Destination Weddings: Hawaii
Get married in the islands, and have the ultimate honeymoon too! The secret to cutting costs is to do the legwork yourself.
On Oahu, contact Rev. Jerry Le Lesch and Rev. Toni Baran (44-160 Kou Pl., Suite 2, Kaneohe, HI 96744, 808/235-6966, lovehawaii.com), who have been performing weddings since 1985. For $95, they will coordinate your license and perform the ceremony (they even know some great spots to get married for free).
On the Big Island, we recommend Rev. Libby Kelson-Fulcher (P.O. Box 4965, Kailua-Kona, HI 96745, 808/322-3322, weddingsalaheart.com), who can perform both traditional ceremonies (including Jewish weddings) and customized ceremonies. She charges $175 for officiating the ceremony and also offers a "Simply Hawaiian" package for $395 that includes coordinating the wedding license, finding a site, helping you design the ceremony, performing the vows, providing two traditional leis, and assisting in any other details.
On Maui, call Rev. Linda Stevens (2162 Kahookele St., Wailuku, HI 96793, 808/280-6137) who has a basic "minister only" plan that includes arranging for the license, suggesting sites, and performing the wedding for a reasonable amount.
FREE ROMANTIC TROPICAL SITES FOR YOUR CEREMONY
More than 20,000 marriages a year are performed in the islands in a range of places: near the gentle wash of the waves on a beach at sunset, alongside a tumbling waterfall at dawn, atop a wind-swept bluff overlooking the ocean, deep in a rain forest jungle, and even in more traditional settings, like a church, synagogue, or mosque.
If you don't have your heart set on a big church wedding, you can save a lot of money by tying the knot in one of Hawaii's magnificent outdoor settings. If you pick wisely, you can have the location absolutely free. One example of a dream wedding site is Kapiolani Beach Park on Oahu. Not only is it free but your wedding photos can have Waikiki Beach in the background in one shot and, from another angle, the famous Diamond Head volcano in the next shot, letting everyone know just where you celebrated your wedding.
Hawaii's state and county beaches and parks allow you to have your ceremony there at no cost; however, you must fill out some paperwork to obtain the necessary permits.
DREAMY INEXPENSIVE HONEYMOON ACCOMMODATIONS
When the ceremony is over, the honeymoon begins, and what better place to honeymoon than in sensuous Hawaii? It's not necessary to go into hock to have a sumptuous honeymoon in the islands. Our picks of low-cost but romantic sites at which to spend your honeymoon (or to stash the relatives for a few days before or after the ceremony) include these:
On Oahu, head for the relative serenity of the North Shore, where exotic flowers bloom in dazzling colors, the fragrance of the rolling ocean fills the air, and the glitter of thousands of stars beckons romance at night. For a honeymoon on the beach, "Auntie" Alice Tracy has been welcoming newlyweds for decades at her oceanside Ke Iki Hale, a collection of one- and two-bedroom cottages and duplexes right on the beach. Located between two legendary surf sites (Waimea Bay and the Banzai Pipeline), her units face a 200-foot stretch of white sand beach, and although none is new and furnishings are modest, each one is immaculately clean, homey, and comfortable. Perfect for honeymooners, with no phone and no television to distract you, only that great beach outside and the two of you inside. The cottages start at just $65 (59-579 Ke Iki Rd., Haleiwa, HI 96712, 808/638-8229).
Another inexpensive site on the North Shore, and a great place to stash the family, is the Best Inn Hukilau. This small (49 units), two-story, plantation-style hotel is within walking distance of the Polynesian Cultural Center and just across the street from a secluded white sand beach. The rooms are fairly standard, with two king, queen, or double beds, TV, phone, air-conditioning, small refrigerator, and coffeemaker and microwave on request. All the rooms overlook the swimming pool and barbecue/picnic area. Guests include lots of families, although Craig Huish, the general manager, says they get their share of honeymooners because the hotel is so close to the Mormon Temple in Laie. The units start at just $89 and include continental breakfast (55-109 Laniloa St., Laie, HI 96762, 800/526-4562, laieinn.com).
On the Big Island, we recommend spending your honeymoon in Kona, where it's perpetually sunny and the ocean is calm 350 days a year. The best deal for a boutique hotel right on the ocean is the Kona Tiki Hotel, located about a mile from downtown Kailua-Kona (close enough to enjoy the nightlife but far enough away to have peace and quiet). The rooms feature ceiling fans (with those ocean breezes, you don't need air-conditioning), mini-refrigerators, and spacious lanais (porches) to take in the view. What the rooms do not have are televisions or phones, but on your honeymoon, who cares? Rates start at $59 ($79 if you want a kitchenette) and include free continental breakfast by the swimming pool every morning (75-5968 Aln Dr., Kailua-Kona, HI 96740, 808/329-1425).