Big Island Elopement

THREE | Hire Your Elopement Photographer

For a lot of couples, the decision of who to hire often comes down to cost.  Who is the cheapest?  That is who we will go with.  I absolutely agree that couples need to be oh-so mindful of their budget… But, just make sure your budget for a photographer is a realistic one.

Other things I encourage the couple to keep in mind when deciding on an elopement photographer are as follows:

  1. Do we connect personally with this photographer (note* don’t hire a photographer w/o first speaking to them on the phone or FaceTime)?  
  2. Do they care about us, our story, our marriage?  This may seem silly, but it makes a HUGE difference.  If a couple is going to spend all day working with this person, it’s important that you feel taken care of and cared for. I personally believe so strongly in marriage, and I want to see my couple’s marriages succeed!  Because your lives together go far beyond your wedding day.  As someone who has been married for 13 years, I promise you will have many hard days ahead amidst the good.  I believe as a photographer that what I provide for my couples are beautiful images for you to be able to look back on and remember the “why” behind we stick with our partner through the hard times. If I can do that, then I’ve 100% done my job.
  3. Is this photographer knowledgeable about the islands?
  4. Are they offering to help us coordinate our day, provide us with vendor recommendations, and send us resources?  This is IMPORTANT!  When you’re planning a Hawaii Elopement, you don’t necessarily need to hire a wedding planner.  A good elopement photographer will double as your photographer and be your main go-to for planning, organizing, and steering you to the right vendors to make your day so special!     
Big Island Elopement
Big Island Elopement
Big Island Elopement
Big Island Elopement
Big Island Elopement

FOUR | Settle on a Date

Okay,  you settled on an island and a photographer for your Hawaii adventure Elopement!  Now it’s time to choose a date!  And honestly, any time of year is the best time of year to have a Hawaii elopement!  My recommendation is if you’re planning on having an extended trip on the Islands, you plan your elopement for the beginning of your trip, so you have the remainder of the time to relax.

Big Island Elopement
Big Island Elopement
Big Island Elopement
Big Island Elopement

FIVE | Book an Officiant

Before booking an officiant, talk with your photographer about who they would recommend.  Not all officiants are the same.

Hiring a local officiant gives an added flare of Hawaii customs and traditions to your ceremony!

If you’d prefer to have a friend or family member officiate, that is totally fine as well!  Your out-of-state officiant will have to fill out this form HERE for the State of Hawaii. 

Big Island Elopement
Big Island Elopement
Big Island Elopement

SIX | Apply for Your Marriage License

Click here to fill out the application!

The Hawaii state website helps explain the steps to getting all of the paperwork in order prior to your wedding date! 

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SEVEN | Including Family?  Book a Private Dinner at a Small Venue or Island Resort

Many Hawaiian resorts offer private dinners on the beach!  Or, if that’s not your jam, take a look at wedding venues that cater to smaller parties!  

Big Island Elopement
Big Island Elopement
Big Island Elopement
Big Island Elopement

EIGHT | Book Your Vendors  

Interested in including some lovely flowers or maybe a small cake for your Hawaii adventure elopement?

Check out some of my recommended Big Island vendors!

Floral Design:

Grace Flowers

Haku Lei by Mei

Hakus By Ki

Makeup + Hair:

Indigo Artistry

Big Island Beauty and Bridal

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Check out more of Charley and Margaret’s rainy elopement, featured on Wandering Weddings!

More Questions?!

Click HERE to contact me for more info!

Interested in writing vows but don’t know where to start? Click HERE to view my guide to writing meaningful and from-the-heart vows for your wedding day!

Engaged?! Click HERE to view my guide on planning your Hawaii adventure engagement shoot!

The Journal

Share:

  1. […] Interested in Eloping in Hawaii?! Check out my 9 steps to planning your Hawaii elopement! […]

  2. […] HERE to check out my guide to planning a Hawaii […]

  3. […] on how to elope in Hawaii?  I’ve got you covered!  Click HERE for a step-by-step process for planning your Hawaiian […]

  4. […] As an elopement photographer, I’ve seen so many unique scenarios much like this one.  Couples planning a wedding that is uniquely them.  And YES! You have permission to think way outside the box.  Because it’s your day!  And a Hawaii adventure elopement on a budget can definitely be in your future!  Scroll to the end of this blog post to find out more and find links to some of my guides and resources for planning a Hawaii elopement! […]

  5. […] Yes, I am an elopement photographer, but I also reassure my couples that they’re also hiring a wedding planner when they hire me! Ha.  I know the challenges couples face when planning a destination elopement.  It can feel really daunting.  The planning process becomes a team effort where will happily walk you through the whole process. […]

  6. […] Check out my guide to eloping in Hawaii! HERE […]

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