Iolani Palace is the perfect setting for
a dream wedding reception.
If money were no object, chances are a clients’ dream wedding on Oahu would involve more than flower leis and a barefoot beach ceremony. With this in mind, several resorts, venues and wedding planners are carving a niche for themselves by organizing fantasy weddings that give guests something to talk about for years to come.
At the Kahala Hotel and Resort, for instance, couples can make a dramatic entrance via outrigger canoe before saying their vows at the outdoor Koko Head gazebo as a violinist, harpist and cellist play in the background. Afterward, a reception features a cupcake tower, Hawaiian shave ice, a traditional Chinese lion dance and a Polynesian show. The wedding party can also add a dolphin or fireworks show.
But a storybook wedding wouldn’t be complete without a horse-drawn carriage, and at Iolani Palace — built in 1882 for Hawaii’s King Kalakaua — a horse and carriage equipped with attendants dressed in Victorian garb can make newlyweds feel like royalty.
For upward of $200,000, the palace grounds are lit up and an opera is staged from the amphitheater. Local celebrity chefs, like Roy Yamaguchi or James Beard Award-winner Alan Wong, tailor dinner and dessert to the couple’s liking, and wedding guests enjoy a private tour of the palace.
For a more subtle affair, following the traditional blowing of a conch shell, clients can be married by a Hawaiian minister while standing under JW Marriott Ihilani Resort and Spa’s bamboo and fresh-flower archway. After saying "I do," the bride and groom sip cocktails with guests and take candid photos in a photo booth. During dinner, a 12-piece orchestra plays, followed by a hula show and a disc jockey, who spins contemporary hits.
Couples can also book the Maile Affair package at the Halekulani Hotel, a $35,000 extravaganza that starts with limousine pick-up at the airport. The package includes accommodations in the hotel’s exclusive Vera Wang Suite, and the wedding takes place on a private balcony overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Diamond Head. The newlyweds also indulge in spa treatments for two.