Wedding music during your ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception sets a mood and reflects the style of your celebration. Your music selection can be a fun way to personalize your special day. While trying to pick songs that move or inspire you, it can be overwhelming with seemingly infinite choices. It is not every day that you and your friends discuss, “What are popular ukulele songs for a wedding ceremony?”
The good news is that Hawaiian music features some of the world’s most beautiful love songs. Be careful though because what sounds like a beautiful song might be a protest song or too risqué when you delve into the lyrics. It pays to do a little homework on Hawaiian songs to make sure that the poetry is befitting of your wedding. Read this article, “Wedding Music Police.”
Favorite Hawaiian Wedding Songs
For the benefit of those considering a “Hawaiian Style” wedding celebration, here is a quick list of songs that have been most requested of me to perform at weddings. Here’s my Top 11 list, a Top 10 list with an extra bonus tacked on. 🙂
- Somewhere Over the Rainbow/Wonderful World | sound clip
This medey of July Garland’s “Over the Rainbow” and Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World was made famous by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. Featured in commercials, television, and film soundtracks, the song continues to be a favorite of brides and grooms around the world.
- Pua Hone | sound clip
Written by legendary Hawaiian composer and slack key guitarist Dennis Kamakahi as a wedding proposal. “Pua Hone” is translated as “Honey Flower,” not a real flower, but a figurative expression for a “love that’s slowly nurtured in the heart.”
- Pilipuka | sound clip
This is a pretty slack key instrumental composed by Patrick Landeza. The tempo and feel make for an excellent and popular processional song.
- White Sandy Beach | sound clip
A Hawaiian standard written by Willie Dann, who married in Waikiki and wrote the song after a walk along the beach with his wife.
- Wahine ‘Ilikea | sound clip
A very spiritual song written by Dennis Kamakahi about Wahine ‘Ilikea, “Fair Skinned Woman,” and 11 waterfalls revealed by the the misty cover of clouds on the island of Molokai.
- I’m Yours | sound clip
Okay, Jason Mraz’s megahit is not a Hawaiian song. However, the official music video was filmed on the islands of O’ahu and Kaua’i and the island feel is undeniable.
- Kiss Me Love | sound clip
One of the few hapa haole songs written by John K. Almeida, the lyrics of this song fit a wedding perfectly. I had the honor of learning this song for a bride’s special request so that she could surprise the groom with her beautiful hula during their reception.
- Ka Lehua I Milia | sound clip
This song written by Mary Pukui and Maddy K. Lam is hula favorite that tells the joys of love.
- My Sweet Pikake Lei | sound clip
This song is a long time favorite of mine written by Robert Ukulewehi Cazimero and performed by the Brothers Cazimero. The lei is a symbol of aloha and the pikake is both fragrant and cherished.
- Ke Kali Nei Au | sound clip
Also known as the Hawaiian Wedding Song, the title of this song means “Waiting Here For You” in Hawaiian. Written by Charles E. King, the song was made famous in 1959 by Andy Williams and recorded by many artists including Elvis.
- Lei Aloha Lei Makamae | sound clip
Also composed by Charles E. King, this song is known as the original Hawaiian Wedding Song which was replaced by the more popular Ke Kali Nei Au.
Additional resources/helpful links
- Huapala.org provides lyrics and translations to many Hawaiian songs.
- Honolulu Magazine’s 50 Greatest Songs of Hawaii
- HAWAII Magazine’s The 8 most romantic songs from Hawaii
Have a favorite wedding song that does not appear above? Please share yours.