The Internet gave a standing ovation to Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert on Friday, after the political satirist officiated an on-air wedding for a couple whose plans were ruined by the government shutdown.
Mike Cassesso and MaiLien Le had originally arranged to have their nuptials take place at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., where they also had their first date. But the memorial is one of 401 federally funded locations across the country now closed by the budget impasse. After learning of the couple, Colbert swooped in like a celebrity fairy godfather to set things right, even having Mandy Patinkin serenade the pair with a Jewish blessing.
Not all engaged couples have been as fortunate.
"Basically, if you were planning to get married at a national monument or inside of a courthouse in D.C., you're out of luck," said Stephanie Fraiman, a spokesperson for TheKnot.com, which is providing relocation resources for couples now scrambling at the last minute.
Two dozen weddings scheduled for October at the National Mall and memorial parks in D.C. were already canceled. Hundreds more couples across the country planning to wed at locations such as Grand Canyon National Park, Joshua Tree, Acadia and others have also been impacted or received notification that they may lose their event permits.
"I feel helpless. I feel frustrated and crushed that my childhood dream isn't happening," San Diego resident Dana Johnson told KGTV. She and her fiance, Brian Adams, were supposed to hold their ceremony on top of Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park on Friday.
Even their reception space -- the Awhanee Hotel, located in Yosemite, where Johnson had planned to host an intimate reception dinner for 15 -- was off-limits.
"We found out it was real, that the gates were going to be locked and the guests are going to be escorted out of the Awhanee and that all the permits were null and void," said Johnson, who was considering her options after a year of planning and investing $5,000 in the affair.
On the community boards of TheKnot.com, another bride was venting her frustrations trying to find a new site after the Cape Cod National Seashore was closed off on Tuesday.
"If you were planning to get married in a national park, chances are most of your other vendors are intact and you just need a new venue," said Anja Winikka, TheKnot.com site director. "We recommend trying to get a permit for an alternate city or state park. You can get a similar look and feel, and city and state parks are open."
Alternatively, Winikka recommended calling nearby restaurants or venues for short-notice availability.
That's exactly what Scott Miller had to do after his plans to pop the question to girlfriend Sara Scherrer were derailed by the government shutdown.
"We're in San Francisco for the week and I was planning on proposing at the Golden Gate Bridge, followed by dinner at Cliff House in the national park," said Miller, who lives in Orlando, Fla. "I heard from them on Wednesday that they were closing and then I went over to the park, and they've chained off the parking lot."
But a few obstacles weren't going to get in the way of true love.
"I'm moving forward with the plan, a photographer will be following us around to capture the moment, and I made a new reservation at a place that is nowhere near as nice," he said. "But it will all be fine. There are worse things that could happen."
If your wedding has been affected by the government shutdown, email firstname.lastname@example.org for information on alternate location sites, vendors, and other issues.
- Family & Relationships
- Stephen Colbert
- government shutdown