Polynesian-Themed Wedding Ceremony Polynesian-Themed Wedding Ceremony

by Amy Hicks

A Polynesian wedding ceremony is a destination wedding favorite.  The ceremony takes place on the beach, surrounded by tiki torches, musicians, and dancers.  The bride and groom dress in wedding pareos, which consist of a single piece of cloth wrapped around the body.  These pareos are dyed vibrant colors and often have a flower print, usually Hibiscus.  The women usually tie their pareos as a dress, tucking in the ends, while the men tie their wraps as a skirt.  No pins or clasps are used to hold the fabric together.  During the ceremony, the bride and groom exchange leis with a kiss, and they also give each other heis, strands of flowers that are similar to coronets.  Leis and heis are usually made out of plumeria, lehua blossom, orchids, maile leaves, hibiscus, allamanda, and/or dendrodium.  After the ceremony, the bride and groom are wrapped in a tifaifai, a wedding quilt decorated in traditional Polynesian style.  They are sent to their room with another song and dance, and arrive to a bed covered in tropical flowers and a bottle of champagne. 

If you wish to have a Polynesian wedding without the expense and complications of a destination wedding, you can adapt these traditions to suit your own style.  The best location for a Polynesian themed wedding is around a body of water – like a lake, or the beach if there is one nearby.  You should also choose to have the ceremony during warmer months, but have a backup plan for rain and cold fronts.  You should decorate the area for the ceremony with tiki torches, palms, coconuts, conch shells, and tropical flowers. 

An outdoor wedding reception would be best, located near the site of the wedding ceremony.  Simple card tables and folding chairs decorated with garlands of flowers, white tablecloths, and heavy dishes are simple to provide, yet attractive.  Remember to tie the ends of cloth to the tables so they won't get blown away in a strong wind.  Garlands for tables and chairs could be made of silk flowers if you want to save some money.  Craft stores that sell silk flowers often have bags of fallen blooms for sale at discount prices, and these can be easily threaded to created garlands.  Another benefit of using silk flowers is that they won't wilt in the sun, and you can make them months before the wedding takes place if you want.

Orchids may be the easiest flower to acquire for your ceremony, so you may want to make the leis for your wedding party out of these.  Leis can be multi-layered, and as simple or as elaborate as you wish.  Think of the leis and heis as your wedding bouquet, and design them accordingly.  You may wish to dress in traditional pareos or sarongs, or you may want to have a more Americanized Polynesian wedding, where the men wear flowered Hawaiian shirts and the women wear colorful dresses with flower prints.  Although tifaifais are usually made by one’s family to convey special meaning, you may order these quilts online, or, if you’re lucky, you may find one in a store.  Being wrapped in the wedding quilt is an important part of the ceremony, and even though you will have to take it off for the reception, you should definitely include this activity in your wedding. 

If you have an heirloom quilt or one that a family member made for you, use it for the ceremony.  This personal touch will be greatly appreciated by your family. Just be sure there's a spot nearby to protect the quilt in case of rain. 

If you choose to have an indoor ceremony, you can use most of the same decorations as you would for an outdoor ceremony.  You can purchase backdrop screens like photographers use to hang on the walls, creating the illusion of a tropical wedding.  Use bright colors liberally; large flower prints will further create the feeling of a Polynesian Wedding Celebration.  For an indoor wedding, use bright, flower-patterned tablecloths, white votive candles, tiki torches, and shell and flower centerpieces to complete your theme.  If you don't have enough flowers to properly scent the room, buy Hibiscus or Plumeria scented candles or room spray so that even the smell will carry out your theme. 

A Polynesian Wedding ceremony is easy to create, and the closer you live to the tropics the better.  You might even be able to find some authentic singers or dancers to perform at your wedding.  Clearly, this is an informal ceremony, but the tropical feel and umbrella-accented drinks are sure to put all your guests in the mood to party.

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