Ancient Hawaiian Wedding Traditions
E Lei aku ‘oe ku’u aloha
I ko’oula nou i kahi mehemeha
Wear my love as a lei
And as your companion in lonely places
The Hawaiian Flower Lei
The Hawaii fragrant flower lei is a bridge to ancient Hawaiian culture. A Lei is given at every joyous occasion and certainly in celebration of your Maui wedding as the lei represents the Joy of Life. It is a treasured jewel in these islands and so precious that it is often used to mean “child.” A Maui Wedding Lei can be made out of flowers, seeds, leaves, vines, ferns, nuts and fruits. Maui Wedding flower leis are made out of plumeria, orchids, tuberose, pikake, crown flowers, rosebuds, ilima, ginger’s, Ti and Maile leaves. The pink Lakelani rose is Maui’s flower.
The Maile lei is considered to be the oldest lei and worn by both Bride and Groom.
Ti leaf was sacred to the early Hawaiians and an emblem of divine rank and high power. The bright yellow and orange ilima blossoms were worn only by the ruling class. Pregnant women are wearing an open lei as Hawaiians believe that the lei symbolizes the umbilical cord which has to be “open” and flowing.
Your Wedding lei will be exchanged during your Maui wedding ceremony as a symbol of your love and appreciation for one another. The hand picked flowers were made with love-or aloha- a reflection of your love. The early Hawaiians would only exchange flower leis as a symbol of their love. The wedding rings are a western tradition which came to the islands in the mid 1800s.
A word about Niu, or Coconut: in many parts of the tropics the coconut is called the “Tree of Life” because of its many uses. A wonderful source of liquid refreshment, niu has made it possible for people to colonize remote lands including Hawaii. In addition to providing food and water, niu gives leaves for weaving and thatching, trunks for pahu (drums) nut shells for bowls and tools. It is used for starting fires and making cordage. This is why people enjoy drinking out of coconuts during their Maui wedding ceremony: to honor nui’s life giving and sustaining power.
Maui wedding tradition of Blowing the Pu
Hawaiians used the Pu or conch shell, a large shell with an opening on one side, to announce an event. It makes a beautiful hollow sound and a Pu Blower can be heard from miles away. The Pu in your Maui Wedding is used to symbolically let the world know about a very special moment: the beginning of your Maui Wedding Ceremony!
In today’s Hawaii wedding ceremony, the conch shell blower announces the arrival of the Bride by walking in front of her and blowing into the four directions of the Earth: East towards Haleakala, the worlds largest dormant volcano and house of the rising sun. North towards the Maui Mountains and jungles where spirits gather. West towards the eternal ocean, where live starts and ends and South towards you, the Hawaiian wedding couple, to bring all the good thoughts, mana (power and energy) and aloha (love) to you.
The Ancient Hawaiian Dance of Hula
Hawaiian Hula is an ancient and sacred form of expressing deepest feelings and connects the dancer with the divine. It carries a message about what the Hawaiians did, thought, lived and believed in. Without any written language, the Hula was seen as the history book for the Hawaiians. In the early days, a child was chosen to be a dancer and often lived with his teacher.
When the missionaries arrived in Hawaii in 1821, they quickly banned the Hula as they thought this dance to be too sensual. The moving hands and feet, the swirling hips and the squatting was not what they wanted to see. But the Hula refused to go away. The beloved Hawaiian dance continued to be practiced in secret until the ban was lifted. The KAHIKO is the ancient Hula. It is performed in traditional costumes like the green ti leaf skirt. The Hula AUANA is the modern version of this dance.
The Ancient form of Chanting
Chanting is their way to tell a story for the Hawaiians. Every Hawaiian ceremony starts with a welcoming chant, the Oli Aloha. A Hawaiian chanter will also walk the Bride down the aisle, chanting or telling a story of love and devotion. A chanter will also do a special lei chant while you are exchanging your Maui wedding leis.
The Story behind Torch Bearing
Candles are not often used during your outdoor Maui wedding ceremony because of the wind. Having a Hawaiian torch bearer during your Maui Wedding Celebration symbolically means to bring light into your life.
The Fire Dance is also done with torches and a spectacular addition to any Maui Wedding ceremony at sunset.
The Outrigger Canoe
The Outrigger Canoe, or wa’a in Hawaiian, is a type of canoe that features lateral support floats known as outriggers, traditionally fastened to the left side of the main hull. This design bestows greater stability and seaworthiness which allows a beautifully dressed Bride and Groom to get in and out of this type of canoe easily. The special Outrigger design sets those canoes apart from all others. Many traditional skills are associated with the practicing of both the rigging and paddling of outrigger canoes. Hawaiians used their amazing craft for their every day life in fishing the oceans and traveling between island groups, culminating in epic journeys of up to 3000 miles.
Arriving in a Hawaiian Outrigger Canoe is probably the most authentic way to start a Hawaiian Wedding. Traditionally the Groom awaits his Bride on a secluded beach while the Bride and two to four paddlers are leaving from a different sandy location, paddling a short distance to the designated wedding ceremony destination. Upon arrival on the beach, the Groom meets his Bride and escorts her into a circle of flowers and the Hawaiian ceremony begins. At the end of the ceremony, both Bride and Groom go for a short ride on the ocean together.