How to Plan a Luau Wedding Reception

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Say "aloha" to the cheerful, tropical theme of a Hawaiian luau for your wedding reception. Rather than making your wedding reception identical to a traditional Hawaiian luau -- roasted pig on a spit and all -- select your favorite elements from a traditional luau and incorporate them into the invitations, decor, music and food.

Setting the Scene

  • Don't go overboard with tropical colors or cliched wording. Instead, choose one Hawaiian element to serve as a motif throughout your wedding. This could be an embossed golden pineapple, a yellow or pink hibiscus flower -- commonly seen on floral leis -- or a small turtle. Use this motif on your invitations, along with other important details such as time, date and location.

Colorful Decor

  • When decorating your luau reception, choose one or two bright colors -- such as pink and blue or purple and orange -- and pair them with a neutral, such as white, gray, black or silver. Avoid using multiple tropical shades of pink, blue, orange, purple, green and yellow all at once, or your reception will look more like a children's birthday party. Decorate tables with centerpieces featuring hibiscuses or orchids, both frequently seen in Hawaii. Place palm fronds underneath the centerpieces to complete the look, or attach one frond to the back of each chair. As the guests arrive at the reception, ask a member of the bridal party to adorn each one of them with a lei in your chosen wedding colors.

The Sounds of the Islands

  • While you might want to hire a traditional band or DJ to dance the night away, incorporating some traditional island music into your cocktail hour or during dinner helps make the reception feel truly Hawaiian. If you're determined to be very traditional, the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie, Hawaii, says original luau music consisted of drums, bamboo rattles and other handmade instruments. However, eventually, ukuleles and guitars were introduced -- and that might be the sound you want to hear during your luau reception. If you have it in the budget, bring in traditional hula dancers during the cocktail hour for some entertainment that will wow your guests.

Tropical Cuisine

  • Although a luau conjures images of a pig roasting on a spit, you don't need a revolving animal to serve authentic Hawaiian food at your wedding reception. Instead, simply incorporate the flavors, like pork and pineapple, add seafood, such as shrimp, and tropical flavors like coconut, lime and mango. If you'd like to add one or two authentic dishes, ask your caterer to serve teriyaki beef or chicken, baked mahi-mahi, sides of potato salad or baked sweet potato, and guava or coconut cake for dessert.

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