If saying "I do" to the sound of the surf is your idea of heaven, you've come to the right place. Kauai is home to beautiful, unblemished beaches — many of them quiet, secluded and perfect for an intimate exchange of vows. A few sand-strewn suggestions:
• SHIPWRECK BEACH — Even the name sounds exotic, inspiring images of swashbucklers and buried treasure. Located on Keoneloa Bay, Shipwreck Beach is one of the biggest in Poipu and particularly suited to stunning wedding photos, especially with rocky Makawehi Point in the background. Several beautiful resorts lie conveniently near its sunny shores.
• POIPU BEACH — Plenty of sunshine, cool trades and soft white sand make this south shore location a favorite with travelers. Rated a "top beach in America," this sweep of shimmering shoreline is perfect for pictures, especially at sunset, and is conveniently located near Poipu resorts. The adjacent Poipu Beach Park, also encompassing Brennecke Beach, has an expanse of green lawn, towering palms, and picnic and rest facilities.
• LYDGATE BEACH PARK — This beach on Kauai's Coconut Coast seems to have it all: more than two miles of golden sand, grassy spaces nearby, picnic pavilions, shade trees, rest facilities PLUS a playground! (Keep that young ring bearer or flower girl happy!)
• WAIPOULI BEACH or ALA KUKUI POINT — Head to Kauai's east side for this picturesque garden setting: palm trees, a profusion of flowers, white sand and mountains rising in the background.
• KE'E BEACH — Considered "the place" to watch the sun set on Kauai's North Shore, this stunning beach boasts a lava peak that trails into the sea and emerald mountains beyond the beach. Consider an early, weekday wedding at this popular and often-busy beach.
• HANALEI BAY — Situated at the foot of a sheer cliff and bordered by a rocky point, picturesque Hanalei Bay is renowned for its unparalleled natural beauty. The sandy beach wraps around a shoreline at different times of the year calm and surf-strewn, but always lovely. The Pier at Hanalei is another option, promising magnificent memories and photos.
• PRINCEVILLE BEACH — This lovely spot on the celebrated North shore offers a white sand beach and Mt. Makana ("Bali Hai") as a backdrop.
• Take care of the paperwork early in your planning. You'll need a marriage license from the State of Hawaii to be legally married. To get this done, refer to Hawaii's marriage license requirements.
• Planning a wedding on uncharted ground can be challenging. Relax! Find a good wedding coordinator and let someone else do the work...you just need to say "I do."
• If you're planning an outdoor wedding: Hawaii's temperatures average 78 degrees Fahrenheit year-round and though rain showers are usually light and brief — except December through February when you'll have the occasional day-long downpour — you should plan a backup location in case of inclement weather. Also keep in mind that strong tradewinds (winds from the North) are a Hawaii hallmark, especially in shoreline areas. Be sure to pin down veil, dress, hair and anything else you don't want flying up and away during the ceremony.
• All beaches in Hawaii are public, and both beaches and public parks can be used for wedding ceremonies, However a permit is required. However, don't expect to have a popular spot all to yourself. Most beaches and parks in Hawaii are not secluded, and especially during spring and summer months may have quite a few visitors.
• Hawaiian style: Couples who are marrying on the beach can dress as casually or formally as they like. Many outdoor brides wear long, flowing summer dresses (white, cream or pastel floral) with a haku lei and flat shoes (if you're having a beach or lawn wedding, consider going barefoot!). Grooms wear nice aloha shirts (patterned or plain white) with solid-colored slacks or long shorts — and of course their maile lei. A brightly colored sash around the groom's waist also adds color to the ceremony.
• When planning your ceremony, don't forget the flowers. Lei (which go around the neck of both the bride and groom) and haku lei (which go on the bride's head) are a common element of a Hawaiian wedding. It is also keeping with the aloha tradition to present important people with lei — including family members attending the ceremony.