Calling for all ideas and advice for an Oahu DW!

Hi everyone! I’ve been devotedly lurking around this board for some time now and have found everyone’s advice oh so helpful! But I do have a few questions that I’d love direct advice on :)


My fiancé and I would love to do a Hawaiian wedding. This is part for the love of Hawaii itself, but also because it’s a wonderful in-between point for his family from Japan and mine from California. My family is enormous and most strict guest list is about 30-40 people (kids included). Together with his family we’re trying to keep it at about 50-60. As much as we’d love to have everyone who can come along, this is difficult because him and I are fronting the bill 100%.

So, any advice as to how we could pull off a casual but elegant beachside wedding for about $10,000? Preferably not on the beach directly as we’d like everyone to have seating. We’re flexible as to whether it’s at a restaurant/resort/etc so long as its nice. We’re also pretty open to changing our island—I’m happy with Oahu (mainly Waikiki area) because I’ve got this idea that we could save on entertainment by suggesting that anyone who would like to go dancing after dinner can join us at a nice-ish bar/club (suggestions on this point are welcome too! I was thinkinge like http://www.maitaibar.com/). That way our guests can choose to go out or do their own thing. However, he’s into finding a place that’s more secluded and low key, maybe somewhere around North Shore or maybe even someplace in Maui. Advice?

And one more question. We’re going to Oahu this September to meet with vendors and to do our engagement shoot! Does anyone know of good locations for this? Of course we could always go to a beach, but I’m tempted to do something more lively and local, where we can have more candid vs posed shots—Chinatown in Honolulu? A festive, small market? Btw, the photographer we’re talking to right now is at http://www.hookphotography.com/ -- if anyone has had any experience with this vendor, we’d love to hear it!

Thanks so much in advance!

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Re: Calling for all ideas and advice for an Oahu DW!

  • edited December 2011
    Hi there! I myself am exploring the idea of getting married in Oahu next year, my fiance & I were there last year for a vacation/business trip, and we fell in love with it, going back Labor Day! Have you ever been there?

    I highly advise avoiding the Mai Tai Bar. One of the most overpriced places we went to on the island (I think $14 for a mai tai, and not even that good!), and the server was terrible! I don't know if this was an isolated incident, but the waiter/server ignored us most of the night, a nearby waitress helped us out, and we waited at the bar for 20 minutes for him to get flagged so we could leave. Mind you, the place was not even that busy. I think there is a bar/club at the Royal Hawaiian hotel, or the one next to it (Outrigger?), that might be what you're looking for as far as dancing.

    Chinatown would give you some beautiful photos I imagine. There are botanical gardens right in/around Chinatown, those would be nice too (I have photos if you are interested).

    If you are looking for a ceremony place that is not directly on the beach, I did see locales that overlook the beach at Kualoa Ranch. I've been to the ranch, the views are stunning, so couldn't hurt to look there! For a more private location, look into Haiku Gardens. There is a restaurant, Haleiwa Joes, overlooking the garden, keeps transportation costs down if it's all at one location! North Shore, look into Turtle Bay Resort. It looks a little pricey, but they have multiple locations for ceremonies & receptions, could find one that works for you.

    I don't claim to be any kind of expert, I can just go by what I've found on my own the last couple weeks, and my vacation there, but I hope this helps you somewhat.

    Good luck with your planning, I'd love to hear how it all goes!
  • maui2011maui2011 member
    edited December 2011
    Congrats and welcome to the board! If you and your FI decide to get married on Maui you could look at the Hyatt or Grand Wailea for a resort wedding or Gannon's Restaurant. HTH! J. :-)
  • edited December 2011
    Congratulations! I can only speak from experience but I highly recommend Ko'Olina Weddings. Lanikohunua (sp) is absolutely BEAUTIFUL! We had our wedding up there and our reception on the terrace at Hyatt Regency Waikiki. I wanted everyone to be able to walk to their hotels or go out after our wedding and this is why we chose to have the reception in Waikiki. We have a bunch of pictures, please let me know if you are interested. =) My only thing about doing North Shore area including the ranch is the weather. I could be way off so anyone correct me if I am wrong but each time we went up there, it was overcast if not raining. good luck finding your perfect spot! btw: we had 47 people total =)
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  • edited December 2011
     Your situtation sounds very similiar to mine. Unfortunately, one wedding planner (who is loved on this website) pretty much laughed at my budget and told me having a DW could not be done well for that much. Instead, my FI and I are using The Romance Specialists as our wedding coordinator since she is geared toward affordable wedding planning and packages. I do recommend her.
     We also  chose Paradise Cove for the ceremony so that we could have an oceanfront wedding with seating. Seating is a cost that you have to gauge as being worth it or not, and it is only allowed on private locations on Oahu. Traditional Hawaiian weddings are standing since they only last about 30 minutes.
     Afterward we are going to a local restaurant for drinks and dinner. I hope we can accomplish this within roughly $10K too. But there are so many little unexpected costs that are coming up. Budgeting for it all is hard.
  • majorellemajorelle member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Sorry I'm a bit late (just finished up summer school, yay!!), but I definitely want to thank everyone for all of the wonderful advice! I've made notes and will keep everything in mind when we go on our trip to Oahu next month. And as advised, I'll avoid the Mai Tai Bar and keep looking, lol :) And I conveyed to FI the information about North Shore's weather, so now we're both leaning a bit more toward Waikiki.

    Yeah, I feel like our budget is a little far on the low side. So much, in fact, that it caused a mini-crisis between my mom and I regarding the guest list. At this point I've completely slashed the guest list in half. Now we have the flexibility to consider doing a standing ceremony on a public beach-- with so few people, doing a short ceremony without seating is a real cost saving option. And instead of doing a super nice reception as we initially planned, we are starting to lean towards doing something very casual at a restaurant.

    BeachTexan~ you don't mind my asking, which restaurant are you looking at? We're starting to love the idea of looking at a cute local restaurant as opposed to dinner at a resort/hotel restaurant and would love to add a few more potential locations to our list :)

    Also, I do have another question to ask~ FI and I are actually getting legally married in Japan before doing our wedding ceremony in Hawaii. We do want a symbolic ceremony where we'll exchange our rings, but we won't need help with state paperworks or anything. Has anyone done this before? Any ideas on how this might affect getting an officiant?
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