Wedding Planning Tips

10 Tips to to plan your Wedding in Hawaii

You may have been dreaming about your wedding since you were a little child. However, planning a wedding, especially planning a ‘destination wedding,’ can be overwhelming. Since you are most likely doing this for the first time, I would like to share some expertise I have gained over the past ten years as a wedding photographer and planner, to help you avoid some common mistakes. Following these ten simple tips will help your wedding day will go much smoother. Please bookmark this page so you can refer to it as needed.

wedding planning

1. Schedule Enough Time for Make-Up and Hair

Have your make-up and hair team come to your hotel or home. This will definitely help to make things easier and save quite a bit of time. Without having to get the entire party to and from a salon, the bridal party can get into their dresses right after their make-up is done, if need be. Ask the hair and make-up team how long they will need, and make sure to schedule a little extra time for safety.

Always start with hair and make-up; it will take a lot longer than you might think. Usually, people in the party expect to pay for hair and make-up themselves. It's a good idea to let everyone in the party know how much hair and make-up will cost, if you aren’t paying for everybody, so that they can have payment arranged beforehand.

You will be much more relaxed when you have a little extra time after your hair and make-up is done. Having a mimosa ready so that you can enjoy your time with the girls is a great opportunity to get some candid and posed photos of all of you.

wedding planning


2. Bring someone with you to the Dress-Fitting

Unless you are wearing a very simple dress, bring someone with you to the dress-fitting who will be with you in your room when you are getting ready. If you can, bring two or more people. Some wedding dresses may take longer to get on that you anticipate, especially those with laces. I have seen bridesmaids working on those for nearly half an hour. Make sure your maid of honor and someone else in your party knows how to bustle your dress if it has a train.

wedding planning

3. Get dressed early

Have everyone in your party get dressed before you get dressed: ideally half an hour earlier. When taking photos of you getting ready, it looks much nicer when the rest of the party are already dressed up.We love to capture Dad's reaction when he sees you for the first time, and it looks much better when he is already dressed for the wedding. Once you are ready, we want to start taking pictures of the bridal party.

wedding planning

4. Stay Close

Keep in mind Hawaii is in fact a Big Island and traffic flows slower on our small streets than on mainland highways. Get ready close to your ceremony site and plan enough time for traveling. Drive the distance the day before, at roughly the same time, so that you have an idea of approximately how long it will take. We do have rush-hours too. Keep in mind that there is less traffic on Saturdays and Sundays. Ideally, have the reception close to your wedding site. If you plan the reception site further away, make sure to allow enough time for traveling. Usually reception sites are very scenic here in Hawaii and it's the perfect place for your group photos and romantic photos of the two of you. After we are done with your group photos, have your guests relax at the reception site for a cocktail hour while we are taking your romantic shots.

wedding planning

5. Plan enough time for Family Photography

We take all the photographs of the bridal party before the wedding and the groom's party. We don't want to keep you from your party and doing it before gives you more time to party. After the ceremony we take the photographs of both of you together with the family. Family Photographs are very important. There are not many opportunities where you have everybody together and dressed up. I like make sure that you have many individual photographs of you and your loved ones. Such as you and Grandma, you and Grandpa, the three generations, etc. I work really fast and make it fun. Plan about 2 minutes for each group photo with two or more.

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6.Time to Refresh

Schedule some time to refresh yourself before you are with your guests, and you will feel a lot better. You might need some time for make-up touch-ups or just a quiet moment to drink a glass of water before your reception.

wedding planning

7. Time with your Guests

I have it seen so many times: A bride has to go table to table to talk with guests and has missed dancing to her favorite song. A good idea is to plan a cocktail hour and appetizers so you have time to mingle with guests before anything else is planned.

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8. First Look

In Hawaii, many couples find it easier to travel together from the hotel to the ceremony site. The advantage to this is that we can take some more photos of you before the ceremony. Most couples we meet are still overwhelmed with emotions when the bride is finally walking down the aisle, and they realize that this is the moment. The ‘first look’ not only shows the admiration how beautiful the loved one looks, but is also full of emotions that the moment is finally here. If your ceremony and reception is at the same location, the cocktail hour is usually right after the ceremony. If you don't want to miss this time with the guests, consider doing the ‘first look’ before the ceremony. We can stage it beautifully and get the expression on his face when he sees you for the first time. Then we can take all the family photos with both of you before the ceremony. (If you are planning a sunset wedding, you should reserve 30 minutes before sunset for romantic photos of just the two of you)

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9. Shoes

High-heeled shoes are beautiful and very sexy, but most weddings in Hawaii are at the beach or even on the lava rocks. It’s totally fine if you would like to wear high-heels, but also bring along some flip-flops so you can walk to and from the beach and any other photo locations easier. Here in Hawaii we call them ‘slippers.’ 

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10. Survival kit

It can be hot outside at the beach, so bring some tissues, water, and sunglasses, as well as a basket for everyone's keys and cell phones. Nobody needs an extra bulge in their pocket, and photos look a lot better when pockets are empty.

One last tip

Weddings almost never start on time, no matter how well you plan them. Just ask your married friends, and most of them will agree. This doesn't have to be an issue, and don't stress about it. Just make sure that you plan in plenty of ‘cushion time’ so you aren’t rushed at any stage of your magical day. This is your wedding day and you only live once, so enjoy every moment. Just plan some extra time for you and your party, and relieve a little bit of the stress. And don't forget to schedule some time for just the two of you.