When people first think of getting married in Hawaii, many think of a secluded beach in a tropical setting with the sparking glow of the ocean and the golden sun setting in the background. Wow, what a scene but, not always the case LOL. See below.
We like sunset ceremonies and many of our clients choose that time if only because, they can go straight to dinner :) Seeing the sunset is depends upon the time of year, month, and beach but basically, you have to be on the south/west facing shore of the island.
To actually face the sunset or at least have sunset light in the Honolulu area, you're looking at Magic Island, Portlock Beach, possibly Duke Kahanomoku Beach, and each depending upon the season and month.
FYI: We do not guaranty that there will be a visible sunset (nobody can:) nor that we will be able to take photos with the setting sun in the background for photo sessions scheduled before or during sunset time.
Sunset is visible in the Honolulu/Waikiki area during the late Fall and Winter (late September to April).
It starts to go behind the mountains in Spring/Summer, May/June to September/August. With that said, throughout the year, indirect sunset sky light is always available.
There is no sunset at Waialae/Kahala, Makapuu, Waimanalo, and all Windward beaches.
FYI: Sunset in the tropics is not like sunset at higher latitudes. There is little to no twilight. After sunset, there might be about 5 to maybe 10 minutes of twilight, sometimes longer if there are high cirrus clouds, either way, it's night time right after. Additionally, when the sun nears the horizon, the sunlight is already starting to fall-off pretty fast and if there are clouds far off, it'll be darker before sunset almost as if it has set. Simply, there will be no visible sunset and it gets darker earlier.
FYI: Why not West Oahu and Ko Olina? You can see the sunset into the ocean all year round but, the geography and the orientation of the island and beach just creates a harsh sidelight which isn't very flattering and we don't shoot with the sun as a background for any actual ceremony photos.
How We Do Sunset
For sunset, we recommend ceremonies start 45 minutes before the actual sunset as being a safe bet and depending upon the photography requirements of your package, the size of your wedding, and the services you're wanting but, for small events and couples who want to be as close as possible to sunset, we can start as late as 30 minutes before sunset. This seems to be the current preference.
It's important to understand that, we do not use the setting sun as a background during the actual ceremony. Why? It's just too bright for the camera and flash, there's glare, lens refractions, washed-out colors, the camera has difficulty focusing, the sky comes out white, all manner of problems. We can shoot B&G scenics with the sunset as the background, just not ceremonies. Read more in our phlebography page and FAQ.
Also, for photos we like the sun to be above your head and no lower than chest level (about 15-30 degrees above the horizon) for photos. We just don't like photos with the sun at people's feet and we do not sit couples on the ground, it's just not the right pose for a wedding.
We shoot into the sunset scenics in two ways which you can see throughout our website. We use a special technique for "sunset" silhouette shots using filters where we can create our own "sunset" OR if the conditions are right we use our flash and lens combination technique to get "natural" sunset shots. We may use either or both at the photographers discretion.