With 11 breathtaking properties in Hawaii, Starwood Hotels and Resorts is no stranger to the beauty of the islands and their romantic allure. Dotted throughout O’ahu, Maui, Kaua’i, and Hawai’I’s Big Island, Starwood’s properties have served as destinations within the ultimate destination, helping guests discover the magic of the islands with their world-class experiences and comforts. In this four part series, Starwood’s wedding experts share their insights on Hawaii and destination weddings.
Sheraton Kauai Resort
Whether you’re looking for an intimate ceremony away from the bustle of the city or hoping to say your “I do’s” on a tropical shore, a destination wedding is the perfect mix between a traditional nuptial and a romantic getaway. With spectacular views and landmarks, incredible weather (hopefully), and the spirit of romance and adventure in the air, what’s there to lose?
As amazing as destination weddings are, they unfortunately aren’t exempt from the complexities of the wedding planning process. For many, planning a destination wedding may seem even more stressful than planning one near home. To offer some guidance, we enlisted the help of Starwood Hotels and Resorts’ wedding specialists Malia Zannoni and Stuart Kotake to come up with the 12 best tips for planning a destination wedding. Hopefully these words of destination wedding wisdom will help unload some stress, so you can look forward to your dreamy wedding day!
1. Plan a Site Visit
If you can arrange for it, plan a visit to select and define what you are interested in (location, ceremony, hotel rooms, etc.). Do your homework, make appointments, and find locations and services you love. Once you make this list, plan and connect with them during your visit. Remember to allow yourself some time to play too, as you will want to know if the location is fun outside of the wedding aspects.
2. Arrive Early
Try to get to the destination at least 3 days prior if your schedule and budget allow for it. It helps with final meetings, jet lag, and reaction time to any unforeseen changes in weather, travel, and more.
3. Find a Wedding Coordinator
Consider a wedding coordinator to assist you with your plans. This person will not only help you organize your wedding day, but help manage your out-of-town guests as well. It’s a lot to manage when you are “not at home,” and going to your wedding! So if your budget allows for it, consider the extra help…you will be thankful.
4. Ship and Mail Items
Work on your on-site contacts and arrange for your items to be mailed early. This allows you to confirm that your important items have arrived in good shape before you leave your home! Consider shipping your dress. This way, the dress can be picked up and steamed ahead of time, making it much easier for delivery on your wedding day.
5. Your Top “5”
Help your guests out with things to do! Let guests know your favorite place to eat, or your hidden spot for great shopping. Provide hints to activities you have enjoyed by sending your guests a “Top 5” destination to-do prior to their departure. Morning hike up Diamond Head, sunrise walk on Waikiki Beach, shave Ice at Waiola Shave Ice Stand, midnight Noodle Shop…the possibilities are endless!
6. Welcome to the Destination Event
Try planning a few events that allow your families and friends to meet one another. It doesn’t have to be a hosted event by the couple or the family; it can be a casual meet up at the very beginning of the wedding stay at a great bar or restaurant. This allows guest to connect, make plans, and get to know one another before the wedding.
7. Make a Date
During your wedding stay (prior to the wedding), find time for an intimate date with your loved one. Let your close friends and family know that you will not be available, and carve out some time for just the two of you. It’s nice to get away for a moment and remember why you’re getting married. You may realize that a moment of peace is something you both really needed!
8. Mani Pedi
Schedule a manicure/pedicure at least 24 hours in advance, allowing time for the polish to cure. As your hands will be photographed extensively, this is a crucial step in the wedding prep process—for the bride and groom alike!
Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water! Ease your body from the mental and physical stress that goes hand-in-hand with planning and executing a wedding. This applies especially if you are socially drinking. Make sure you don’t run your body down before you get to the altar.
10. Sun Protection
Wear a lot of sun protection and reapply often. If you’re planning a destination wedding in a tropical destination like Hawaii—which is closer to the equator with more hotter, more intense exposure to the sun—you need to have a consistent supply of sun protection with you at all times. Remember that the reflection off the water does count. Find time to soak up the sun after the wedding photos!
11. Buy Local
Take into consideration local products and offerings. If you’re celebrating in Hawaii, try Hawaiian favors for the table such as Kona Coffee Cookies or Macadamia Nut Candies. Design menus with local inspirations such as papaya seeds and Lilikoi dressing for salads, fresh island fish (catch of the day), or chicken prepared in the Hawaiian “Huli Huli” Fashion.
12. Extend your Stay
Make sure you extend your stay after the wedding. Switch up your room, your view, and more. Your focus shifts after the wedding, and once the guests depart, it will feel like you are finally on vacation!
Happy planning! If you are looking for gorgeous wedding venues in Hawaii, check out Starwood Hotels and Resorts’ 11 properties and price them out on Wedding Spot.
Lucky for you, we’re also giving away a 6-night dream Hawaiian vacation complete with snorkeling, a sunset cruise, vacation photography, and more! Enter to win.