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In the Wake of Wildfires, Maui Weddings Persevere

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  • September 1, 2023


Through a friend in San Francisco, she secured three Starlink kits from SpaceX to bring necessary internet to the west side of the island. But she has also gone back to work, flying to Lanai to shoot a wedding at the Four Seasons Resort, and set to photograph a wedding in Oahu in early September.

“I checked in with myself and the decision to go forward with shoots comes from a grounded place,” Ms. Cummins said. “My only hesitation was that I wanted to continue helping those who lost everything. But moving forward and capturing positive emotions is to be of service.”

Kelsey Kiyota, 37, a program director, said she reached out to her Maui-based vendors for her January destination wedding at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, and they have all told her to keep her plans in place.

Ms. Kiyota lives in Erie, Colo., with her fiancé, Elliott Lin, 34, a project manager, and said they are no strangers to the devastation caused by wildfires. “We want to be respectful, so we have been leaning on our vendors to tell us what to do,” Ms. Kiyota said. “And they all want to be celebrating love.”

Jessica Russo and Mike Keller, who lost their condo and wedding location in the fires, are still determined to get married on Sept. 30 in Lahaina with the support of local businesses. Credit…Kassidy Marie

Ms. Russo said she is also moving forward with her Sept. 30 wedding, and local vendors, some that she didn’t even hire, are helping to ensure the wedding can go on. Sylvia Hamilton-Kerr, owner of Haiku Mill, in Haiku, Hawaii, is donating use of the historical venue to the couple. Matias Ezcurra offered to photograph the wedding for free. Ms. Russo’s makeup artist, Crystal Yokoyama, is doing her bridal look for free, and a close friend surprised Ms. Russo by buying her same wedding gown for her.

“We’ve been living our vows in reality going through such tragedy,” Ms. Russo said. “We’ve been grieving the loss of our home and of the expectations of our wedding, but you have to hold onto hope. I’m a believer that you can hold joy and gratitude amid excruciating pain.”



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