Getting married in Maui was a dream come true. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be though. Graham and I didn’t just show up one day and have everything ready to go. You CAN do that, if you don’t mind having someone else make decisions for you. But I wanted a say in most things. …
I was recently asked on Instagram for advice on Maui wedding planning. I’ve come up with some tips based on my experience.
Be as detailed as possible with vendors. One thing I was not specific enough about was the flowers. I just knew the colors I wanted, but I knew nothing about flowers. I sent our planner’s husband, who apparently handled the flower orders, photos of the look I wanted, and he suggested the flowers. I agreed. But if I really wanted the look in the photos, I should have figured out the exact flowers in the photos I liked and used those. The bouquet probably would have been more expensive. It’s obviously best to go with flowers native to the island. If you choose flowers that are harder to find on Maui, you will probably have to pay a surcharge. There is also a higher charge to have a nosegay or cascading bouquet sometimes. This is something to ask your planner or florist.
I think my bouquet was beautiful, but my point is it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. If you are picky, be more specific.
Ask for specifics about what is included and be sure to check on fees. It never occurred to me that there would be a fee to deliver flowers from the ceremony site to the hotel for photos. Check whether there is a fee from your venue or coordinator to set up any decorations. In my case, both charged a setup fee. I ended up having my mom and sister set up our few decorations the day of the wedding instead. There may be a cake-cutting fee if you order your wedding cake from a vendor other than your reception venue. If you don’t host an open bar, there may be a one-time setup fee. Some venues have rules about what kind of music can be played and during what hours. A restaurant I had initially looked into had a food and beverage minimum. Another offered to set up a cocktail hour free of charge other than a permit for music on their lawn.
Interview several planners before choosing. I chose mine based on how she responded to my emails. She did the leg work before I even hired her, and that impressed me. If I had to do it over, I would have taken more time to interview planners. It’s understandable, but our planner was not quick to answer emails sometimes when she was focused on weddings that were happening before ours. If you’re a nervous bride who requires more contact, choose someone who will accommodate you. If you care about the details, make that clear in the beginning, so you don’t assume they are being taken care of and find yourself scrambling at the last minute.
If you can, go on a planning trip. Check out the venues in person. Photos aren’t always reliable. I was lucky enough to choose a fantastic venue without visiting until two days before the wedding. Gannon’s has a live camera that sometimes shows weddings taking place on the Lower Knoll. When I saw the view of the ocean I knew it was the place for us.
Ask about the rain policy. Rain was a huge factor in why I chose a private non-beach venue. Gannon’s was great about offering a backup plan. If it rained we had the option of having the ceremony in a covered area that also had a nice view. It relieved some of my stress to know that rain wouldn’t be an issue.
Get lei’d. We wanted to give out leis at our wedding, but the quotes we received were too high for our budget. I decided instead to order them online from HawaiiFlowerLei.com and have them shipped to our hotel via next-day air shipping. We also ordered our aisle petals from them. We saved hundreds of dollars on flowers.
For our wedding favors, I ordered chocolates from Maui Specialty Chocolates. The store owner emailed me a couple of weeks before the wedding saying that he needed to close the store that week but that he would still meet me there to pick up my order. I called him as soon as we landed in Kahului, and we immediately drove to the store. It’s conveniently located about a mile or so from the airport. I appreciated that he kept his word and he was so kind to us. The chocolates were delicious, by the way. (We were lucky enough to get more of them from our hotel on our wedding night as a gift from the front desk.)
I was not satisfied with our day-of coordinator. First, she called me the day of the wedding to say that it was up to me whether we wanted the backup rain location. I looked outside and it wasn’t even cloudy. I was confused as to why she would even bring it up. I had already discussed the rain policy with the venue and told them I wanted to proceed with a ceremony on the Lower Knoll, even if it was sprinkling. She was nice enough to deliver flowers to my hotel, but my family and friends pointed out that she did nothing to direct them or the vendors before the ceremony. When I arrived she greeted me, and I asked her whether the guys and girls should walk in a particular order, but she said, “It’s up to you.” So helpful. I then just told me sister to tell the guys how and when to walk. As we waited for the conch shell to begin, she was not vocal when my bridesmaids clearly didn’t hear it or understand when to walk. I had to be the one to say “go.” None of this ruined the moment for me, but in hindsight I was not pleased with her work that day.
On the other hand, I loved my hairstylist, Heather Green of On Location Styling. She turned vague requests into a beautiful hairstyle. She was kind and relaxed and helpful.
Also, I’ve already mentioned how much I liked Reverend Kahu Kamuela, musician Jamie Lawrence and our photographer, Jana Morgan. And the food at Gannon’s was delicious.