HONOLULU — The number of mainland visitors getting married in Hawaii has more than doubled in the past 10 years, as "destination weddings" gain popularity, state officials said.
The state issued 7,200 marriage licenses to mainland couples in 1994. That grew to 16,168 last year, nearly twice as many issued to Hawaii residents, according to marriage license data from the state Department of Health.
Frank Haas, marketing director for the Hawaii Tourism Authority, said destination weddings are a "growing phenomenon."
"That's been a trend in Japan for some time, and it's a growing trend for the U.S.," he said. "It really reflects some changes in the whole concept of getting married."
Japanese couples, which make up the largest wedding segment in Hawaii, traditionally get their marriage licenses in Japan before flying here for the ceremony.
Slideshow: Polynesian paradise "It used to be getting married was very conventional, you get married in your hometown and your home church and you invite family and friends from around there," Haas said. "I think society's changed to the point where it's more accepting of different ways of getting married and one of them is the destination wedding, where you bring the bridal party and friends to the destination for the ceremony. And we're seeing that increase."
Visitors attending a wedding here make up a fraction of the more than 6 million visitors to the state each year, but the wedding market provides a financial boost to the state.
"It's hugely important," state tourism liaison Marsha Wienert said. "Number one, they tend to stay longer and spend more."
The wedding market also brings money to small businesses that do not traditionally benefit from the visitor industry, such as photographers and florists, she said.
"As you look at niche markets, that's one of the things that you want to look at - how can you expand the economic impact into other business sectors so that everybody reaps the rewards from that," she said.
Information from: The Honolulu Advertiser
Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.