Couples scramble after shutdown forces wedding venues to close -- Gazette.Net


Engaged couples throughout the region have been scrambling to find new wedding venues days before their celebrations as the federal government shutdown has closed popular venues.

Glen Echo Park, with its historic carousel and ballroom, is a sought-after location for wedding celebrations. The park had to cancel events when the shutdown began Oct. 1.

Bride-to-be Tina Poole was supposed to have her wedding ceremony and reception at Glen Echo Park this Saturday. The Alexandria, Va., resident called the park a week after she got engaged in July 2012, and booked the last available Saturday slot during fall 2013. After more than a year of planning, Poole learned Oct. 3 that the venue was unable to host her event.

“I was pretty devastated because it [the park] has a lot of sentimental value to me and my fiance,” she said. Her fiance, Jackson Takach, proposed at the site’s bumper car pavilion.

Despite the cancellation, Glen Echo Park employees quickly jumped in to help make new arrangements, Poole said. They contacted other venues on behalf of the couple, and arranged for the money that was already paid to the park to be transferred to the new locations.

After kicking the planning into high gear, Poole and Takach found new spaces and were able to keep the same wedding date. They booked F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre for the ceremony and the social hall at Glenview Mansion for the reception, both of which are in Rockville.

Keeping the same wedding date was important to the couple because they wanted to ensure that all of their 80 guests, many of whom are coming from out of town, could still attend, Poole said. The wedding will also mark the first time that the bride’s and groom’s parents meet.

“Luckily we managed to do online invitations and we were able to tell everyone really quickly,” Poole said.

Glenview Mansion was not the only location in Montgomery County to receive calls from other venues or panicked brides looking to salvage wedding plans.

Kentlands Mansion in Gaithersburg received five or six calls from couples hoping to have their nuptials at the historic home this weekend, according to its event coordinator, Terri Thompson.

Because of Oktoberfest on the same weekend, Kentlands Mansion had no openings, she said.

One bride-to-be called the venue after her wedding at Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C., was canceled.

Woodlawn Manor in Sandy Spring spoke with four brides looking for a location, but the outdoor venue was already completely booked, manager Nancy Cadigan said.

Even with her setting changed, Poole said she is excited about her wedding and feels fortunate that she was able to find suitable replacements.

“We are having a party,” she said. “The government is not going to shut down our party. We are just going to move it.”