National Cathedral offers Bishop's Garden for canceled shutdown weddings

WASHINGTON (WJLA) - He works for the State Department based out of Italy; she’s a travel writer living in Orlando.

D.C. is where their courtship unfolded.

This war memorial is where Sam Murr and Leah Sekula were hoping to make it official after meeting in middle school, reconnecting on Facebook two years ago, then finally getting engaged.

But with the shutdown, plans have abruptly changed.

"I got an e-mail from the park service letting us know that because of the shutdown, all the permits were canceled," explained Sam.

"We're scrambling," added Leah.

The couple wasn't sure what they would do, but a parishioner from the National Cathedral offered a solution: the Bishop’s Garden.

Serene and filled with all types of flowers and plants, Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde didn’t think twice about offering it to the couple.

"This is so frustrating," she said. "Why not do the right thing for people who want to share the rest of their lives together? We're kind of in the wedding business -- I mean, this is what we do."

The National Cathedral is now offering the space to anyone – free of charge.

A couple years ago, I joked, 'How much do you think it would cost to get married at the National Cathedral,'" said Leah. "It basically looks like a storybook, fairy tale location."

The couple feels blessed that this will be where they’ll be tying the knot; they feel even luckier to be able to share the day with family and friends.

"Whose second choice ends up being the Bishop's Garden at the National Cathedral?" said Leah.

"To have the National Cathedral drop on your lap was a dream come true," said Sam.

It was a similar situation for Jackson Takach, who wanted to give his bride-to-be Christina a storybook wedding. So the modern-day prince and princess settled on Glen Echo Park, where they have emotional ties.

But as we all know, not all fairy tales end happily.

Christina’s groom didn’t get cold feet; instead, their lawmakers did, shutting down the government, which includes all national parks – like Glen Echo.

The couple was left without a wedding venue, though the venue still cashed their final check just two days ago after the shutdown.

The shutdown has silenced wedding bells all around the metro area, including those for MaiLien and Mike Cassesso, who were supposed to tie the knot at Jefferson Memorial.

After that was shut down, comedian Stephen Colbert ordained himself online and turned his New York studio into an impromptu wedding altar for them – jokes and all.

Luckily, Jackson and Christina won't have to find a celebrity to marry them, as the National Cathedral has their wedding respite right here in D.C.

Unfortunately, changing venues with eight days to go until their wedding would still leave them without a reception -- so as they scramble to find a last-minute plan, they have this message for lawmakers:

"Get it together. Get it together. This is ridiculous."

The National Cathedral has booked four weddings for this upcoming weekend. The Bishop tells ABC7 that she hopes the shutdown ends, but until then, they will continue to take phone calls.