Royal Kona Resort

Traditional Hawaiian Wedding Ceremonies

The modern American Martha-Stewart lace-bouquet wedding ceremony calls up a rather steady set of cultural images: white wedding dress, veil, rings, folding chairs on the lawn, nuptial triptych under the gazebo, wine and cheese spread. While many couples have come to choose theme weddings, especially in recent more globalized years, the typical North American marriage follows the pattern and general look even in exotic locations like Hawaii (though shoes may be optional).

A traditional Hawaii wedding ceremony, however, is a rather distinct affair. If you and your intended want to go full island-style instead of just holding a regular wedding in Hawaii, here's a quick primer on the way the real Kama'aina does it.

First, the groom is dressed in all white, the only splay of color being a red or orange sash. Unlike many traditional cultures, Hawaii doesn't require the newlyweds to be isolated from guests before the ceremony, and the groom is free to mingle as people arrive to traditional ukulele tunes.

The entrance of the bride comes with a bit more pomp - she is announced by the blowing of a "pu," or conch shell. This is done to call the earth, sea, air and fire to the ceremony as witnesses. The bride then walks to her groom, wearing a white gown and crowned with a "haku" flower garland.

Unlike Western weddings, where the bride would be walked down the aisle by her father, a Hawaiian bride walks to her betrothed alone, as her family witnesses.

Instead of a ring exchange, traditional marriage in Hawaii includes a ritual where the newlyweds stand in a "circle of love" and exchange leis. They also offer a volcanic rock to the earth at the site of the ceremony, to seal the marriage before the fire-spewing mountains.

Traditional Hawaii Wedding Ceremony

There are many more interesting cultural traditions surrounding marriage in Hawaii, and if you're looking to tie the knot on our beautiful islands, you and your partner can mix cultures for a ceremony that is truly distinctive and unique!