Whatever your budget, Kauai is a great place for a wedding. Not only does the entire island exude romance and natural beauty, but after the ceremony, you're only a few steps away from the perfect honeymoon. And the members of your wedding party will most likely be delighted, since you've given them the perfect excuse for their own island vacation.
More than 20,000 marriages are performed each year on the islands, and nearly half of the couples married here are from somewhere else. This booming business has spawned dozens of companies that can help you organize a long-distance event and stage an unforgettable wedding, Hawaiian-style or your own style.
The easiest way to plan your wedding is to let someone else handle it at the resort or hotel where you'll be staying. All of the major resorts and hotels (and even most of the small ones) have wedding coordinators, whose job is to make sure that your wedding day is everything you've dreamed about. They can plan everything from a simple (relatively) low-cost wedding to an extravaganza that people will remember and talk about for years. Remember that resorts can be pricey -- catering, flowers, musicians, and so on may cost more in a resort than outside a resort, but sometimes you can save money because the resort will not charge a room rental fee if they get to do the catering. Be frank with your wedding coordinator if you want to keep costs down. However, you can also plan your own island wedding, even from afar, and not spend a fortune doing it.
If you want to plan the wedding yourself, helpful tools on the Internet include the Kauai Visitors Bureau's Official Kauai Travel Planner (for a free copy call tel. 800/262-1400), a great source of information for weddings, accommodations, and activities; information from Hawaii Visitors and Conventions Bureau website, www.gohawaii.com; and the Kauai Wedding Professional Association (www.kauaiwedpro.com).
The state of Hawaii has some very minimal procedures for obtaining a marriage license. The first thing you should do is contact the Marriage License Office (tel. 808/241-3498; www.hawaii.gov/doh, search "marriage license"). The staff will mail you a brochure, Getting Married, and direct you to the marriage licensing agent closest to where you'll be staying on Kauai. The office is open Monday through Friday from 8am to 4pm.
Once on Kauai, the prospective bride and groom must go together to the marriage licensing agent to get a license. A license costs $60 and is good for 30 days; if you don't have the ceremony within the time allotted, you'll have to pay another $60 for another license. The only requirements for a marriage license are that both parties are 15 years of age or older (couples 15-17 years old must have proof of age, written consent of both sets of parents, and the written approval of the judge of the family court) and are not more closely related than first cousins. That's it.
Planning the Wedding
Doing It Yourself -- The marriage licensing agents, which range from the governor's satellite office to private individuals, are usually friendly, helpful people who can steer you to a nondenominational minister or someone who's licensed by the state of Hawaii to perform the ceremony. These marriage performers are great sources of information for budget weddings. They usually know great places to have the ceremony for free or for a nominal fee.
If you don't want to use a wedding planner but want to make arrangements before you arrive on Kauai, our best advice is to get a copy of the daily newspaper Garden Island, 3137 Kuhio Hwy., Lihue, HI 96766 (tel. 808/245-3681; www.thegardenisland.com). People willing and qualified to conduct weddings advertise in the classifieds. They're great sources of information because they know the best places to have the ceremony and can recommend caterers, florists, and everything else you'll need.
Using a Wedding Planner -- Wedding planners -- many of whom are marriage licensing agents as well -- can arrange everything for you, from a small, private, outdoor affair to a full-blown formal ceremony in a tropical setting. They charge anywhere from $499 to a small fortune -- it all depends on what you want.
Planners on Kauai include Coconut Coast Weddings & Honeymoons (tel. 800/585-5595; www.kauaiwedding.com); A Simple Marriage (tel. 808/742-6115; www.asimplemarriagekauai.com); and Island Weddings & Blessings (tel. 800/998-1548 or 808/828-1548; www.weddings-kauai.com).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.