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.
We like doing weddings late in the afternoon and at sunset but, we also like it during the day. It just depends upon what you want.
Sunset in the tropics is not like sunset at higher latitudes. There is no twilight like you may have elsewhere.
In Hawaii when the gets near the horizon and where you see the sun actually hitting the horizon, the sunlight is already starting to fall-off pretty fast (and especially for photos), and it can get dark within moments.
After sunset, there might be about 5 to 10 minutes of twilight, sometimes longer if there are high cirrus clouds, either way, it's night time relatively fast.
Importantly, if there is a clouds on the horizon, there will be no visible sunset and it gets darker earlier.
The actual sunset is visible from beach locations depending upon the time of year and season.
Actual sunset is visible in the south-west facing Honolulu/Waikiki area during the late Fall, and Winter Late September to late March, early April. It starts to go behind the low west mountains in Spring/Summer. For April and Sept., it's still pretty good but, June to August, it's still more behind the mountain than on the side. With that said, throughout the year, sunset light is available for late weddings.
Note: There is no sunset at Waialae/Kahala, Makapuu, Waimanalo, and all Windward beaches.
Simply, for a late sunset light ceremony in the summer, look at Magic Island, Ft. DeRussy, or Duke Kahanomoku beaches. For Fall, Winter, include Portlock Beach.
Note: 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 ceremonies, it's just too bright for the camera.
How We Do Sunset
For sunset weddings, we recommend the ceremony start from 45-60 minutes before the actual sunset depending upon the photography requirements of your package, the size of your wedding, and the services you're wanting. If you want it closer to sunset, up to you, we can start 30 minutes before sunset.
We do not use the setting sun as a background during the ceremony. Why? It's most times 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, try it yourself. We can shoot B&G scenics with the sunset as the background and we do that often, just not ceremonies.
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.
Magic Island, Duke Kahanomoku, Ft. DeRussy
Sunset visible late Sept. to April.
Sunset light all year.
Sunset best visible late September to early March.
Ko Olina area
Sunset visible all year round.
Really harsh side-light because of the geography.
Sunset visible most of the year except Winter
and depending upon geography of beach.
No sunset. No sunset light.
Honolulu/Waikiki locations have sunset light all year long and a sunset during late September to early April. Magic Island is always a choice during winter months and sunset light all months during the year. Ft. DeRussy and Duke Kahanomoku are both acceptable beaches for sunset light all year and limited sunset views from approximately late September to early April.
The best location for a small wedding under 10 people is Portlock Beach in East Honolulu. Unfortunately, it's only good from approximately late September to early April.
West Oahu beaches get the sunset all year long but, we don't suggest them. The geography and orientation does not lend itself to the best views and light for the ceremony.
The North Shore is has sunset. We do not go there in the late Fall and Winter months because it's the surf mecca of the world and high surf causes all kinds of problems. Sunset Beach and possibly Haliewa work for us. Don't use Papailoa, cars get vandalized all the time and the geography and view is quite boring as is all of the North Shore compared to other beaches we use.