Anyone marrying in Hawaii can have a familiar western-style wedding ceremony, presided over by a justice of the peace or local minister. But some couples choose to embrace their marriage locale by incorporating a traditional Hawaiian wedding ceremony. Elements may vary, and couples can choose to incorporate all or just some of them, but here is basically what that entails:
Hawaiian music: Guests arrive at the ceremony locale to the sounds of ukulele music.
Officiant: The local minister, often called a kahuna pule or kahu (Hawaiian holy man), sings a chant (or mele) as he walks the groom (who, if he wants to adhere to tradition, should be dressed in white with a colored sash often red, at his waist) to the front of the ceremony.
Mothers: The mothers of the bride and groom are honored and escorted to their seats by members of their family.
Processional: The bridal party (bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girl, ring bearer) walks the aisle to the ceremony.
Bride's arrival: The bride is announced by the blowing of a conch shell (or pu) to call the earth, sea, air and fire as witnesses. Only then does the bride, who wears a flowing white gown and a crown of flowers known as a haku, begin her walk down the aisle as her groom turns toward her.
Exchange of leis: The bride and groom exchange leis, a symbol of their eternal love. Traditionally, it's a maile lei or maile-style ti leaf lei for the groom and a white ginger or pikake lei for the bride. Then the couple's parents present leis to them (either the groom's parents offering a lei to the bride and vice versa or each set of parents offering a lei to their own child). Then, the bride and groom each present leis to their soon-to-be in-laws, as well as to their bridal party.
Ceremony: As the "Hawaiian Wedding Song" (Ke Kali Nei Au-"Waiting for Thee") is played on the ukulele and slack-key guitar and interpreted by hula dancers, the kahu leads the couple in a recitation of vows.
Ring blessing: Before the couple exchange rings, the kahu dips a koa wood bowl into the sea (koa wood, native to Hawaii, represents strength and integrity). A ti leaf, which represents prosperity and health, is dipped into the water and then sprinkled over the rings three times as the kahu recites a traditional chant.
Circle of love: As the couple marries they stand in a circle of fragrant tropical blossoms.
Pouring of the sands: The bride and groom pour two different colored sands into a single glass container, mixing them and symbolizing that two have become one and cannot be separated.
Lava rock offering: A lava rock, symbolic of the moment you made a commitment to each other, is wrapped in a ti leaf and left at the ceremony site as an offering commemorating your union.