Hours before the purported first-ever pay-per-view wedding featuring Journey guitarist Neal Schon and “Real Housewives of D.C.” star Michaela Salahi at the Palace of Fine Arts Sunday, some spectators wondered why the landmark structure had been roped off to the public.
It was the first time Helen Gurman, who has lived half a block away from the landmark for two decades, remembered not being able to walk past the grassy area and up to the lagoon. She and another San Francisco resident sat on a sidewalk bench discussing their qualms with what they took to be a wedding for a few blocking access for many.
“Those who can afford it can do this, but it’s an inconvenience for the people,” Gurman said. “It’s really unfair.”
“Neal and Michaele: The Winter Wonderland Wedding and Music Event” – $14.95 to view on TV – was just the latest of more than 50 weddings that take place each year at the site the city Recreation and Park Department oversees, but the first to be televised live. The Roman architecture rotunda and exhibition halls have undergone restoration since Bernard Maybeck created them for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition.
For Michael Wilmar, 72, who has also lived across the street for 20 years, the event was “part of both the pain and pleasure of living in the neighborhood.”
“You get used to it. The City has generally been pretty good about the policy and music ending by 10:30 p.m. or so,” he said, adding he is not worried the stars’ wedding will lead to similar high-profile events happening regularly at the site.
City permits totaled $243,000 for 356 guests, according to department spokeswoman Sarah Ballard.
Some onlookers welcomed the affair as an opportunity to see celebrities and listen to the performances by Journey and Tower of Power from afar.
Sunset district resident Pat Wong likened the event to Kanye West’s proposal to Kim Kardashian in October. Wong said he took a photo of West leaving The St. Regis San Francisco and planned to stay through the end of the wedding for Schon and Salahi, who is accused of crashing a White House state dinner in 2009 with her ex-husband.
“Same as with Kim Kardashian, they closed AT&T Park,” Wong said. “But that’s their special moment, so be it.”
A couple dozen people took photos and selfies of the relatively small number of guests streaming into a tent set up at the rotunda, and lingered even after the tent entrance closed shortly after 5 p.m. when the festivities began.
Pablo Rosado, 28, and his family and friends visiting from Puerto Rico were disappointed they could not get closer to the landmark but were amused when they learned an unspecified amount of the wedding proceeds will go to Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts in the Philippines.
“Uno, dos, tres, Don’t Stop Believin’!” Rosado joked in reference to Journey’s hit song. “Hopefully they’ll use the money for something good.”