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'We understand if they can't make it': Wildfire highway closure upends Tofino wedding plans


In March 2022, Sebastien Foellmer got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend Hope Moir on a beach in the picturesque coastal community of Tofino. She said yes.

“We both just love Tofino. We go there two, three times a year. It’s definitely my favourite spot to be,” said Foellmer.

The Squamish couple decided to get married in Tofino as well, with their nuptials set for Saturday, June 10.

"We chose Tofino because it has a lot of sentimental value to us," said Moir.

Seventy-seven guests have RSVP'd for the beach wedding, with nearly half coming from out of province.

But the wildfire-related closure of Highway 4, which connects Tofino to the rest of Vancouver Island, has upended their plans. The only option left for the bride and groom and their guests who can’t fly to Tofino? A very long detour on a gravel forestry road.

“We have lost a couple of guests. There are some guests that said they won’t come because they don’t want to risk taking this route,” said Foellmer.

But more than 70 attendees have committed to making the trek.

“People have upgraded rental cars to make sure they have appropriate vehicles,” said Moir, who has also given them a list of what to bring.

“Jerry cans of gas, towing kits, spares, snacks, water … everything you can think of. We have given them the run down of how to prep. And given them also that we understand if they can’t make it, and everyone has different comfort levels.”

The couple’s Tofino-based wedding planner is impressed by how they have handled the unexpected hiccup.

“With weddings, as you can imagine, there are a lot of stresses without something like a natural disaster,” said Zoe Baillie with Rare Earth Weddings.

“Everyone just seemed to have a positive attitude instead of going to worst-case scenario.”

But she says her weekend clients who are coming to Tofino are worried about how they and their guests will get home after their weddings.

“It’s easy to just focus on getting here and the excitement of the wedding, and I think there are a few people starting to look toward the end of the trip,” said Baillie. “At least if people have to stay longer, they’re stuck in paradise over here.”

Fear of driving the detour and getting stuck in Tofino is likely behind the cancellation of two of photographer Chelsea Gray’s weekend bookings.

“I was supposed to do a family session tomorrow with a family that got stuck in Parksville, so they’re not able to make it up. I had a proposal photo shoot set up, someone who was supposed to drop down on one knee on the beautiful beach,” said Gray, who owns Wild Coast Wedding Photography.

Foellmer and Moir did briefly consider a last-minute change of venue, but they have their heart set on a wedding in Tofino. And they’re grateful most of their guests will still join them, even if some of the supplies and decor won’t make it.

“I will eat on Costco paper plates and eat Tacofino if that’s what it takes,” said Moir. “We just want to be there and get married with everyone who loves and supports us.” 

Sebastien Foellmer and Hope Moir are seen shortly after they got engaged in Tofino in March 2022. Top Stories

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