Natalie Heimel and her fiancé, Edward Mallue Jr., a pair of captains in the Army, were walking from their wedding rehearsal on Saturday at the 16th tee box at Kaneohe Klipper Golf Course in Hawaii when they were informed they'd have to move their wedding, scheduled for the next day.
President Barack Obama wanted to play through.
It was the second time that day that the couple heard from the nation's commander in chief, whose affinity for golf has, at times, caused political headaches for the White House. Stationed in Hawaii and knowing the president spends his Christmas holiday on the islands, they invited him to their ceremony on a lark. They had received a letter earlier on Saturday saying Obama regretted he couldn't come and wishing them happiness on their wedding day.
“It was kind of ironic they got the letter from them and then, within hours, they were told they had to be moved due to him,” Jamie McCarthy, Mallue's sister, said in an interview. “It was emotional, especially for her—she’s the bride and in less than 24 hours they had to change everything they had planned.”
The golf course, located on the Marine Corps Base Hawaii, is a regular stop for Obama when he's in the state, with the Ko’olau Mountains framing the front nine and majestic views of Pacific coastline spanning the back nine. It's also a favorite spot for Mallue, a golfing enthusiast.
Still, anyone planning an event at the course when the president may be in town is warned about the potential for last-minute shuffling, said Naile Brennan, manager of K Bay Catering, which was handling logistics for the wedding. Brennan said they had other sites ready to go, and the couple ended up choosing the lush, green lawn near the home of Colonel Eric Schaefer, the commanding officer of the base, which offers an elevated view near the 16th hole.
“It's much prettier and much nicer venue unless you're an avid golfer,” Brennan said. “It's more secluded and there are no golfers yelling, 'Fore!'”
An administration spokesman referred questions about the day to the military base, and it's not clear the White House would have been informed about the wedding in advance. After Bloomberg Politics inquired about the scheduling conflict, Obama put in a personal call to the bride.
“He apologized and congratulated them,” McCarthy said, adding that it was a “wonderful talk.”
“We were all there, it was perfect,” she said. “Made their day.”