Hawaii Wedding Attire - Dos and Don'ts

Hawaii, Oahu, Kailua, Lanikai Beach, Attractive Newlywed Couple Dancing On Beach

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You've decided to get married in Hawaii, you've selected your locale, looked into the marriage license, and now it's time to choose your wedding attire. A general rule of thumb when dressing for tropical "I do's:" Less is more. After all, it's warm, sunny, and your feet are likely to be in the sand.

Here are suggested dos and don'ts that can make your big day as comfortable as it is memorable:

Wedding in Maui, Hawaii
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  • Choose lightweight styles and fabrics. For the bride, that means simple silhouettes in airy materials-think strapless, spaghetti-strap, one-shoulder, or halter gowns in chiffon, charmeuse, silk georgette, crepe, cotton, linen or organza. For the groom, traditionalists can don a suit in beige or ivory linen or crisp seersucker, or forego a suit altogether for a white cotton or linen shirt and khaki trousers.
  • Embrace casual chic. Leave the long gowns and jackets at home. Many Hawaiian wedding parties look fabulous in less fussy attire: Bridesmaids exude a tropical glow in elegant above-the-knee or calf-length dresses in rich tropical hues such as magenta, turquoise or mango, while groomsmen look old-school cool in khaki or linen trousers topped with a classy Aloha floral print shirt in subtle beige or breezy blue (think Tommy Bahama) with leis to match the bridesmaid's dresses or bouquets.
  • Consider going traditional. In traditional Hawaiian ceremonies, the bride wears a loose, flowing white gown that billows in the breeze (don't think muumuu, the same effect is chicer with a sleek empire-waist gown) and a crown of flowers (haku) instead of a veil. Her groom wears all white, too, typically a linen shirt and pants, with a colorful sash (often red) around his waist.
  • Keep the dress code simple. Not many wedding guests will want to lug a ball gown and tuxedo all the way to Hawaii. As much as you'd love to have a formal affair, relax the rules a bit and inform guests that the dress code is "island elegant." That means chic sundresses for the ladies and long-sleeve shirts but no jackets or ties for the men.
  • Offer guests flip-flops for a beach ceremony. Trudging through sand in high heels and wingtips is not fun. If your ceremony is on the beach, place baskets of flip-flops where the walkway meets the sand, so guests can slip them on and get to their seat without ruining their shoes or breaking an ankle. They can also go barefoot if the sand isn't too hot.
Caucasian couple running on beach
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  • Go into full princess mode. A ball gown with layers of tulle skirting or a form-fitting satin mermaid dress is overkill. Unless you are marrying inside (and you've traveled all the way to tropical Hawaii so why would you want to do that?) you'll end up sweating during the ceremony and longing to change into something cooler and more comfortable before the first dance.
  • Overdo the bling. If you're getting married on the beach, a few crystals or sparkles at the neckline or waist will reflect the sunlight and look lovely, but too many can, quite frankly, be blinding.
  • Layer on the makeup. Too heavy makeup and bright sunlight and humidity do not mix. Plan for your wedding day make-up to err on the side of natural: a sheer liquid base; a dusting of blush and bronzer; not-too-dark eyeshadow, eyeliner, and mascara (or you could look like a raccoon); and soft rather than severe lips.
  • Insist on black. That means no black dresses for bridesmaids or female guests and no black tuxedos or suits for groomsmen or male guests. Encourage guests to embrace a flowing tropical palette that will create bursts of joyous color in your wedding photos.
  • Import your bouquet. Even if you adore roses, create a bouquet using indigenous Hawaiian blossoms. Flowers such as orchids, ginger, plumeria, heliconia, hibiscus, and birds of paradise are vibrant, fragrant, and abundant.
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