If you’re considering having your wedding in Hawaii, then the Big Island absolutely HAS to be on your list of options! This island has some of the most beautiful landscapes out of all of the islands, and truly has something for every couple, no matter what type of wedding you’re planning or what type of vacation you’re dreaming of. I’ve compiled all of my expert knowledge into this article to guide you through how to get married on the Big Island – feel free to read through the whole thing, or navigate to what you want to know using the table of contents below. Enjoy!
Table of Contents
- How to Plan Your Big Island Wedding
How to Plan Your Big Island Wedding
1. Pick a part of the island
First, you’ll want to pick what part of the island you want to stay at + host your celebration at! The Big Island is separated into 6 main regions, all with different climates, landscapes, & opportunities.
The Hamakua Coast, located along the northeast part of the island, is an absolutely stunning part of the island, with those lush tropical rainforests you DREAM of when you think of Hawaii, tall waterfalls, and the most scenic green valleys. Simply take a lovely scenic drive along the coast and you’ll be able to experience the beauty of the ocean & trees that you’ve seen from all those glamorous travel bloggers!
Hilo is another region on the northeastern side of the island, just south of the Hamakua Coast. Not only does Hilo also feature plentiful lush forests, waterfalls, and coastal views for days, it’s also got a vibrant town that’s perfect for tourists coming in from out of state who are looking for a fun night out on the town. There’s no shortage of activities to take part in & opportunities to explore around Hilo: take the 45-minute drive south to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, visit the Liliuokalani Gardens, or explore the farmers market in downtown Hilo!
Kau is a more remote town in the southern part of the Big Island, perfect for visitors who aren’t necessarily interested in staying in a luxury resort & would rather find a small, cozy home to relax away from the crowds. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is located in Kau, and is a must-visit for anybody visiting the island for the first time! Take the opportunity to explore the area surrounding Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, or visit the Kau Desert for an afternoon hike. The eastern side of Kau also features tons of farmland, from nut orchards to roaming cattle to coffee farms that produce some of that delicious Hawaiian coffee we all love!
Kona encompasses most of the west side of the island and is truly one of the best regions to visit during your time on the Big Island. It has something for everyone: plenty of nightlife if you’re looking for a good celebration the night before/after your wedding, walking tours to learn about Kona’s history, opportunities for ocean exploration (snorkeling, dolphin-watching, sailing, you name it & Kona’s got it!), and, of course, tours of Kona’s absolutely delicious-smelling coffee farms!
The Kohala Coast runs along the northwestern part of the island & is home to luxurious resorts, red lava rock fields, farmland, old fishing villages, and plenty of white sand beaches. Spend the day relaxing at Hapuna Beach State Park, then hop on over to the Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site for a unique learning opportunity.
Finally, Puna sits south of Hilo, on the eastern tip of the island. This is the place to go if you love to be surrounded by a free-spirited vibe, and want the chance to visit some incredible black sand beaches, the Pahoa boardwalk, or Kalapana to see the remnants of the lava flow that covered Kaimu.
2. Look at Big Island wedding venues
The Big Island, like the other main islands of Hawaii, is FILLED with absolutely stunning wedding venues for every type of couple. Take a look at some of my all-time favorites below in Kona, North Kona, & along the Kohala Coast!
Kona Wedding Venues
I adore Papa Kona so much that I even have a whole-ass blog post dedicated to it – head here for an absolutely incredible in-depth guide to Getting Married at Papa Kona!
Holualoa (not the Holualoa Inn – a private venue!)
In the mountains (another private venue)
North Kona Wedding Venues
Kohala Coast Wedding Venues
3. Hire your Big Island wedding photographer
If you’re looking for a Big Island wedding photographer who knows the area like the back of her hand, is ready to capture your dream day exactly as you dreamt it, and will hold your hand the entire damn way – hello beautiful, you’ve found me! You can learn more about me here & take a look at what I have to offer you below. Fortunately for you, I visit my family back in Hawaii fairly often, so it’s easy for me to make the trip to the Big Island for your big day depending on your wedding date & exact location!
4. Nail down your date
Did you know that the Big Island has eight (yes, EIGHT) independent climate zones across the island?! Technically, there are actually ten if you count the two non-”independent” zones that are classified by a slightly different system – but it’s all the same to me!
Take a look at the climate map of the island below to get an idea of just how distinct the climate is across different parts of the island:
Best time of year for a wedding on the Big Island
Because of the huge range of biomes on the Big Island, the best time of year for a wedding on the Big Island really depends on the type of climate you’re looking for, and the type of location you’re envisioning.
Want to get married along the coast with the waves behind you? you’ll want to avoid picking a date during monsoon season.
If you’re dreaming of staying somewhere where your face won’t be dripping with sweat from the humidity, pick a less humid part of the island & plan your wedding during the drier season!
Want to avoid rain as MUCH as physically possible for your Big Island wedding? Don’t plan your big day on a part of the island that’s continuously wet (doesn’t have a dry season).
This website is absolutely FANTASTIC for more in-depth information about each climate & each season in Hawaii. So, I’d highly recommend referring to it when picking the time of year your Big Island wedding will take place!
5. Book your venue
Now that you’ve hopefully narrowed down your venue options to 4-5 venues, it’s time to reach out to each venue, inquire about their packages + your desired date, and sign the dotted line for your dream Big Island venue!
If you’re unable to visit the island due to work, COVID, etc., a lot of venues now have the option to take a “virtual tour.” You can often find this on their website, or contact them to ask if they’re able to send you detailed videos of the ceremony & reception sites you’re interested in!
6. Get your Hawaii marriage license
Now that you have your Big Island wedding date nailed down & made official (🎊), you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the legalities of getting married in the state of Hawaii.
How do you get married on the Big Island?
Getting your Hawaii marriage license is a step in the process that’s easy to forget, but cannot be overlooked! This is a crucial step to making sure you follow the state’s rules & regulations, and so you can enjoy your wedding absolutely, 1000% stress-free🙌🏼
There are a few important things to note when getting your Hawaii marriage license:
- There’s no waiting period before your marriage can take place once you get your license! So you won’t need to plan in advance for a certain amount of time between getting your license & your wedding date – bless Hawaii for making that easy for us!
- Your marriage license will expire 30 days from the date of being issued, so your wedding does have to be within that date range.
- You’ll need two separate documents: a marriage license and a marriage certificate. The license permits your marriage to take place in Hawaii, and the certificate is proof that your legal marriage has been performed!
- A Hawaii marriage license costs $60.00 plus a $5.00 administrative cost.
- You don’t need to be a state resident or U.S. citizen in order to get a Hawaii marriage license!
- The legal age to marry is 18, but I’m assuming you could’ve guessed that.
Here’s how to get your Hawaii marriage license, according to the State of Hawaii website:
- Apply for your marriage license online here, following along with these provided instructions. You’ll fill out your application as well as pay the $65 in fees!
- Once you’ve submitted your application, you’ll need to find a marriage license agent to appear in front of together.
- If they approve your application, you’ll be issued your license!
7. Hire the rest of your vendors
Once you’ve hired your photographer & booked your venue, it’s time to hire the rest of your dream vendor team!
Here’s a quick list of vendors you won’t want to forget:
- Planner and/or coordinator
For some absolutely STUNNING tropical wedding inspiration to help you start dreaming up your wedding decor, florals, & more, check out this blog post ASAP!
8. Book your travel to the Big Island
If you’re flying into the Big Island from the mainland:
You have a few options: if you’re traveling in from Oahu, you can simply take the quick flight from the Honolulu International Airport (HNL) to Kona.
If you’re flying into the Big Island from another island:
Traveling around the Big Island
I highly recommend renting a car so you’re able to make the absolute most out of your time on the island! If you know you’ll be traveling around the island and exploring the different sides, consider flying into one side of the island & leaving from the other. This way, you are free to drive to the other side of the island and simply fly out from that airport instead of having to drive back to where you flew into! There are rental car companies at both international airports, and you should be able to arrange a drop-off at the other airport if you choose to do that.
9. Book a place to stay on the Big Island
- Luxury Beach Apartment
- Cottage-Style Kailua Studio by Lanikai Beach
- Tropical Garden Studio with Pool
- Plantation Cottage by the Beach
- Royal Kona Resort
- Outrigger Kona Resort & Spa
- Four Seasons Resort Hualalai
- Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel
The Kohala Coast
- Orchard Cottage on Ocean Cliff
- Oceanfront Puako Paradise
- Luxurious Private Hale
- Waimea Ohana Guesthouse
10. Research things to do on the Big Island
And finally, now that all the official stuff is ready & done for your big day, it’s time to start planning the fun stuff! The Big Island is SO full of incredible opportunities for both Hawaii locals & tourists alike, so be sure to take advantage of your time on the island.
Here are some fun activities to consider doing while you’re on the Big Island!
- Go snorkeling
- Visit white-sand (& black-sand) beaches
- Swim with the turtles
- Relax in a hot spring
- Try paddleboarding, kayaking, or sailing
- Go hiking
- Try stargazing at the Mauna Kea summit
- Go mountain biking
- Drive along the coast & stop at scenic overlooks
- Walk through the rainforest to find waterfalls
- Take a helicopter tour
- Visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
- Go horseback riding through the beaches/mountains
- Do a tour & tasting at a Kona coffee farm
- Visit a botanical garden
If you’re still considering all of your island wedding options, I’m guessing Oahu is somewhere near the top of your list!
In short, to learn more about having a wedding on Oahu – head over to my guide on How to Get Married on Oahu, and you can also check out two of my absolute FAVORITE Oahu wedding venues at the links below! Happy venue-hunting!