Weddings vary greatly around the world. There are a multitude of wedding traditions depending on the country and whether or not the couple is embracing a religious ceremony. The uniqueness of each ceremony is one of the things that makes attending weddings such a wonderful experience.

Hawaiian weddings have some particular traditions that are seen in other places. Here are some of the things you’ll likely see at a typical Hawaiian wedding whether it’s of wedding of locals or one of the thousands of visitors that come to the islands each year to get married there.

Blowing of the Pu – Or what is also called a conch shell. The blowing of the pu signifies that something special is about to happen and is therefore blown at both the opening and closing of wedding ceremonies in Hawaii. This often takes place during religious and civil unions. The first time the pu is blown is right before the bride walks down the aisle.

Ofiiciant Dress – This can be from wedding to wedding but civil unions will often involve the officiant wearing a lei of some sort, commonly the haku lei. They also will often wear a garland around their head. Local officiants or holy men are called Kahu and they traditionally will chant as they lead the groom to where the ceremony will take place. If the groom is observing Hawaiian tradition he will be wearing all white.

Exchanging of the Leis – During the ceremony the bride and groom will exchange leis, which are a symbol of eternal love. Often they will also present leis to their parents and their bridal parrty.

Music – Ukulele music is commonly played while guests arrived and again during the exchanging of the vows. Typically the song Ke Kali Nei Au or “Waiting for Thee” is played.

Blessed of the Ring – Before rings are exchanged the Kahu will dip a koa or wood bowl into the sea which a ti leaf is then added to and the water is sprinkled over the rings as a traditional chant is said.

Pouring of the Sand – During the ceremony the couple will mix two different sands together into one common container which symbolizes the joining of their two lives.

The Laval Rock Offering – The rock symbolizes the moment the couple made a commitment to each other. It is wrapped in a ti leaf then is left at the site of the where the ceremony took place.

After the Ceremony – Parties after the official ceremony vary great but if the couple is staying traditional it is likely a Luau will take place where traditional Hawaiian food is served from kalua pork to poi.

Bonzai Toasts – Often in Hawaii it is common for a bonzai toast to take place. There are two bonzai toasts that are typically given, the first is “Shinro shimpu, banzai” which translates to long life and happiness to the bride and groom, this toast is often given by a close friend of the couple. The second is “Paihin shokun, banzai!” which is long life and happiness to the guests and is frequently given by a family member.

Hawaii is one of the most popular places in the world for destination weddings and while you certainly don’t have to have a tradtional Hawaiian wedding if you choose to get married there you should consider making it a traditional Hawaiian ceremony. They will make the wedding unique and something that you and your guests are bound to remember for years to come.

Shop for wedding leis here.