I’ve been photographing weddings on this island for over a decade now and while I love my Olowalu Plantation House Weddings and my Pineapple Chapel Weddings – I’ve found that Haleakala just may be my new favorite place for weddings. Being a Haleakala elopement photographer has a new, special place in my heart. How to elope on Haleakala is something that I find going over again and again with new couples.
Yes – it’s cold. Yes – it can be windy. Yes, the drive-up can turn your stomach if you’re looking down at your phone. Yes – cell service is garbage up there so you can’t Livestream your wedding.
But my couples who choose to elope on Haleakala understand the sacredness of the mountain and all of the pros and cons of tying the knot at 10,000 feet.
I get so many questions from couples asking how to elope on Haleakala that I thought I’d walk you through it in this blog post!
How to Elope on Haleakala: What you need to know
I’m going to walk you through 6 things you need to know about eloping on Haleakala – the good, the bad, and the best 🙂
It is super cold on Haleakala
(seen above, the wind was BRUTAL up there during Brooke and Jorge’s shoot!)
I’ve been up there when it’s 65 degrees and sunny. I’ve also been up there when it’s 42 degrees with gusting wind. The temperature up there fluctuates year-round, but no matter when you decide to elope on Haleakala, know that it’s likely going to be cold.
I suggest that all of my brides try to wear leggings under their dresses if their attire allows for it.
I’ll often bring hot chocolate for my couples too to help warm you up as well as get you cuddled together. Nothing is cuter than sipping hot chocolate on your wedding day!
The weather changes quickly on Haleakala
Like – really really fast. It can go from completely socked in with clouds to completely clear in a matter of minutes. So a bit of patience goes a long way. That said, it is completely possible that we’ll be in the clouds the entire time. You have to be prepared for that if you choose to elope on Haleakala.
Here are some shots from a Haleakala elopement I did in November 2022.
The first image was taken at 5:33 and we couldn’t see the crater at all. Poor Sean was panicking slightly – but I assured him that if we were patient that the clouds may clear out. Lo and behold, the last image seen here was taken at 5:47 PM, only 14 minutes later and it completely cleared out and rewarded us with INCREDIBLE colors.
I mean, was it really worth the stress, Sean? Haha. Just kidding. But seriously. Stormy weather often means killer sunsets!
That sun can be brutal at 10,000 ft
Most of the time you’ll find that you’re driving up through the clouds to get to our ceremony spot. Because of that, there often aren’t any clouds around to diffuse the light for your Haleakala elopement.
What this means is that one of you likely will be squinting into full sun. It just is what it is and you gotta roll with it!
There are no completely private spots for a Haleakala elopement
…but I know the spots that are a bit less busy for your ceremony. We will likely have other people there, but most of the time they are respectful and give us our space. Sound also carries really well up there because it’s so quiet, so be prepared to hear other people during your ceremony.
You need a permit to get married on Haleakala
Our National Parks require special permitting for your elopement on Haleakala. If you choose me as your photographer, I will pull this permit for you. If you go another route, the minister or your other vendors should be in charge of taking care of this for you. I do it for all of my couples because I have a great relationship with the events manager for the National Park and I know all the rules.
Be sure you know the rules for Haleakala and where you can and cannot tie the knot!
Sunrise vs. Sunset: Which is better?
The epic debate. Here’s the thing: both times of day are amazing.
…But I prefer the afternoon/sunset. Why? Because you don’t have to get up at 2 AM to make it to the summit, you don’t need a reservation, and we can predict the weather much easier if your wedding is in the afternoon. It’s also way less busy up there.
Sunrise is incredible too – nothing like seeing the first morning light while you say your I-dos. There’s just more risk involved. Whatever you choose, choose what is right for you!
Example of Sunrise:
Example of Sunset:
You must stay on marked trails and respect the mountain
#1 pet peeve is when people go off-trail. There are species that live on Haleakala that don’t live anywhere else in the world. It’s incredibly important that you stick to the trails and respect the mountain itself.
We are stewards of the land and need to remember that we are borrowing Haleakala from our children. I don’t want to get woo-woo with you here, but it is our duty to preserve this sacred place for generations to come.
Are you sold yet? Is a Haleakala elopement the right experience for you
Maybe you’re all in or maybe I’ve talked you out of it – but this is how you elope on Haleakala.
As I’ve said to every couple who has chosen me to photograph their elopement: You have to know all the things that can go wrong during a Haleakala elopement. And if you choose to say yes to whatever Maui and Haleakala throw at you – I know it’s the right choice for you.
And I’ll help you every step of the way
I haven’t blogged all of my Haleakala Elopements, but if you’d like to see the ones on my site, you can here: Haleakala Elopement Photographer