Hawaiian Wedding Reception Ideas

This relaxed and communal theme is ideal for fans of the beautiful islands

By Julie Hampton

Hawaiian reception tent with fire spinner
Photo by Renai Photography 2010Bookmark and Share

Residents of the Hawaiian islands know that a "luau" or "feast" is all about a gathering with family and friends in a relaxing setting to enjoy food, socialization and entertainment. Incorporating a wedding luau for your reception is simple and creates a colorful wedding theme that is unforgettable. The good news is that whether you're headed to the islands for your honeymoon or you just want a Hawaiian theme, you can create a tropical Hawaiian wedding reception anywhere. Incorporate the theme into food, location and, of course, apparel for the perfect wedding luau.


Your Hawaiian theme will be much better in a natural setting, so choose an outdoor location for the reception, such as a backyard or botanical center. Alternatively, rent a location that has a nice lush backyard or patio. Have several fire pits available to keep guests warm and to add visual ambiance to the evening. Light tiki torches to add a fiery glow to the evening festivities as well as keep the bugs away. Have an indoor location available in case of inclement weather.


Create a large spread of Hawaiian-inspired dishes including mahi mahi tuna, roasted pork and fruit kabobs. Use large cut pineapples for decoration on the buffet table. A pig roast is traditional Hawaiian fare, though it may not be appetizing to all guests. Serve tropical smoothies in colorful glasses or fake coconut cups. Have the bartender add a fresh flower to drinks. The wedding cake can be made with simple white icing and adorned with colorful orchids, suggests Hawaii Flower Lei, a Hawaiian flower company.


Indicate on the wedding invitations that the reception will be a colorful Hawaiian-style luau. Greet guests at the door of the reception with leis and flowers to tuck into their hair. Hand out grass skirts, straw hats and even silly sunglasses for a tropical beach theme. The bride and groom can both remain in white during the evening, following traditional Hawaiian custom. The bride can opt for a less traditional dress and go for a beach wedding dress accompanied by a crown of flowers.

Music and entertainment

From hula dancers to fire eaters, a wide variety of entertainment is available for a Hawaiian-themed wedding. Hire a ukulele player to serenade the crowd, or you can play Hawaiian-themed music from CDs or your iPod. Have the bridesmaids or other party guests teach everyone the hula dance. Instead of "Here Comes the Bride," you can have the traditional "Hawaiian Wedding Song," named as such, sung as you enjoy your first dance.


The main decor for a tropical party is fresh florals. Use a variety of flowers, such as orchids and hibiscus. Incorporate into the tables' centerpiece decorations. Decorate the edges of the tables with grass skirting. Integrate palm leaves, seashells and candles to decorate tables. Colorful lanterns can be added to trees or hung on string for a festive look. Rent large palm trees for the evening, or grow your own tropical plants for background decor.

About the Author

Julie Hampton is a regular contributor to DexKnows.

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Wedding Glossary


A folk dance, usually performed at Jewish weddings, where guests hold hands and dance in a circle together. The wedding couple is sometimes raised by friends and family on chairs.

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