You’re getting married in Hawaii, which is already a wedding dream come true. From stunning seascapes, majestic volcanoes, and vibrantly colored gardens, this state is bursting with a special kind of wedding day magic that’s hard to find anywhere else.
Along with its unique landscape and charm, Hawaii has a distinctive set of marriage laws that couples should be aware of as they approach their special day. Haven’t got a clue where to begin when it comes to legal matters? No problem. This post will lei (we couldn’t help ourselves) out the specifics of the local statutes so that you can stress less and sip on your tiny umbrella drink in the weeks leading up to your dream wedding.
In regards to marriage, every state does things a bit differently. When you boil it all down, love is right smack dab at the center of it all. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to channel your inner Elle Woods when it comes to understanding the legal requirements of making things official.
Here are a few terms you’ll want to get familiar with:
Marriage License: Ah yes, the piece of paper standing between you, your spouse-to-be, and a legally binding union. Marriage licenses—not to be confused with marriage certificates—are a must if you want your vows to count for anything more than a beautifully tearful exchange of intention and commitment. Each state has different protocols when it comes to this matter, so be sure you’ve done the research relevant to your ceremony and your place of residence. (Hint: If you’re getting married in Hawaii, you’ve come to the right place.)
Marriage License Fees: Everything comes at a cost, and marriage licenses are no different. Don’t worry—you shouldn’t have to rearrange your entire wedding budget, but you should be prepared to pay some sort of fee in exchange for your marriage license. The exact amount will depend on the state in which you’re applying. Some fees are as low as $10, while others are as much as $115. The accepted methods of payments vary by state as well. If you hardly ever carry cash or a checkbook, it’s best to call ahead to confirm whether or not the fee is payable by card.
Waiting Periods: Some states require couples to wait for a certain amount of time before issuing their marriage license. While spontaneous marriages are certainly romantic, some states are understandably wary of them and require couples to put on the brakes for a few days after receiving their marriage licenses just to be sure they’ve had time to think things over.
Blood Tests: Premarital blood tests are mostly a thing of the past, but it’s something you may still be subject to depending on the state in which you plan to be wed. This kind of testing got its start in the 1930s when public health concerns about the spread of syphilis were on the rise. Other diseases on the radar at the time included HIV, tuberculosis, and rubella. Most states decided to scrap these laws as the cost of testing grew higher than the threat of disease, but the state of Montana still enforces this procedure.
Residency Requirements: Most states in the United States have open border policies, welcoming couples from all over the country to celebrate their special day in the locale of their choice. However, some marriage license application procedures will differ for non-residents.
Witnesses: Another detail to consider when planning your big day is your state’s laws surrounding ceremony witnesses. For several states, two witnesses are required—not only to be present for the exchange of vows, but also to sign the marriage license after the ceremony takes place. So, if you’re planning a private elopement, double check to see if you’ll need witnesses in addition to the officiant.
Legal Age of Marriage: For most states, the legal age of marriage is 18 years old. At this age, individuals have reached the age of consent and are free to marry without the need to obtain permission from a parent or guardian. This holds true across the country—with the exception of Nebraska, which requires a minimum age of 19 years old to marry without parental consent. Otherwise, any individual under the age of 18 will need to provide consent from a parent/guardian. Check your local state laws for more information about the minimum age requirements to marry without parental consent.
Officiant Qualifications: You know that marriage licenses are the what when it comes to making it official, but what about the who? Specific details about who is recognized as a legal officiant vary from state to state. Civil ceremonies, in particular, may run into more legal obstacles than ceremonies with a religious affiliation. So, if an old friend becomes ordained as a justice of the peace just for you and your spouse-to-be, you may want to confirm that the state in which you’re set to get married allows it.
How do Hawaii’s state laws shape these requirements and the process of applying for a marriage license? Read on for the state-specific details.
The marriage license application in Hawaii is pretty pain-free as long as it is precisely that—in Hawaii. (More on that soon.) But first, start by picking a dreamy wedding venue along Hawaii’s lush coastline, pair it with Zola’s Wedding Vendors search to find an array of pre-screened vendors in the area, and then meet us back here for licensing specifics.
Ready? Let’s dive into the ins and outs of Hawaii’s marriage application process.
In addition to traditional marriage licenses, some states offer licenses for individuals participating in a covenant marriage. Covenant marriages require premarital counseling, and the spouses-to-be enter into the union with the understanding that divorces will only be granted under certain circumstances deemed valid by the laws of the state.
In Hawaii, covenant marriages are not an option. Instead, couples will have to apply for a traditional marriage license through the State Department of Health.
Couples holding their ceremonies in Hawaii need to present a few important documents in order to be granted a marriage license.
Important: Non-residents need to apply for a marriage license in Hawaii, not in the state they reside in.
The couple must meet the state age requirements and present a valid ID as proof of their age. Examples of valid forms of identification include:
Note: According to Hawaii state laws, individuals 19 years of age or older may provide any one of the above forms of ID. Individuals 18 years old or younger, however, must present a birth certificate.
Hawaii requires a fee of $60 (plus a $5 administrative fee) in order for marriage licenses to be processed. It may be paid online or in person.
There is no mandatory waiting period in the state of Hawaii. Couples who have been granted a marriage license are eligible to be married as soon as the license has been issued.
Marriage licenses in Hawaii are valid for 30 days. If not used within 30 days, the marriage license will be considered null and void, and couples will need to reapply.
After the wedding ceremony, your officiant will handle the details regarding the registration of your marriage license within the state. Upon registering the signed license, couples can expect to receive their marriage certificate within four to six weeks after the date of your ceremony. The marriage will then be legally recognized across all states.
You’re almost ready to apply! Read over the special considerations in the next section to be sure you meet all of the specific requirements for the state of Hawaii.
Before you get started with step one of applying for a marriage license in Hawaii, make sure you and your partner are eligible and prepared for marriage according to the considerations below.
Age Requirements: Without parental consent, Hawaii imposes a minimum age of 18 years old in order to get married. With parental consent, individuals as young as 15 years of age are able to apply for a marriage license. At 15, individuals need written consent from parents or guardians and a judge. For those between 16 and 17 years old, only parental consent is required.
Officiant Registration: Officiants, commonly known in this state as marriage performers, must be licensed by the state of Hawaii. Performers wishing to conduct a ceremony must register and be approved by the State Department of Health. If the officiant you had in mind is from out of state, be sure to factor this registration period into the overall wedding planning timeline.
Copies of the Marriage Certificate: Copies of your marriage certificate will be needed for a number of things, such as insurance and bank accounts. Couples may request certified copies of their marriage certificate online and should expect to pay $10 for the first copy and $4 for each additional copy after that.
Still have some unanswered questions? Check for the answers below.
Here’s a look at some of the most commonly asked questions about getting married in Hawaii.
Hawaii welcomes both residents and non-residents who wish to get married in this state. Regardless of residency, couples planning to hold their wedding ceremony on one of the islands must apply online via the Hawaii State Department of Health. Though the application itself is completed digitally, couples still have to appear in person to file with an agent.
Once you’ve found an agent in your area, you may book a license appointment with them to complete the application process.
Couples may be tempted to start the application process right away, but it’s important to note that Hawaii marriage licenses are only valid for 30 days, including the day it’s issued. Instead of filing the paperwork shortly after your engagement, decide first on your venue and determine which marriage license agent is located nearest to where you’ll be celebrating.
For non-residents, book a slot that coincides with your travel dates, aiming for a week or two before the actual date of your wedding day, if possible. Residents, who have the convenience of being able to visit their local agent’s office any time, may consider getting it done sooner.
Unlike some states, Hawaii doesn’t impose a mandatory waiting period after a marriage license is issued. In fact, as long as the application process goes smoothly, there is no law that would prevent couples from marrying on the same day their marriage license is granted.
Some states require spouses-to-be to wait anywhere from 24 hours to six days before getting married. So, why the wait? These laws are put in place in order to deter couples from making a spur-of-the-moment decision. With this in place, couples are allowed more time to think things through before making any rash decisions about marriage.
Since there’s no waiting period in Hawaii, couples can get married as soon as their marriage license has been issued.
What’s the Difference Between a Marriage License and a Marriage Certificate? Both are important—essential, in fact. But they are not the same, nor can one be used in place of the other. Here, a simple breakdown of the differences between marriage licenses and marriage certificates:
Know the procedures for obtaining both and, when in doubt, make a zillion copies of each. (Or three. Three’s good.)
Historically, several states used to require couples applying for a marriage license to get a blood test before their nuptials. Because of concerns about public health, couples or individuals who tested positive for diseases such as rubella or syphilis were not granted permission to marry.
The state of Hawaii does not have any law that requires individuals to undergo blood testing before getting married. The only state that still enforces such requirements is Montana.
Get married in Hawaii. That’s it. That’s the trick. Oh, right—you got that memo already. Here are a few insider tips that you may not yet know about.
Fall in Love With the Flavors of the Island: Hawaii has a rich history of food traditions, an opportunity you won’t want to miss out on when it comes to choosing the menu for your reception. Beyond the delectable poke bowls that have grown popular on the mainland, consider adding special Hawaiian flair to the day by incorporating traditional dishes like kalua pig, poi, or manapua. Feeling particularly adventurous? Try out spam musubi.
Know How to Get Around: For you and your guests who may be coming in from out of state, you’ll need to reach the island by way of plane. These are Hawaii’s top five commercial airports:
Honolulu International Airport
Keep in mind that public transportation may be limited on the islands. The most comfortable way of getting around will likely be by renting a car.
Pro tip: Build a wedding website with Zola to clue your guests in about hotel and transportation arrangements. That way, all the important information will be in one place and you won’t be spending as much time fielding calls from confused guests.
We can help you:
Build a wedding website that’s as elegant as it is informational.
Connect with local photographers, videographers, florists, and caterers on Hawaii’s islands. (Bonus: They’ve all been pre-screened and primed for our wedding Vendor Search.)
Create a registry that offers free returns and shipping.
Curious to know if we can help out with something that’s not on the list? Just ask the experts at Zola. We love love, and we can’t wait to lend a hand in the process of celebrating yours.
Start planning your dream Hawaii wedding with Zola today.