All we had to do was figure out how to work a Pablo Neruda poem into our vows. That was the final detail after months of evenings spent on Pinterest looking up “art deco wedding accessories” and waking up at 6 a.m. for boot camp and sifting through cheesy wedding photographer sites.
Then this text from my brother:
“Do you have a contingency for gov shutdown? Just in case they close Yosemite.”
Good question -- and one I hadn’t considered when, more than a year ago, my fiancé and I chose Yosemite National Park for our wedding. But here we are, less than two weeks from getting married, scrambling to find a “Plan B” location because on October 1 the government shut down national parks -- and wildlife refuges and national memorials and many federal offices -- while they try to figure out how to play nice and settle a budget. There is no official word at this time on when the affected areas will reopen.
How do you change the location of a wedding at this stage? We started with the location. We gave up the idea of a big wedding to do something small and intimate, something meaningful with just our immediate families. We planned an autumn weekend together in Yosemite, one of my favorite places to go while I was growing up in California. My family spent vacations there when I was a kid, and my dad and I returned a few years ago to do the 17-mile round-trip hike to the top of Half Dome.
My fiancé and I live urban lives in Brooklyn that involve a lot of iPhone-checking and cramming into subway cars. Open space with no cell phone reception sounded perfect. We could explore the park with a photographer to capture the stunning scenery, then go out in a field with our family and say our vows in the afternoon light.
Despite the small guest list, the details still took a surprising amount of time, from choosing an officiant to dinner menus to -- I’ll admit it -- place cards. I found a photographer excited to shoot the outdoors and an elegant dark green dress that I thought would go well with the waterfalls and sheer rock faces that would be our backdrop. We booked the special suite -- the one with the balcony -- at the Awahnee where everyone was going to get ready.
Now I’m reconsidering that box of Yosemite water bottles I bought to go in gift bags and wondering whether we need directions to the Grand Canyon -- the national park we plan to drive to after our wedding.
I know of the potential catastrophes that could befall a wedding, a government shutdown is not the most tragic. And losing a wedding venue isn’t the most terrible thing that will come out of this shutdown, either. At the end of the day, I will be married to someone I love, and that’s the thing I most look forward to.
But I’m a bride. I have an idea of how I want my wedding to be, and I’ve spent a lot of time over the past year trying to make that happen. It might be a simple plan and a little different than other people’s idea of a wedding, but it is important to me. Now the excitement of looking forward to everything has been replaced with uncertainty. And the stress of finalizing travel plans and finishing up work before I leave has been replaced by anxiety over where to get married.
So, Congress, if I can just share a little of the advice I’ve been given during my engagement, I might be able to help us all out. It’s called compromise. I hear you have to do a lot of it in marriage, and it seems to me that you should have to do a lot of it in your job, too. You can’t just give up if you don’t get your way. And you have to pay your bills on time. Because we are in this for the long haul and there are enough real problems we will have to weather -- there is no need to create ones you can prevent.