Going to the Chapel of Love

About 25,000 weddings are conducted in Hawaii every year. With June upon us, here’s a look at some lovely places to say ‘I do’

Melissa Moniz
Wednesday - June 02, 2005
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Haiku Gardens

Mention wedding ceremony and one of three visions usually come to mind. Either one’s own wedding; what one hopes theirs to be; or the overdone movie scene presented in far too many chick flicks.

You know … the groom in a black tuxedo, waiting nervously at the altar as the bridesmaids in pastel satin dresses breeze down the aisle. Then suddenly the groom’s face bursts into smiles as the traditional “Bride’s March” sounds and his beautiful bride is there standing at the foot of the chapel in arm with her everso- approving father.

As cheesy as that scene may be to some, given its overuse in TV dramas, cinema and even real life — it is the “traditional” wedding ceremony. And even with today’s push for modernizing everything from the way we eat to the way we communicate, weddings are still one area where tradition still reigns supreme.

Haiku Gardens

So with wedding season upon us, what better way to celebrate the occasion of love than by taking a look at a number of Oahu’s fabulous chapels where the infamous “I do’s” commence?

Angel Chapel by the Sea Overlooking a breathtaking ocean and yacht harbor, Angel Chapel by the Sea is one of Hawaii’s best-kept wedding secrets. Newly renovated with charming stained glass windows, a gazebo garden and spectacular waterfalls, this ceremony site is as picturesque as those seen in storybooks. The chapel seats up to 60 guests with standing room for an additional 50 people. Angel Chapel is on the grounds of the Renaissance Ilikai Hotel, located at 1777 Ala Moana Blvd. Packages range from $575 to $1,170 with additional costs for rehearsals and outside ceremonies. For more information, call 949-3811.

Central Union Church Choose from four chapels or gardens for your formal ceremony service at Central Union Church. The largest, Central Union Sanctuary, can seat 500 on the main floor and 250 in the balcony. The Atherton Memorial Chapel seats 200 with 12 pews on each side of the center aisle. The Courtyard of Atherton Memorial Chapel is an outdoor site that accommodates approximately 175 people. The smallest of the four is the Pilgrim Chapel, with a seating capacity of 25. Central Union Church is located at 1660 S. Beretania St. For more information, call 947- 5069.

Central Union Church

Haiku Gardens Revered as the most secluded, private garden and restaurant on the island, Haiku Gardens is a pristine location for an intimate wedding ceremony. Ceremonies are performed in the garden, the chapel or in the gazebo. The wedding chapel holds 50 people seated and up to 200 with people standing. The garden area holds up to 300 and the gazebo holds under 10. The site fee is $500 for two hours and $125 for each additional hour. Haiku Gardens is located in the majestic Koolau Mountains. For more information, call 247-0605.

Kamehameha Schools Bernice Pauahi Bishop Memorial Chapel Built in 1988 on the original 600-acre hillside Kapalama campus, the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Memorial Chapel is available for wedding ceremonies for alumni, trustees, faculty, staff and immediate families of all the above categories. The beautiful koa-constructed chapel accommodates 482 people. Ceremonies are held only on weekends and holidays with two-and-a-half hours allotted for each. Cost is $275 and includes the organist, wedding director, officiant and rehearsal. For more information, call 842-8204.

Angel Chapel By The Sea

The Willows Whether it’s an intimate setting or a lush garden ceremony, the Willows Chapel can provide accommodations for both. Ceremonies can be held inside the chapel or in front of the chapel with seating on the lawn. Wedding packages are available and range from $900 to $1,800. The Willows is nestled within the heart of historic Moiliili on one acre of lush tropical gardens, native Hawaiian flowers, and cascading waterfalls. For more information, call 952-9200.

Turtle Bay Resorts’ The Pavilion Tucked away in one of Hawaii’s most isolated resorts, The Pavilion, Turtle Bay’s signature wedding chapel, is available year round to the public. This indoor, beveledglass structure is located on the ocean, especially for sunset wedding ceremonies. The seating capacity inside is 50 people and 100 people if the beveled-glass walls are opened and chairs are placed on the surrounding lanai area. Cost is $1,000 for the site fee. The chapel is located on Turtle Bay Resorts grounds at 57-091 Kamehameha Highway. For more information, call 293- 8811.

Turtle Bay Resort’s The Pavillion

Of the average 2.4 million weddings performed in the U.S. yearly, statistics reveal that about 80 percent of ceremonies are held in churches or synagogues. Given Hawaii’s breathtaking views and beautiful beaches, however, the percentage of church ceremonies here are a bit lower.

“This is Hawaii and so people love getting married outdoors and everyone loves the scenery,” says Shari Dang, owner of Shari Dang weddings. “I do though think many brides and grooms honor the traditional marriage in the chapel, and so if I had to give a percentage I would say it’s about 50/50.” Tradition and religion are the two key factors in a couple’s decision to have their wedding indoors. However, other factors, such as cost, convenience, weather and even time are often weighed into the equation.

The Willows

“Many times we see couples having their ceremony at the reception site because for some it’s easier, saves time and money in some cases, and a lot of times the hassle because the bride and groom are not the same religion,” says Kelly Sugano, owner and coordinator of A Perfect Day. “However, with a chapel there is the personal connection, especially for those who go there every Sunday.”

“I would say the biggest pro of having a ceremony at a church aside from it honoring tradition, is weather,” adds Dang. “With weather being so unpredictable it’s always safer to have your ceremony at a church.”

Kamehameha Schools Bernice Pauahi Bishop
Memorial Chapel

With Hawaii’s array of beautiful chapels, unmatched weather and prestige hotels, it’s understandable why Hawaii averages a whopping 25,000 weddings each year, ranking second only to Las Vegas.

And with June recognized as the most popular wedding month, chances are there will be no empty chapels on the island for the next few weeks.

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