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There are several things to keep in mind when planning a destination wedding. Probably the most important one is to find a knowledgeable local contact who will do the legwork for you, or at the very least, find someone who will be available to answer questions and provide advise. So why not hire a wedding coordinator or hand over the planning to a hotel? Well, that's a good option if you have a large budget and are are willing to choose option A, B or C - not too much flexibility for customization unless the budget increases exponentially.
If the hotel/resort package deal appeals to you, here are some popular high-end resorts for weddings on Oahu (all these places are pricey and beautiful):
If you prefer not to have a resort wedding, but need a Hawaii wedding planner for a beach wedding or a simple and intimate ceremony please contact Aloha Island Weddings. DH Catering + Event Planning is also a full-service wedding and event company to use when planning your wedding or vow renewal.
Keep in mind that these places hold several weddings a day and their event staff recommend only the hotel's contracted vendors. You can always hire your own photographer or musician, for example, and decline to use the hotel-contracted vendors at most hotels. Be particularly careful if you go with a hotel photographer as these people do many weddings a day and have a "wedding mill" mentality. You may get better service, quality and price, if you do your research and hire your own photographer.
Here are five reputable local Hawaii wedding photographers to consider - all five are top-notch as far as quality goes, so they book up fast:
Marella Photography ($$ reasonable rates)
AinaKai Photography ($$ reasonable rates)
Holladay Photo ($$ reasonable rates)
David Murphey Photography ($$$ pricey)
Jenna Leigh Photography ($$ reasonable rates)
Then there are companies that offer low budget package deals. Limousine will pick you up at your Waikiki hotel, whisk you to a public beach nearby, where the officiant and his wife (who often doubles up as the photographer, the coordinator and sometimes even the musician), perform a very quick ceremony, and whisk you back to your hotel in time for the limo to pick up the next couple - it's a volume business. Many of these companies have contracted photographers and videographers that come as part of the "package"; again, watch out for the mill mentality and poor quality.
To avoid disappointment, do your homework in advance - ask lots of questions regarding experience and qualifications and request to see photographs and video clips of past weddings they have done. Insist on bringing your own photographer, videographer, musician, florist etc. if any of those aspects are important to you. Most couples are picky about photography and videography. After all, when the wedding is over, all you will have left will be your wedding gown and those precious photographs and DVD.
The third option is to plan your wedding on your own. This won't be easy but you will be in control and it will save you a lot of money. Most Oahu wedding vendors are eager to help. They are knowledgeable and will be able to recommend locations for your wedding, caterers, videographers etc. based on your budget and individual style. You can also hire a wedding coordinator just for the wedding day or week of the wedding. If you don't plan on hiring a coordinator, be sure to delegate day-of coordination duties to an efficient, organized and trustworthy relative or friend.
Good luck, and have fun planning your big day in paradise!