Over the weekend, former President Barack Obama officiated a wedding for two of his staffers in Washington, D.C. Dana Remus, a general counsel for the Obama Foundation and Obama’s personal office, and Brett Holmgren, a former special assistant to the president, were married on Jan. 21 by the former president, much to the delight of their guests. The 120-guest wedding took place at District Winery in Washington, D.C.'s Navy Yard.
Obama's role in the wedding was first reported by The Washingtonian. Holmgren, the groom, spoke with the magazine about the couple's decision to invite the former president, saying, "We decided to invite him because he was such an important part of our lives." Holmgren also emphasized that Obama was excited by the prospect of officiating, noting, "We also asked him if he could officiate, and he was intrigued with the idea.”
Obama reportedly secured a temporary officiant's license through the District of Columbia for the occasion and is featured prominently on the couple's wedding program as the officiant. He gave a speech shortly after the bride walked down the aisle and he served as a signer on Remus and Holmgren's marriage certificate.
Mary Holmgren, the groom's mother, complimented the former president on the personal nature of his speech, telling The Washingtonian:
He complimented them both on their work, on the type of people they were, threw in a tiny bit of humor. He spoke about how their work has been a service to the people and how the two of them complement each other. Very very sincere remarks ... it came from his heart.
The majority of the couple's guests were surprised to see the former president leading the ceremony, as Remus and Holmgren had largely kept his role a secret until the big day.
Obama was also invited to the couple's reception and he reportedly briefly attended to chat with guests and take photographs with the wedding party. "He stayed around a little bit for pictures with the family, but he did not want to detract from their day,” Mary Holmgren told the magazine. She also noted the wedding guests' elation at Obama's presence, saying, “ ... it was a very very exciting moment. Everybody who was there was just flabbergasted and amazed at just what a nice person he is."
Many on social media were impressed with Obama's role in his staffers' nuptials. One Twitter user complimented the couple for inviting the former president, saying "This is like the ultimate stunt move. Who else can say Obama officiated their wedding?"
Another user shared an article about the ceremony and joked, "I would get married just for this to happen!"
Ryan Holmgren, the groom's brother, also expressed his joy about the former president's role in the nuptials (and his disappointment in football results) on social media, tweeting, "The Vikings let me down again, but President Obama literally officiated my brother’s wedding today so all in all a great day. Here’s to Brett and Dana!!"
This weekend's ceremony is reportedly not the first time Obama has played a role in a former staffer's wedding ceremony. Indeed, while still president, Obama served as a groomsman in the wedding of his personal aide, Marvin Nicholson (former Secretary of State John Kerry also officiated the ceremony).
Moreover, as CNN reported over the summer, even though he has left office, Obama and his wife, Michelle, still respond to wedding invitations they receive from strangers. Indeed, many people have shared copies of form letter responses they have received from the couple after inviting them to their wedding, expressing their excitement that the Obamas still respond to such invites.
The former president certainly seems to be embracing his post-presidency period and is seemingly thoroughly enjoying trying new things — like becoming a wedding officiant. His willingness to embrace the role clearly meant a lot to his former staffers — and has made an impression on many others as well.