Indian Wedding in Hawaii? Just Don't Do This | 2020
Updated: Feb 9
2020 Notice: We have a high volume of Hawaii enquiries for 2020. If you need DJ, Sound, Lighting or Planning (partner agency) please reach out at least 4-6 months in advance.
Ajay Manaktala is a Indian wedding planner, DJ and Bollywood Industry expert with over 20 years of experience doing destination weddings in Hawaii, Mexico,the Caribbeans, Phuket and beyond.
He planned his own destination wedding and travels to Hawaii at least twice a year for Indian weddings while his team does every other month. He's also a most viewed Quora writer for Indian weddings. These hacks will help you have the best wedding in Hawaii and get the most bang for your buck. They'll save you stress, if not outright cash.
Thinking about how to plan a destination Indian wedding in Hawaii?
Avoid these mistakes and you'll be good.
Destination weddings are awesome.
The views, the travel and the togetherness...who doesn't love it?
And Hawaii is no stranger to weddings with one happening at least every day. But first...
Hawaii Wedding Packages | Don't be Fooled
Couples are constantly getting tricked into seemingly simple Hawaii wedding packages. But those costs are for barely anything, and that will leave you feeling well...like stuff was missing.
Do you really expect to finish a photo shoot in 30 minutes? The average pre-wedding sunset shots take 30 minutes just for the couple to get less camera shy. Oh times up? $500 more for the photography? well we're already dressed, umm, ok.
If you're having a small less than 50 person wedding, for sure...it probably makes sense. Its simple..but for most of us..
We've done several weddings across Hawaii, and seen our fair share of ups and downs.
Somebody forgot the small Ganesha statue for the Mandap? Ok where can we find that on the Big Island at 7PM on a Sunday.
Here's seven things you need to do before planning (or even attending) an Indian wedding on the Islands.
1. Which Island is best in Hawaii for your Indian wedding?
Honolulu Oahu Destination Weddings
This is wedding destination number one and who could argue with that. Big city,It's easily accessible and has all the major things you need for an Indian wedding.
Often times couples want a "secluded beach" or off the beaten path venue but they soon realize the shortcomings of that approach.
You lose the super secluded feel, but you get a bit more sanity and less risk than being in Kauai or Hilo and realizing you need a last minute Hindu or Sikh wedding priest because the other one got sick or the date wrong.
Maui Indian Weddings
While we've done Indian weddings both on the Big Island, Kauai and more often Maui, make sure you study each island closely to think about things for your special occasions like:
Will my guests have to take extra airport stops, or can they fly directly to Maui or Hilo or Oahu or wherever I decide to get married?
Have Indian weddings been done at these venues before?
Aside from the hotel and airport what other things will my guests care about? (Nightlife, beaches, restaurants, scuba diving, temples). For example there is a beautiful Hindu monastery on Kauai that many Indians frequent. Maui is fun but a bit more quiet than Honolulu.
Also with Maui, factor in the hotels are EXTREMELY expensive and most guests will one to day a day or two before your wedding to do the Hana Highway drive.
Kauai or Big Island Indian Weddings
Probably your most expensive options will be Kauai, and the least Indian options will be both Kauai and the Big island as they're very few Indians in Hawaii and even less on these islands. That means finding a priest, samosa's, last minute Lehenga's or Pagdi's and a million other things you might need will be a challenge.
It doesn't mean it would happen, but just things to think about.
2. What side of the island does the sunset? Is the hotel on the east coast or west coast?
You might have found the best deal on a hotel, only to realize later there is a reason it's called Sunrise Resorts and not Sunset Resorts.
Make sure your hotel is on the west coast to capture that perfect photo in the evening!
3. Indian Outfits and food aren't super easy to come by. Pack Extra.
Oahu has some good restaurant options (if they're available for catering), and Maui has even fewer.
Make sure you have backups.
For clothing, what do you do if your mom's sari was lost in luggage?
Or your Sherwani got wine spilled on it? Do you or your friends have another?
Again these are NOT minor things things to think about!
As we discussed in our 10 Indian Wedding mistakes to avoid, outfits matter in the heat!
4. DJ and Entertainment Options are Limited
On a similar note since Indian weddings generally require Indian music you'll likely have to fly in your entertainment.
You should also have backups for these as well.
Make sure your DJ or Band or whatever entertainment has done weddings in Hawaii before, has the right visas (if international artists from India or elsewhere), make their flights (due to limited options to each island) and so on.
Best thing to do is to fly them all in a day early so you have everything covered! But that costs extra also. I hope you factored that in? You can't expect a DJ or vendor to fly 11 hours overnight and then be ready to go an hour later.
I've seen it happen on vendors from India to America and it's a disaster.
Spending another few hundred dollars to ensure all your entertainment arrived on time, is much cheaper than last minute flights and stress!
PRO TIP: You'll likely need to go to Hawaii twice to scout your wedding. I know you're busy, but just once is very risky.
5. Photographers should be booked locally
While you can definitely get your actual Indian wedding photographer from wherever you please, for things like pre-wedding shoots and post-wedding shoots you should go local.
You want somebody who knows the area and knows the ups and downs of a Hawaii wedding. Plus it'll be cheaper than having your main photographer come in a day or two earlier or later.
A local Hawaii photographer will know:
Where the best sunlight is and when
what makes for the best tropical photos
what time of day is most comfortable weather wise for guests to take pictures
local options for things like photo booths and printouts
Best photo vantage points that others may not know about
We always suggest hiring a local photographer to supplement your main photographer and together they can make some magic happen.
Pro Tip: f you can find an Indian wedding photographer in Hawaii who knows Sikh or Hindu or the religion you are, maybe you can work out an overall package to the pre-shoots and post-shoots.
BUT PLEASE SEE THEIR WORK!
Photographers occasionally always have issues with gear and having local contacts help!
If your mainland photographer has done weddings in Hawaii before however, you should also be ok as they can source locally.
6. Wedding Planner: Hawaii or Local?
On a similar note, if your wedding planner has done Indian Hawaii weddings then you should be in good hands.
If not we suggest going withs someone who knows the space.
Vendor problems, rain delays, backups, travel arrangements, hotel discounts and much more can be easily done via an experienced planner in Hawaii who also has built relationships with vendors and will have the best deals.
They can guide you on your specific hotel's ups and downs, and will know the ins and outs of Hawaii specific weddings.
Ask them how many Indian weddings they have done and good luck!
So again, either take an Indian wedding planner from the mainland who is experienced with Hawaiian weddings or a Hawaiian wedding planner who is experienced with Indian weddings!
7. Ask Your Hotel if they've done Indian Weddings!
The noise of the baraat, the various power and food requirements, the process of a mehndi, all stuff your hotel has to be comfortable with! One hotel had no idea a baraat is like a mini party and almost threatened to shut down the groom's entrance as it was too loud for the guests. Yikes!
8. Indian Wedding Priests in Hawaii | Not Many
We have a whole article on pandit tips for your special occasion, but since you're flying him/her in, and they're the single funnel point for your wedding, you need to make sure your pandit is on time, in a good mood and ready to go.
Otherwise well, lets not go there...but what are the options? Ya feel me?
You can eve google for pandit Hawaii and you don't find much.
Make sure your pandit or priest has either worked in Hawaii before or you have contingencies.
Indian weddings happen every few weeks in Hawaii, so it's not rocket science.
But make sure you cover your bases, and you won't be left flying in 300 dandia's for your garba on a last minute flight at $1400.
Or have to worry about a 80 year old gradnma kicking a fuss because somebody forget to greet her at the airport during all the commotion.
I planned my own Indian wedding in Tulum Mexico so I understand. Good luck!
Been to or planning an Indian wedding in Hawaii? Did we miss anything?
Contact us for a free 10-minute skype consultation.
Ajay Manaktala is one of the best Indian Wedding DJs in America who has personally DJ'd and produced over 1000 Indian weddings in his 20+ years of being in the sound and lighting business. Him and his company blog extensively on South Asian events on this blog as well as on Quora.