By Darlene Superville | Associated Press
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden ‘s granddaughter Naomi Biden and Peter Neal were married Saturday in just the 19th wedding in the history of the White House, exchanging vows on the South Lawn in unseasonably cold temperatures in front of scores of family and friends.
The bride, who wore a long-sleeved, high-neck gown with a very long veil, and groom exchanged “I do’s” during a nippy late-morning ceremony in bright sunshine but with temperatures in the low 40s. The 250 guests sat in white folding chairs and some wore scarves with their coats.
The newlyweds, who were dressed by American fashion designer Ralph Lauren, posed for photos afterward on the balcony, with the bride’s long veil flowing over the railing.
The south side of the White House, facing the lawn and Washington Monument in the distance, was decorated with wreaths and garland bearing white flowers. The bride walked along an aisle that led from the Diplomatic Reception Room to an altar made up of shrubs and white flowers.
Naomi Biden’s father, Hunter Biden, sat in the front row on one side of the aisle, holding his toddler son, Beau.
It is the first White House wedding with a president’s granddaughter as the bride, and the first one ever on the South Lawn.
The public is seeing none of the festivities, unlike some past White House weddings. Naomi Biden and Neal decided to keep journalists out, although the ceremony was outdoors on the grounds of what the president and first lady call the “people’s house.”
Naomi Biden, 28, is a lawyer in Washington. Her mother is Kathleen Buhle, Hunter’s first wife.
Neal, 25, of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania law school. He works at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington. His parents are Drs. Mary C. and William “Bill” C. Neal of Jackson Hole.
The couple, who have been living at the White House, was set up by a mutual friend about four years ago in New York City and have been together ever since, the White House said. Neal proposed in September 2021 near his childhood home in Jackson Hole with a ring that repurposed the band of his grandmother’s engagement ring, according to the White House.
After the 20-somethings officially became husband and wife, their families and the wedding party went back inside the White House for lunch, which was to be followed in the evening by a dessert-and-dancing reception.
To accommodate public interest, the president and first lady Jill Biden issued a statement confirming the marriage of the first of their six grandchildren and planned to release photos.
President Biden and the first lady were among those who attended the wedding rehearsal dinner Friday at the Renwick Gallery steps from the White House. Neal’s parents hosted.
The Biden family will pay for all wedding activities, White House officials have said.
“The wedding of Naomi Biden and Peter is a private one,” Karine Jean-Pierre, the president’s chief spokesperson, said Friday. “It’s a family event and Naomi and Peter have asked that their wedding be closed to the media and we are respecting their wishes.”
There have been 18 documented weddings in the 200-plus-year history of the White House. Nine involved a president’s daughter, most recently Richard Nixon’s daughter Tricia in 1971 and Lyndon Johnson’s daughter Lynda in 1967.
But nieces, a grandniece, a son and first ladies’ siblings have also gotten married there. One president, Grover Cleveland, tied the knot at the White House, too, while in office.
Some of the weddings were open to coverage by the news media, while others weren’t at all.
Journalists were allowed into Tricia Nixon’s wedding to Ed Cox, the first wedding held in the Rose Garden. Her wedding planner — a three-ring black binder in the offices of the White House Historical Association — includes extensive notes on the media plan.
But the May 1994 wedding of a brother of then-first lady Hillary Clinton and the daughter of then-U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer — the first since Tricia Nixon’s marriage — was closed to the press. Clinton’s spokesperson commented afterward and the White House released a photo.
It was the same for the October 2013 wedding of Pete Souza, President Barack Obama’s official photographer, and his longtime partner, Patti Lease. The White House announced the wedding in a statement following the small, private wedding in the Rose Garden.
The White House Correspondents Association, which advocates for press access to the White House and the president, said it was “deeply disappointed” that the White House declined its request for press coverage of Naomi Biden’s wedding.
“White House weddings have been covered by the press throughout history and the first family’s wish for privacy must be balanced against the public’s interest in an event occurring at the People’s House with the president as a participant,” the WHCA board said in a statement.
Stewart McLaurin, president of the White House Historical Association, said it’s important to remember that first families are families first and foremost.
“Their privacy should be respected, their wishes should be respected,” he said.
The wedding is just one half of a big weekend for the Biden family. The president’s 80th birthday is Sunday and family members in town will celebrate him at a brunch hosted by the first lady.