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Newly engaged and overwhelmed - please help :)

My fiancée and I recently got engaged and are just beginning to discuss wedding ideas.  We like the idea of getting married in Hawaii but have never been there and are a little overwhelmed with all the possibilities.

Our first debate is which island?  We've heard wonderful things about Maui but also like the possibility of activities on Oahu.  On a nerdy note I loved the show 'Lost' and like the idea of possibly getting married on Papailoa Beach as 'Lost' filmed there :)  We also have no idea how spread out locations are on the islands so we don't know what areas to even start looking at for the wedding or accommodations.

Secondly, we have no idea how much wedding things usually cost so we have no idea what prices we should be looking for and what is reasonable.  I know we probably need to get a wedding coordinator but are they island specific or can we get one that knows about all the islands?  Also, how much do coordinators typically cost?  

Additionally, we'd like to try and keep this somewhat low budget so any cost-cutting tips would be greatly appreciated!  Thankfully we have photography taken care of as one of my best friends is a wedding photographer so I guess we need to figure out location, reception, and transportation costs, however, I'm sure there are all types of little things that we haven't even thought of.

Oh and we were also wondering if we can have a friend get certified and perform the ceremony?  We've been looking online for this info but can't find a definitive answer.

I've tried researching but as I said, I'm totally overwhelmed and any help to get my searches a little more focused would be equivalent to saving my sanity so thank you in advance :D
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Re: Newly engaged and overwhelmed - please help :)

  • edited December 2011
    Okay, first off, congrats on your engagement and welcome to the board! Hawai'i is a great place to get married.

    I'd start with two things first: picking an island and figuring out a budget. Maui and Oahu are the two most popular islands on this board, and I think that's more to do with the booming wedding industry on them. We have Big Island and Kauai and Lanai brides too, though the selection there (for location, caterers etc), tends to be a little bit more limited simply because of lack of demand.

    Just so you know, most beaches on the islands won't allow you to set up any structures or chairs, so if that was what you were thinking of doing, that's probably not going to happen. So, you have a few options: you can do a beachy ceremony and take the reception elsewhere (like a restaurant or hotel) or you can do all of it at a private estate/hotel/resort/golf course. Alternatively, you could rent a house for a week and have it at the house, although I understand that's hard to do on Maui due to zoning regulations or something.

    This brings us to budget - it's going to depend on several things. I have no idea what you, personally, would deem to be a good budget, everyone is different. But, I think it depends on the following... 

    One: Guest count. The reception will be the most expensive part of the evening. More guests usually = more cash outflow.

    Two: Location. If you have a beach ceremony (free) + dinner at a restaurant, your costs will be relatively low (no dj to worry about!). If you decide to rent a private estate for a day and bring in all the rentals, then the cost will get higher. I went the latter route... when I started planning, my highly unrealistic budget was 10,000$ for about 35 guests. It ended up costing us more like 18,000 - 20,000$. We could have gone for cheaper food (and a cheaper dress!), but we opted not to. We did cut corners by buying our own alcohol, DIYing invites and not spending tons on flowers...

    As for coordinators, they do tend to stick to one island, but can be pricey (especially if the charge a % of the cost of booking vendors). If you have enough time and you're an organized person, it's totally possible to not use one. I didn't, and I'm very glad I didn't drop thousands on them!

    As for getting someone else to perform the ceremony, it's also possible. You have to go through the department of Health, and I think, if they aren't already licensed, you'll have to get him/her licensed.
  • edited December 2011

    CONGRATUALTIONS  on your engagement and welcome to the board

    Everything said above by Alyson is  right and great tips.

    The only thing I would add is that perhaps you'd also like to consider your guests and where they may have more activities, flexibility on hotels, ease to get to your wedding.  For example, there's a direct flight from New York to Honolulu but say to Kauai the guests would have to take another flight.  Also, just like Alyson said there are some islands that offer more vendors, for example Maui offers more vendors than Lanai.  If you were to pick Lanai, you'd have to pay for transportation and possibly stay for those vendors.  I would definitely consider the number of guests you'll be having. LIke we're expecting about 40 guests but there are some weddings that have about 10 people and others have about 70.

     As far as Hawaii -- it is simply beautiful and you'd have a wonderful time and unforgettable wedding regardless of the island you choose.

  • edited December 2011
    Thanks for the congrats and info!  We're thinking around $10,000 if possible - there will be maybe 25 people if everyone we invite is able to come, and we were thinking short ceremony so chairs wouldn't be needed.  As far as budget, would our $10,000 include plane fare, hotel, dress etc. or are most people just talking about the wedding day itself?  Also, if we got married on Maui would it be easy for us and our guests to do a touristy day on Oahu or would that be a costly trip, I don't really know how easy island hopping is.

    As far as needing a wedding coordinator, other than helping with a location what else would I need one for?  We're looking at May 4th which is a Wednesday so hopefully that would be easier to schedule than a weekend, and since it's almost a year out hopefully that's enough time for us to research and figure everything out.  A coordinator would make things easier but if we're trying to keep costs down hopefully that's something we could do without.

    If we decided to do a wedding on the beach and our friend was able to get certified to perform the ceremony, would we just need the marriage license and a beach permit....or do we need a beach permit if we're doing it all ourselves?  I thought I read something about needing a beach permit for commercial business, does that just mean if we pay for someone's services it's commercial and we need a permit but if we do it ourselves we don't need a permit?  I hope these aren't stupid questions, I just feel like everything I'm reading is starting to jumble up and it seems too early in the process to be getting stressed out :)
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  • carrieoz_76carrieoz_76 member
    2500 Comments Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    You need a beach permit to get married on the beach in Hawaii because it's considered a commercial activity, regardless of whether you have a WC or paid officiant.  To get a permit, you either need someone to get it for you, or you can get it directly from the state, which requires that you be insured.  Most WCs will get one for you (and some other vendors can, too).  They'll also help you select the right beach, help you select then confirm all your vendors, do your timeline, and generally just arrange stuff.  You don't NEED one, but I've found it a huge relief to have one, myself.

    You can definitely do a beach wedding for 25, followed by a nice reception dinner at a restaurant for $10,000 - that's what we're doing, and we're right around there (ish :) ). 
  • edited December 2011
    No idea about 10,000$ for everything! That depends on where you're staying, how long you're staying and where you're flying in from. We stayed for almost 3 weeks (both on our own and with my parents in a condo) and flew from Toronto (using airmiles). Most of our guests spent about 3000$ on airfare for two and a condo for a week. You'll also need to include renting a car in there too.

    As for island hopping, it is doable, but yes, expensive too.
  • edited December 2011
    Island Hopping: 
    Tickets round trip are generally $150 per person.  Then, you also have to add transportation to the airport & parking and transportation from airport to any activity (which on either island would be at least $50).  
  • edited December 2011

    As someone above said....depending on the island, where you are staying, etc. would make that 10,000 variable.  We're having 20 people and restaurant reception and running right at 14,000 for everything.

  • destiny1108destiny1108 member
    Sixth Anniversary 100 Comments
    edited December 2011
    Congratulations!    Ladies are right, beach permits are required and they no longer allow set-up on the beach (ie: arch, chairs, etc.)    Our WC was great (Hawaii Weddings and Events), she was on Oahu and charged a flat rate for her package (no percentages).   Have fun with your planning!
  • edited December 2011
    Thanks for the responses!  It's funny how the more I read about other people's weddings the more things I want in mine :)  Initially I thought I just wanted a cheap beach ceremony and maybe a patio at a restaurant but now I'm thinking I might want a canopy and chairs and tables with white linens, and....well it just seems to keep growing in my mind everyday!  Now I'm debating if I should go through a hotel that does everything or get a coordinator and stick with the cheap ceremony but have a nicer reception.

    I still can't decide on the island, everyone keeps telling me Maui but I'm concerned about activities for guests vs. getting married on Oahu which seems to have a lot to do.  Anybody have any tips for activities on Maui? Oh and does anybody know the cost difference between Maui and Oahu, if they're similar or different?

    One last thing, has the name Maui been ruined for anyone else by all the 'just mauied' or 'getting mauied' websites?  I find myself thinking 'mawwiage' from The Princess Bride haha :)
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