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Unique Weddings “Hawaiian Wedding Customs”

Each culture has its unique wedding rituals, and it’s own spiritual visualization of the secrete connection between the two people committed to share their lives together. A perfect way to add flavor and uniqueness to your wedding day is to include an ancient ritual or a wedding custom from a different culture. As a wedding photographer, I travel with my team, LightStrikes Photography, around the world and documented various wedding traditions.

Today, I will dive into the Hawaiian wedding customs, and will introduce you to a wonderful team of artists, recreating the spirit of the Hawaiian culture with a beautiful dance performance, songs, and stunning fire show. Not a long ago, Hula Carolina performed at a local summer party, entertaining over 200 people, blending the rhythms of Hawaiian lap steel guitar, drums of Tahiti, ukulele, and soulful vocal performance. As a wedding photographer, I instantly found these NC local artists as a treasure, when it comes to creating uniqueness to any wedding. But let’s start with some essential cultural background and elements of the Hawaiian wedding.

The Island’s multi-cultural history influenced by Polynesian, Asian, and Western world, also means Hawaiian weddings are full of rich traditions. With vivid colors, flowery decoration, festive clothes, your guests would appreciate the relaxing and cheerful atmosphere of a Hawaiian themed wedding. The smell of fresh flowers will fill the air, the echo of the strong rhythm of the drums will set the perfect atmosphere. Every Hawaiian ceremony starts with a welcoming chant, the Oli Aloha, or with blowing of a pu, which is a conch shell horn, or lets call it Hawaiian fanfare.  A Hawaiian chanter will also walk the Bride down the aisle, chanting or telling a story of love and devotion. Luau dancers will graciously “flow” around the tables. 

An important element of the Polynesian celebrations is the fire, which symbolizes the light brought to the couple’s life. A torchbearer can introduce the couple and perform a ritualistic dance. Another element is the water, which symbolizes the purity, the clean spirit, and the “flow” to the new life.

Before the bride and the groom exchange the wedding rings, the officiant will bless them using Koa wood, a Ti leaf and water. The ritual symbolizes strength, good health, prosperity, new beginning. The bride usually holds the bowl, and the rings are blessed by pouring ocean water from the conch shell.

Sand ceremony or Lava Rock Ceremony are symbols of the couple’s union. Many couples choose different color sand, or even more symbolic – sand brought from different oceans, or part of the world. The lava rock symbolizes strength. It is wrapped in a Ti leaf, and set aside as an eternal commitment and unity with the Nature, asking for its blessing.

The dance of the Hula is a dramatic and emotional dance, performed by the bride and the groom, or dancers. Hula Carolina customizes in event performance, so having professional entertainers would ease the pressure of learning new dance steps.

A nice way of greeting your guests, is by giving them lei, or flower garland. Also, the leis could be an important part of the wedding ritual, and exchanged by the bride and the groom, symbolizing their love and respect.  The officiant can sometimes tie the hands of the bride and the groom with maile lei, or garland with dark green vines, symbol of unity and devotion.

The food! If you fully want to embrace the Hawaiian culture and recreate a traditional celebration, you need to find a good local culinary chef to prepare these mouthwatering dishes, like  kalua pig, lomi salmon, poi, or haupia. The presentation of the dishes and the blend of flavors will leave long-lasting impression on your guests.

Photo by: Raya Kostevska Photography (

If your venue has a lake, or a large pool, dimmed light from floating lanterns, and a decorated canoe or small boat, can start the journey, or the couple can leave after the ceremony. As a photographer, I see this moment as beautiful to document; it would allow the couple to enjoy a few minutes together and let them take deep breath from the emotional moment of the ceremony. Your photographer will certainly use this time to capture the romantic atmosphere, show the intimacy of the moment.

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