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Sunsets. Beaches. Rainforests. Waterfalls. With such generous natural assets, Maui paints a picturesque setting for any couple’s ideal destination wedding. Add to that the special culture and local customs of the destination, as well as its highly experienced industry professionals, and the result is a wedding that is truly distinct.
Maui features more than 30 miles of beachfront locations that are popular for a simple and intimate oceanside wedding, ranging from the golden sands of Oneloa in Makena to the south, to Puu Kekaa (Black Rock) framing the picturesque ocean in Kaanapali to the north. Alternatively, more couples are opting for private estate and resort weddings, which Maui provides plentifully. Hotels, condominiums and estates around the island are available for wedding coordinators to secure for couples. For newlyweds, many hotels offer packages with accommodations such as chocolates with chilled champagne, pathways of petals in the bridal suite, heart-shaped Jacuzzis and orchids bubbling in bathtubs.
Maui’s unique cultural customs can create an atmosphere quite different than the average wedding. Couples can choose to have a very traditional ceremony or incorporate island-style twists into their special day, such as exchanging leis, saying their vows in Hawaiian and ending the event with the Hawaiian Wedding Song. Whether it’s an underwater wedding or a helicopter ride to a remote waterfall for a unique exchange of vows, the possibilities on Maui are endless.
Additionally, Maui’s location and large amount of airlift make it easy for families to reach no matter where they are coming from. For U.S. citizens, the island is both exotic and convenient, eliminating the hassle of passports, foreign money and different languages. Maui emphasizes the romance of a tropical dream wedding, while maintaining the conventionality and ease of orchestrating such a ceremony.
Maui stands out from other destinations thanks to its bountiful and varied activities. Couples have the option of extending their celebration with family and friends, from an early morning brunch after the wedding to a week of enjoying sunset sailings, evening luaus, hiking atop Mt. Haleakala, zipline and snorkel excursions, agricultural tours, shopping at high-end retailers as well as mom-and-pop shops, and cultural cuisine from the various restaurants around the island.
The biggest surprise comes from the reasonable cost of a Maui wedding; many couples find it similarly priced or even less expensive compared to the same event on the mainland.
Terryl Vencl, executive director of Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau (MVB), emphasizes the positive aspects of a Maui wedding.
“Couples who wed on Maui have the support of an entire industry humming behind them,” said Vencl. “This is not an isolated island where it would be hard to find that perfect centerpiece. Couples have all the options of a mainland wedding: ministers of all faiths, musicians of all varieties, white doves or butterflies for release, flowers of every description — whatever couples need to make their ceremony unique and special.”
MVB provides an abundance of assistance for mainland travel agents to ensure an ideal wedding for clients. Its Message From Maui Nui newsletter is sent each quarter containing updates and news of the specifics of the wedding market. Additionally, during visits with agents, the MVB team incorporates various aspects of wedding planning and offers training aimed at showcasing Maui’s uniqueness. The bureau advertises in a variety of travel industry publications both on and offline and offers fam trips to help agents spice up the average vacation.
As the destination wedding market becomes an increasingly popular travel niche, MVB aims to share information of this hidden gem through various wedding and romance-themed trade shows and advertorials in bridal publications.
“Sometimes without the proper information, planning a destination wedding can lead to unexpected obstacles,” Vencl noted.
Travel agents and their clients should hire a local planner who knows all the ins-and-outs of a Maui wedding, from permits and locations to food and entertainment.
“I advise planning well in advance,” she added.
With approximately 5,827 weddings and civil unions for non-resident couples recorded on Maui in 2012, it’s no wonder couples have to plan ahead. The island hosts 38 percent of the statewide total of weddings, and its share of the market remains relatively steady. Although island and state totals have dropped overall because of the economic strain of recent years, it’s clear that Maui still reigns as a popular and one-of-a-kind wedding destination.