Maui Beach Weddings: What You Need to Know

I wrapped up photographing the last of my last Maui beach weddings on Sunday. In some ways it was a bittersweet goodbye to the weddings I often longed for when I was starting out as a photographer. But in so many other ways, it was the beautiful closing of an era.

After each and every one of my Maui beach weddings I would think:

“Is this how they envisioned it?”
“Are they happy with how it turned out?”
“I wonder what they would say to a couple getting married on the beach in Maui?”

So as I say goodbye to Maui beach weddings, I want to take the opportunity to help couples really think about their wedding venue here on Maui.

Five things you need to know about Maui Beach Weddings


1. All beaches are public in Hawaii – but not every beach is open to weddings.

All sand is state land here in Hawaii. This is great if you’re looking to explore beaches with friends and family while visiting. But it’s not so great if you’re getting married.

Imagine your toes in the sand, the sound of the waves…and sharing the beach with three other weddings, four dogs, three naked chicks, and a partridge in a pear tree. You lose the intimacy of a wedding when you have it on the beach.

A special note here: Ka’anapali Beach is strictly off-limits for weddings and for photographers. This means if you’re planning on getting married at any of the resorts on the Kaanapali strip, you absolutely cannot have photos on the beach. It’s a $10,000 fine if you’re caught and it just isn’t worth the risk.

2. It’s almost always hot and windy on the beach

You just spent a near fortune on good hair and makeup – but as soon as you set foot on the beach, the salty air hits you, your beautiful mermaid braid begins to flap it the wind, and the humidity makes the volume in your hair fall, and you feel that first bead of sweat beging to form on your back. Not ideal, to say the least.

Oh – and the sun. There isn’t shade – so if your friends and family are waiting for the ceremony to start, they’ll be sweating.

The typical ceremony performed by an officiant lasts 15-20 minutes. Seems quick, but when you’re standing in the open sun at 92 degrees, it’s going to make things uncomfortable for you and your guests.

bride placing ring on finger

3. Beachgoers do not care about your wedding

They will literally run directly behind your ceremony. They will chase their kids and loudly yell at them during your vows. They’ll wear obnoxiously colored bikinis and photobomb every photo. They’ll creepily take pictures of your ceremony and mingle with your guests. They’ll turn on their block-rocker and blast reggae music while you’re walking down the aisle.

Because all beaches are public, you cannot ask beachgoers to move, to turn down the music, or to bugger-off.

Guess how many people I had to edit out of this photo. It’s between 8-15. Luckily, this couple was super smart and got married at a venue just down the way from where this was taken. The beach was so close that we could still get beach photos after their ceremony!

4. No chairs, arches, or adornments allowed

You cannot use chairs or arches or anything that is set up on the beach. The most you can have is a flower circle or aisle. I’ve done some cool weddings with rungs and flowers on the beach – but that’s about as dressed up as it can get. If you’d like something more high-end, consider a private venue with beach access for portraits later!

5. The tide can change your wedding beach

So you’ve put in all the time and energy to choose your location for your beach wedding. But then a massive swell comes in and wipes out the beach. The beach that was once 20 feet wide is now 5 feet wide and your 15 guests have nowhere to stand. This is a very real thing that happens often.

The beach in the photo below is typically twice as big as what you see. High tide came in and the couple lost most of the beach. Luckily, their ceremony and reception were on the adjacent lawn so it wasn’t an issue for them!

I know…I get it – it’s the dream to do something simple on the beach. And if that’s still your dream, go for it! But know what you’re getting into before you set your mind to having a beach wedding in Maui.

There is another way…

But if you’re still reading and second-guessing yourself…consider a private venue! You’ll spend more, but at the end of the day, you have more control over your wedding and ceremony!

Some of my favorite intimate Maui wedding venues are…

Gannon’s
The Mill House
Kukahiko Estate
The Pier at Olowalu Plantation House

You can read more about my favorite Maui wedding venues on the blog!


If you’re considering a venue for your Maui wedding, I’m your gal! Drop me a line and let’s chat!

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