Naomi Biden and Neill exchanged ‘I do’s’ during a brisk late-morning ceremony – temperatures were in the low 40s – on south meadow, which has been converted into a wedding venue for the first time. This is the first White House wedding with a granddaughter of a president as a bride.
Numerous white folding chairs dotted a portion of the South Lawn, and the South Portico of the White House, facing the lawn and the Washington Monument in the distance, was decorated with wreaths and garlands of white flowers. There was no tent. Guests began arriving hours before the ceremony, with some women opting for open-toed shoes despite the cold.
The public doesn’t see any of the festivities, unlike some past White House weddings. The bride and groom decided to keep reporters out, even though the ceremony was held outdoors on what the president and first lady call the “people’s house.”
Naomi Biden, 28, is a lawyer in Washington. Her parents are Hunter Biden, son of President and First Lady Jill Biden, and Kathleen Buhle, Hunter’s first wife.
Neal, 25, of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He works at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington. His parents are Drs. Mary S. and William “Bill” S. Neal of Jackson Hole.
The couple, who live in the White House, were set up by a mutual friend about four years ago in New York 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 replicated 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 were escaping the cold and returning to the White House for a luncheon that was to be followed in the evening by a dessert reception and dancing, according to a person familiar with the planning who was not authorized to publicly discuss the wedding schedule.
Few other details were released before the ceremony.
To address the public interest, the president and first lady planned to make a statement and release photos after the first of their six grandchildren gets married, the White House said.
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. Neil’s parents were hosts.
The Bidens will pay for all wedding activities, White House officials said.
“Naomi Biden and Peter’s wedding is private,” Karin Jean-Pierre, the president’s chief spokeswoman, said Friday. “This is a family event and Naomi and Peter have asked that their wedding be closed to the media and we respect their wishes.”
There was 18 documented weddings in the over 200-year history of the White House. Nine have included a presidential daughter, most recently Richard Nixon’s daughter Tricia in 1971 and Lyndon Johnson’s daughter Linda in 1967.
But nephews, a granddaughter, a son and siblings of first ladies have also been married there. One president, Grover Cleveland, also married in the White House while in office.
Some of the weddings were open to media coverage, while others were not at all.
Journalists were admitted to the wedding of Tricia Nixon and Ed Cox, the first wedding held in the Rose Garden. Her wedding plan—a black three-ring binder in the offices of the White House Historical Association—includes detailed notes on the media plan.
But the May 1994 wedding of then-First Lady Hillary Clinton’s brother and then-U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer’s daughter — the first since Tricia Nixon’s marriage — was closed to the press. Clinton’s spokesman commented afterward, and the White House released a photo.
So was 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 after 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 denied 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 interest in an event taking place in the People’s House with the president as an attendee,” the WHCA board said in a statement.
Stuart McLaurin, president of the White House Historical Association, said it’s important to remember that First Families were 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 the city will celebrate at a brunch hosted by the first lady.
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