The wedding of Biden’s granddaughter Naomi on Saturday will be the 19th in White House history
WASHINGTON (AP) — “Here Comes the Bride” will be heard at the White House on Saturday.
Naomi Biden, President Joe Biden’s granddaughter, and Peter Neal are getting married on the South Lawn in what will be the 19th wedding in White House history.
It will be the first marriage to a president’s granddaughter as a bride, and the first at this location, according to the White House Historical Association.
A mutual friend settled Naomi Biden, 28, and Neal, 25, about four years ago in New York, and the White House says they have been together ever since. Naomi Biden is a lawyer; his father is Hunter Biden. Neal is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School. The couple live in Washington.
Nine of the 18 documented White House marriages were to a president’s daughter — most recently Richard Nixon’s daughter, Tricia, in 1971, and Lyndon B. Johnson’s daughter, Lynda, in 1967.
But nieces, a grand-niece, a son and the siblings of the first ladies also got married there. A president, Grover Cleveland, also married there while in office.
First lady Jill Biden said she was thrilled to see her granddaughter “planning her wedding, making her choices, becoming, you know, just becoming herself, and she’s so beautiful.”
“So I can’t wait for you all to see her as a bride,” the first lady said during a recent appearance on singer Kelly Clarkson’s talk show.
Stewart McLaurin, president of the historical association, said the special occasions at the White House are not soon forgotten.
“If you were to have the privilege of celebrating a holiday or a special occasion in your life there, like a wedding, it’s a very memorable occasion,” he said.
Five weddings took place in the East Room, four took place in the Blue Room, and two took place in the Rose Garden, just steps from the Oval Office.
In June 1971, some 400 guests watched Nixon descend the steps of the South Portico to a waiting Edward Cox, and the couple exchanged vows in a gazebo set up in the Rose Garden for the first wedding ceremony ever held there.
Her planner – a black three-ring binder labeled “TRICIA’S WEDDING” and kept by the historical association – has tabbed sections for every aspect of her special day, including attendants, social workers, gazebo, flowers, parking, seating, menu, champagne, press and more.
Her wedding cake was a six-tiered, 350-pound, 6-foot-tall pound cake, flavored with lemon, decorated with puffed-sugar love birds and the initials “PN” and “EC.”
The White House published the recipe, but home bakers and food critics said it produced a “mess of soup” and speculated that the White House had muddled the number of egg whites vs. whole eggs, according to the Weddings issue of White House History Quarterly magazine.
President Nixon sent a note of thanks to Rex Scouten, the White House’s chief usher, for his help in coordinating the physical arrangements for the wedding. The letter is in Tricia Nixon’s diary.
“I want you to know how grateful all Nixons are for your splendid contributions on this very special day,” Nixon wrote.
In October 2013, Barack Obama’s White House chief photographer Pete Souza and Patti Lease tied the knot in a private ceremony at the Rose Garden after 17 years together. Obama had gotten to know Lease because she had attended certain White House events.
“He kept asking me why we didn’t get married,” Souza told The Associated Press. He said Obama made what he thought was a flippant comment about the Rose Garden wedding, but later “I found out he wasn’t kidding.”
He and Lease exchanged yeses in the presence of about 30 family members and friends. They felt overwhelmed by the venue, but were honored by the president’s gesture, he said.
“It gives people the impression that I had a unique relationship with Barack Obama and that he would insist on the wedding taking place at the White House,” Souza said. “I am so honored, as is my wife, to have my wedding ceremony at the White House. Not many people can say that.”
The Rose Garden helped unite two Democratic political families when Anthony Rodham, a brother of then First Lady Hillary Clinton, and Nicole Boxer, a daughter of the then Senator. Barbara Boxer from California, exchanged her wedding vows in May 1994 in a private ceremony.
Hillary Clinton had first offered Camp David, the official presidential retreat in Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains, for the wedding but then suggested the Rose Garden, Nicole Boxer said. “I was like madly excited by this possibility,” recalls Nicole Boxer during a telephone interview from California. “Can you imagine a more perfect place?”
Among the approximately 250 guests were President Biden and his wife, Jill. Biden and Barbara Boxer were in the Senate at the time.
The reception was held in the first lady’s garden, followed by dinner in the State Dining Room and a dance in the East Room. President Bill Clinton played his saxophone; her daughter Chelsea was a bridesmaid.
“You just think you’re the luckiest person in the world and I think that’s something you have to appreciate,” Nicole Boxer said. “It’s like being part of the fabric of America.”
A White House wedding does not guarantee a lasting marriage. The couple divorced in 2001. Rodham died in 2019.
Lynda Johnson Robb said she never thought of a wedding at the White House, but circumstances practically dictated that she and Navy Captain Charles Robb were married there in December 1967. The previous year, his sister Luci had celebrated a marriage at the Roman Catholic Church in Washington.
“We had to get married earlier than I would have liked because he was going to Vietnam, and so we wanted to get married for a while and it was just three months before he left,” said Lynda Johnson Robb on a White. House Historical Association podcast in 2018.
The couple met because Robb was assigned to the White House as a military social worker.
They married in the East Room with White House bride Alice Roosevelt Longworth, who was married in the same room in 1906, among approximately 500 guests. The pair walked under a saber arch created by Robb’s fellow Marines as they left the room afterwards.
Following tradition at military weddings, they used Robb’s sword to make the first cut of their wedding cake – a 6-foot-tall, 250-pound cake with raisins decorated with sugar rolls, roses and of love birds.
Lynda Johnson Robb said she was lucky. Red is his signature color and the December nuptials meant the White House was already decorated for Christmas. His mother, Lady Bird Johnson, was spared the stress.
“They could use the same decorations and it was awesome,” she said. “My mom was always trying to find ways to save money.”