The lei exchange
is a part of every wedding we perform here at Aloha Ever After. Leis are a beautiful circle or wreath of local tropical flowers, usually worn around the shoulders as a necklace. They are composed of traditional Hawaiian flowers such as plumeria or orchids. Leis are visually appealing and often smell beautiful too, but have you ever wondered what the meaning is of the lei exchange at a Hawaiian wedding?
History of the Lei Exchange
Leis go back a long way. In ancient times, a lei was worn to symbolize the wearer’s rank in society. Different ranks were distinguished by the type of flower or complexity of the lei. A lei was worn for important life occasions such as births, rites of passage, religious ceremonies, weddings, victories or deaths – a custom also carried on today. Giving someone a lei is way of welcoming them, of showing them affection, respect, gratitude and love. It is a beautiful (and fragrant!) way of demonstrating the Spirit of Aloha, by extending out your aloha (love) and honoring the beauty in another person.
Most Hawaiian weddings these days not only include a lei exchange, but begin with it. The lei exchange does not only occur between the bride and groom, but can also take place among special guests, such as the mother, father, mother-in-law and father-in-law.
What the Lei Exchange Symbolizes
Leis symbolize many things. Firstly, because most leis are arranged in an unbroken circle, leis represent unity. Secondly, they represent fullness and completeness. Thirdly, leis symbolize the coming together of separate elements in synergy to make a whole, greater than the sum of its parts. Each individual flower that is woven into the lei loses none of its individual beauty when it forms the circle, and enhances the beauty of all the rest.
Likewise, in your marriage, you do not need to compromise or lose any of your individual identity and unique beauty, but rather, through the nurturing care and support of your relationship, you grow even more fully into that special individual with whom your partner fell in love.