Hawaii wedding officiant : Lei Exchange Ceremony
Leis are beautiful wreaths or necklaces of tropical flowers. In ancient times, a lei was worn as a symbol of the wearer’s rank in society. Different ranks were distinguished by the type of flower or complexity of their leis. Today, the governor of Hawaii and other important figures may wear leis for public appearances and holidays.
A lei in both ancient and modern times may be worn for important occasions such as births, deaths, victories, graduations, or religious ceremonies. Religious ceremonies incorporating leis were once held to ask the gods for safety when fishing or traveling, or to pray for fertile crops. Depending on the symbolism of the occasion, different varieties of flowers may be incorporated into the lei.
This traditional Hawaiian gift is given as a symbol of love, respect, or appreciation. Although in centuries past the lei held very specific meanings, today they are given for many varying occasions and reasons. Although not part of the ancient Hawaiian custom, today a kiss on the cheek often accompanies the lei.
Today, leis are often incorporated into weddings. The couple may exchange leis as a symbol of love and commitment. Before this ceremony, the wedding officiate will hold and bless the leis. Lei ceremonies at weddings can also involve the couple giving leis to family members to symbolize the joining of the two families. In Hawaii or for tropical-themed weddings, leis are worn by the wedding party in place of corsages or boutonnieres. Leis are often given as wedding favors as a symbol of appreciation for supporting the couple on their special day.
The lei can also be seen as a symbol of the “spirit of aloha” that exists in the Hawaiian Islands. ‘Aloha’ is difficult to translate, but it means a greeting, a farewell, love, joy, hope, and other feelings. The beautiful flower lei is seen as a non-verbal expression of aloha. In Hawaii, May Day has been known as “Lei Day” since 1928. Thousands of leis are given on this day. Today, many tourists receive a lei upon their arrival to the Hawaiian islands as a welcoming gesture.
A lei is a special gift that should be treasured. Each lei has been hand-woven, and it represents a gift of love. Each island has its own designated lei color. Some leis are considered quite rare because they are made from special flowers which are not found in large numbers on the Hawaiian Islands. Receiving such a lei is considered a very high honor; many of these leis are created specifically to adorn the important statues and monuments located throughout the islands.