Six insider tips for getting married in Hawai’i

Last year, Keane Akao saw an exciting opportunity with the legalization of same-sex marriages in Hawaii, and he jumped at the chance to get involved. As a native Hawaiian and co-founder of the LGBT-owned and -operated wedding planning company Perfectly Planned Hawaii, he’s the go-to guy when it comes to your big day. Keane shared his top six tips with us for planning a wedding in the islands.

1. Find a location you love. Location is one of the most important decisions you will make while planning your wedding. It greatly influences the atmosphere and will be a memorable part of your celebration. It is best to book your location about 12 months in advance. However, if you decide to go all-out ASAP, being flexible with days and locations should enable you to secure a spot on short notice (He has secured a location and planned an entire wedding in just 12 days!). See Keane’s venue picks in the Lei wedding resources guide.

2. Start planning early. It may seem obvious to some, but planning early will allow you more options and the likelihood of getting exactly what you want, whether that be a specific venue, musician, or champagne. In theory, it will also help with pre-wedding anxiety if you’re not rushing to throw it together in the final weeks or days.

3. Don’t forget the marriage license! This is essentially permission for your marriage to take place (it’s not the marriage certificate, which is filled out the day of). In Hawai‘i, licensing for a marriage  can be generated in less than an hour. Keane recommends a visit to a marriage licensing agent such as Sherri Luning. Note: To fill out this form, you will need to know who your licensed minister or marriage performer is and have proof of age, paperwork about any previous spouses (if previously married), and $60 (in cash).

4. Decide your last name. To keep it? To change it? Hyphenate? Decide before you’re filling out your marriage license.

5. Choose a photographer you love. With your wedding day often going by in a flash, you’ll want someone who will beautifully capture moments that may slip from your memory. Check out a great list of photographers in the Lei wedding resources guide and get a feel of whose style matches yours.

6. Hire a planner, if your budget allows. A planner takes an enormous amount of stress off, not only on your wedding day but also on the weeks and months leading up to it. They also allow you to enjoy the day without the bother of making sure everything is running smoothly. That’s why you hired them!

See a list of wedding resources compiled by Keane, including venues, officiates, photographers, florists, and more at Lei wedding resources.

Note: In an earlier version of this story, it was incorrectly stated that Perfectly Planned Hawaii is the first LGBT-owned and -operated wedding planning in Hawaii. Bliss Wedding Design & Spectacular Events and Gay Hawaii Weddings have been in business longer and are both LGBT-owned and operated, and are great resources for weddings on the islands.