The first dance. The toasts. The cake-cutting. The … surprise appearance by the president of the United States?
President Trump apparently can’t resist crashing a party, showing up to at least two private events this weekend at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.
On Saturday night, Trump dropped in on a wedding reception taking place at his golf club, according to pictures of the celebration that emerged on social media.
“When POTUS shows up to your wedding …” one Instagram user wrote, under a series of photos of Trump posing with the bride and groom. The photos were later made private.
Another photo from the event showed Trump with his arms outstretched, surrounded by wedding guests.
“He stopped by to say hello to the wedding party,” that Instagram user wrote, followed by emoji of champagne flutes and an American flag.
Sean Burke, a guest at that wedding, told The Washington Post that he spotted Trump coming down the staircase of the club from where he had been eating dinner.
Motioning toward a closed door, Burke said the president asked, “Where are they?” Then he walked into the ongoing wedding reception.
“It was very brief. He waved to everyone. Everyone obviously got very excited, got out of their chairs and came to take pictures,” Burke said. “The bride came running out, and he gave her a big hug and a kiss, so she was just ecstatic. And then the groom found out, too. … No one knew it was going to happen.”
Burke said the president’s appearance was brief and that he told the groom: “What a beautiful bride you have!” Some wedding guests had been supporters of Trump and brought along red “Make America Great Again” hats, which Trump autographed.
Contrary to other media reports, Burke said Trump did not dance with the bride or bring along his own red hats.
“He walked in and he walked out,” Burke said. “It was three to four minutes, max. … It was very impromptu. It wasn’t theatrical.”
After the president left, Burke said, people at the reception began chanting “USA! USA!”
Kat Kellerman, another guest at the wedding, told The Post through Facebook messages that Trump’s appearance “was exciting for all the guests.”
“It was a nice surprise to have the president pop down after dinner & personally congratulate Kristen & Tucker,” Kellerman wrote. “He was very gracious and personable.”
On Friday night, a group of students celebrating their eighth-grade graduation at the same golf club received a surprise visit from Trump as well.
In an Instagram photo, which later was made private, a Far Hills Country Day School student wrote: “The president showed up to our grad party. Just another run of the mill day.” He followed the post with a crying laughing emoji.
A person who attended the party confirmed that Trump reappeared several times and spoke to the students. The party attendee asked not to be named. Reached by phone, the student said he had no comment.
Far Hills Country Day School is a private school that enrolls students in prekindergarten through eighth grade, located only about five miles away from the Bedminster golf club.
Neither the general manager at the club nor the White House responded to requests for comment Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.
It’s not the first time Trump has taken clubgoers by surprise. In February, the president hosted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., having dinner with him among club guests. He also popped in at the wedding reception of Nashville socialite Vanessa Falk and Carl Lindner IV, which was also taking place at the property, according to USA Today.
A handful of guests posted photos from Trump’s apparent surprise appearance at that wedding on social media.
“Making weddings great again!!” one guest wrote on Instagram.
The president has been under scrutiny for the frequency with which he has traveled to Trump-branded properties since taking office. The Washington Post’s Philip Bump reported that, on average, Trump has visited one of his private properties, including his golf club in Virginia, every 3½ days, and golfed about once every 6.2 days.
In May, The Post’s Drew Harwell and David A. Fahrenthold reported there had been more than 45 events held at Mar-a-Lago since Election Day. Though at least one group said it lost ticket sales to their event because of the property’s connection to Trump, others told Harwell and Fahrenthold that the potential of a presidential appearance was a selling point:
In at least 10 of those cases, the events turned out to be a little bigger, and to raise a little more money, than in past years, according to interviews with event organizers. That often meant that they paid Trump’s club a little more money.
The reason, some organizers said, was that Trump’s event customers could offer the grandeur of the presidency as an added attraction for potential attendees. The trend is likely to continue next year, as some charities planning Mar-a-Lago events for the 2018 season are hoping the dates they book coincide with times that Trump is staying at the club.
. . . The prominent role Trump has taken at the center of his private club’s events business illustrates the extent to which he stands to make money from the presidency, a key concern that has been raised by ethics experts and Democratic lawmakers. Although the president says he has given up day-to-day management of the company, his decision to retain ownership means he remains its beneficiary as Mar-a-Lago members, event hosts and attendees pay for the opportunity to attend events where they might well encounter the president.
A New York Times reporter who toured Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster recently noted that a marketing brochure mentioned the prospect of an appearance by Trump:
“If he is on-site for your big day, he will likely stop in & congratulate the happy couple,” the brochure read, according to the Times. “He may take some photos with you but we ask you and your guests to be respectful of his time & privacy.”
A club spokeswoman told the Times that the brochure was discontinued.
Jenna Johnson and Alice Crites contributed to this report.