Have a Luau Wedding without the Luau

For generations, the luau has been a Hawaiian feast held in honor of important milestones and special occasions.

Once upon a time, the luau was a feast known as ‘aha ‘aina or “gathering meal”. These feasts were celebrations with family and marked special occasions and life achievements. However, those feasts typically excluded women and reserved certain foods like bananas for chieftains and high-ranking people. King Kamehameha II ended these rigid traditions in 1819 by feasting with women, and the more inclusive luau quickly replaced ‘aha ‘aina. Luau is the Hawaiian name for the taro leaf, a staple of Hawaiian cuisine.

Today, people still use luaus as a reason to gather with family and friends to celebrate special events. However, if you want to host a more elegant affair without fire dancers and roast suckling pig, we have a few ideas you’ll love.

A Different Twist

By design, luaus are fairly casual events. They’re more about celebrating than formality. However, there is a way to combine the sophistication of a more traditional wedding ceremony with a laidback beach-y luau vibe. We call this our elegant luau, a spin on traditional Hawaiian dress.

It starts with the location and décor. Whether you reserve a beach-front spot for your ceremony or host it indoors, make sure to include lots of tropical inspiration and bright colors. These decorations and centerpieces incorporated bright tropical flowers and leafy green plants to bring the magic of the Hawaiian outdoors to their receptions.

elegant luau themed wedding decorations
{ image credits clockwise from top left : Disney Weddings Blog, Wedding Bee, Ritz Carlton Kapalua, A Maui Wedding Day, Town & Country Event Rentals }

Then we move on to dress. Depending on your personal style, you can add colorful floral accents to a traditional white wedding gown. Alternatively, you can wear a more authentic Hawaiian gown or sarong, complete with bright colors or a bold floral print. Complete the look with a single flower tucked behind your ear left ear – it symbolizes that you are taken. All the single ladies among your guests should wear flowers behind their right ears.

elegant luau themed wedding outfits and accessories
{ image credits clockwise from top left : One to Wed, Etsy, Melisaa McClure Photography, Jade Fashion, Lindsey Orton Photography }

Add flair with food. Getting creative with plating and presentation is a simple way to add elegance to your affair. A dessert table can be easily made more chic with an impressive fruit or cupcake sculpture. Grilled meats and veggies artfully arranged on crisp white plates adds instant class to any place setting.

elegant food presentation for luau wedding
{ image credits clockwise from top left : Sunset.comSanta Barbara ChicTwo Moms Catering, Created by DianeEhowSticky Fingers Bakery on FlickrFood.com }

Finish it off with Favors

Help your wedding guests beat the heat with beautiful miniature woven buri fans, or opt to give each person a personalized bottle of sunscreen so they can have fun in the sun without worrying about burns. These fun favors fit in with the luau theme and add a bit of the light and airy cheer luaus are known for to your elegant beach ceremony.

Have you hosted, or are you thinking about hosting a luau-themed wedding? Share your ideas in the comments!