I'm a wedding, elopement, and engagement photographer specializing in storytelling and true to life photography!
Listen, Hawaii has a special place in my heart for many reasons. I eloped on the island of Oahu and it was one of the best things my husband and I ever did. We tossed around many locations for our adventure elopement- Italy, Lake Tahoe, Mexico, just to name a few. We just kept coming back to Hawaii! There’s so much to do, there’s mountains AND the ocean, and there’s not many places you get both (with warm weather)! If I had the chance to do it all again, I would Elope in Hawaii every time!
I’m sharing all the things we did on our elopement day and how to plan your own epic adventure elopement in Hawaii!
The first step for planning an epic adventure is deciding where to do go. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to know the exact coordinates for where you want to exchange your vows, but which island is the best fit for you. Hawaii has 6 islands that you can visit, Oahu, Kauai, Hawaii (Big Island), Lanai, Molokai, and Maui! Here’s a quick little breakdown on each island, since each island is different!
I have visited Oahu three times and I love it. There’s something there for everyone! If you’re into adventure, it’s perfect. Into shopping, it’s perfect. If you’re into relaxing and also doing touristy things, it’s perfect! It offers so much and caters to many different interests.
This is the island for the adventurous lovers! If you want to spend your time exploring, this is the place to go. You can explore by land, by sea, and by air with some amazing helicopter tours! You’re going to find lots of lush green mountains and waterfalls on this island.
You can get a mix of luxury vacation and adventure on this island. Ever wanted to explore volcanos?! Well then take a trip to the Big Island, you will find Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. And yes you can get married there!
This is one of the smallest Hawaiian islands! There aren’t a ton of options for lodging but there are tons of things to do. If you’re into golfing, you can play a round at Manele Golf Course!
This is another small island, and it is a bit harder to get there than some of the other bigger islands but definitely worth it! This is perfect for the couples who want a more laid back trip. You can mail a coconut home, explore the lush green island, and get to know the Hawaiian culture more when visiting this island! It is probably the least touristy island to visit.
This island is similar to Oahu in the sense that it caters to both tourists and nature lovers! You can explore the Road to Hana, go whale watching, catch a sunset dinner cruise, snorkel with sea turtles, and much more!
Once you’ve decided where to elope, now you need to decide when to elope!
I have visited Hawaii in the months of May, late August – early September, and late October. Here’s what I’ll say, there’s no bad time to visit paradise! However, if you’re going for a particular reason there may be some better months than others to visit. I eloped the last day in August and was there the first week of September, the weather was very warm and the waters were pretty calm! We snorkeled on the North Shore of Oahu and didn’t get tossed around too much. The rainfall did effect some of the hikes we wanted to do, but other than that it was perfect! When I visited in May I loved it, there wasn’t a ton of tourist in Waikiki and we never had to wait to get a table at any restaurant we went to.
If you’re wanting to go whale watching I’ve heard the January and February are the best times to visit! In the summer months you are more likely to see sea turtles since the weather is warmer.
Once you’ve decided on a wedding date, now you need to book your photographer!
Hi, it’s me! I’m here to be your adventure elopement photographer 😉
In all seriousness, once you have decided on where and when to elope in Hawaii, the next step is finding your photographer. Here’s what I did to find my wedding photographer… I researched and I set up phone calls and chatted with them! After looking at so many photographers and their work I narrowed it down to the ones that felt fit the style I was looking for, as well as the budget we had. I wanted to find someone who had a personality that fit with ours, after all you are spending your wedding day with them! You want to make sure they feel familiar and make you feel comfortable the entire time! If you think I might be a good fit, let’s schedule a call and get to know one another, bounce ideas off each other, and chat about your dream elopement!
Once you’ve booked your dream photographer to document your dream elopement the next step is figuring out the logistics.
This part can seem intimidating and stressful, so here’s what you need to know! In order to get married when you elope in Hawaii you will need to apply for a marriage license there. You apply online and pick it up together in person, and you also need someone to legally perform the marriage and who can file the paperwork. The marriage license costs $60 + $5 filing fee.
If the thought of doing this stresses you out you can always go to the courthouse in your home state and get married before jetting off to Hawaii. If you want to bypass finding an officiant, etc. this might be an idea you consider!
Next is looking into permits, many places will require a permit for you to get married or even take photos there. There was a bill passed in 2022 that bans commercial activities including photoshoots, weddings, etc. at popular locations on Oahu. Your photographer can help you look into locations and places to exchange vows and take photos. We didn’t have an issue at all when my husband and I eloped in the summer of 2022!
Now that you’ve thought about the logistics it’s time for the fun part… the adventure!
In my opinion, this is the best part of planning! As an adventure elopement photographer I love to help my couples dream up ideas and make them happen.
The options are honestly endless! My suggestion is get out a piece of paper and jot down all the ideas you can think of. Sit down in front of your computer and start researching things to do in the area where you’re eloping!
Here’s what my husband and I did on our elopement day in Oahu!
We woke up and walked to our favorite breakfast spot on the island, even though it wasn’t open yet we had so much fun talking about how excited we were for the day!
For the adventure portion of the day we went snorkeling…and it was one of the most fun things we have ever done together! On our way to the beach we stopped and got shaved ice (shoutout to Coconut Girl & Guys for the best shaved ice on the island), then we went to lunch and had delicious burgers from Seven Brothers.
After we went snorkeling we headed to the west side of the island to watch the sunset and end the night sharing a beer!
The hikes in Hawaii are endless, so if you like to hike that’s something you can add to your timeline! If you’re into trying new foods, you could have a picnic on the beach. Want an adrenaline rush while taking in some insane views, go for a helicopter ride!
I would love to help you plan how to elope in Hawaii, I have so many ideas!
This isn’t a necessity BUT I think it’s a fun way to incorporate other elements into your day. Just because you’re eloping doesn’t mean you have to miss out on pretty flowers and yummy cake (or other dessert)!
Here are a few of my favorite florists on Oahu:
Belle De Jour Designs: Katie is the florist that created my dream wedding bouquet and it exceeded expectations! She was so easy to work with and I loved every part of her creation.
The Happy Haku: Another incredible florist on the island that I have worked with. Stunning Haku Leis and so easy to work with!
Lulu’s Lei & Bouquets: This little flower shop on the North Shore of Oahu is the cutest. You can order online and pickup at their shop or have them deliver. You choose the size, and if you want your own custom bouquet you can make note of the colors you want. Again, super easy to work with and I loved the bouquet they created!
Other vendors you can include in your elopement:
Once you have all the details set in place it’s time to book your accommodations! I have done both the hotel route and an Airbnb while staying on Oahu. If you are planning most of your day on the North Shore then I recommend looking into Airbnb’s as close as possible to where the biggest chunk of your day will take place. If this isn’t possible no worries! Keep in mind it will take you about an hour to travel from Waikiki to the North Shore. Another place on the island that I love is the Ko’Olina area. The hotels can be very pricey but once you’re over there you don’t have to leave if you don’t want to!
I love to help my couples plan their elopements, for more information on booking me as your photographer AND elopement planner head to this page!