If you are expecting 20 or less guests, you're looking at having your event at a restaurant using regular seating or a private room (if available).
More than 25 guests, you're looking at a restaurant large enough, or more than likely, a hotel banquet room, private venue or estate, or a commercial luau facility.
A restaurant or luau facility will be the easiest and most cost effective. If you have a lot of people, hotel reception rooms and private venues might be your only option (Hotels require a minimum expenditure of usually the equivalent cost of 35 guests irrespective of the actual number of guests). Private estates are what many people think they want, but the cost can become quite higher than they wish to spend.
We provide a links page for restaurants and other venues which we think are appropriate for wedding events. Also, check with your hotel to see if they have any on-property venues that are appropriate for the number of people you're expecting.
Given the above and below suggestions, most of our clients, dealing directly with the catering and restaurant managers (who are the experts) have no problem planning their own receptions. With that said, if you need help finding appropriate venues and/or need help planning or coordinating a reception that you have already secured, you can hire your own person or you can check out our person.
FYI: We do not do reception planning and coordination it is not included in our packages prices. We have a event planner/coordinator we refer our clients too. Read more here.
For a simple beach wedding, set your wedding day, ceremony time, and schedule first, plan your reception second.
If you're getting married on a public beach, you want to be at the right beach, at the right time, and on the right day to give you the best odds at having a successful, beautiful wedding. In other words, you don't want to be at the wrong beach, at the wrong time, on the wrong day.
FYI: Large weddings at a hotel or other private venues will of course, require you to plan concurrently because of availability so, you may have to tentatively reserve a reception venue while you are completing your ceremony reservations.
Also consider, just as a beach wedding in Hawaii is anything but traditional, we'd like to suggest that you think "outside the box" with your reception. Simply, you do not have to follow a traditional wedding day schedule by having your reception immediately following the ceremony.
Get married on the beach at the best time for that spot, for the best experience and photos! Have your reception anytime after, even if it's hours away. What that means is you might get married in the morning, everyone has a great day at the beach, and you all meet up later for you sunset dinner reception. Or simply do a lunch reception. No worries, everyone's on vacation :)
Clients actually appreciate wedding ceremonies in the morning where they can be dressed appropriately for a beach wedding and don't have to get all dressed-up, enjoy the rest of the day at the beach, shopping, or just hanging out, and then going to a cocktail dinner reception in the evening. This versus having your ceremony at a location and at a time, without regard to what works better for that location, making everyone dress inappropriately for a beach ceremony, etc., just because you want to have your reception follow the ceremony. No, this does not make it easier and more enjoyable for your guests!
There are many good restaurants and a few which work well for receptions for both lunch and dinner. We have listed a few which we like and ones our clients have used in the past.
For a Waikiki luau, most will start at 5 pm or later depending upon the time of year, so 4 pm at the latest would be our suggestion depending upon the luau site location (Waikiki versus outside Waikiki).
For a luau dinner show outside of Waikiki, you'll want your wedding in the morning or 2 pm at the latest which should give you enough time to get back to your hotel to freshen-up and be prepared to catch the transport buses at pick-up points around Waikiki, usually a 4:00 departure. Please make sure you check with the luau company for pick-up locations and times for the luau. If using our AHW transportation to go to a luau directly from your wedding ceremony, please make sure you let the luau site know that you will be using their buses for the return trip.
Private Estate receptions:
Private estate receptions can be as casual or as exquisite as your pocketbook can afford. Generally, because everything has to be brought in, these receptions can be as costly as at hotels and it seems that nowadays, these sites are charging site fees which are as high as hotel site fees, but you'll have a lot more flexibility and freedom to get what you want at a private estate, without the "hotel mentality".
Many private estates are really private homes in residential areas. Some of these homes are operating illegally, we suggest you confirm that they are legal. All have restrictions about what you can do regarding a party which may include no amplified music, usually shutting down by 9 pm or 10 pm, valet parking mandatory, etc. If you are thinking such a location, check with the rental agent about restriction before you pay any money.
Hotel banquet receptions:
Most of the major hotels have banquet facilities. There are some very good venues which are available. Check with your hotel concierge about on-site venues and restaurants or look at the major hotel venues i.e. Sheraton Waikiki, The Moana, The Kahala Hotel, The Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Aston Waikiki, Outrigger Hotels, etc.
Some Places to Check Out
Roy’s – This is a top-rated, local favorite, with a location in Waikiki and the original restaurant in East Oahu in Hawaii-Kai and near Porlock Beach (other locations elsewhere). It can accommodate larger groups. https://www.roysrestaurant.com/
Tiki’s Grill & Bar – This is a great place for a reception of just about any size. Good food, good prices. Especially awesome is The Coconut Club on the 21st floor overlooking Waikiki can take up to 80 guests. Go here http://www.tikisgrill.com/home
The Willows – This is a buffet style restaurant just outside of Waikiki with banquet facilities for individual dining and small to large groups. Go here: http://www.willowshawaii.com/
Dukes Waikiki – Right in the middle of Waikiki. Go here: http://www.dukeswaikiki.com/
Hula Grill – Right above Dukes Waikiki.
New Otani Hotel – This is a small hotel at the very end of Waikiki away from central Waikiki which has some very good dinning options. Check it out. http://www.kaimana.com/index.htm
Paradise Cove Luau - This is a luau facility on West Oahu nearby to the JW Marriott Ihilani. It’s far from Waikiki but, they have shuttle coach bus service from Waikiki. We have had a few clients use this location for their ceremony and reception. We have also had clients who have only had their ceremony there with their reception elsewhere and still others who choose it just for their reception. Use “The Pointe” (the other locations aren’t that good). https://www.paradisecove.com/