Wedding photographer hits out at ‘tone-deaf’ request from bride after Maui fires

‘Brides can sometimes be a little bit selfish without realising they are and in this case, I felt like it was really happening,’ the photographer admits

Kaleigh Werner
New York
Tuesday 22 August 2023 10:56 BST
Video shows falling tree striking power line ahead of Maui wildfires

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A wedding videographer has criticised brides for worrying about their big days and asking for refunds amid relief efforts for the Maui wildfires.

Shayna Kiesler couldn’t believe how many requests she’d received from individuals looking to get their non-refundable deposits back from her company, Portola Wedding Films in Maui, because they would no longer be able to host their nuptials on the island. The community is being forced to not only deal with the loss of loved ones, landmarks, homes, businesses, and crops, but as she noted, brides-to-be are also worried about their personal fortunes too.

According to Hawaii Governor Josh Green, as of 16 August, more than 110 lives have been lost due to the devastating and unexpected fires that engulfed Lahaina last week. Governor Green also speculated that there are “probably still over 1,000” unaccounted for.

Kiesler’s sister, Reyna Edmonds, posted a TikTok on 14 August urging brides to stop making these monetary demands, as she noted conditions on the island are “horrific”. The Seattle-based wedding photographer attempted to appeal to the frustrated individuals, while also opening their eyes to the realities of Maui residents right now.

“While I realise to brides this is the most important day of their life, it is extremely tone-deaf for what is going on on the island of Maui,” she said. “Please be patient, please give them their time that they need to figure out what is going on, and only reach out if you’re actually willing to help.”

Edmonds also spoke to People, where she suggested that tourists don’t seem to have “empathy” for individuals like her sister. “From a vendor’s perspective, it’s frustrating. These people have no empathy for what the island is going through and what these [wedding] vendors are going through,” she proclaimed. “Like, yeah, my sister didn’t lose her home, but she knows people who have and her friends still have family that are missing.”

She continued: “I think that... everyone wants their beautiful wedding day, and [brides] can sometimes be a little bit selfish without realising they are and in this case, I felt like it was really happening and I just felt like I needed to say something on behalf of my sister.”

To assist struggling wedding vendors on the island, Edmonds is connecting them with other photographers and planners willing to service their customers for free so that the money they’ve paid to Maui business owners can stay with them.

“Obviously, I couldn’t imagine planning your dream wedding and then having this happen but I think that like everyone just needs to have a little bit of empathy,” Edmonds confessed.

In her video caption, she asked interested viewers to visit her website if they would like to donate, need help with their own wedding, or can provide services for those who do.

The Independent hascontacted Edmonds to request comment from her and her sister.

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