It had always been a dream for freelance writer, Natalie Kessell, to marry in her “spiritual home” of Hawaii. She recently had the opportunity to turn her dreams into a reality & says the experience lived up to every romantic expectation.

Have you ever had that feeling of arriving at a destination for the first time but getting the sense that you’ve been there before, at least not in this lifetime? Hawaii, more accurately Oahu is that place for me.

I had selected the wedding chapel and imagined the magical fire lit reception overlooking Waikiki beach. The band would play a mix of tunes that everyone would know, but give them a Hawaiian lilt and our guests would dine on a feast of luau proportions.

Unfortunately, due to many of our nearest and dearest being unable to fly such a long distance, this dream wedding was not to be… but did the dream really have to be over?

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Image: Nature’s Touch Photography

Honeymooning in Hawaii was a given for us. How could I not introduce my new husband to the place I had fallen in love with so purely and effortlessly?

A renewal of vows seemed the obvious answer but one that did garner a few stifled (and some not so stifled giggles) from my friends and family. Why did we want to renew our vows mere days after our wedding?

Putting the judgements aside, I was thrilled to find that the Outrigger Reef Resort Waikiki offers complimentary group wedding renewals for its guests twice a week on Tuesday and Friday and Outrigger Waikiki Resort offers the same twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays.

Far from a gimmick for tourists, the Outrigger has combined many of the elements of Ho’ao Pa’a, the ancient custom binding a couple in union forever, in their renewal ceremonies that have become more and more popular over the past decade.

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Image: Nature’s Touch Photography

With my new “wedding dress” (thank you Ross Waikiki) and the actual Kim Fletcher headpiece from my wedding day sparkling in the newly risen sun, we walked hand in hand along the beach to meet the other couples who would be renewing their vows alongside us.

Bubbles of excitement mounted as I realised that a dream of mine was about to come true.

Ho‘i hou ke aloha – to fall in love all over again – is what is promised and, although we had only said our first vows three days prior, we knew we would.

Kukui nut leis around our necks, we walked down the sand aisle bordered by palm fronds and formed part of the semi-circle of love.

With the gentle waves lapping at the shore of Waikiki beach, the ceremonial leader, Kawena, welcomed us with a chant and wished us a warm aloha.

Aloha – One word with so many meanings, all equally beautiful.

Alo – sharing, being in the present

Oha – joyous affection

Ha – Life energy, breath

Aloha to us translated as a way to accept us into the ancient Hawaiian ritual sharing our joyous lives together.

Natalie in Hawaii

Image: Nature’s Touch Photography

The couples were all at such different stages of their relationships. We, as newlyweds, were in the presence of such rich experience.

One couple had their young children playing at their feet in the sand, their love conveyed in the purest form right there in Waikiki, whilst one couple shared decades of love and life experience together as their friends watched on.

As we turned to face each other pressing our foreheads together, it felt as if we were the only ones there though and, as the tears flowed on our actual wedding day, so they did there on the shore of Waikiki.

Kawena walked into the ocean and chanted to cleanse the past, present and future and called for love to reign above all. A bowl was filled with the healing power of the ocean and each couple was offered the chance to have their lei and rings blessed with the ever-cleansing water.

Guiding us through our vows and then sharing a kiss at the place where the underground Kawehaweha Spring meets the ocean, we were “married” again.

READ: Where are Aussie travellers booking their Hawaii holidays?

READ: Hawaii creates sustainable tourism stamp to change industry culture

Which country would you love to get married in?