Which little girl hasn’t dreamed of marrying her prince in a palace? ‘Iolani Palace and Queen Emma Summer Palace are two options for a royal wedding.
‘Iolani Palace, the only royal palace in the United States, is located in Honolulu, Hawaii. Couples can rent certain areas of the beautiful grounds for their wedding. Since the palace is considered a sacred place and a historical gem, there are restrictions and policies that need to be followed. Couples need to apply for a permit from the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources; this process can take up to two weeks. Wedding ceremonies are held on the Palace gardens, followed by a reception in the private open-air courtyard of the historic ‘Iolani Palace Barracks. The Barracks’ “coral block structure of limestone with its crenelated parapets and towers hearkens to the architecture of medieval castles of Europe,” states the Palace website. The `Iolani Palace Galleries may be open for tours during your event so guests can view the Hawaiian crown jewels and ancient Hawaiian regalia, as well as portraits and historic photographs. Facility rental fees support Friends of the ‘Iolani Palace, an organization that helps to restore and preserve this historic treasure.
Queen Emma Summer Palace
The summer home of Queen Emma located in lush Nu’uanu Valley is a beautiful historic home and museum. There are two sites to hold weddings at Queen Emma Summer Palace: Emmalani Hale, an indoor space for a reception, and the Prince Albert Terrace, an outdoor area. Facility rental fees are presently very reasonable and based on the number of guests. The facility rental fee includes entrance to the museum for wedding guests.
Below are some of the more popular private estates on Oahu that are available for weddings. These sites are breathtaking, but so is the price tag on some of them. If location is an important factor, these venues will not disappoint. Additionally, these private estates offer brides the flexibility to work with wedding vendors of their choice.
Lanikuhonua, Ko ‘olina
Lanikuhonua translates to “Where heaven meets earth” in the Hawaiian language. It is a beautifully landscaped private beachfront property that belongs to the estate of James Campbell. Lanikuhonua offers two sites for weddings. It is one of the few wedding venues that boasts a near private beach since public access to the beach is very difficult. Lanikuhonua is located next to another popular wedding venue, Paradise Cove.
Dillingham Ranch, Mokuleia (North Shore)
Dillingham Ranch is a private estate that takes you back to an era of Old Hawaii. The estate, located at the base of the Waianae Mountains, boasts an equestrian center. The plantation-style home has been used in several movies such as “50 First Dates” and “Tears of the Sun.” The home is presently under renovation but is scheduled to be open for weddings in late 2009 or early 2010. Only the facility is available for rental – all tables, chairs and food have to be brought in by outside vendors.
The Paul Mitchell Estate, Lanikai – Kailua (Windward Coast)
Offering one of the best ocean views in the world, this tropical oasis is a collection of unique bungalows that blend South Pacific and Indonesian style. This high-end vacation rental is located in the exclusive residential community of Lanikai, Kailua, and includes seven bedrooms, six baths and a beautiful oceanfront garden for a wedding ceremony.
Other popular oceanfront estates that do a thriving wedding business include the Bayer Estate in Hawaii Kai, and two North Shore estates: the Loulu Palms Estate and the brand new Fanger Estate. In addition to these, there are several other beautiful oceanfront vacation rentals which are available for weddings – many of them on the Windward and Waianae Coast.
Many Oahu weddings are held at beautiful private homes. If you’re lucky enough to have a friend who owns a home that would be ideal for a wedding venue, you’ve hit the jackpot. You’ll be able to save a bundle on facility rental fees and splurge on your dream wedding gown or your favorite photographer. A third of the weddings that I photograph are held at private oceanfront homes in Kailua, Kahala and the North Shore. Weddings at private homes can range from intimate backyard barbecues to grand affairs with a band, dance floor and custom lighting.