What To Do If The Government Shutdown Will Affect Your Wedding

Government Shutdown Affecting Wedding Plans -- What To Do Marcella Treybig Photography

With the federal government grinding to a halt for an indefinite period of time, things could get a bit more difficult for your wedding planning. October on track as a popular wedding month (October 12 is the most popular wedding day of the year with 24,100 registered weddings), the shutdown has had effects on weddings in in unexpected ways.

Nationally funded parks, museums and monuments are closed even if you already applied for an event permit.

In DC the National Mall, memorial parks and Smithsonian museums won’t be open to the public during the shutdown, even if you applied for a permit to get married there some time ago. This doesn’t just affect DC couples though, in New York the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are federally owned sites as well as Yosemite National Park and Golden Gate Bridge Park in California and the Grand Canyon Parks in Arizona (one New Jersey couple is already going through this). That just names a few of the 401 national parks across the country where couples may have planned to say their vows this October. If you’d planned to hold your wedding in one of these locations you may have to find alternate plans.

Same goes for private venues within national parks areas.

Unfortunately, they don’t have a choice whether to allow your wedding, if the park is closed no one will be allowed in. The best case scenario is that they understand that nothing can be done and are willing to help reschedule. Worst case, you could lose your deposits and have to pay for everything again, if you choose to plan another wedding.

Washington DC superior courts are issuing marriage licenses, but not performing ceremonies.

While initially it was thought that the superior courts suspending marriage license approvals until after the shut down, it is possible to get a marriage license. However they will not be able to perform civil ceremonies during the shutdown. You can hire other officiants in DC to perform your ceremony.

All other courts will be performing ceremonies as usual though.

As long as it’s a state courthouse (and not the federal superior courts in DC) they’ll be open and operating as usual as well as city halls.

You can still apply for or renew your passport. 

If you were planning to submit your passport application to prepare for your international honeymoon, you’ll still be able to do that. Unlike other federal agencies The Bureau of Consular Affair is funded by passport application fees and not federally appropriated funds so it will continue to function during the shutdown. A problem that you might have: some passport agencies are located in federal buildings and will be closed. You can still apply at any passport office not located in a federal building and you can renew an expired passport by mail. There are a few restrictions on renewing your passport by mail, which you can read about here.

Still have questions? Talk to other brides getting married this month on our October 2013 Weddings board

More…

> How to get a marriage license

> Wedding insurance 101

> Honeymoon planning: passports 101

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  • hel.bradshaw@gmail.com
    10/03/13 at 02:42

    OMG get an editor. Loose vs Lose. You will LOSE your deposit.

  • 10/07/13 at 11:50

    this article does not answer the question posed in its title — our wedding in a dc courthouse has been cancelled. now what do we do?

  • Simone Hill
    10/07/13 at 12:27

    Hi Tarain! Sorry to hear about your wedding being cancelled. I’m happy to help you brainstorm some solutions, but I need a bit more info about your wedding first. Were you planning on hosting both your ceremony and reception at the courthouse? How many guests are expected to attend? When is your wedding scheduled for? Thanks!

  • 10/07/13 at 12:37

    Hi Simone, thanks for the reply. We were planning on having just the ceremony in the courthouse on 10/11 at 3pm. The reception is the next day at a restaurant. We are expecting 3 at the ceremony. We’re a lesbian couple who already had a big (non-legal) wedding years ago, but since my spouse is a federal employee we need to “upgrade” legally so I can get benefits — also, we’re trying to do everything for as little money as possible since we don’t know when she’ll get paid again!

    I did find this site: http://dcelopements.com/blog/dc-wedding-shutdown-special/ in case it helps other folks too. I haven’t heard back from them yet. I’ve also been contacting officiants to see if they’re available on short notice. Some of them might work and they seem to think we can just do it in the little park near the dc courthouse. But I’d love to hear if you have other suggestions.

    Thanks for your help,
    Tara(no longer in japan)

  • Simone Hill
    10/07/13 at 02:40

    Tara,

    Although DC courts are not performing marriage ceremonies you can still have a marriage license issued. For the ceremony, you could see if there local DC officiants are available to perform the ceremony http://www.localofficiants.com/district_of_columbia/wedding_officiants/washington_dc.php. Alternatively, courthouses in Maryland (where same-sex marriage is legal) are still open since they are run by the state. There is a two day waiting period for marriage licenses to be issued in Maryland. Here is a list of counties you can apply to hire an officiant: http://www.usmarriagelaws.com/search/united_states/ceremony/md_maryland/wedding_officiants.php
    According to the application the cost is less on weekdays if you’re still planning on holding the ceremony on Friday. Let me know if you have any other questions and congratulations on your wedding!

    Simone

  • Samantha
    10/08/13 at 01:33

    Can you still go to a social security office and submit and application to have your name changed?

  • Simone Hill
    10/08/13 at 03:42

    Hi Samantha! Unfortunately during the government shutdown the Social Security Administration is limited to only a few core services. That means that the name change will be delayed or not go into effect until after the shutdown is over. In the meantime you can definitely start preparing your paperwork and even mail in your application in the meantime. Let me know if you have any more questions!

    Simone

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Escort cards are extremely easy to personalize and an excellent way to bring in your wedding day colors -- from calligraphed seating cards set atop a textured linen to apples tagged with each guest's name or small personalized bundles of lavender tied off with string. Other ways to display escort cards: Pin them to a clothesline, post them on a board covered in color-coordinated ribbon, or incorporate them into your cocktail hour using personalized stirrers tagged with guests' names.
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