Seely & Jefferson - Planning a Wedding during a Government Shutdown


When I initially spoke to Seely and Jefferson, they were living new New Orleans and planning from afar. I had no idea that the planning of their wedding would involve a last minute government shutdown the week before their wedding day and a mad scramble to sort out details to actually get them legally married.

You see, it was really important to both of them that they were married in the Nations Capital. Both being involved with some form of government work and fully dedicated to helping better the country they call home was of the utmost importance. That’s why Seely and Jefferson along with their family and friends decided to plan their big day at The Newseum in DC.


Seely and Jeffersons love story begins like a great romance novel. They were both in Hawaii for a work conference and apparently the universe had a very specific plan in place, because they were the only ones who showed up. Sticking two soulmates in Hawaii is a great start but throwing them into a funny situation is apparently the perfect recipe for happily ever after because they ended up falling in love.

Once they decided to get married, DC was the obvious choice. The timing, of course, was a bit more difficult. Seely had orders to be shipped out of the country in early 2019 so January was the only choice available.

We immediately got to planning a fabulous, classic DC event that included all of the important things. Since January 5th was the start of a fresh year but also the dead of winter, we went with a clean, modern yet cozy color palette of scarlet red, charcoal grey and black.


Seely and Jefferson wanted modern simplicity and the blank canvas of the Newseum was the perfect spot! The primary reason for them picking this venue was also the stunning backdrop of the capital building behind them that guests could see lit up during their ceremony!


Speaking of ceremony, one of the billions upon billions of reasons I adore Seely and Jefferson so much is because they FULLY trusted me with designing their day. When I told them I had this idea to create a floating arch of beautiful, lush garnet fabric that went the entirety of their aisle they said “Hell yeah!” or probably something more like “yes, that’s fine” but the enthusiasm on my part was enough to propel the vision forward.

While we were planning and prepping the wedding, we also made many references to The Office and in particular to the wedding of Phyllis and Bob Vance. We made several references and I joked repeatedly that we should absolutely play the episode on the large screen during cocktail hour which again, Seely and Jefferson agreed to and I personally think, other than the decision to marry each other, was the best call they’ve ever made.



Someone put me in the control room and I obviously lost control.

Someone put me in the control room and I obviously lost control.

Before we go any farther, you’re probably wondering about that pesky little obstacle that almost prevented the wedding of their dreams from happening so let’s go ahead and talk about shall we!

If you don’t already know. Different states (including the district) all have varying rules about the legal process of getting married. Seeing as getting married in the district was such an integral part of the wedding day it was quite jarring when the looming government shutdown turned into an actual government shutdown. You see, technically Seely and Jefferson could have gotten legally married in the state they lived in but that would sort of defy the entire point of them flying everyone in AND they wouldn’t have “District of Columbia” on their marriage license which was kind of a big deal to them.

I called every office of every institution I could think of, polled other planners and did as much recon I could going as far as stalking a local judge and friend requesting her husband on Facebook in hopes that I could get to her (she didn’t have a facebook). The lengths I will go (stalking) to get my clients their dream day knows no limits…so hopefully you aren’t standing in the way of any of my other favorite couples otherwise it will get really real.

After exhausting all options and with Seely and Jefferson flying in just a few short days, we ended up finding an alternate solution. Remember, this was something that happened, with hopes that it would end any day and of course didn’t end until 20 days after their wedding date. We luckily figured out how to get them to a courthouse in Alexandria the day after they got in (amidst all the insanity that is the week leading up to your wedding) and had a local officiant who was luckily available for 15 minutes the day they were going to pick up their license and would meet them right out front of the courthouse, pen ready to sign. phew Now that we had the legal stuff done, we could focus on the fun!

Oh wait.

The other part of the equation that complicated things was Seely and Jefferson wanted to do their first look at…where else..the Jefferson memorial. BUT with national parks closed and no one shelling out permits, it was impossible to get a permit to photograph on the actual mall or any of the local spots. So what were we to do?

Well, to be completely honest…we did it anyway. The theory was that if the parks were shut down, security probably was as well, or at the very least was lax enough that we could sneak them in, snag a couple photos and sneak them back out. It turns out a government shutdown ends up deterring a lot of tourists, especially in the dead of winter so we were actually able to snag not only some beautiful, empty shots of them together but were able to snap their wedding party photos as well! So what started as kind of a nightmare actually ended up being slightly in our favor!

If you couldn’t tell I am freaking obsessed with them by now, you haven’t ready anything I just wrote But just to add to the reasons why, Seely and Jefferson wanted to turn their dramatic situation with the government into something light-hearted and funny so they could look back at it and laugh. Thus, they let me make some signs that poked fun at not only the early January date but the situation at hand. Thus the signs below that we displayed in the elevators and screens around the building.

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When ceremony begun, guests were greeted by warm glowing candlelight and the surrounding museums lit up in the cool January air.

Seely and Jefferson said their “I Dos” with nary a dry eye in the building.


During cocktail hour, the magic happened! Hidden behind that gorgeous champagne draping was the band stage and dining tables, ready to be lit with candles and set with fabulous food. The guests were guided to their seats with a constellation themed seating chart with matching constellation table number. Their guestbook was 2 star map prints, one featuring the night sky on their first date in Honolulu and the next the sky over DC at the wedding!


Seely and Jefferson danced their first dance, “You are the best thing” fabulously covered by The Bachelor Boys band. Guests wined and dined and danced the night away


Creative Partners

Planning: The One Moment Events

Venue: The Newseum

Catering: Wolfgang Puck

Photography: Sam Stroud

Florals: Bee Inspired Events

Band: Bachelor Boys Band

Uplighting & Draping: A2Z Music Factory

Makeup: Blush Away

Hair: Dare 2 Dream Hair

Transportation: Limousines Inc.

Cake: Nothing Bundt Cakes

Rachel RiceComment