Biden’s granddaughter’s wedding offers a youthful touch to the 80-year-old president
President Joe Biden turns 80 this weekend, but the big party at the White House will be for an entirely different, younger occasion. Naomi Biden, Biden’s eldest granddaughter, is set to wed Peter Neal on the White House South Lawn on Saturday.
One day after the nuptials, Biden will mark his place in American history as the only octogenarian president, a numerical milestone that highlights a primary issue that plagues Biden with his opponents: his age. Despite a string of recent victories — better-than-expected midterm elections for Democrats, a relatively flawless trip to Egypt and Asia, and a lackluster presidential announcement from former rival Donald Trump — Biden can’t help but to be the longest serving commander-in-chief America has ever had.
But a brilliant wedding of two in their twenties, kicking off a new chapter in life with music, dancing and merry-making, could give a youthful twist to the 80th birthday weekend . Two people familiar with wedding planning say it was no coincidence that Naomi Biden’s wedding weekend coincides with President’s Day – noting that the ‘age question’ is never something something Biden wants to highlight.
“Marriage gives some cover,” one person says.
The wedding, which CNN is told includes the extended Biden clan on the guest list, as well as the couple’s friends and family, will also mark something of a kickoff for the close-knit Bidens to begin serious discussions about the question of whether Joe Biden should run for a second term.
Shortly after the wedding, Jill Biden and Joe Biden will travel to Nantucket, Massachusetts, for the Thanksgiving holiday; Christmas is quickly following his heels, as the clock ticks on Biden’s need to say whether he will be in attendance for 2024 or absent. Both the president and first lady have said they will weigh the pros and cons of a second round, which Biden has previously said he “intends” to undertake.
The wedding itself will consist of three parts, a person familiar with the planning told CNN. The ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. ET on the South Lawn — a location that in the history of White House weddings has never been used before. There will be no tents, the source confirms, which could make for a chilly morning outdoors; temperatures for Saturday are forecast in the mid-40s. After the exchange of vows, a smaller family and wedding-only luncheon will be held at the White House, and later in the evening guests will return for an evening dessert and dance reception, which will also be held indoors.
Somehow, 28-year-old Naomi Biden lives through a White House marriage thanks in large part to her own good sense. Biden, a partner at Arnold & Porter law firm in Washington, DC, pushed her grandfather to run for the first time.
Although the patriarch, Joe Biden has always included his extended family circle, including his five oldest grandchildren when weighing life choices. His sensitivity to their feelings and the pervasive nature of an ugly political battle weigh heavily on his mind.
“I don’t think there was a decision, big or small, that we didn’t decide as a family,” Naomi Biden said in a video interview that aired at the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
Although usually called by older members of the Biden family, it was Naomi Biden who called the most critical family meeting, in person and on deck, the one that would have the most impact on the future. by Joe Biden. Biden was worried — they weren’t, however.
“He thought we were calling some sort of meeting to discuss whether or not we wanted him to do it. [run,] but were really calling it to be like, ‘Get in on this race! Hurry up !’ “said Naomi Biden. In the years that followed, it was Naomi who spoke most publicly on her social media on Democratic issues and stood up for her grandfather. On November 12, she tweeted, “Democracy wins in the Senate. Never think your vote doesn’t matter.
Naomi is also the closest granddaughter – literally – to her grandparents. She and Neal, 25, a recent University of Pennsylvania law school graduate who works at Georgetown University’s Center for National Security Law, moved into the White House last August, told CNN a person familiar with the living conditions.
The proximity to the couple’s wedding site only heightened their involvement in the planning. The wedding planner is Bryan Rafanelli, founder of Rafanelli Events, the source familiar with the details told CNN. Rafanelli is no stranger to throwing fantastic White House parties; he oversaw seven state dinners during Barack Obama’s presidency, including the administration’s finale for Italy, which included a tent with a glass ceiling on the South Lawn and a performance by Gwen Stefani.
He also planned and orchestrated the wedding of Chelsea Clinton in 2010.
A wedding produced by Rafanelli is not a cheap undertaking. Pricing for many of its events starts at around $300,000 and can reach millions of dollars. “Consistent with other private events hosted by the First Family and consistent with traditions of previous White House wedding festivities in previous administrations, the Biden family will pay for wedding activities that take place at the White House,” the statement said. Jill Biden’s communications director, Elizabeth Alexander. CNN.
Naomi’s father is Hunter Biden. His mother is Kathleen Buhle. His parents, who divorced in 2017, each wrote memoirs about the struggles of their relationship, many of which involved Hunter Biden’s longtime struggle with addiction.
Neal’s family is from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where the couple got engaged in September 2021. (The engagement ring includes Neal’s grandmother’s engagement ring band and was designed by a jeweler of DC, a person with knowledge of its construction told CNN.)
The designer of Naomi Biden’s wedding dress has yet to be revealed, although several fashion insiders contacted by CNN believe the job went to Ralph Lauren, perhaps America’s most iconic fashion designer living today. Joe Biden loves Lauren’s suits, having worn one on Inauguration Day, and Jill Biden was also pictured wearing the tag. In March, Naomi and her sister, Finnegan, 23, and Neal, attended Ralph Lauren’s Fall 2022 fashion show in New York, which sparked most talk that she’ll be wearing the designer for at least one of her wedding looks. The White House has not commented on the dress speculation.
Photographs of the wedding are expected to be released to the press on Saturday afternoon, sometime between the morning ceremony and the evening reception, the person familiar with the planning said.
Undoubtedly, the wedding will be the social event of the White House this year, perhaps of the entire Biden administration. It is only the 19th wedding to take place at the White House, the last being that of Obama’s chief photographer, Pete Souza, who married in 2013 at the Rose Garden. The last presidential daughter to perform a wedding at the White House was Jenna Bush in June 2008. Bush had planned her wedding and reception months before at the Bush family’s Texas ranch, but her father, George W. Bush, hosted around 600 guests at the White House for her daughter’s second reception.
But the scope and scale of Biden’s wedding most closely matches those of Luci Johnson, who hosted her reception in the East Room after marrying Patrick Nugent, and Lynda Johnson, who in 1967 married Charles Robb in the East Room. of the White House. Tricia Nixon in June 1971 married Edward Finch Cox under a flower-laden white gazebo erected in the Rose Garden. All of these weddings were media catnip, with newspapers printing the recipes for the 6-foot-tall wedding cakes.
Pieces of the Johnson and Nixon daughters’ cakes were sent to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. (Nixon is hardened into a 2-inch-by-2-inch piece that now looks like a dried sponge, according to the White House Historical Association.)
No word yet on the flavor of Biden’s cake, or whether, like the aforementioned White House weddings, guests will take home a slice as a gift at the end of the evening.