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Shena moved to Maui in 1990 and has worked in the travel industry for most of that time. She's currently an on-site wedding co-ordinator where she oversees the location, ministerial management, photography, videography, catering, music, flowers and a million more details to make sure that people more

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Get Maui'd - Part 2

Bring the Inside Out

Thanks to Maui's temperate climate, your wedding can be outdoors year round. But, remember: it's still the tropics. Confirm your site's sunset orientation, plus check wind and rain patterns. Island climate changes from hot to cool or wet to dry within only a few miles - and a few minutes! Comprehensive weather information can be found at or the Weather Channel. Always have a "rain plan," even if it's just a clear plastic rain umbrella for two. Remember brides: a tropical shower does make beautiful rainbows!

Maui Family Vacations

Recreate a lounge atmosphere on the grassy lawns of estates or beachside hotel grounds. Lori Lawrence of Tropical Maui Weddings arranged a couch, a fountain and a giant Buddha under a large tree at the Olowalu Plantation House. "With the night lighting it looked like a lounge in a bar," she said. Mix ballroom formalities with outdoor elements by hanging chandeliers from tree limbs, laying oriental carpets across concrete patios, tossing silk pillows on deck loungers, and setting a table for two in the sand.


Nothing says Hawaii like tropical blooms and natural fibers. Use orchids, hibiscus, plumeria, bird of paradise, protea, tuberose, pikake and gardenias in abundance. Take your vows inside a heart-shaped ring of flowers on the sand. Define your wedding space on wide, open beaches by using tiki torches to create a bridal aisle. Incorporate bamboo, koa bowls or frames, ti leaves, pineapples, papayas and mangos in centerpieces. You can rely on lauhala (a platted mat from the hala tree) for island charm and affordable décor. Carpets of lauhala can be picked up inexpensively on island at the big box stores such as Kmart or Wal-Mart and used to screen unsightly distractions, or wrap bars, picnic tables and trash receptacles. Lauhala makes attractive card baskets, ring pillows, flower girl baskets, table coverings, favor gift boxes with lauhala roses, beach bags, fans and lauhala jewelry!

White Muumuu or Bikini?

Fashion-forward Hawaiian brides forgo the traditional dress in favor of cooler, more casual styles. For the conservative bride a classic muumuu, for the beach romantic a slip gown, and for the extra-daring a swimsuit with sarong! Grooms dress in aloha shirts and casual slacks. Guests sport bright tropical attire and everyone wears slippers. If the ceremony is on the sand, some brides provide baskets of flip flops for their guests or outfit their bridal party with toe thong jewelry. Maile leis are worn by the bridal couple while haku (woven head lei) and flowers replace or accent the veil.

Gift Giving

Welcome travelers with a beach bag, beach bucket, or Styrofoam cooler stuffed with vacation essentials: a Maui map, bottled water, sun block, mosquito repellent, beach slippers, macadamia nuts, taro chips and wedding event schedule. For wedding favors ABC, EZ and Whalers General Stores stock an array of inexpensive Hawaii-themed items from kitschy little tikis, to candy, to golf balls, to key chains. Present your wedding party with Hawaiian Heirloom jewelry, fish hook necklaces, conch horns, or monogrammed beach towels.

What about incoming gifts? Explore the option of a honeymoon registry with Marriott or Starwood Resorts, wherein guests give you a day at the spa or breakfast in bed. Or consider charity donations through the I Do Foundation. A percentage from their registry partners is donated to your chosen cause. I chose to register Friends of Moku'ula, a conservation effort to protect and restore a local Hawaiian cultural site. Donations can also be arranged in lieu of party favors or wedding gifts.

Make Mine Hawaiian

By requesting a Hawaiian minister, or kahu, your ceremony may include the blowing of the conch, Hawaiian chanting, hula, and Hawaiian blessing. Authentic Hawaiian wedding rituals are seldom seen today, replaced with a more recent of evolution of customs. According to Donora Kahaialii of Alohilani Maui Weddings, this is due to the scarcity of "genuine" kahunas, those that learned the ceremonies through direct lineage. Today, rather then wrapping a couple in tapa cloth, a kahu may symbolically entwine the couples' hands together with a maile lei.

For a modern-meets-tradition Hawaiian celebration, the Old Lahaina Luau offers a culturally adept and comprehensive wedding package. You can also research and integrate Hawaiian words into your stationary and ceremony, feature ukulele or slack-key guitar by local musicians. Hire hula dancers for entertainment. Serve Pacific-Rim cuisine and luau-style food like kalua pig, poi and lomi lomi salmon. By sharing in the local culture, your wedding will be touched by the mana (spirit) and magic of Maui.

A toast to the destination Hawaii bride!

Taj Barnhart is the author of "Get Maui'd"

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