Luau for Reception Dinner??? Need advice!

We are getting married on Maui and we have two options for our wedding reception dinner.  We are really trying to do our entire wedding on a budget so I"m curious if any other brides out there have been to a luau for their reception?


My dream scenario would be to have a nice sunset dinner at Merriman's (fine dining) for 18 people and having the luau (Old Lahaina Luau) be our rehearsal dinner/welcome dinner.   However, since we are paying for it all ourselves, we can't afford to do both.  I think a luau is a must for people traveling to Hawaii but I'm not sure it's what I envision for our reception dinner.  


  My concerns about a luau are that it may feel a bit "casual" for me to wear my wedding dress..and I will want to wear it for more than the hour we are getting married, so changing won't be an option. Also, I envision having a wedding cake on our table , toasts being made etc. and I'm not sure that  in a buffet style, dinner show sort of setting in the middle of a hundred other people that it will feel as intimate as I'd like (FI doesn't care either way...but agrees the luau would save us $).... I would do the luau for budget reasons and think it would be casual and fun...but I do love the idea of Merriman's more, being that it's our wedding.  The price difference is about $1200.  

So your opinions please.... would you do the luau and relax about it...?


splurge the extra to have the elegant dinner??


Thanks for your  input!

Re: Luau for Reception Dinner??? Need advice!

  • Hello! I'm also planning a Maui wedding and lived there briefly a couple of years ago. I went to the luau at the Grand Wailea so I can't speak to the Old Lahaina, but I CAN tell you that they are a ton of fun but by no means private...there are about 20 long banquet tables that seat about 20 people each and it's first come first served in terms of seating, so it's definitely an event designed to make money on a massive scale. They are certainly a LOT of fun so I highly recommend going to one with your guests, whether it be informally during the week or for the rehearsal dinner (I think my ticket cost abotu $70/person for the entire thing so you could book a bunch of individual tickets and then just get there early to stake out a table for your group). It could be fun for a wedding dinner, but you won't have any control over having waitstaff bring out your cake and plates, or being able to make toasts, etc...it's kind of a running dinner show so the agenda is set by the performers and the hotel putting on the luau, so if you're hoping for some flexibility and personal attention, I would recommend against doing this for your wedding dinner. You might look into seeing whether you could rent a space and bring in caterers and polynesian dancers for a lower price if you BYOB since catering companies in Maui typically can't serve their own alcohol and have to hire a bartender to serve the alcohol you purchase. We're getting married in Hana on the eastern side of the island and we're planning to do our rehearsal at the Travaasa at their Hamoa Beach Pavilion but it's unfortunately going to be much more expensive than I had originally wanted, so it might make sense to get the luau experience the cheaper way by doing it for the rehearsal dinner, which isn't so contingent on speeches and room for photographers, etc. Hope that helps!
  • Thanks, this does help a lot!  I think we're going to move forward with Merriman's and have the private cabana.  The luau would be lots of fun and we can just plan a night to go to one a la carte depending on who's interested.  OR if the wedding budget increases.
  • lorena224lorena224
    100 Comments Second Anniversary
    edited April 2013
    We hosted had rehearsal dinner at the Old Lahaina Luau and then had our wedding dinner at Merriman's in the cabana. I would suggest Merriman's for your wedding night. They have live music, but you can also hire a guitarist. We zipped up 2 ends of the cabana so it was nice and private, we forgot anyone else was there and the food was so much better than the OLL. I did find the luau to be too casual for me to have worn a wedding dress. And it was loud and although there were only 13 of us it was too big of a party for us all to be at the same table, but the cabana can fit up to 18 so you can all be seated together. Good luck!
  • edited May 2013
    We had 12 at the Old Lahaina Luau for our rehearsal dinner. They had to split us up into 2 tables, because each table only seats 8. While our tables were next to each other, I wouldn't want to be split up for a reception. Plus, they run a pretty tight schedule there, so I'm not sure how you'd do the cake cutting, etc. 

    I wouldn't suggest going there for your reception, but I like the idea of working it in somewhere as an optional activity. Maybe you could put it in the schedule for your guests, but make it known that each guest would pay for his own luau should they choose to participate. That way you could save money but still get to enjoy being with everyone! I really don't think people would mind paying for their own luau if it's not the rehearsal dinner or reception. 
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