Is the Fairmont Orchid Your I Do Destination?
Hawaii is a pretty obvious choice for a destination wedding—and for good reason. The islands have stunning beaches, tropical vegetation, and warm weather year-round. But while the majority of honeymooners and marrying couples jet off to Maui or Oahu, I want to focus on The Big Island, Hawaii, since it’s a little different.
You’ll notice the Big Island is unlike the others as soon as you land at the Kona airport, where instead of a lush jungle you see fields of black lava for miles. Don’t be disappointed by the alien-looking landscape, though, as there are plenty of tropical spots on this island. (For everything you need to know about the Big Island, check out Destination42’s “42 Tips for a Big Island Honeymoon.”)
Recently, I had the good luck to stay at the Fairmont Orchid on the Kona side of the Big Island. This luxury hotel is perfect for a destination wedding. It’s about a 30-minute drive from the Kona airport and sits on a secluded lagoon with its own beach just steps from your room. This may seem like a given for Hawaii, but on the Big Island sandy beaches are actually a bit scarce and many hotels don’t have easy access to one. The lagoon is fantastic for floating in the water, trying your hand at stand-up paddle boarding, or snorkeling (I saw three turtles hanging out there!).
And on the sand, just next to the lagoon, is the Coconut Grove, one of many options for a wedding ceremony or reception. If you’re looking for a toes-in-the-sand, “coconut palms swaying above you while you gaze out at the Pacific” experience, this spot is a dream. I enjoyed a dinner reception here one night and could easily imagine a wedding taking place—there’s even a space set aside for a dance floor and a band.
The Fairmont can lay out a wooden aisle, if you’d rather skip the sand and walk down the aisle in your stilettos. The hotel also offers ceremony and reception spaces on the grass lawns, some of which look out at the ocean and others that have a view of the golf course.
And of course, if it does rain (a rare occurrence on the sunny, windy side of the island but still a possibility) there are beautiful ballrooms inside as an option, too.
When it comes to the food, you can go all-out Hawaiian with a luau or choose a menu with American, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, or Latin influences.
The Fairmont Orchid can set up weddings for anywhere from 16 to more than 1,000 people, so you have plenty of options. Packages start at $3,500. The hotel can also help you plan welcome receptions and send-off brunches for your guests, as well.
As beautiful as the resort is, you’ll most likely want to get out and explore the area while you’re here. There’s plenty to do with your guests or on your own, if you decide to stick around after the wedding for your honeymoon. You can charter a boat to go snorkeling or deep-sea fishing or enjoy a sunset catamaran cruise. I highly recommend renting a car and driving up into the mountains or over to Hilo for a completely different environment. And you can’t leave the island without visiting Volcanoes National Park. It’s truly amazing. If you don’t have time to drive there (it can take about two to three hours), there are helicopter tours that will fly you over the park and bring you back to Kona.
The nearby city of Kona is a fun place to visit for dinner or drinks with your guests. For a casual spot with great food and drinks try Kona Brewing Company. Keep in mind nearly everything on the island closes early (most restaurants close around 9 p.m.) so don’t head into town too late.
But really, there’s nothing wrong with spending the days before and after your wedding lounging on a beach chair, swaying in a hammock, or bobbing in the ocean. You are in Hawaii after all.
For more information about planning a wedding at the Fairmont Orchid, click here.