Hawaii Destination Wedding Planning Checklist

January 23, 2019

12-16 Months to ‘I Do’

  • Work out your budget. From flowers to airfare and everything in between.
  • Outline your guest list. This will affect your budget.
  • Decide on your island. The Hawaiian Islands are all beautiful, but weather can vary by island.
  • Make plans for your Hawaii Marriage License. Tip: there’s an office in the Sheraton Waikiki!
  • Do you and your fiancé have your passports or travel visas? Hawaii is part of the U.S. but if you’re traveling from abroad, make sure you have the right documents.
  • Hire a planner. This will make your life so much easier.
  • Secure your wedding venue and set your date! Work with one of our exceptional wedding event managers to ensure all of your details are taken care of for your wedding. Be sure to ask about wedding promotions!
  • Reserve your honeymoon suite. Be sure to ask the hotel’s wedding event coordinator about promotions for upgrades and more.
man and woman lying on bed inside room

The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort

9–11 Months to ‘I Do’

  • Recruit your bridal party. Make sure they know it’s a destination wedding, so they can prepare their travel documents and arrangements.
  • Send out Save The Dates. The sooner the better when it comes to destination weddings. You want to give your guests plenty of time to make arrangements and request vacation time.
  • Set up a wedding room block. Ask your hotel’s wedding event coordinator to assist with setting up a room block and any special requests you have to ensure you guests have a fantastic time.
  • Create a wedding website. In addition to the fun wedding details, make sure you outline information on travel, accommodations, suggested attire, weather, local activities and special considerations.
  • Plan any additional wedding-related events. You don’t need to do this if it’s not within your budget, but people are traveling quite a distance to celebrate with you, so it’s always a nice touch.
  • Create your gift registry. Bearing in mind that guests are spending time and money to travel to your wedding, you may choose to simply thank them for their presence and skip the registry all together. Or consider asking them to donate to a local cause of your choice like the Aloha United Way.
  • Say YES to the dress! Or tux, of course. Hawaii tends to warm, even in the winter, so a ballgown may not be the most comfortable. But it’s your day, so go with whatever makes you feel incredible and beautiful.
  • Purchase your airline tickets. Hawaii has dozens of direct flights from major U.S. and Oceania cities, so you have plenty of options. For a truly authentic Hawaiian experience, we recommend Hawaiian Airlines.
  • Work with your wedding planner or venue coordinator to find your vendors. Hawaii has an astounding number of extremely talented wedding vendors – from florals to photos to musicians, you’ll find world-class talent and expertise.
flat-lay photography of invitation cards

Ashley Goodwin Photography

6–8 Months To Go…

  • Take engagement photos, if you’d like. It’s totally up to you!
  • Work with your hotel’s wedding coordinator and chef to create the menu. We suggest considering a locally-inspired or locally-infused menu. Hawaii has delicious cuisine and talented chefs!
  • Book the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner location(s). If your wedding is intimate, you may choose to invite all of your guests to this event.
  • Schedule your dress fitting and get your bridal party attire. Anyone else who requires special attire should be taken care of at this time as well.
  • Order your wedding invitations. You’ll want to give guests plenty of time to RSVP, as well as point them to your wedding website for full details on accommodations, transportation, local attractions, wedding events, dress code, and gift registries.
  • Set dates and locations for bridal showers and bachelor/bachelorette parties. Create your guest list for these events, and let your MOH or another trusted friend/family member handle the rest.
  • Book wedding-day transportation, if needed. If your room block is at a separate location from your venue, set up a shuttle service for guest transportation to and from the wedding.
  • Continue booking vendors. Definitely have your photographer and caterer locked in by now. You may also want to book the following:
    • Officiant
    • Florist
    • DJ or Band
    • Cake Maker
    • Videographer
    • Rentals & Linens
    • Hairstylist/Makeup Artist
  • Review contracts.

3–5 Months To ‘I Do’

  • Finalize that guest list and get those invitations out! Remember, the earlier the better.
  • Start scheduling any informal recreational activities. This is totally optional, but it’s always a nice touch. If it’s too difficult on your budget, consider a fun beach day!
  • Purchase wedding rings and accessories. Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. Plus anything else you’ll need that day.
  • Finalize honeymoon plans. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with honeymooning in the same location as your destination wedding. You’ll be in Hawaii, so you can even hop to another island for a change of scenery.

6–8 Weeks ‘I Do’

  • Finalize and confirm:
    • Flight and hotel bookings.
    • Guest RSVPs and meal choices.
    • Wedding vows and readings with your officiant.
    • Shot list with your photographer/videographer.
    • Menu, beverage, and catering details.
    • All rental delivery times and pickups.
    • Song list for ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception with your DJ and/or band/musicians.
    • Timeline for the reception and who’s giving the toasts.
  • Do you have all necessary legal documents in hand? This may include passports, birth certificates, visas, and anything else needed to make your destination wedding legit.
  • Order wedding favors for your guests.
  • Buy gifts for the wedding party and parents of the bride/groom. You may also want to buy a gift for your fiancé.
  • Arrange welcome bags for your guests. They may include a welcome note, wedding itinerary, maps, locally made treats, or travel-sized essentials.
flat-lay photography of The Royal Hawaiian poster beside moth orchid

Amenities at The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort

3–5 Weeks To ‘I Do’

  • Send anything you can’t take with you on the plane to your on-site wedding coordinator (i.e. any reception decorations, wedding favors, welcome bag items or paper goods). Make sure you use a trusted and timely shipping method and get insurance for your package(s).
  • Pick up your wedding rings.
  • Have your final dress fitting. Bring your shoes, undergarments, and accessories for the full impact.
  • Collect final, final, final RSVPs. There will always be those last minute troublemakers!
  • Start putting a packing list together. Take your time so that you don’t forget anything important.

1–2 Weeks To ‘I Do’

  • Pick up your gown.
  • Confirm flight numbers and arrival times for all the important people in your wedding.
  • Finalize seating arrangements and have a seating chart or place cards created.
  • Put together your own Bridal Emergency Kit.
  • Check the weather report. Make a contingency plan if necessary. Weather can vary by island and even by part of the island, so be sure to check on your exact location.
  • Start packing for your wedding and honeymoon. Make sure you pack everything you need and triple check.
  • Figure out tips and final payments for vendors. Your invoice from the hotel will include gratuity for all services provided by the hotel. Other non-hotel vendors should be tipped accordingly.
  • Think you’ll need a facial? Better schedule it now. It’s best to have your facial a week out from your big day in case of any irritations.
four clear champagne flutes beside pink flower on white table

Azure Restaurant at The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort.

4–5 Days To ‘I Do’

  • Catch your flight! IMPORTANT: Pack your wedding attire, rings and anything else of value in your carry-ons.
  • Arrive at your wedding destination. You’ll want to show up a few days ahead of your guests so you’re there to greet them. You can also:
  • Do a walk-through of your ceremony and reception venue.
  • Meet with your coordinator and other vendors.
  • Apply for your marriage license.
  • Have a tasting with your caterer/cake maker.
  • Make sure welcome bags will be delivered to guests’ rooms.
  • Do a makeup & hair trial.
  • Enjoy a mani-pedi.

The Day Before ‘I Do’

  • Have your wedding dress steamed to remove any travel-induced wrinkles.
  • Enjoy your rehearsal and dinner. Easy on the bubbly – you don’t want to be hungover!
  • Try to go to bed early. You need your beauty sleep tonight!
brown chair lot near body of water

Ocean Lawn at The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort

Wedding Day!

  • Allow plenty of time to get ready. And don’t forget to bring your wedding rings and marriage license to the ceremony or give them to your wedding coordinator to take for you.
  • Get Married! Enjoy your time with your guests and live in the moment.
  • Sneak a private moment with your new spouse. It’s a moment you’ll cherish forever.

Live happily ever after.

Book your Hawaii Destination Wedding today!

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