After a whirlwind of events in 2020, Brandilee Tacbian, now Mrs. Femling, finally got married on her home island of Kaua‘i at the end of May. She started reserving venues two years ago, before facing obstacles during the pandemic.
Femling booked her wedding package through Sheraton Kaua‘i Resort’s event planner in October 2019. She got her tents, music and floral arrangements set for her original wedding date of May 23, 2020, before the global turn of events in March 2020 occurred.
“At first we heard about COVID-19, and then we were living in California at the time,” Femling said. “And then my work, all of a sudden — I worked for a school district — they shut it down. And then my husband’s work also was like, ‘everybody’s got to go home.’ And we’re like, ‘what is this?’ So both our work was like, ‘don’t go back in it.’”
As soon as the lockdown began in California, Femling called her event’s coordinator on Kaua‘i.
“So we’re calling Chelsea Schroeder, she was the event coordinator at Sheraton,” Femling said. “Because, I mean, at the time, too, she was like, ‘Oh, I don’t even know either.’ And it didn’t even hit Hawai‘i yet — it was already getting big in California. Think we scheduled it for July, I think we pushed it to July and then pushed it to October. So we pushed it twice. And then by the time it was like maybe like September rolls around and ended up to be a lot of the rules change.”
Many Hawai‘i families have at least 100 to 200 guests just in the family, and Femling said she had at least 150 on her guest list, which she had to try to cut down to 30 to meet COVID-19 safety restrictions and rules.
“We can’t do it, because it was, like, too stressful,” Femling said. “We didn’t know what this was. It didn’t get Hawai‘i but they were getting really strict. And so I ended up just canceling — she was super-sweet, though.”
With a grateful attitude, Femling got married first in Idaho on Oct. 10, 2020, where her husband’s family is from, and eventually got married on Kaua‘i on May 29, because her family couldn’t make it to Idaho. Although she had to cancel her wedding package with Sheraton Kaua‘i, she said she gave a gift card to her events coordinator for all her help.
Meanwhile, she kept her original bookings with her photographer, and her reception music disc jockey, and allowed them to keep their deposits while finding a way to be thrifty.
“We just did like a really small reception with my family, like 35 family members,” Femling said. “Mike Dandurand, he was the DJ we booked. The reception that we’re doing on Kaua‘i — super-local style, just a really-small reception. So instead of having him give me the deposit back, I said, ‘hey, can we borrow your PA system?’ I try my hardest — local people I like to give back to them.”
Dandurand said when dealing with pre-wedding details, couples have to re-plan it over and over, especially the date, because of different challenges they may face. “And all through that Brandilee was one of those that kept having to change the date because of this and because of COVID, obviously. And she never really got upset or showed it. She stayed positive about the whole thing, and understood that everybody else is going through it too,” Dandurand said.
In the end, Femling planned and executed two small weddings, the first in Idaho and the modest wedding on Kaua‘i with her grandfather as the officiant, and her sister-in-law as her photographer who also created her bouquet for her. “I want to thank everyone, my family and friends, and all the vendors were great,” she said. “They were gracious and understanding. If anyone is planning to get married on Kaua‘i, expect things to be expensive and do your research. There is a lot of COVID restrictions.”