Hawaiian Wedding Traditions

hawaiian wedding invitationGetting married in paradise? The colorful Hawaiian islands are a gorgeous wedding destination. If you are headed there, you may want to include some Hawaiian wedding traditions in your ceremony, or add some Polynesian touches.

Traditional Hawaiian brides wear a holoku (muumuu) and lei. Her groom wears a white shirt and trousers with a colorful sash around his waist and a maile leaf lei. According to “Timeless Traditions” by Lisl M. Sprangenberg, the lei is a symbol of love as well as greeting. In original wedding rites, the shaman or priest would bind the hands of the bride and groom with maile leaf leis as a symbol of commitment. Traditionally, the bride and groom hold hands during the entire ceremony. The parents of the bride and groom, attendants and guests may also wear leis, which can be made from all kinds of flowers including the traditional fragrant, pearly Pikake (white jasmine).

maile lei

At traditional weddings, coconut fibers are braided into a rope to symbolize the twining of two lives. The bride and groom can wear a braid as a small bracelet as a reminder, or entwine the braid into their leis before the ceremony.

Getting married under a “Kapa” (bark cloth) is a Polynesian tradition you could incorporate. Like the woven coconut strands, the Kapa symbolized two lives being joined. You may choose to add an affectionate “Honi,” or touching of noses before or after the expected “kiss the bride”.

It wouldn’t be Hawaiian without a hula! Often hula performers will explain the meanings in the dance marriage hula while performing for those uneducated hula-speak.

Money Dance shown in Honolulu Magazine

Other customs from across the sea have become Hawaiian wedding traditions. At your reception, you could include the Filipino “Money Dance” where guests tape or tie money onto the couple as they dance their first dance. Hawaiian brides also adopted the Japanese tradition of Origami-Tsurus. Since the 1960’s Hawaiian brides fold 1001 paper cranes for display at the reception, and later at home for good luck, long life and a happy marriage.

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