Government Shutdown Closes Gates On Local Wedding

A Fayetteville couple is scrambling to find a new place to say their I-Do’s after the government shutdown closed the lodge where they were going to get married.

Bride-to-be Kelly Medearis and her fiancé Riley Gilbert are getting married in 10 days (Oct. 19).

“I am basically crying my eyes out,” Medearis said.

The Lodge at Lake Wedington is run by the U.S. Forest Service and its employees have been furloughed, leaving the venue closed until further notice. Medearis said the Lodge was the perfect spot for the couple to have an intimate wedding with close friends and family.

“Our families are calling us constantly. Our friends are calling us constantly asking us what’s going on,” Medearis said. Lake Wedington

The U.S. Forest Service has a voice mail announcing their closure, and their website is down. Lake Wedington’s gates are locked, and they have signs explaining why they are closed.

“We still have a few options that could possibly work out that way, but I’ve just found the whole thing to be very frustrating,” Gilbert said.

Medearis said she’s even looking at parks as an option to something that’s not booked and in the couple’s budget.

“I mean, I could get married at a pavilion in a park, but if it’s pouring down rain or 40 degrees, that’s not going to work,” Medearis said.

Medearis’ story echoes a wedding crash phenomenon across the U.S.

“It’s brides all over the country. I mean, it’s everybody, and so its been really hard to figure out where we are going to married and deal with that emotional pain,” Medearis said.

Medearis and Gilbert met at Mojo’s, a pizza spot in Fayetteville, and hit it off right away after talking football and Razorbacks. They got engaged on Christmas Eve 2012.

The couple said their love is far greater than any place they decide to tie the knot.

“Our love is special enough, I know that no matter what, we will get married that day. But it definitely ruins what I envisioned as my wedding,” Medearis said.

Gilbert said, “But what’s most important is we’re going to get married that day no matter what.”

The couple will get a refund, but have to wait until furloughed workers with the U.S. Forest Service return to work.

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