Traditional & Modern Hawaiian Wedding Attire: The 2024 Guide

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Hawaiian Wedding Attire: A Guide to Traditional and Modern Fashion

Hawaii is one of the most popular wedding destinations in the world. With its beautiful beaches, lush landscapes, and romantic atmosphere, it's no wonder why so many couples choose to tie the knot in paradise.

One of the biggest decisions brides and grooms face when planning a Hawaiian wedding is what to wear. From casual beach weddings to luxury resort affairs, Hawaiian wedding fashion encompasses a wide range of styles.

As an expert in Hawaiian wedding trends with over 10 years of experience in the local fashion industry, I'm here to provide an in-depth look at traditional and modern Hawaiian wedding attire. With insights into everything from native designs to contemporary looks, this guide has all the information you need to choose the perfect wedding wear in Hawaii.

Traditional Hawaiian Wedding Dresses and Suits

Hawaii has a rich cultural history. Many brides and grooms incorporate traditional Hawaiian elements into their wedding attire as meaningful nods to the islands' Polynesian roots.

Ancient Hawaiian Wedding Traditions

In ancient Hawaii's communal land-based culture, weddings were joyful celebrations marking the union of two families.

Simple grass skirts and wraps made from native plants like hala leaves constituted wedding wear. Couples adorned themselves with leis, floral crowns, and kukui nut necklaces as signs of a blissful new life together.

Ancient Hawaiian Wedding Attire

  • Grass skirts and hala leaf wraps
  • Leis and maile leaf leis
  • Floral crowns
  • Kukui nut necklaces

Though Hawaiian wedding customs evolved over centuries of outside influences, respect for nature and family remains at their core.

Modern Takes on Traditional Hawaiian Wedding Fashions

Today, Hawaiian wedding finery honors the islands' ancestral heritage while incorporating modern tailoring and textiles.

Here are some of the most popular traditional Hawaiian wedding looks:

Ti Leaf Skirts

  • Lightweight, swinging skirt made of woven lauae fern or ti leaves
  • Often paired with a bikini or coconut shell bra top
  • Symbol of Hawaiians’ seamless relationship with the land

Tapa Cloth Apparel

  • Tapa is cloth made from beaten bark of the paper mulberry tree
  • Features symbolic patterns stamped by hand or block print
  • Used to make simple shifts, pareos, and shirts

Hawaiian Print Suits and Dresses

  • Vibrant "Aloha shirt" suits and dresses in floral/foliage prints
  • Communicate the lush beauty of Hawaiian landscapes
  • Classic styles updated with tuxedo tails or mermaid gown silhouettes

Shell Lei Necklaces and Headdresses

  • Strands of tiny shells or kukui nuts worn as necklaces
  • Represent unity, protection, fertility, and abundance
  • Often incorporated into floral crowns

Modern takes on Hawaiian heirloom fabric designs, native botanical prints, and the symbolic kukui nut make cultural references in subtle, sophisticated ways.

Couples can choose to fully embrace the look by wearing Polynesian prints from head to toe or incorporate Hawaiian accents as unique touches, like a mindfully crafted lei or maile haku (floral crown) in place of traditional wedding flowers.

Best Fabrics for Hawaiian Wedding Fashion

Hawaii's balmy climate calls for lightweight, breathable fabrics that keep brides, grooms, and guests comfortable in the heat. Most traditions Hawaiian styles use natural textiles.

Recommended Fabrics

  • Lightweight cotton
  • Linen
  • Silk
  • Rayon
  • Tapa or bark cloth
  • Woven leaves/ferns

Dresses and suits made of these materials allow the skin to breathe, move freely, and still appear polished.

When choosing attire, focus on the best fabrics for the Hawaiian climate vs. what wedding fashion dictates back home. Comfort is key!

Modern Hawaiian Wedding Fashion

Beyond time-honored looks, Hawaiian island style also influences more contemporary wedding wear. Relaxed luxury defines many modern Hawaiian wedding aesthetics.

Contemporary Hawaiian Wedding Dress Styles

Hawaiian island dress codes range from "aloha casual" to black tie. For a flawlessly fashionable modern Hawaiian wedding, keep this seasons hottest trends and most versatile styles in mind.

Spring/Summer Hawaiian Wedding Dress Trends

  • Breezy off-the-shoulder or cold-shoulder gowns
  • Flouncy chiffon dresses with ruffled skirts
  • Simple bias-cut slips
  • Graphic floral prints
  • Cutouts and sheer illusion bodices
  • Beaded fringe trims

Fail-Safe Hawaiian Wedding Dresses

  • Timeless mermaid and trumpet gowns
  • Figure-flattering sheath dresses
  • Ethereal chiffon a-line styles
  • Sophisticated mikados with train or bow back
  • Strapless sweetheart gowns
  • Stylish pantsuits and jumpsuits

Brides also embrace dress alternatives like cute rompers, stylish suits with hats or floral crowns, and even mini dresses or skirts with statement bridal capes.

The beauty of Hawaiian wedding fashion lies in the details. Add a tropical twist to any dress with floral accents, seashells, or a vibrant Hawaiian print veil.

Mens Hawaiian Wedding Fashion

The go-to Hawaiian wedding tuxedo remains a classic black style with a bow tie or floral embellished necktie and a tropical boutonniere like an orchid, protea, or maile leaf.

However, grooms enjoy more flexibility with Hawaiian wedding attire.

Hot Hawaiian wedding suit ideas include:

  • White or ivory dinner jackets
  • Light tan, gray, navy suits
  • Guayabera shirts or Hawaiian print tuxedo jackets
  • Upgraded accessories like woven maile bracelets, lei boutonnieres, or chirowave tux shoes

Saying "aloha" to stuffy formalwear, many grooms rock a loose-fitting Hawaiian print shirtwith khaki pants or dark wash jeans too. And why not? You're getting married in paradise, after all!

Fabrics for Breezy Hawaiian Wedding Style

Natural fabrics that breathe well and absorb perspiration help everyone stay crisp, comfortable, and camera-ready.

Top Hawaiian Wedding Fabrics

Fabric Characteristics
Linen Breathable, light, moisture-wicking, starched for structure
Cotton Soft, breathable everyday fabric good for informal weddings
Silk Lightweight luxury with beautiful drape, sheen, and movement
Chiffon Flowy sheer fabric perfect for beach breezes

Pro Tip: Skip heavy fabrics like velvet, brocade, or satin that trap heat and restrict movement on the islands. Embrace lightweight options that flutter in the tropical trade winds instead.

Dressing Your Wedding Party: Hawaiian Bridal Party Attire

You want the whole wedding party feeling their best as you capture portraits against gorgeous backdrops. Select lightweight, breathable Hawaiian styles to keep the focus on celebrating love.

Hawaiian Bridesmaid Dresses

Rule #1 - Keep things unified yet comfortable.

Match colors and fabrics or arrange varied complimentary styles. Multiway wrap dresses work for all figures. Simple silhouettes feel effortless.

Rule #2 - Add a hint of Hawaiiana.

Incorporate tropical motifs with Hawaiian print sashes, flower crowns in lieu of bouquets, or shell jewelry. Have bridesmaids rock haku headpieces or vibrant floral prints.

Accent knee length sundresses with fresh leis in shades echoing the bridal bouquet. Tiny succulents also make cute boutonniere alternatives for groomsmen.

Mother of Bride/Groom Attire

Mothers of the bride and groom should emit effortless elegance. Designer kaftans, loosely draped gowns, or dresses in breathable crepe strike the right note.

Understated tropical prints, embroidered details, and lightweight stoles help mom stand out while keeping the focus on the couple. Have moms’ special leis match their accessories for a pulled-together Hawaiian look.

The climate calls for flexible footwear. Flats or wedges allow crashing waves without risk. Statement slides, embellished sandals, or tropical espadrilles add panache.

Best Hawaiian Wedding Party Shoes

Keep feet happy with these comfortable wedding shoe ideas:

  • Breezy tie-strap wedges
  • Thong sandals with embellishments
  • Metallic or rhinestone flip flops
  • Espadrilles in tropical prints
  • Decorative yet comfy ballet flats
  • Low kitten heels under 2 inches

Unique Hawaiian Wedding Attire Ideas

If you really want to embrace Hawaiian culture, why not take wedding wear local?

Here are some totally unique, beach appropriate Hawaiian wedding outfit ideas.


Pareos are versatile fabric wraps popular throughout the islands. Brides often wear white silk pareos for beach weddings. These billowy wrap skirts make ethereal Island boho-chic alternatives to wedding gowns.

How to wear a Hawaiian pareo:

  • Wrap around hips over a bikini or strapless bra top
  • Choose vibrant prints or gauzy solids in silk or rayon
  • Accent with a flower crown, maile lei, shell jewelry
  • Display tattoos or tropical body art

Bold Hawaiian Prints

Traditional Hawaiian quilt prints were originally made for royal families. Authentic designs feature symbolic shapes like flowers, fronds, and geometric patterns.

Modern takes on these prints embody the Hawaiian spirit. Brides now wear long Hawaiian print gowns or short cocktail styles while grooms don Hawaiian print tuxedos or guayabera shirts

Pro Tip: Seek designers like Island Bride Hawaii, Sig Zane, and Noe Noe Hawaii for authentic, quality Hawaiian prints.

Ocean-Inspired Finery

For couples who feel at home in the sea, ocean-themed wedding wear makes perfect sense.

Mermaid Inspired Bridal Gowns

Figure-hugging gowns that flare below the knee resemble mermaid tails. These speak to Hawaii’s ocean culture. Intricate beadwork or rhinestones evoke scales while illusion panels keep lines sleek.

Fish Leis & Shell Jewelry

Small fishhooks traditionally strung with flowers or shells make unusual Hawaiian style boutonnieres and corsages. Puka shell necklaces, braided bracelets, and shell hair clips echo ocean motifs.

Dressing for a Hawaiian Wedding: What to Wear

When attending weddings in Hawaii, prioritize the couple's suggested attire, climate comfort, and cultural considerations. Here's an overview of key dress codes:

Attire What to Wear
Beach formal Sundresses, linen suits & jumpsuits, open shirts with nice shorts or pants
Island chic Light daytime cocktail styles, sundresses, Hawaiian print mix & match outfits, dressy shorts outfits
Business casual Linen blouses/coordinated separates, breathable slacks, skirts below the knee, lightweight suits or dresses
Black tie optional Cocktail dress/evening gowns, dress suits with tie or bow tie, formal jumpsuits, dress shoes
Casually formal Sundresses, dressy swim cover ups, nice aloha shirts, linen pants

What Not to Wear

Avoid heavier fabrics like velour, corduroy, wool, and sequins that cause visible sweating. Skip revealing clubwear; Hawaii’s culture skews conservative. Bikinis and bare chests should be reserved for the beach, not ceremonies and receptions.

Place thoughtfulness toward local customs over your own comfort. Pack attire that balances personal style with tropical appropriateness.

Here are my top tips for choosing guest attire that checks all boxes:

  • Lightweight natural fabrics breathe best; pick linen, silk, or cotton
  • Bring a shawl or cover up for cooler nights or protection from the trade winds
  • Look for styles with capsleeves or breathable cutouts vs. bare shoulders
  • Seek dresses/skirts that hit below the knee for respectful coverage
  • Plan to wear leather or wedge heels for terrain versatility
  • Avoid pure white (unless requested) to not upstage the bride
  • Keep silhouettes streamlined to prevent clinging in humidity

Shopping Tips: Where to Buy Hawaiian Wedding Attire

From custom couture to affordable island fashions, excellent Hawaiian wedding options exist at every price point.

Locally Made Hawaiian Wedding Wear

My top recommendations for exquisite locally designed Hawaiian wedding looks include:

  • Maile Andebe: Custom made & couture bridal gowns and suits incorporating Hawaiian cultural elements

  • Island Bride Hawaii: Hawaiian print bridesmaid dresses & wedding gowns

  • Sig Zane: Iconic couture & ready-to-wear Hawaiian prints

  • Noe Noe Hawaii: High quality relaxed Hawaiian print separates & dresses

  • Kealopiko: Luxurious custom Hawaiian prints & ready-to-wear dresses

I adore these designers for perpetuating heritage textile arts while creating of-the-moment fashion celebrating Hawaiian landscapes. Their cultural mindfulness inspires.

Larger Brands with Hawaiian Styles

National retailers also offer great Hawaiian wedding looks recalling breezy romance.

BHLDN's Island Bride capsule features airy maxi dresses and jumpsuits with subtle exotic flair.

Billabong's tropical bridal separates mix boho beach elegance with soft femininity.

J.Crew Weddings' Hawaiian assortment includes cute options like a strapless palm print gown and a tropical jumpsuit.

For grooms, check Bonobos' Hawaiian wedding shop showcasing lightweight suits, guayabera shirts and playful novelty Hawaiian tuxedos.

ASOS offers tons of Hawaii appropriate guest dresses and bridal separates with free returns.

Wherever you find your Hawaiian wedding vision, from custom couture to carefree silhouettes, choose thoughtfully made styles celebrating island living.

FAQs About Hawaiian Wedding Attire

Are traditional Hawaiian wedding outfits still worn?

While ancient styles like grass skirts and loincloths have faded away, some Hawaiian brides still incorporate components like lei, tropical floral prints, and local fabrics. However, most modern Hawaiian wedding attire adapts historical elements to contemporary aesthetics.

Do you have to wear flowers or a lei at a Hawaii wedding?

While not required, fresh floral lei represent an important Hawaiian tradition you may want to take part in. Many resorts include lei in wedding packages. But it's also nice when guests bring their own to greet the bride and groom.

What should male guests wear to a Hawaii beach wedding?

The protocol depends on formality, but smart casual featuring lightweight fabrics works best. Aloha shirts, linen pants, guayabera shirts, and leather sandals all suit the locale. Just avoid overly casual looks like shorts or flip flops unless explicitly told otherwise.

What should female guests wear to a Hawaiian wedding?

Female guests should select pretty resort or sundresses featuring tropical motifs like floral, fruit and foliage prints. Jumpsuits, maxi skirt sets, and rompers also work nicely. Like the guys, lean towards smart casual in breezy natural fabrics, low heeled sandals, and island-inspired accessories.

What do you wear to a Hawaiian formal wedding?

Guests attending formal Hawaiian weddings like those at resorts or historic venues should wear traditional cocktail attire and formalwear. Ladies should wear cocktail dresses, evening gowns, or dressy jumpsuits. Men should be in suits and ties, ideally of summer-weight fabrics like linen. Get creative with tropical details like a Hawaiian print tie or orchid corsage.

Is it okay to wear white to a Hawaiian wedding?

Unless specifically requested otherwise, it's fine to wear white or ivory as a guest at a Hawaiian wedding. Just avoid styles that too closely resemble a bridal gown. Casual sundresses, jumpsuits, blouses, and skirt sets work well.

What kind of jewelry and accessories work for Hawaii weddings?

Subtly incorporate Hawaiian themes into your jewelry and accessories. Floral, seashell and nature-inspired hair clips, earrings, bracelets and necklaces perfectly complement island attire. Also consider a tropical print scarf or pareo. If attending an outdoor wedding, don't forget hats and sunglasses.

How do you incorporate Hawaiian wedding elements on a budget?

Focus budget accessory splurges on one or two statement pieces like a Hawaiian print maxi skirt or floral crown. Then round out the look with affordable basic tops and shoes you may already own like strappy sandals and camisoles. Hawaiian flower lei also add authentic local flair for under $20.

Is black appropriate to wear to a Hawaii wedding?

Black remains a standard color even at Hawaiian weddings. However, consider tropical-inspired black and white prints or lightweight black fabrics complementing the island setting. Pair black dresses or ensembles with vibrant floral hair clips, lei, or accessories.

What men's colors and prints work for Hawaiian weddings?

Men should embrace lighter, brighter colors and fun subtle prints indicative of the Hawaiian vibe. Soft beachy pastels like seafoam green, light tan, and sky blue capture the island spirit. Understated tropical and floral prints also look sharp while steering clear of overly kitschy motifs. White or navy blazersadd polish.