— Harry Stein (@HarrySteinDC) October 12, 2015
They may have been late to their own wedding, but Liz Copeland, who grew up in Kennebunk, Maine, and her husband Harry Stein certainly have one heck of a story to tell.
On Saturday, Oct. 10, the couple who lives in Washington, D.C., had just finished the Ketubah signing, which is part of a traditional Jewish ceremony, on the third floor of the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, Virginia. The couple, their parents, grandparents, Rabbi, wedding planner, bridesmaids and groomsmen — about 24 in all — gathered into the Torpedo Factory elevator to head down for their ceremony, which was taking place at a nearby waterfront park in Alexandria.
The elevator headed a few feet down and got stuck.
“All of a sudden it stops. We’re like, ‘Oh my goodness,’” said Liz Copeland’s mother Carol Copeland, of Kennebunk. “We tried pushing all the buttons and nothing would happen.”
Photographer Christy Kissick of Kissick Weddings, who photographed the wedding with her husband Adam, pushed the button to contact the Alexandria Fire Department “and we tell them the story,” Carol Copeland said.
“They said, ‘Is anyone in distress?’ and we said, ‘No, but we’re going to this wedding,” she said.
The group was stuck in the elevator, which Carol Copeland said was large enough to comfortably hold the group, for about a half hour. While they tried to pry the door open, they were stuck between floors and no one could get out. The couple’s wedding coordinator called her assistant, who was waiting at the ceremony, to tell her everyone would be a bit late
And the situation was a ironic, Carol Copeland said, given her statement just before it all happened.
“I said, ‘I wonder if anyone ever got stuck in the elevator?’,” she said.
Everyone kept their cool, Carol Copeland said, taking selfies and the photographers snapping away as well.
“My daughter was cool as a cucumber. I was not so much. I wasn’t hysterical, but I was concerned. You plan these things for over a year. You want everything to be perfect,” she said. “You think it might rain, but you don’t think you’re going to get stuck in an elevator.”
Within a half hour, the fire department crew arrived and pried open the door, Carol Copeland said.
“They had to hoist everyone up, including my parents and the bride. They took pictures, we took pictures. Then we walked the two flights down to get to the ceremony,” she said.
And while the cocktail hour was back on that third floor, Carol Copeland said, “we didn’t use the elevator anymore.”
Since last weekend, the couple’s story has gone viral. It’s been shared on television news stations in Virginia, ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Buzzfeed and even the website of the “Ellen Degeneres Show.” The couple, now in Mexico on their honeymoon, has conducted a few interviews, Carol Copeland said, but is “interviewed out” and ready to enjoy their time away.
“It’s funny,” Carol Copeland said. “We saw some comments that people put up asking is this news. But it’s good news. It’s kind of a fun, light piece, which can make people smile and be happy.”
The couple’s wedding announcement published in the New York Times, says Liz Copeland, 29, and Stein, 30, met while playing on opposing teams in an adult kickball league in Washington, D.C. in May 2010. Liz Copeland is a fundraiser for Groundswell, an organization in Washington that helps households, community organizations and small businesses switch to clean-energy power sources, while Stein is the director for fiscal policy at the Center for American Progress, a research and policy institute in Washington.
Carol Copeland, and her husband T.P. Lindsay Copeland, owned the Maine Stay Inn in Kennebunkport for 13 years.