Planning The LGBT Wedding Of Your Dreams?

hawaiian-gay-weddingOn September 9, 2013, Governor Abercrombie announced that he is calling the Hawaii State Legislature into special session on October 28 to consider the same-sex marriage bill. The Republican mudslingers warned this would be the beginning of the end of the wedding market in Hawaii. Volcanoes would erupt and ancestors from the islands past would haunt and rest no more. Oh course the exact opposite happened. The LGBT community with its highly disposal income shot new revenue in the sagging tourist trade. It was a slow start but now a real option for that special day.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the U.S. state of Hawaii currently have all of the same rights as non-LGBT people – with recent reforms such as workplace protection laws and the adoption of Senate Bill 1 (also known as the Hawaii Marriage Equality Act) — equalizing treatment for LGBT people and couples.

Hawaii repealed its sodomy law in April 1972 and revised its sex offenses laws in 1986 following state Supreme Court rulings which defended a Georgia ban on sodomy.

On October 28, the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor passed same-sex marriage legislation in a 5-2 vote, sending the bill to a full Senate vote.

On October 30, the Senate approved the legislation in a 20-4 vote, sending the bill to the House.

On October 31, the bill was debated by both the House Committee on Judiciary and House Committee on Finance. The House, following extensive public debate and an attempted ‘citizens’ filibuster’ of the legislation,[10] voted 30–19 on November 8 in favor of the legislation.

The bill returned to the Senate for approval of House amendments which expanded religious exemptions and the Senate provided final legislative approval on November 12, voting 19–4 for passage to the desk of the Governor.

Governor Neil Abercrombie signed the bill into law on 13 November; same-sex couples began marrying on December 2, 2013.


If you are getting married in the Hawaiian Islands, you are undoubtedly enamored not only of each other, but of the physical beauty and the culture of the place. Most couples choose to add a bit of Hawaiian culture to the their weddings, whether that means the music of a slack-key guitar or a groom wearing all-white.

The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau — the private, nonprofit marketing organization for the tourism industry — released an emotional video on Monday featuring the surprise wedding of Christian Alarid and Shayne Barnes, an Oahu couple whose family and friends traveled to Honolulu to see the two men tie the knot. The video and teasers for it quickly went viral, with more than 6.5 million total views on social media by Tuesday afternoon.

Now known as the Alarids, the two had gotten engaged last June. They had been planning a 2016 wedding and had agreed to be models in an HVCB wedding photo shoot last August on the Big Island, after which HVCB staffers had a brainstorm. What if the bureau surprised the couple by organizing a picture-perfect surprise ceremony in Honolulu? HVCB Chief Marketing Officer Jay Talwar didn’t need much convincing.

“They’re a great couple to work with,” said HVCB Digital Strategist Michael Ni, the creative force behind the video, who joined Talwar in discussing the project with Civil Beat on Tuesday. “Super romantic and friendly, and they just exude love.”

The video starts with the couple joining a photographer and videographer on Nov. 12 at the Honolulu Museum of Art’s Spalding House for what Shayne thinks is just another HVCB photo session. But as the session ends, Christian, 24, who had been let in on the surprise earlier, sits down with Shayne. “This isn’t a shoot, it’s the real thing,” he says. “And today’s the day. Are you willing to marry me?”

Snippets from the next seven hours’ frenzy of activity, including family members flying in from the mainland, Shayne painstakingly writing his vows and a limousine ride to the Kahala Resort and Hotel make up much of the rest of the six-minute video.

“I was excited and happy – so many emotions went through me at one time,” said Shayne, 27. “There was just one surprise after the other. I didn’t know there could be so many surprises.”

Along the way, it’s disclosed that both are military serviceman: Christian serves in the Air Force and will enter the Air Force ROTC program next fall at the University of Hawaii, while Shayne recently completed his service in the Marines and is now a full-time student at Hawaii Pacific University. “I’m glad it wasn’t the main focus, but I’m glad it shows we do our part, did our service and give back,” said Christian.

The piece culminates in a beautiful beachfront ceremony, the peaks of Koko Head rising in the background as the sun sets over Kahala.

The video went up on social media sites Monday morning and quickly drew massive attention. “We’ve seen a lot of positive feedback from commenters,” said Ni. “For the most part, everyone is loving the story and the video.”

We’ve collected Hawaiian wedding traditions; it’s up to you to choose which you would like to embrace.



Almost everyone who gets married in Hawaii includes the flower garlands known as lei as a part of the wedding ceremony. Lei are a symbol of love, respect, and all-around aloha. It is common for the ceremony to commence with the bride and groom exchanging lei. You may start with the groom wearing the bride’s lei and the bride wearing the groom’s, then switch. Or you may have a flower girl earn her title by presenting the lei at the appropriate moment. The groom usually wears a garland of manly green maile leaves (sometimes with small white flowers, called pikake, woven in). In a traditional Hawaiian wedding ceremony, the kahuna pule, or holy man, would bind the couple’s hands together with a maile lei. Brides often wear several strands of pink and white pikake, which can be entwined with orchids or rosebuds. The bride might also wear a headpiece of haku flowers and greenery. Some couples present their mothers with lei; and at smaller weddings, why not give everyone one?

Hawaiian Language

Whether you are a born-and-bred Hawaiian twosome, or if this is your first time to set foot here, you will want to know some of the most romantic words from a very romantic language. Drop a few Hawaiian words onto your invitations or favors; and if you are really brave, practice a few to use in your toast. Our favorites come from our Hawaiian friends.

  • To cherish, love, or express affection: ho’oheno
  • Celebration: ho’olaule’a
  • Friend: hoa aloha
  • Man: kāne
  • Woman: wahine
  • Joy: hau’oli
  • Kiss: honi
  • Sweetheart: ipo
  • Darling: hiwahiwa


Hawaiian music is so romantic, it would be silly to pass up a chance to have some of the real thing at your wedding ceremony. The slack key guitar and ukelele are the regional instruments that make the music of the islands famous. You can hire musicians, and you can also hire hula dancers to interpret the songs. The “Hawaiian Wedding Song,” made famous by Elvis crooning it in the film Blue Hawaii is so perfect, and so universal at weddings here, that we suspect there may be some obscure law requiring it.


At a traditional Hawaiian wedding, the bride wears a long, white dress that is sort of — now, don’t be thrown by this word — muumuu-ish. What that means is that the dress is flowing. It moves in the Pacific breeze, and has its own unique elegance. The haku lei, that ring of fragrant Hawaiian flowers, is worn around her head.

Grooms get to wear white, too, in the form of a white shirt (on the flow-y side) and white slacks. He wears a brightly colored, usually red, sash around his waist, and the green maile lei around his neck.

Thanks to a heavy Asian cultural influence in the Hawaiian Islands, kimonos are also worn at weddings here.


There are certain foods that you can’t miss in Hawaii. Poi, a paste made from pounded taro root, is one of them. Laulau is a method of preparing meats, including fish and chicken, by wrapping them in ti leaves. Poke is diced raw fish flavored with vegetables and seaweed; kulolo is coconut pudding with brown sugar and taro flavorings.

These days, the fresh fish and excellent produce of the islands take center stage, graced by a multi-ethnic mélange of flavors. Asian and Indo-Pacific influences like Thai, Japanese, and Polynesian have made Hawaiian cuisine a fascinating adventure.

Ahi, or tuna, is seared and crusted in sesame; seafood is cooked in a Hawaiian bouillabaisse; fresh fruit sauces made from guava, papaya, pineapple, and lychee add flavor.

When you plan your wedding feast, be sure to take advantage of your setting by highlighting these fresh seafoods, fruits, and veggies.

If a luau is your thing, be open to modern interpretation – but don’t skip the luscious kalua pig.


LGBT advocates say Hawaii’s native culture traditionally accepted more nuanced gender roles, and current attitudes toward gender and sexual identity in Hawaii have been affected by colonization, land seizures, the suppression of Hawaiian language and culture, and the imposition of moral codes by Western missionaries.

p8_feature_hawaii_246Before Hawaiians’ contact with outsiders, for example, Wong-Kalu says mahu individuals were respected, but faced increasing intolerance as native Hawaiians were supplanted by colonial settlers.


Come On Gidget Lets Go Hawaiian, I’ll bring the rice, you bring the wine, ah moon-doggie (the groom or bride.)


Lou Ceffer

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