WASHINGTON — Dragged by a long, flowing veil, President Joe Biden’s granddaughter Naomi Biden walked across the South Lawn of the White House to an altar of shrubs and flowers on Saturday to honor her longtime friend Peter Neal at a rare wedding on the grounds to marry.
It was only the 19th wedding in the White House’s more than 200-year history.
Under a sunny, blue sky coupled with an unusually crisp 40-degree temperature, the bride and groom, both dressed by American fashion designer Ralph Lauren, exchanged “Yes, I do,” while 250 family and friends watched as they watched in a nearly hour-long ceremony ceremony were united .
Naomi Biden, 28, wore a long-sleeved, high-necked dress and a veil covering hair, which had been styled behind her head. Neal, 25, chose a navy three-piece suit with a double-breasted waistcoat.
President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden hosted their oldest grandchild’s wedding.
“It has been a joy to see Naomi grow, find out who she is and build such an incredible life for herself,” they said in a statement announcing the wedding of Naomi King Biden and Peter George Heermann Neal.
“Now we are proud to see that she has chosen Peter to be her husband and we are honored to welcome him to our family,” they said. “We wish them days of laughter and a love that grows deeper with each passing year.”
The south side of the White House, overlooking the lawn and the Washington Monument, was decorated with wreaths and garlands of white flowers. The bride walked down an aisle leading from the diplomatic reception room to the altar with shrubs and white flowers.
Guests arrived at the security checkpoint hours before the ceremony, including women in open-toed shoes despite the cold. Some guests were given hand warmers. Most wore coats, and some crowned hats and scarves.
It is the first White House wedding with a president’s granddaughter as a bride and the first ever on the South Lawn.
Pennsylvania Avenue was closed to ordinary pedestrians before and during the ceremony, as was a sidewalk bordering the Ellipse, the park south of the White House.
After the ceremony, the newlyweds, their families and the wedding party had lunch at the White House. A reception with dessert and dancing was planned for later on Saturday. President Biden went to church between events in Washington.
Unlike some White House weddings in the past, Naomi Biden and Neal have barred journalists, though the ceremony was held outdoors on the grounds of what the President and First Lady call “People’s House.” The White House released a photo and others were posted to the wedding planner’s social media account.
Naomi Biden is an attorney in Washington. She is the daughter of Hunter Biden and his first wife, Kathleen Buhle.
Neal 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.
The White House has released some more details about the wedding, citing the couple’s desire for privacy. The Biden family will pay for all wedding activities, officials said.
“Naomi and Peter have requested that their wedding be closed to the media and we respect their request,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Friday.
White House weddings are rare. There have been 18 documented marriages in the White House’s more than 200-year history. Nine concerned a president’s daughter, most recently Richard Nixon’s daughter Tricia in 1971 and Lyndon Johnson’s daughter Lynda in 1967.
But also nieces, a grandniece, a son and the siblings of the first ladies got 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 advocates 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 families are families first.
“Their privacy should be respected, their wishes should be respected,” he said.