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The silky warm weather, the starry nights, the gentle trade winds caressing your skin -- Maui is so romantic. That's probably why thousands of people get married on the island. Plus, after the ceremony, you're already on your 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 annually on the islands; nearly half are for couples from somewhere else. The booming wedding business has spawned more than 70 companies that can help you organize a long-distance event and stage an unforgettable wedding, Hawaiian style or your style. However, you can also plan your own island wedding, even from afar, and not spend a fortune doing it.

The Paperwork

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, State Department of Health Bldg., 54 S. High St., Wailuku, HI 96793 (tel. 808/984-8210; www.state.hi.us/doh/records/vr_marri.html), which is open Monday through Friday from 8am to 4pm. The office will no longer mail you the brochure Getting Married; you can download it from the website or contact a marriage-licensing agent closest to where you'll be staying in Hawaii (also listed on the website).

Once on Maui, the prospective bride and groom must go together to the marriage-licensing agent to get the license, which costs $60 and is good for 30 days. Both parties must be 15 years of age or older (anyone 15-17 years old must have proof of age, written consent of both parents, and written approval of the judge of the family court) and not more closely related than first cousins. That's it.

Gay couples cannot marry in Hawaii. After a protracted legal battle and much discussion in the state legislature, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that the state will not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Doing It Yourself

The marriage-licensing agents, who range from employees of the governor's satellite office in Kona to private individuals, are usually friendly, helpful people who can steer you to a nondenominational minister or marriage performer who's licensed by the state of Hawaii. These marriage performers are great sources of information for budget weddings. They usually know wonderful places to have a ceremony for free or for a nominal fee. For the names and addresses of marriage-licensing agents on Maui and Lanai, call tel. 808/984-8210; on Molokai, call tel. 808/553-3663.

If you don't want to use a wedding planner, but you do want to make arrangements before you arrive on Maui, my best advice is to get a copy of the daily newspaper, the Maui News, PO Box 550, Wailuku, HI 96793 (tel. 808/244-7691; www.mauinews.com). People willing and qualified to conduct weddings advertise in the classifieds. They're great sources of information, as 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 $150 to a small fortune -- it all depends on what you want.

Planners on Maui include First Class Weddings (tel. 800/262-8433 or 808/877-1411; www.firstclassweddings.com), A Dream Wedding: Maui Style (tel. 800/743-2777 or 808/661-1777; fax 808/667-2042; www.adreamwedding.net), Romantic Maui Weddings (tel. 800/808-4144 or 808/874-6444; fax 808/879-5525; www.justmauied.com), and Dolphin Dream Weddings (tel. 800/793-2-WED [793-2933] or 808/661-8535; www.dolphindreamweddings.com). For a more complete list, contact the Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau (tel. 800/525-MAUI [6284]; www.visitmaui.com). Many of the big resorts have their own coordinators on staff as well.

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.