Published1 day ago
The White House is set to host its first wedding in nearly a decade – just the 19th such celebration at the ultimate venue since 1812. The site has also hosted four wedding receptions.
President Joe Biden’s eldest granddaughter, Naomi Biden – the daughter of Hunter Biden and his former wife Kathleen Buhle – is marrying fiancé Peter Neal at a ceremony on Saturday.
The White House is clearly a desired wedding location – and one not available to the average citizen.
Sarah Fling, with the White House Historical Association, explained to the BBC how often such events take place – and who even gets to throw a White House wedding.
There are very few people who can sign off on hosting nuptials at the official residence and workplace of the president of the United States, said the historian.
“It’s exciting because really there’s no hard and fast rule about who can or cannot be married at the White House. It’s essentially up to the President and First Lady.”
While most past weddings have been held for close family members of the president, some White House staff members have had the rare privilege.
“In 1942, Harry Hopkins, who was a really close adviser to President Franklin Roosevelt, was able to have his wedding on the second floor of the White House in the Oval Room, which was at that time, President Roosevelt’s private study,” Ms Fling said.
Most recently in 2013, Barack Obama allowed White House photographer Pete Souza to get married in the Rose Garden, which borders the building’s West Wing.
The size of the wedding – and the publicity surrounding it – is up to the couple getting married.
There is no size cap, but different White House rooms accommodate different size events.
For instance, the Blue Room, which has hosted receptions since the early 1800s, is on the smaller side.
The first and only president to get married at the White House was Grover Cleveland, who said his vows in that room to the much younger – by 27 years – Frances Folsom in 1886.
The South Lawn, where Naomi Biden’s wedding will be held, has more space, so expect a potentially longer guest list. The White House kitchen is able to serve 140 dinner guests and hors d’oeuvres for up to 1,000 people.
This will be the first wedding at the South Lawn location – the same site as the famous White House Easter Egg Roll – but the very first outdoor wedding at the executive mansion was in 1971 for Tricia Nixon, President Richard Nixon’s daughter.
It was a rainy day, but the sun came out in time and the ceremony continued in the Rose Garden.
In the 19th Century, weddings at the White House were often quite private affairs.
The first media event was Alice Roosevelt’s wedding in 1906, which was front page news in all the papers and had people lining up at the White House for a glimpse.
There were between 800 and 1,000 guests, according to Ms Fling.
Still, the amount of desired privacy varies.
Tricia Nixon gave out 700 press credentials for her wedding. Ms Fling says Naomi Biden’s will probably be a more intimate affair.