Beach Wedding Rules

In order to preserve Hawaii beaches for public recreational use and future weddings, the State of Hawaii implemented a few beach wedding rules. If you’re using a wedding planner, they should be quite familiar with these requirements and inform you about what is and isn’t allowed. But, if you’re the type of person that likes to read the rules themselves, here you go.

As of August 2008, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) began enforcing a law requiring a Right-of-Entry Permit for commercial activity, including weddings, on State public beaches. The permit requirements were said to be prompted by complaints that Hawaii wedding companies were taking over beaches with chairs and wedding decor as well as blocking public access. Some Maui wedding professionals, worried that DLNR could arbitrarily revoke permits, filed suit claiming a violation of the First Amendment. The court ruled that requiring a permit did not interfere with the right to marry, and the State could not revoke a permit after it was issued.

The current rate for a permit is a non-refundable fee of $0.10 per square foot of planned usage with a minimum fee of $20 for a maximum of 2 hours. This fee is often included in your Hawaii beach wedding package since it’s easiest for your wedding planner to apply for the permit on your behalf, due to the hefty amounts of insurance coverage the permit applicant must have (at least $300,000 per incident and $500,000 aggregate).

Even though the beach is public and your planner cannot shoo other beach goers away, people are respectful and may even cheer for you at the end of the ceremony. Experienced Hawaii wedding planners can recommend the best beaches for your wedding, though if you have a certain beach in mind, you can check to see if it’s on the list of permitted locations. link “permitted locations”:

Unfortunately, alcohol cannot be consumed at the beach. The law also states that “no accessories, structures, devices, amplified instruments, appliances, apparatus or equipment of any type whatsoever shall be placed on or within the right-of-entry area or premises, including but not limited to the following:

  • arches
  • bowers
  • altars
  • tables
  • chairs
  • kahilis
  • tents and or tarps
  • event signage of any type including banners, sandwich boards
  • kiosks or carts
  • stanchions, posts, ropes or similar equipment for the purpose of demarcation of the right-of-entry area
  • surfboards, windsurf boards, kayaks or other ocean recreation equipment;

With the Exception of the Following:

  • loose flowers, leis, bouquets, corsages or boutonnieres
  • unamplified musical instruments, including a conch shell
  • doves or butterflies for releases
  • a limited number of chairs as strictly necessary for the support of elderly, infirm, or disabled persons attending the event(s)
  • cameras and camera equipment
  • other non-obtrusive hand-carried wedding accessories
  • small podium or cake stand, not to exceed three feet square in size
  • ocean vessels/equipment used exclusively for the purpose of scattering ashes during authorized funeral services

If anyone is found to be breaking the requirements, they face fines of up to $5,000 for the first violation, up to $10,000 for a second violation occurring within 5 years of the last violation, and up to $20,000 for a third or subsequent violation occurring within 5 years of the last violation.

By now, wedding planners have gotten used to the permitting process and find it helpful to be able to check when and where other permits have been issued. While it’s true that you aren’t able to have amplified music or chairs for all your guests, you can have beautiful fresh flowers, live music, a dove or butterfly release, and cake.

In the end, hardly anyone will remember the props. You might remember how the sand felt between your toes or how peaceful the sound of the ocean in the background made you feel. Guests will treasure how happy you looked and the gorgeous sunset. Because, really, isn’t the natural beauty and simplicity part of the allure of getting married on a beach in Hawaii?

Hawaii Beach Wedding Permits FAQs
General Terms and Conditions for Commercial Activity