Ilima-Lei Macfarlane still makes most of California lockdown as COVID-19 postpones dream wedding


Jason Tupuola-Aiono (right) and Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (left). Courtesy Ilima-Lei Macfarlane

If it weren’t for COVID-19, Hawaii’s Ilima-Lei Macfarlane would be in Jamaica for her wedding right now.

The Bellator MMA star and Nu’uanu native had planned a destination wedding with her fiancé, musician Jason Tupuola-Aiono. Macfarlane and her fiancé were not prohibited from entering Jamaica, but once they thought of the potential outcomes, the decision to cancel the trip for now was a simple one.

“Yeah, we’re young and healthy, and that would be pretty cool to get quarantined in Jamaica, but we could be potentially carrying the virus and we could be using up resources that should be going to the locals,” Macfarlane told KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello. “Should we get sick, what if we take a hospital bed? That should be going to the locals. The decision was super easy after that. I instantly called up everybody and cancelled everything. It’s still legal to travel to Jamaica but we didn’t. We just felt it was morally irresponsible.”

Courtesy Ilima-Lei Macfarlane

For now, Macfarlane and Tupuola-Aiono are back in their home in San Diego. They have recently completed renovation of a home gym, where Macfarlane says training starts again today.

“It’s great. This has totally been the focus of our attention right now,” Macfarlane said of the gym setup. “Jason actually did everything. He’s very artistic. I was ready to just put the mats in, get it over with. This has been months in the making. I actually received these mats in October and only now cleaning out the garage, installing them. Jason’s like ‘no, we need to paint it.’ He chose the colors and it came out amazing.”

Courtesy Ilima-Lei Macfarlane

California is currently under lockdown after an executive order by Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday. For Macfarlane and Tupuola-Aiono, it gives the couple a chance to catch up on things they otherwise may not have had the time for.

“It really makes you sit down and go ‘what can I do that I can’t do normally?’ We would’ve flown out to Jamaica. Again, I’m grateful that we finally got to take a breather. Me and him, we have really crazy schedules,” Macfarlane said. “This is honestly the first time that we just got to chill at home, get our stuff done, get this beautiful garage gym going and all of my teammates and coaches are swinging by, they’re checking it out. We’re not over the 10-person capacity so we’re good.”

A temporary wedding cancellation was not part of the plan for Macfarlane and Tupuola-Aiono, who would have tied the knot on April 1. But like the home gym, they’re trying to make the most out of what they have.

“I want to tell everybody that a huge piece of this whole pandemic depends a lot on your perspective of things,” Macfarlane said. “So we can look at it as ‘oh, this sucks, we’re quarantined, we’re stuck in the house, our favorite fast food places aren’t open, bars aren’t open, whatever.’  

“But if you kind of change your perspective around and think of it not as an obstacle, but an opportunity. An opportunity to spend time with loved ones, an opportunity to bust out your board games. Start playing scrabble. I remember I used to do that with my family. The best nights of my life were board game nights. Then I think you’ll have a really amazing experience.”

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