A bride and groom are about to kiss one another, behind them is the ocean and a sun setting directly between them during their elopement in Hawaii


The Complete Guide to Planning an Elopement in Hawaii

October 12, 2023

For those of you that have been following us at Olson Productions for a bit you should have a pretty solid idea just how much we LOVE photographing elopements in Hawaii. Between the beauty of the islands, the intimate experience an elopement provides, and how much joy they bring to our couples, it’s pretty easy […]

The Complete Guide to Planning an Elopement in Hawaii
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A bride and groom are about to kiss one another, behind them is the ocean and a sun setting directly between them during their elopement in Hawaii

For those of you that have been following us at Olson Productions for a bit you should have a pretty solid idea just how much we LOVE photographing elopements in Hawaii. Between the beauty of the islands, the intimate experience an elopement provides, and how much joy they bring to our couples, it’s pretty easy to see why! As you start to plan your own elopement in Hawaii though it can feel a bit daunting. There’s a lot of planning that goes into these elopements, which is why today we’re going over everything you need to know to plan the elopement of your dreams. So without further ado, let’s dig into it!

A bride and groom close their eyes and touch foreheads together while smiling, the groom is wearing a lei and the bride is holding a bouquet
A bride and groom walk along a beach in Hawaii while smiling at one another, the groom is wearing a lei and the bride is holding a bouquet

Why an Elopement in Hawaii?

The better question is why NOT have an elopement in Hawaii? Now I may be a bit biased here, but trust me that the beauty of the islands cannot be overstated! You’ll continue to see the incredible beauty and variety of the different landscapes the islands have to offer as we work our way through this article. Each island is gorgeous in its own right, and provides a completely unique experience compared to the other islands. The appeal doesn’t stop with the island’s beautiful settings though. Having your elopement in Hawaii allows you to really get away and enjoy some time alone in a true tropical paradise. It lets you create a one of a kind experience built around celebrating your elopement, one that you’ll remember and love to look back on for the rest of your lives!

The Legalities

Before we can really dig into the fun parts of planning your Hawaii elopement, we first need to talk about the legalities of it all. First and foremost is your marriage license:

Marriage License

Getting your marriage license for your elopement in Hawaii is very straightforward. The license has a fee of $65 and can be obtained through this link here. Once purchased you’ll have to meet with an agent in person and provide them with valid forms of ID within 30 days of your ceremony who will then approve your license. Once approved you will have 30 days to have your elopement ceremony after which you’ll return the license for the marriage to be made official. 


The islands of Hawaii require an officiant, called a performer, for a marriage ceremony to be official. You can either hire a registered performer for your ceremony, or you can have a friend or family member become a registered performer if you’d rather have someone close to you perform your ceremony. They can do so through the same application link

One other option is to take the legalities out of your elopement adventure entirely! Have your ceremony at a courthouse in Hawaii and take care of everything beforehand. That way we can focus fully on your love for one another during your elopement, and you two can read your vows privately to one another!


One last thing to note is that some locations will require permits for ceremonies to take place there, for professional photographs to be taken there, or both. It’s important to do your research prior so that this is taken care of prior to the day of your elopement and you can avoid any fines! When booking with Olson Productions for your elopement, part of our process is locations scouting in which we’ll go over any  permit requirements for your location.

A bride and groom embrace to kiss one another during their elopement in Hawaii, the bride has her back to the camera and is holding a bouquet while the groom holds her face and smiles

Which Island?

Now that we have all of the legalities out of the way, let’s start planning out the details of your elopement in Hawaii! First up we need to decide on which island you plan to have your elopement on. Each of the islands are spectacular in their own right, so it all comes down to the experience you’re looking to have. And lucky for you Olson Productions has teams based on every island, so no matter which you choose you can still work with us!

Hawaii (The Big Island)

With the sheer size of the island come a TON of different options to elope! From the tops of volcanoes, to rocky cliffs, and even sandy beaches of a variety of colors. The island is on the more popular side though so you’ll have to take that into account if you do plan to elope here. Luckily with the help of our location scouting we can decide on a location that has minimal crowds so that you can have the true intimate elopement experience you’re looking for!


Whether it’s the sandy beaches, the gorgeous cliffs, or even a boat ride out on the ocean, there are SO many different opportunities for elopement locations in Maui! Some of our favorite locations include Ironwoods Beach, Makena Cove, Po‘olenalena Beach, Hamoa, Nakalele Blow Hole, and Kahakuloai. This is just a start to the list though, as Maui has SO much to offer! If you have your sights set on Maui we actually have a full blog going over how to plan a Maui elopement which you can check out as well!


Next on the list is the lovely Oahu! Just like Maui, if your sights are set on Oahu I have a full blog going over elopement locations on the island! To give you a general idea of what the island offers though take a look at some of my favorite elopements from Oahu! Whether it’s lush green mountains, epic cliffs, or palm trees and the beach, Oahu has something for everyone who’s planning a Hawaii elopement!


One of the more lush and green islands of Hawaii, Kauai is an incredible pick for your elopement in a tropical paradise! Some of my favorites we’ve photographed there are at Waimea Canyon and in Princeville. Both have a completely distinct feel to them and only scratch the surface of the different locations available on the island. 


The least popular island in terms of tourism gives you a completely unique experience for your elopement in Hawaii! While there aren’t as many traditional things to do on the island, in my opinion it makes it that much easier to appreciate the island’s beauty as well as experience traditional Hawaiian culture. Of course being less popular with tourists comes with the added benefit of us being more likely to have a certain location all to ourselves as well!


Don’t let Lanai’s small size fool you! While it is on the smaller side of the islands, Lanai still offers a ton of different settings for your elopement. Its close proximity to Maui, similar to Molokai, also allows you to easily travel between islands. With plenty of lush greenery, some rugged terrain to explore, and an abundance of natural tropical beauty, Lanai is definitely worth considering for your elopement! 

A bride is held by the groom who kisses her while the two stand atop a cliff looking out over the ocean in Hawaii
A bride with her back to the camera kisses the groom while the two stand atop a cliff in Hawaii that looks out over mountains and the ocean
A bride and groom kiss one another while atop a cliff in Hawaii looking out over the ocean and mountains as the sun sets on them

Where to Elope in Hawaii

This question is a difficult one to answer, as it really depends on what you’re envisioning as a couple when planning your elopement in Hawaii. The islands hold so much beauty between them, from the dreamy sandy beaches to epic cliffs looking out over the ocean, there is SO much to be seen. With all those options it can feel impossible to narrow down your decision, which is where your photographer comes in! I recommend talking with your partner about the style and feel you’re looking for with your elopement. Do you want a sunset elopement on the beach? A magical Airbnb getaway? An elopement atop a mountain?

Once you have the idea in your mind you’ll be able to talk with your photographer (me!) about your vision and they’ll be able to offer some location options that fit what you’re looking for! In the meantime if you do want to daydream about locations a bit check out this blog that goes over some of our favorite elopement locations throughout the islands.

A bride and groom smile at one another while standing on a beach in Hawaii during their elopement with palm trees and the ocean in the background, each of them is holding their wedding vows
A bride and groom on a beach in Hawaii kiss one another in front of a large green mountain
A bride and groom smile at one another while standing on a beach in Hawaii with a large green mountain behind them, the bride is holding a letter from the groom to read

What Season?

As you look to decide on an Island of Hawaii as well as a location for your elopement, you’ll also want to take into consideration what season you should have your elopement in. While the weather of Hawaii is consistently beautiful, April through September are typically the driest in terms of rain. The downside to this time is that it is also the busiest season for tourism, in part due to the weather and also due to families with kids having summer vacation to work with. The same can be said for winter as most families will travel to get away from the cold and take advantage of their children’s time off from school. 

In terms of rain, while the months outside of summer do get more rain on average, we are lucky enough on the islands that most rain storms pass VERY quickly. This means that even if you do have your session in a rainier season like fall or spring, the chances of a rain shower interrupting your elopement are pretty low! My recommendation is to avoid the popular times for tourism if possible, but if that isn’t a possibility don’t worry too much. There are plenty of locations throughout the islands where we’ll be able to find some privacy and some space for your elopement!

A bride and groom stand together and embrace while on a cliff, behind them is a mountain
Detail photo of a bridal bouquet, shoes, wedding rings, perfume, and champagne all laying on a rock

What Vendors Do You Need?

An elopement in Hawaii can be as intricate or as simple as you want it to be, and the same goes for your vendor team! That’s part of the beauty of elopements is that you can create a vision of your dream elopement day, and it can be whatever you want it to be! There are still some vendors that are a necessity though, so let’s take a look at those as well as some other vendors you could include in your day if you’d like.


First and foremost is your photographer! Now I know that might seem a little biased coming from me, but trust me you are going to want a photographer with you for your elopement in Hawaii to capture your favorite moments and memories from the day! If you think about it, your elopement is something you only get to really experience once. Having a photographer for your elopement lets you be fully present on your day, while also capturing all of the big and small details that make up your day. These photos are what you and your partner will be cherishing and looking back on for YEARS to come together, each triggering a feeling and a memory that you’ll love to relive.


We talked a little bit about this in the legalities section, but yes you will need an officiant for your elopement in Hawaii if you do plan on having your official ceremony on location. Again if you do plan on having your elopement ceremony at the courthouse you then won’t need an officiant to tag along for your ceremony, it all just depends on how you structure the elopement!


Similar to a photographer, a videographer is able to capture so many moments from your day that you’ll love to look back on. The difference is that video is able to capture these memories in a different way than photographs can. The nuance of how you say your vows to one another, the way the palm trees sway as you two share your first kiss on the beach, the way you smile and laugh together as you dig your toes in the sand on the beach, these are all things that are captured completely differently than they ever can be with photography. It’s why here at Olson Productions we specialize in both so that you can enjoy and experience both on your elopement day!

Any Others You Want

Outside of the three vendors above, many of the other vendors that you choose for your elopement in Hawaii all come down to preference! If you want your hair and makeup done professionally then a hair and makeup artist should be on your list! Do you want flowers decorating your ceremony space? Hire one of the many talented florists throughout the islands for your day! In love with the idea of cutting a wedding cake together? Get one for your elopement. Like I said, the possibilities are endless.

A bride and groom on a beach in Hawaii embrace one another and touch their foreheads together with the ocean and sunset behind them
Close up photo of a bride's torso being held by the groom, on the groom's hand is his wedding ring

Olson Productions’ All Inclusive Elopements

There’s one last thing I want to mention, something cool that we do here at Olson Productions which is all inclusive elopements in Hawaii. I wrote a whole article on this that goes into deeper detail if interested, but an all inclusive elopement is basically what it sounds like. Rather than you planning out a location, vendors for your day, and all the other planning that goes into your elopement, we’ll take care of it all! This is a fantastic option for couples who’ve never been to Hawaii before. Planning an elopement in the islands can be a little daunting, as you can see from reading this article, so having locals and professionals in the industry handle the entire planning process can be a dream come true for some. If you’re interested in a full service elopement be sure to let us know through our contact form!

As you can see, there really is a TON that you’ll need to consider when planning your elopement in Hawaii. As overwhelming as it seems it’s also exciting to plan and dream about your elopement here in this tropical paradise! If you’re ready to book Olson productions for your elopement in Hawaii, all inclusive or otherwise, be sure to send us an inquiry so we can reserve your date today!

A bride and groom touch their foreheads together with their eyes closed while underneath the bride's veil during sunset

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