Taketa-Kim rearranges wedding plans

An Vo, editor

Chorus and piano teacher Natasha Taketa had been looking forward to March 2020 for a long time. She was getting married and planning to honeymoon in Japan. Then, the coronavirus pandemic interfered (Spoiler alert: the wedding took place and Taketa is now Taketa-Kim).

Taketa-Kim’s wedding date was originally planned for March 20 and the ceremony was set to take place at the White Beach Chapel on the Hilton Hawaiian Village property where the backdrop of the altar overlooked the lagoon and ocean. The reception to follow was set at the Waikiki Ballroom in the Hale Koa Hotel.

Her honeymoon plans were to tour Kyoto, Tokyo, and Mount Fuji while enjoying the sakura season. They were also going to meet up with friends from Hawai’i who live there and friends she made in Japan that she met through her mother and her mother’s church.

“On March 13, I was standing in a line outside of Bath and Body Works in Windward Mall for hand sanitizer when I received notification of the order that all military members, their families, Department of Defense and their family members were restricted from traveling,” she said.

The notification of the order made Taketa-Kim think of her wedding.

“My wedding is now in jeopardy because we’re going into a ‘war-like’ status,” she said. “But again, it’s okay since the health and safety of everyone and myself are extremely important.”

On the morning of March 16, Taketa-Kim contacted the catering office at Hale Koa to check and see if her reception was still set to happen. She said they confirmed that nothing had changed and she was still set to have the reception.

“However, around 2:00 p.m., I got a phone call and it was Hale Koa telling me they just received word that all events were to be ceased immediately and that I could not have my wedding reception,” she said.

She said she and her friends and family had just finished making the party favors for the wedding when she got the call.

“I cried a little once I got off the phone and I got comforted by everyone there, but then I set to move on to the next thing,” she said. “Better to use my energy in being productive than to sit and cry over it.”

Taketa-Kim said she tends to anticipate and plan for the worst-case scenarios because she’s from Hilo on Hawai’i island and a military family member.

“We tend to be prepared for everything from blackouts to low resources and my father being activated for duty in war situations and orders,” she said.

After hearing from Hale Koa Hotel, Taketa-Kim said she checked to see if her ceremony was still going to happen because it was at a different venue and she could only have 50 people in attendance (the accepted threshold for a gathering of people).

“Thankfully, that was not canceled,” she said.

Taketa-Kim said the next step was to notify everyone that the ceremony would be a go but that the reception was canceled.

“My new husband, Ivan Mamoru Kim, and I were still able to get married on our wedding date and it was in the White Beach Chapel with close family and friends,” she said.

Taketa-Kim said she met Kim at the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warrior Marching Band in 2004.

“That was both our first semester in college after high school,” Taketa-Kim said. “He’s from Kaiser here on Oahu and I’m from Hilo High on Hawai’i island.”

The ceremony carried on but without Taketa-Kim’s father and sister (bridesmaid). There were fewer people in attendance because of the coronavirus risk either because of age, health, or concern. The wedding was all they had besides some picture taking with no celebrations. Taketa-Kim said it put a damper on such a happy event and made it feel small in some ways.

“I got ready for about three hours with my mother and my bridesmaids with hair and makeup for only 20 minutes of ceremony and maybe an hour of picture taking; that was it,” Taketa-Kim said.

Having her own life so disrupted, she remained concerned about her students.

“Seniors, don’t be discouraged! We will do everything and anything we can to give you all that we can,” she said. “We know it’s a tough time, but we believe in you all.”

The school closure was not a shock to Taketa-Kim.

“I was anticipating the schools being closed,” she said. “It was more a relief knowing the health and safety of everyone at school was being put first. I am very pleased with DOE’s choice in keeping schools closed for classes but open for meals to students in need.”

Now, Taketa-Kim is looking forward to the end of social distancing so she can take her honeymoon.

“We’re hopeful that we can try and go in the fall to see the changing of the leaves in Japan, but that’s subject to the coronavirus,” she said.

Changes in structure and information were made on 5/18/2020.