Hawaii really doesn’t need much of an introduction as a dream elopement spot. Its year-round sunshine, iconic beaches and stunning rainforest scenery have earned Hawaii a reputation as a dream wedding and honeymoon destination for couples worldwide. And let me tell you – it lives up to the hype! Whatever type of experience you have in mind, from a lavish beachside resort to a remote jungle hike, you’ll find it here. One of the top reasons to elope is the opportunity to get married in a stunning location, and you really can’t beat Hawaii!
In this Ultimate Guide to Eloping in Hawaii, I’ll share all of my best advice and tips for planning your dream Hawaiian elopement. As an adventure elopement photographer, I know how important it is that your day is an authentic representation of you as a couple, and this guide will tell you everything you need to know to decide if a Hawaii elopement is right for you.
There are 6 major islands in Hawaii: Oahu, Kauai, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, and the Island of Hawaii (The Big Island). While most flights from the US mainland and other countries fly into Oahu or Maui, depending on where you’re coming from you may be able to fly directly to other islands. There are also multiple short flights per day (many costing less than $100 each way) between each of the islands, so you don’t need to limit yourself to just one location!
Each of the islands has its own distinct vibe, so it’s a good idea to learn a little bit about each of them before committing to an elopement spot:
Oahu is the most populated of the islands, and is also by far the most visited by tourists. This is where you’ll find Honolulu, Waikiki Beach, and Pearl Harbor, not to mention the spot where Jurassic Park was filmed. This makes it a very popular spot with travelers worldwide, and it is definitely the most developed. Most of the large resorts are clustered around the Waikiki Beach area, so if you’re looking for something more remote and can’t make it to the other islands, it’s still possible to find more secluded spots on the east (Windward) side of the island and the North Shore.
If your ideal elopement experience is more off the beaten path surrounded by miles of undeveloped, lush rainforest, Kauai is the place for you. (It also happens to be my personal favorite 😊 .) Nicknamed “The Garden Island,” Kauai is less developed than the other popular islands, and its diverse scenery provides a variety of perfect elopement spots. It’s also an amazing destination for hiking and exploring the outdoors. If you’re looking for an adventurous elopement experience, you can’t go wrong here!
Maui is the second-largest island and also the second most visited after Oahu. For couples who are torn between the city amenities of Oahu and the outdoor adventures of Kauai, Maui offers the best of both worlds. Known around the world for its incredible beaches and stunning valleys, Maui truly has something for everyone.
As you can probably guess by its nickname, The Big Island is by far the largest of the Hawaiian islands. In fact, you could fit all the other islands inside the Big Island and they would barely take up half of its space! This is where you’ll find Volcanos National Park along with a truly stunning amount of biological diversity. You may even find snow on its peaks!
The least visited island in Hawaii is Molokai, and is the fifth smallest at only 38 miles long. Because of this, the island has been able to preserve its rural traditions, and you’ll mostly come across locals rather than tourists. If you’re looking for a truly authentic Hawaiian experience and love exploring remote locations away from the crowds and resorts, this may be the place for you.
Lanai is the smallest and least populated island, and the second least visited. Like Molokai, this island is perfect for you if you like a more laid-back experience. You can get to Lanai by ferry from Maui, so it’s also a great day trip!
Okay, so you’re sold on Hawaii as your dream elopement location. But how do you elope in Hawaii? The process for getting married in Hawaii is pretty straightforward as compared to some other states, and there are no state residency or US citizenship requirements.
To get a Hawaii marriage license, you must prepare an official application and file the application in person with the marriage license agent. The initial application may be completed online or via a printed form. The cost for a license is $65 ($60 + a $5 admin fee) which can be paid online or directly to the license agent.
You will likely need an appointment to file with the marriage license agent, and you will both need to be present and show a valid photo ID. You can find a list of marriage license agents here.
Unlike some other states, there is no waiting period from the time you obtain your license to the time of your wedding, so you can get married as soon as you get your license! The license if valid for 30 days.
You can find more info on Hawaii Health Department’s Marriage License Page.
Your wedding must be officiated by someone licensed by the State of Hawaii Department of Health. Your elopement photographer can help you find a licensed officiant, or you can apply online to have your chosen officiant certified by the State of Hawaii.
Hawaii has no witness requirements for weddings, so your day can just be the two of you and your officiant (and your awesome elopement photographer, of course! 😊 )
Hawaii is home to an incredibly diverse and special ecosystem, and numerous sacred cultural sites. As a Leave No Trace certified photographer, it’s extremely important to me that my couples and I respect each place we visit, and always follow these 7 Leave No Trace Principles:
If you’ve spent any time at all looking at photos of gorgeous Hawaii weddings on social media (and really, who hasn’t?), you’ve probably come across some photos that were taken illegally. Hawaii has many regulations around locations where weddings and photoshoots can legally take place, and unfortunately sometimes people do not follow the rules. Also be aware that rules frequently change, so even if a site you see here was legally permitted at the time, there’s no guarantee it will be in the future.
I don’t bring this up to scare you away, but to make you aware that you may not be able to have your elopement at that dream location you saw on Instagram or elsewhere. Part of my job as an adventure elopement photographer, which goes hand in hand with the Leave No Trace principles listed above, is to follow and respect all of the laws and customs of the areas my Amores and I visit.
That being said, there are plenty of stunning places where it’s a-ok to elope, and the other part of my job is to help you find the perfect (legal) location for you!
Most likely, yes. As I mentioned above, Hawaii has many laws and regulations protecting its landscape and cultural areas (for good reason!). You will likely need a permit even in places where elopements are allowed. Working with an experienced elopement photographer can help ensure that this process goes smoothly so it’s not something you’ll even need to think about on your elopement day!
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that while some locations allow fairly quick online permitting process (for example, those on this list of Open and Accessible sites), other locations like State and National Parks can require weeks (and possibly months) of lead time to ensure that the correct permits are in place for your elopement. Depending on how much time you have, we’ll work together to find you the ideal Hawaii elopement location that fits your timeline!
Stunning photos are pretty much a given at any elopement location you choose in Hawaii. So, the next question is, what should we do at our elopement? Here are just a few of the popular activities you can choose for your elopement day. However, the absolute best thing about an elopement is that there are no rules, so if the activity you are dreaming of isn’t on this list, reach out and we’ll try to make it happen!
Each elopement is different, but here’s an idea of what a full-day elopement timeline might look like:
6:00 AM: Sunrise hike
10:00 AM: Breakfast
11:00 AM – 2:00 PM: Rest or head to the beach
2:00 PM: Take a drive through gorgeous scenery
5:00 PM: Beachside Ceremony
6:00 PM: Picnic dinner
6:00 PM: Sunset
8:00 PM: Star photos
When compared to the typical traditional wedding, a Hawaii adventure elopement can save a great deal of money. Even with travel costs factored in, you could save anywhere from 15-20k just by eloping (yes, you read that right)!
To see how this is possible, let’s look at the cost of a traditional wedding. According to theknot.com, a traditional wedding with 100 guests (which, in the world of traditional weddings, is not even that big!) is estimated to cost between $26,820 – $31,600.
Now, let’s look at the costs of a typical Hawaii adventure elopement. Like anything, you can go as big or as small as you want, but this is generally in the range of what my Amores spend:
Travel: $1000 – $4,000
Photographer: $4,000 – $5000
Attire: $200 – $2,000
Hair and makeup: $250
Food and drink: $100 – $500
Total for a Hawaii elopement: $5,920 – $12,750
As you can see, it’s possible to have an epic Hawaiian adventure AND the elopement day of your dreams for less than 1/2 of what you’d spend on a traditional wedding!
I tailor each elopement exactly to a couple’s unique dreams and interests – no cookie cutter elopements here! No matter which elopement package you choose, this is what’s included:
Unless you already live in Hawaii, you’ll be arriving by plane. Here are the main airports on the Hawaiian Islands:
If you are not able to find a flight directly to your chosen island, don’t despair! Once you arrive in Hawaii, it’s fairly easy and inexpensive to travel between the islands. You can find out more about inter-island travel here.
Truthfully, there really is no bad time of year to elope in Hawaii. While there are certainly times that may be slightly more hot or rainy than others, one of the main draws of Hawaii is that it’s blessed with good weather year round.
Personally, my favorite time for Hawaii elopements is in the spring, from April through early June. At this time of year, the weather is generally warmer and drier than the winter months, but it’s not yet the peak summer tourist season.
Hawaii has a wide variety of lodging options, so whatever type of accommodations you are dreaming of, you can probably find it! There are numerous large, full-service hotels on Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island if you’re looking for a resort experience.
One thing to consider is that where you stay is a big part of your overall experience, so whatever you choose should feel comfortable and authentic to you. Because of this, I generally recommend trying to find an Airbnb that fits your vibe as a couple. The right Airbnb can not only serve as a great home base for relaxing after you explore the island, but can be a gorgeous backdrop for your getting ready or intimate photos. You can find Airbnb’s in a variety of price ranges to fit just about any budget.
Here are just a few jaw-dropping Airbnb options in Hawaii:
Depending on what your dream elopement looks like, you may want to bring in some other wedding professionals to help during you day. This could include florists, hair and makeup artists, guides, or musicians. Included with each of my elopement packages is a list of my trusted local vendors who will ensure that every detail of your day is perfect!
Hi there! I’m Adam and I live for helping couples just like you make their elopement dreams come true. If you were inspired by this shoot and want to learn more about how to elope in Hawaii, I’m your guy! I can help you find the best Hawaii elopement package and share all the best tips for your Hawaii elopement.
If you’re ready to start planning or just have some questions to decide if a Hawaii elopement is right for you, I’d love to hear from you.