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Elopement Guide: How to Elope on O'ahu + Photography Locations

Updated: May 21

Why Elope on O'ahu?

As the most populous Hawaiian Island, O'ahu offers an incredible variety of elopement possibilities. And it's absolutely gorgeous.

From its beautiful beaches to lush jungles, volcanic craters, and historic sites (like castles), O'ahu's diverse landscapes and captivating views that make it the perfect spot for your destination wedding or elopement. Who am I? I'm Lauren, a destination wedding and elopement photographer who's lived in Hawaii since 2015. Living in paradise everyday has been a privilege, and I'm excited to share my insights to help you plan your perfect wedding day.

O'ahu combines natural beauty, modern amenities, and a vibrant city life.

Not to mention you can get married in (well, in the grounds of) a castle if you want to.

Here's why Oahu is such a perfect location to elope:

Beautiful Views: O'ahu is renowned for its breathtaking tropical scenery, stunning beaches, big surf, cascading waterfalls, and lush valleys—perfect for a romantic elopement backdrop. Weather: O'ahu enjoys consistently warm and sunny weather throughout the year, ensuring a fantastic setting for your wedding. Waikiki: Waikiki, a vibrant and iconic neighborhood in Honolulu, is the epitome of tropical paradise fused with urban energy. On the south shore of the island of O'ahu, Waikiki Beach is world-famous for its golden sand and crystal-clear water. Beyond the beach, the bustling streets of Waikiki are lined with high-end shopping boutiques, a diverse culinary scene, and a lively nightlife. Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii, embraces Waikiki and offers a blend of modern city life amidst a backdrop of lush greenery and Diamond Head Crater. Your guests can explore historic sites such as Pearl Harbor and Iolani Palace.

Wedding Vendors: The island is home to a wide range of wedding professionals, from photographers and florists to wedding planners, making it easy to craft your dream elopement.

Price: Cost for flights are slightly less than neighboring islands, prices for accommodations, and venue costs as well as generally all other costs are slightly less than other Hawaiian islands.

Adventure: O'ahu provides numerous adventurous activities such as hiking, snorkeling, and surfing, making it an ideal place to create vacation memories before or after your ceremony. Convenient Airport: Honolulu International Airport (HNL) serves as O'ahu's primary airport, offering both international and inter-island flights. Its central location on the island ensures accessibility no matter where you choose to stay.

What time of year to elope on O'ahu? Choosing the best time of year for your O'ahu elopement depends on your preferences: Spring Elopements (March through May) offer mild temperatures and plenty of sunshine without the summer crowds. Summer Months (June through August) feature warm weather and abundant sunshine, making it the busiest time of year. For a more secluded experience, consider Fall/Winter Fall/Winter (November through February). While these months may bring occasional rain, they also provide fewer crowds, allowing you to find intimate spots for your ceremony. I have plenty of ideas for secluded spots; let's discuss! What time of day to have your ceremony? I recommend scheduling your ceremony either early in the morning or just before sunset. Avoid outdoor ceremonies on O'ahu between 9 AM and 4 PM due to the midday heat. If you'd like more precise timing based on your wedding date and location, feel free to message me. Morning Ceremony or Sunrise Elopement: Enjoy a calm and peaceful atmosphere with soft morning light, perfect for stunning photographs. The cooler temperatures make it more comfortable, and you'll have the rest of the day to explore or relax. Sunset Ceremony: Experience the magic of the golden hour, which provides a beautiful backdrop for your ceremony and photos. Afternoon heat subsides, and you can follow your sunset wedding with a romantic dinner or reception. Keep in mind that it can be windier at sunset.

How do you elope on O'ahu? To elope on O'ahu, you'll need an officiant, a marriage license, and a location permit aka "special use permit". How to Get a Marriage License in Honolulu County, Hawaii: You don't need to be a Hawaii resident or a U.S. citizen to obtain a marriage license in Hawaii. Here's how: Step 1: Couples must apply online at least one month before their wedding. The license is valid on all Hawaiian islands. You can fill out the application here. Step 2: Make an appointment with a marriage license agent at least two weeks before your trip. You can find a current list of state licensed agents here. Bring to your licensing appointment:

  • Marriage License Fee: $70 cash (unless paid online)

  • Completed paper application or printed online application

  • Driver's License, Military ID, or Passport

  • Both individuals participating in the marriage or civil union must attend the appointment.

Step 3: Print your marriage license application and bring it to your appointment, along with the items mentioned above. More information about marriage licensing in O'ahu County, Hawaii

Is there a waiting period after meeting with the agent? No. You can get married right away. However, it's advisable to schedule the appointment at least one day before your ceremony to reduce your to-do list on the big day.

Do I need a permit? O'ahu requires a beach permit for ceremonies held in public areas. If your chosen location isn't a private venue, you will need a permit. Don't worry; I can handle helping you with the "Beach Use Wedding Permit" . Let's set up a call to discuss your elopement. Where to elope on the island of O'ahu? O'ahu offers an abundance of incredible elopement locations, with the best choice depending on the time of year. I'm here to help you decide! Send me a message and let's discuss the best time for your preferred wedding day location.

Here are a few of my favorite O'ahu elopement spots: Diamond Head: Exchange vows with views of the iconic Diamond Head Crater for a truly unique experience. I know the perfect spot. Kualoa Ranch: This private nature reserve on the windward side of Oahu offers a range of scenic settings, from lush valleys to dramatic cliffs, providing a variety of backdrops for your elopement

Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden: Nestled right up against the Ko'olau Mountains, the Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden is a great choice for a beautiful and intimate ceremony. Imagine exchanging vows beneath swaying palms, surrounded by vibrant tropical flora. Ceremonies for up to 40 are allowed. Crouching Lion: A short fun hike with sweeping views of a beautiful bay with iconic green mountains and turquoise waters, a Crouching Lion elopement on O'ahu offers a blend of adventure and romance, with a thrilling hike leading to one of the island's most breathtaking viewpoints. It's an ideal setting for couples seeking an intimate and adventurous ceremony on O'ahu's windward side.

North Shore: The sound of waves crashing against the shore and the warm, tropical breeze add a touch of romance to the atmosphere. With its laid-back charm, cool surf vibe, and an abundance of secluded spots, the North Shore of Oahu offers couples a unique elopement experience in the heart of paradise. Stay at Turtle Bay Resort for the best views on the island and the most intimate elopement experience for you and your guests. Truthfully there are SOO many incredible spots it would be overwhelming to list them all so seriously, reach out with your specific needs and we will find your perfect spot!

Adding an Adventure to your Elopement | Adventure Elopements If you're looking to infuse adventure into your elopement, O'ahu offers an array of exciting activities, including whale watching, snorkeling, surfing, sailing, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and camping. The options are endless. Sunset Sail/Snorkel: Consider the Maita'i for a sunset cruise or snorkeling adventure. Visit their website for more details. Whale Watching: Whale season is December 15 - March 15 in Hawaii, don't miss out on your chance to see these awesome animals up close! Opt for a smaller boat tour for an up-close and personal experience. Hawaii Nautical a is a top choice (Inside tip: my Fiance is a captain on their boats, if you get Captain Nick, say hi!). Rent a bike on the north shore: Renting bikes on the North Shore of Oahu is a fantastic way to explore the area at a relaxed pace (while avoiding traffic). Rent a beach cruiser and cruise along the coastline, visit iconic surf spots like Banzai Pipeline, or venture into the countryside to discover hidden gems. There's a great bike path and bike rentals are readily available. You can find a variety of rental shops offering everything from beach cruisers to mountain bikes, making it easy for visitors to embrace the laid-back, eco-friendly spirit of the North Shore. Visit the website for more information about North Shore Bike Rentals. They even rent racks for your car!

Camping: For insider tips on camping adventures, feel free to message me on Instagram. I'd hate to spoil a good spot! Movie Tour: Kualoa ranch, on O'ahu's windward coast has been both the filming location for more than 79 movies and TV shows over the years. Movies including Jurassic Park/Jurassic World, 50 First Dates, Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island, Jumani, Snached, and Lost. I did the ATV tour with my mom when she visited and we all had a great time! For more info about Kualoa Ranch visit their website.

Where to eat afterwards? Oahu boasts some of the world's finest dining establishments, perfect for a romantic dinner or special occasion feast. La Mer: Situated within the Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki, La Mer is an upscale French restaurant with breathtaking oceanfront views. It's renowned for its exquisite cuisine, impeccable service, and an extensive wine list. The menu features classic French dishes with a modern twist, and it's an excellent choice for a romantic evening. 53 By The Sea: Chic, glass walled dining room and terrace with bay views, serving creative meat and seafood dishes. Planning an elopement and feeling stressed about how to include your family and friends that won't be there? Read my guide: 6 Ways To Include Your Family And Friends When You Elope Are you planning an elopement or intimate wedding of your own? Want some help with the planning process? Hire me to be your elopement photographer + elopement planner on any of the Hawaiian Islands! I am a professional wedding photographer living on Oahu and I'd love to talk with you more about the best elopement location and wedding package for you and your fiancé. I can't wait to meet you! Book a call with me!

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