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Oahu Weddings with Aloha: Special Hawaiian Touches, Traditions, and Trends

Enhance your Oahu wedding with special Hawaiian touches that showcase the natural beauty, music, culture, and food of the islands.

Embracing and integrating Hawaiian cultural elements into your Oahu wedding will enrich your special day, create that sense of place, and make it all the more meaningful and memorable for you and your guests.

Oahu-Inspired Design Elements

Oahu’s natural surroundings are among the top reasons for traveling to this beautiful place for your destination wedding. Décor, of course, is key in creating that special Hawaiian environment for your festivities. “Elements of tropical flowers in the bridal bouquets, table décor, and the ceremony florals bring in the beauty of Hawaii’s natural world,” notes Susan O’Donnell of Aloha Wedding Planners.

“Linens with Hawaii-inspired patterns and prints create the feel of the islands along with the natural use of lighting elements, rattan lanterns and chargers, plus foliage place mats and runners,” explains Carolee Higashino of White Orchid Weddings.

Hawaiian Music, Hula, and More

“Hawaiian entertainment sets the mood,” says O’Donnell. Weave Hawaiian culture into your wedding with ukulele music and hula dancers. Ukulele is the most Hawaiian of instruments and hula – along with chant – represents the way ancient Hawaiians communicated their stories and history long before the written Hawaiian language was introduced. Polynesian fireknife dancers add a dramatic element to an Oahu wedding. And a new generation of musical ensembles performing old Hawaii songs with a modern twist will enhance your festivities.


The Lei Exchange

Hawaiian lei – the traditional floral garlands – symbolize love and affection and are given at important occasions across Hawaii. A bride will wear a haku lei that looks like a crown around her head often made of tuberose, plumeria, or pikake flowers. A groom will often wear an open lei of maile leaves around his neck. Couples exchange lei as part of their wedding ceremony.

“Some couples also present lei to their parents during the ceremony,” adds O’Donnell. “In fact, the couples may surprise their parents with these lei and it becomes very emotional and touching.”

“As an added touch, bring Hawaiian culture into your wedding reception with Lei Poo Stations where guests can make their own haku lei to wear around their heads,” suggests Higashino.

The Hawaiian Wedding Performer

You may choose to be married by a kahu, a non-denominational Hawaiian wedding performer who can incorporate Hawaiian language and cultural elements into the marriage ceremony. One Hawaiian cultural tradition is the blowing of the conch shell to announce the beginning of the wedding ceremony. Another tradition is the blessing of the rings when a ti leaf dipped into a bowl of water is then sprinkled over the rings three times as the kahu recites a traditional Hawaiian chant. Some couples pour sand of different colors into a single container, combining the colors to represent their union.

A Taste of Hawaii

Bring Hawaii’s rich culinary traditions into your wedding festivities. Oahu’s diverse, sophisticated, and ever evolving food scene reflects Hawaiian, Asian, and Pacific Rim culinary traditions and a passion for locally sourced ingredients. Main courses can incorporate Big Island beef, fish from local waters, and a vast range of fruits and vegetables from Oahu’s North Shore farms.

“Pulled pork sliders, creative poke appetizers, and fresh salads with local greens are big. A dessert bar with local treats might include mini malasadas which are Portuguese donuts, chocolate haupia pudding cups, brownies with macadamia nuts, and Chinese almond cookies. And every couple wants a signature craft cocktail at their Oahu wedding,” explains O’Donnell.

“Acai Bars featuring island fresh fruit like papaya, dragon fruit, coconut, and pineapple are popular, especially for health-conscious couples. Hawaiian shave ice bars with all the local popular flavors are also big trend,” notes Higashino. “At the bar, a local husking coconuts, just like you see on the side of the streets, add fun and authenticity to an Oahu wedding.”

Street food – showcasing the many ethnic foods that Hawaii’s plantation workers from across the globe brought to the islands over the 19th and 20th centuries – is a great addition to a casual rehearsal dinner or wedding reception. Depending on your venue, you can have different stations or even food trucks.

Sustainability is Key

Sustainability is an important factor across Hawaii and can play a role at your wedding according to Higashino: “There’s a movement towards ‘Respecting our Aina’ – our land –reflected in today’s Oahu weddings. We’re using sustainable products like native, non-imported florals; fresh local in-season food items; and no plastic products or disposable water bottles.”

Oahu-Inspired Wedding Gift Bags

“Think about welcoming your guests to Oahu with a gift bag filled with items from local makers and stores,” recommends O’Donnell. Oahu- and Hawaii-made cookies, soaps, lotions, sea salts, coffee, chocolate, and the gift bag itself make practical gifts and mementoes of your wedding celebration.

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