President Joe Biden’s granddaughter, Naomi Biden, and Peter Neal wed in only the 19th wedding in White House history on Saturday, tying the knot in front of crowds of families and friends on the lawn in unseasonably cold temperatures. It is the first White House wedding with a president’s granddaughter as a bride and the first ever on the South Lawn. Naomi Biden and Neal exchanged “I’m doing” during a sizzling late morning ceremony – temperatures were in the low 40s – in front of guests seated in white folding chairs. The South Portico of the White House, overlooking the lawn and the Washington Monument in the distance, was decorated with wreaths and garlands of white flowers. There was no tent. Guests arrived hours before the ceremony, and some women opted for open-toed shoes despite the cold. The public does not see any of the celebrations, unlike some previous White House weddings. Naomi Biden and Neal decided to keep journalists away, even though the ceremony took place outdoors, in what the President and First Lady call the “People’s House.” Naomi Biden, 28, is a Washington attorney. Her parents are Hunter Biden, son of President and First Lady Jill Biden, and Kathleen Buhle, Hunter’s first wife.
Neal, 25, from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with his law degree. He works at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington. His parents are dr. Mary C. and William “Bill” C. Neal of Jackson Hole. The couple, who live in the White House, were formed by a mutual friend in New York City about four years ago and have been together ever since, the White House said. Neal proposed near his childhood home in Jackson Hole in September 2021 with a ring modeled on the band of his grandmother’s engagement ring, according to the White House.
After the 20-year-olds officially became husband and wife, their families and wedding party came out of the cold and headed back to the White House for lunch, which is to be followed in the evening by a dessert and dance reception to a person familiar with the planning who isn’t was authorized to discuss the wedding plan publicly. A few more details were released ahead of the ceremony.
To address the public interest, the president and first lady planned to issue a statement and release photos after the first of their six grandchildren tied the knot, the White House said. President Biden and the First Lady were among those who attended Friday’s wedding rehearsal at the Renwick Gallery, just steps from the White House. Neal’s parents were hosts.
The Biden family will pay for all wedding activities, White House officials said. “Naomi Biden and Peter’s wedding is a private one,” Karine Jean-Pierre, the president’s spokeswoman, said Friday. “It’s a family celebration and Naomi and Peter have requested that their wedding be closed to the media and we respect their wishes.” There have been 18 documented weddings in the White House’s more than 200-year history. 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 great-niece, a son and siblings of the first ladies have also married there. One president, Grover Cleveland, also tied the knot in the White House during his tenure.
Some of the weddings were open to news media coverage, while others were not at all.
Journalists were granted access to Tricia Nixon’s wedding to Ed Cox, the first wedding to take place in the Rose Garden. Your Wedding Planner — a three-ringed black binder in the offices of the White House Historical Association — contains detailed notes on the media plan.
But the May 1994 wedding of a brother of then First Lady Hillary Clinton and the daughter of then US Senator Barbara Boxer – the first since Tricia Nixon’s marriage – remained hidden from the press. Clinton’s spokesman commented afterwards and the White House released a photo.
Such was the case with the wedding of Pete Souza, President Barack Obama’s official photographer, and his longtime partner Patti Lease in October 2013. The White House announced the wedding in a statement following the small, private ceremony in the Rose Garden. The White House Correspondents Association, which campaigns for press access to the White House and the President, said it was “deeply disappointed” that the White House turned down 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 desire for privacy must be balanced against the public’s interest in an event at the People’s House with the President as an attendee,” the WHCA board said in one Explanation.
Stewart McLaurin, president of the White House Historical Association, said it’s important to remember that first families are families first. “Their privacy should be respected, their wishes should be respected,” he said.
The wedding is only half of a big weekend for the Biden family. The President’s 80th birthday is Sunday and family members in town will celebrate at a brunch hosted by the First Lady. (AP) RUP RUP
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