Washington media power couple Joe Scarboroughand Mika Brzezinski got married Saturday in the super secure Rotunda of the National Archives building on Pennsylvania Avenue NW. U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) officiated the small ceremony; photos show him and the couple just steps away from the glass-encased Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, and Bill of Rights on display.
According to Vanity Fair, which exclusively covered the secret ceremony, Brzezinski wore a “stark-white, tea-length Milly dress with delicate, polka-dotted lace sleeves that swept into a sweetheart neckline by her friend, designer Michelle Smith.” Scarborough just wore one of his black Zegna suits with an affixed white orchid boutonniere.
It was the first time a wedding ceremony had been held in that spot since the building opened in 1935. Brzezinski toldVanity Fair that the couple chose the hallowed American location after attending a previous event there, saying, “It makes sense now more than ever, given what we stand for as a couple, what we do for a living, and what we’re worried about as a country.”
Apparently, the couple wasn’t worried about published federal regulations barring “primarily personal, political or fundraising” events within the National Archives. Federal rule 1280.84 specifically says, “… the use of the Rotunda for private events is not permitted.” And rule 1280.76 says that even permitted, official events “are not available during weekends or federal holidays.” The wedding was held at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, after the Archives building was closed to the public.
According to Vanity Fair, the Archives opened after hours “to accommodate the couple and five guests, plus their children. It was the first time a wedding has ever been held there.”
Those guests included a canine companion, Brzezinski’s daughter Emilie’s dog Cali. The Archives’ accessibility statement “permits animals specifically trained to perform tasks for persons with disabilities,” but not therapy animals or pets.
There were five still cameras set up in the adjacent Rotunda gallery taking time-lapse photographs every five seconds, including recording the couple walking up four steps into the center of the main room of the Rotunda. Cameras and flash photography are prohibited within the Rotunda itself. A roving still photographer also took photographs.
A published guide by the National Archives Foundation, the nonprofit that handles public events, says there is a $20,000 required contribution to use any part of the facility, plus $5,000 for “building management fees.” It could not be determined what, if any, fees were paid for the wedding event.
In a statement to City Paper late Tuesday, the National Archives Foundation said Brzezinski and Scarborough sought out the Archives almost a year ago after attending an unrelated event. “We were thrilled to be the venue Scarborough and Brzezinski selected for their wedding,” said Archives Foundation executive director Patrick Madden.
The Archives told City Paper that it first considered allowing weddings in 2014 and has spoken with wedding planners, but its public documents as of this week do not say weddings are allowed. It is now changing its rules and will begin accepting other wedding inquiries subject to its strict rules, saying it is looking forward “to welcoming more couples in the future who would like to host their nuptials at the National Archives.”
An MSNBC spokeswoman declined to discuss the co-hosts’ wedding, telling City Paperthat “Mika and Joe declined comment.”
A spokesman for Rep. Cummings referred City Paper to his campaign office, which did not respond to an inquiry.
The Archives has stood at 700 Pennsylvania Avenue NW for 83 years. At the beginning of its construction in 1933, President Herbert Hoover laid the cornerstone, dedicating the unique building that was to hold some of the country’s most important documents. “This temple of our history will appropriately be one of the most beautiful buildings in America, an expression of the American soul,” he said at the time. “It will be one of the most durable, an expression of the American character.”
This post has been updated to clarify the National Archives’ decision about allowing weddings on its premises.
Photo by Nathan Congleton on Flickr, used under the Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0 license.