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Hawaiian leis are a must if you’re flying all the way to the islands for your Hawaiian wedding. It’s a beautiful, unique and time-honored tradition here and to be gifted with a lei is a very special occasion indeed. Brides and grooms aren’t the only ones who wear leis to a wedding – honored guests such as mothers and fathers often receive a lei from their loved ones for the ceremony. In fact, you’ll often see all members of the immediate family wearing Hawaiian leis.
Leis range from traditional to modern designs, and we even have leis for pregnant women and for men as well! Leis can also go around the head like a flower crown or be used as symbols of luck – which is perfect for a wedding in Hawaii.
Whatever type of wedding you’ve decided on, there is a Hawaiian lei out there just for you. Wishing you a beautiful Hawaiian wedding!
Top 5 Hawaiian Leis for the Bride
- Strands of single pikake lei. Pikake are the fragrant Hawaiian Jasmine flower and are one of the most recognized lei flowers in Hawaii. Petite and incredibly fragrant, they look like tiny white beads when strung up. A popular choice is a 3 or 5 strand pikake lei.
- Single strand white orchid lei. If you’re going for simple and budget friendly, the white orchid lei is a great choice. Make sure you request the “large, snow white” flowers instead of the local white orchids if you want a longer lasting, whiter and larger lei.
- Micronesian ginger lei. The best thing about this fragrant white lei is its unique design. The lei lies flat and drapes across your chest and the back of your shoulders. It’s comfortable to wear since it doesn’t roll around your neck.
- Double tuberose with rosebud lei. With the white tuberose strung in a spiral design, this lovely lei is not just extremely fragrant but its rosebud accents really make the lei pop.
- Haku lei. Similar to a flower crown, the haku lei is usually a mix of fern and flowers and sits directly on your forehead and is tied straight back. Haku leis usually dry well and last longer since they aren’t touching your body all day like a regular lei.
Top 5 Hawaiian Leis for the Groom
- Maile lei. One of the most traditional leis that men wear and is often used in special ceremonies. The maile usually hangs from the neck down to the hips.
- Maile-style ti leaf lei. If you love the long lei look but need something more wallet-friendly, the maile-style is a good choice. It is the same length as a regular maile lei, but is made out of ti leaves – a symbol of good luck in the Hawaiian culture.
- Deluxe kukui nut lei. A fancier version of the simple kukui nut leis that are sold everywhere. These are made with a mix of leaves and shells between each kukui nut and dry extremely well.
- Ti leaf and white orchid lei. Another budget-friendly choice that mixes the lucky ti leaves with white orchids (or your preferred flower choice).
- Cigar flower lei. Non-fragrant and popular among men because the flowers don’t look like actual flowers. This lei comes in a variety of colors including orange, red and purple shades and can be easily twisted with other flowers to make a truly unique Hawaiian lei.
- Click here for a more in-depth review on leis for men.
Order and Deliver Hawaiian Leis with Hawaii Flower Lei
If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of calling over the phone (many local lei shops don’t have websites), definitely check out Hawaii Flower Lei. Not only will they deliver or ship freshly made leis to hotels, but they will also ship anywhere within the U.S. Their customer service is wonderful and the way they pack their leis shows incredible care and thought. It’s a perfect idea for an upcoming graduation, birthday, anniversary or wedding gift.
Are you sensitive to fragrant flowers? Then you’ll want to avoid pikake, tuberose, roses, pakalana and the Hilo maile, since these are all fragrant. Instead, stick with orchids as they are considered non-fragrant flowers. Purple, white and green orchids are the most common colors that the Hawaiian lei industry uses.
How to Properly Wear a Lei
- For pregnant women, it is traditional in the Hawaiian culture to give them an open-ended lei. Let the lei maker know and they’ll be happy to leave the lei untied.
- Contrary to popular belief, Hawaiian leis should be worn draped on the shoulders instead of hanging from the neck. This way you’ll avoid an itchy neck and excess damage to your lei.
- It is completely OK for men to wear a flower or even fragrant lei. Many men seem opposed to wearing flower leis, which is why the leaf, cigar and kukui nut leis are so popular. However, seeing a man wear a fragrant or orchid lei in Hawaii is not uncommon.
Tips on Ordering Hawaiian Leis
I used to work in the lei industry and the best advice I have is to let the lei maker design your Hawaiian lei. What do I mean by that? Here are some actual common customer requests that make it difficult for the lei maker to create a beautiful lei:
- Request common colors. Stick to simple crayola colors such as red, pink, blue, etc. Once you start requesting ocean blue, magenta, or giving color codes, more than likely you won’t be happy. The lei industry in Hawaii operates more like a street market rather than a corporation.
- Be flexible on your color choice. If you’re adamant on something like light pink rosebuds, the lei maker will opt to put them in your lei instead of the darker pink rosebuds that arrived that morning, are very fresh and in much better shape. If the lei maker doesn’t have any restrictions, you will end up with a fresh and beautiful lei.
- Try not to change the amount of flowers. Several times I’ve received requests on having a certain number of flowers, such as 30 flowers for their 30th anniversary, or including 5 purple flowers to represent their 5 bridesmaids. Once you start fiddling with the amount of flowers, you are also changing the design that looks the best. Often, these types of requests make the lei come out strange because something just doesn’t match.
- Hawaii only has access to certain flowers, so try not to request flowers that are hard to find. This will make your price jump drastically and it may not be as fresh as what’s usually available.
- Avoid requesting specific lengths and using actual measurements. Again, this restricts the lei designer and what looks good in your imagination, probably isn’t as good as what the lei makers have been doing for years. The only time I would use lengths is to request a longer lei for very tall or large people. Or, if they have a very large head (haku lei).
- Order in person instead of over the phone. The lei shop workers always have Hawaiian leis in stock and it’s much easier to point and discuss face-to-face instead of trying to describe and visualize your perfect lei over the phone.
- May and June are the hardest months to special order a custom lei. This is the lei industry’s biggest money-making months because of Mother’s Day, graduations, proms and weddings. All lei shops will be busy working overtime just trying to keep up with orders so the last thing they’re worried about is if they got your lei just right. In general, flowers often run out during this time so be open to sudden color changes as well.
- Fragrant flowers (tuberose, pikake, plumeria, etc.) usually last a day and then start to wilt and brown. Non-fragrant flowers (orchids) last much longer and can be used for several days with proper care.
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