Synonymous with romance and destination weddings for generations, Hawaii legalized same-sex marriage in December, and now lovebirds of all feathers can fly somewhere tropical to wed.
As well as providing balmy wedding backdrops, Hawaii makes marriage quick and convenient. Couples simply sign up for a marriage license online ($60 plus $5 processing fee at www.emrs.ehawaii.gov); verify the paperwork with a Hawaiian license agent; and then can marry that same day.
On the Big Island, weddings at the 62-acre Hilton Waikoloa Village feature oceanfront wedding ceremonies, plus a choice of reception venues. Wedding packages include lots of options: You can opt for customized extras such as photos in the Palace Garden Gazebo, a nondenominational minister, a Hawaiian guitarist, white orchid leis and, of course, a wide range of delicious catering menus.
And now new laws have added to the already vast number of destination-wedding options available in Hawaii. "The legalization of same-sex weddings has contributed significantly to the local economy, creating new jobs in retail, hotel, restaurant and activity businesses," said Kevin Rebelo, co-owner and vice president of GayHawaiiWedding.com, which has been planning civil commitment ceremonies on Maui for 20 years. Rebelo's company offers six wedding packages ranging from $395 to $1,925.
"People who hadn't considered Hawaii as an option are now rethinking their elopement and marriage plans," said Keane Akao, managing partner of Honolulu-based Perfectly Planned Hawaii, the state's first full-service, nationally certified LGBT destination-wedding planning firm. Perfectly Planned's fetes start at $5,500 for 10 people.
On Maui, Aloha Maui Gay Weddings arranges not only ceremonies but also receptions, beach dinners and even accommodations. Packages start at $415 for the Sweet & Simple, all the way up to $2,895 for the Sweet Island Romance Wedding.