How to Plan a Catholic Wedding in Hawaii

beach wedding image by chinatiger from

Getting married in Hawaii conjures up images of softly rolling waves, white sandy beaches and a warm, tropical climate. Often couples choose Hawaii for a destination wedding in lieu of a traditional ceremony, but what happens when you want both? Catholic weddings tend to be very traditional and longer than other types of weddings, but there are ways to have the best of both worlds.

priest and bible image by Lars Christensen from

Contact a priest or deacon in your home parish. The Catholic Church requires couples planning on getting married to receive pre-marital counseling. Assuming your priest or deacon is not accompanying you to Hawaii, he will have to send a letter of permission that includes his blessing for the marriage to take place in Hawaii, that the bride and groom are both free to marry and that he will be preparing the couple for marriage. He will also need to send a number of documents three months in advance, including a premarital investigation form, proof of baptism, affidavits of freedom to marry and a certificate of attendance at an Engaged Encounter Weekend.

Contact a priest in the parish you wish to be married. Send the officiating priest the contact information for the bride, groom and priest preparing you for marriage. Make sure that the priest you contact is legitimate by contacting the Office for Canonical Affairs at 808-203-6766. Some online sites claim to have access to priests who can work around the restriction of having to get married inside a church, but they are not legitimate.

Once you arrive in Hawaii, obtain a marriage license. It can be issued immediately, but the bride and groom must appear together. You can obtain a marriage license at the State Department of Health Building of the island you are getting married on. You will need to present this to your priest 24 hours before your wedding rehearsal.

buckfast abbey image by green308 from

Choose a church. There are many Catholic churches to choose from on all of the islands of Hawaii. For a complete list of Catholic churches in Hawaii; visit and hover your mouse over "parishes." In the town of Captain Cook lies a small church nicknamed "The Painted Church" (St. Benedict's). The inside is elaborately painted and would make a unique and memorable wedding location.

Hawaii water scene image by csaba fikker from

Hire a wedding planner or work through the details yourself. For a liturgical mass -- when both bride and groom are Catholic -- you will not have much leeway in the order of your service but have plenty of creative license for your decor, dresses and reception. Work closely with your priest and church. While there are a lot of requirements, your wedding will be sacred, beautiful and held in one of the most beautiful islands in the world.