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On November 19, President Joe Biden’s granddaughter Naomi married Peter Neal at the White House. The event was memorable for many reasons, including a few historical firsts. Naomi Biden became the first presidential grandchild to be married at the White House, in the first wedding ceremony to take place on the South Lawn.
This was the 19th wedding celebrated at the presidential residence, dating back to the administration of James Madison in the early 19th century. The White House has most commonly been used for the ceremonies of presidential children, although sometimes other family members have been invited to have their weddings there, such as Woodrow Wilson’s niece Alice Wilson in 1918 and First Lady Hillary Clinton’s brother Anthony Rodham in 1994.
White House weddings have been making headlines for nearly two centuries. The weddings of Ulysses S. Grant’s daughter Nellie in 1874, Theodore Roosevelt’s daughter Alice in 1906, and Richard Nixon’s daughter Tricia in 1971 were particularly notable for the national interest they garnered. Tricia Nixon’s wedding to Edward F. Cox was the most recent White House wedding of a presidential child, though George W. Bush’s daughter Jenna enjoyed a White House reception in 2008.
- In 1812, First Lady Dolley Madison's sister, Lucy Payne Washington, married Supreme Court Justice Thomas Todd in the first-ever White House wedding.
- Only one US president was married at the White House. Grover Cleveland wed Frances Folsom (incidentally, the youngest-ever First Lady) in the Blue Room in 1886. John Tyler and Julia Gardiner were married in New York City but had their wedding reception at the White House in 1844.
- The White House has hosted just three non-family weddings, starting with the wedding of Mary Anne Lewis, the daughter of a close friend of President Andrew Jackson, in 1832. Two staffers were married at the White House – President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s assistant, Harry Hopkins, in 1942 and White House photographer Pete Souza in 2013, during the Obama administration.
- Most of us lack the family connections needed for a White House wedding, but you can still get a note from the White House congratulating you on your nuptials (or other occasions such as the birth of a child, graduation, anniversaries, or becoming a US citizen) by filling out a Presidential Greeting Request on the White House website.