Lei are common inclusions in just about every wedding ceremony here in Hawai‘i, helping to make an already special occasion stand out even more. The best part? You don't have to be tying the knot in the islands to make them a part of your wedding day.
A lei is special to wear and share no matter the color, style or flower, though there are, of course, some hues and varieties brides and grooms prefer. Here are five popular lei to consider for your wedding day:
- Maile lei for the groom or other esteemed male guests — e.g. father of the bride and groom, officiant, etc. — has been a top pick for just about forever. This vine that grows wild is twisted together to create an open-style lei that drapes around the neck and has a slightly sweet, earthy scent. You can up the ante, too, by requesting it be wrapped with white orchids, or fragrant pīkake or tuberose.
- Speaking of lei that smell good, find us a bride who doesn't want to incorporate a sweet-smelling adornment in her wedding look — we dare you. Popular options include pīkake, tuberose and Micronesian ginger. P.S. Any one of those also make for the perfect lei to give mom and your future mother-in-law.
- Because maile lei and its availability can sometimes be fickle (see below), ti leaf lei make for a great and cost-effective alternative. Similar to a maile lei, the double ti leaf lei is an open-style lei that drapes across the shoulders. Instead of a vine, though, this one is made with ti leaves that are twisted together to create its signature feathery effect. Single ti leaf, meanwhile, are shorter and thinner, and are just the right subtle touch for groomsmen.
- Another popular pick for men: cigar lei, made up of hundreds of tiny, cylindrical kika. Made with orange, yellow, red and maroon hues, depending on what's in season and readily available, they really are a sight to behold. Cigar lei also can be made with a mixture of kukui nuts and ti leaves to add some extra oomph.
- Here's the great thing about orchid lei: They are available in a variety of colors, travel and hold up well, and every style looks good on both men and women. That being said, white orchid lei are the obvious choice for weddings, and are available in both single and triple styles. But if you want to go with something really impressive, the Christina is primarily white with a deep purple edge and is made up of hundreds of orchid petals — wow, indeed.
Before you make your final pick, here are some other things to keep top of mind:
- Fragrant flowers may look and smell great but can be hard to come by during certain months. During hurricane season and winter, for example, when Hawai‘i is prone to wetter weather, production of fragrant flowers drops. It's also key to keep in mind the time of year you'll be using the lei. Summer heat can make these delicate buds brown or wilt faster, especially during particularly lengthy journeys.
- Reconsider requesting maile if you're in California. Due to strict California agriculture guidelines, maile runs the risk of being confiscated at inspection. Our suggestion: go with a double ti leaf lei just to be safe.