Who doesn’t like a White House wedding?
Naomi Biden and Peter Neal on Saturday became the 19th couple to exchange their vows at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and they did so in high style. Big-time. The bride, 28, chose an extravagant custom Ralph Lauren Collection gown made of Chantilly lace with hand-placed organza petals along the bodice and cascading into the skirt for Saturday morning’s ceremony. Her new husband, 25, also was decked out by the designer in a three-piece suit.
A Ralph Lauren spokesperson confirmed the couple wore the designer’s creations on Saturday afternoon.
Biden’s choice gave her entry to a very select club, joining the celebrity ranks of Priyanka Chopra, Lily Collins and more recently Jennifer Lopez, all of whom wore wedding gowns created by the billionaire designer. Lopez topped them all, though, donning three custom dresses from Lauren for her nuptials with Ben Affleck last summer. In hindsight, Neal’s and Biden’s attendance at the designer’s fall fashion show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York may have been a sign of her intentions.
The location of the private affair — the South Lawn — was a first for White House weddings. After exchanging their vows, the couple posed for photographs on the White House’s South Portico with Biden’s tremendous veil floating like a sail in the wind. Stylist Bailey Moon has been canvasing designer showrooms and connecting with a multitude of resources to coordinate a cornucopia of options for the wedding, reception and a few pre- and post-events, according to industry sources. The president’s eldest granddaughter, Naomi Biden’s parents are Hunter and Kathleen Buhle, who divorced in 2017.
Before Saturday’s main event, Moon did not acknowledge media requests, neither did event planner Bryan Rafanelli nor photographer John Dolan. Ditto for representatives from Prabal Gurung, Badgley Mischka and a few other designers that were said to be in the mix dressing guests. Rafanelli handled Chelsea Clinton’s wedding in 2010 and his portfolio includes state dinners under President Barack Obama’s administration.
Dolan, who published the aptly-named wedding photography book “The Perfect Imperfect” last year, was one of several authors at the nuptials. The bride’s mother debuted “If We Break: A Memoir of Marriage, Addiction and Healing” in June and her father released his memoir “Beautiful Things” last year.
For the ceremony, the bride wore Tiffany & Co. Victoria earrings and the groom sported a Schlumberger single brooch from the company. Other members of the bridal party and Jill Biden also wore Tiffany jewels.
Like many Gen Z brides, Biden didn’t want to be a one-hit wonder on her wedding day and arranged for other custom designer choices for her rehearsal dinner and reception. After sporting a Danielle Frankel bustier top, tailored jacket, pants and cape to Friday night’s rehearsal dinner at the Renwick Gallery, the dark-haired lawyer wore a custom white beaded fringe dress from Markarian’s Alexandra O’Neill at Saturday night’s reception at the White House. That independent New York-based female-founded brand gained international attention after First Lady Jill Biden wore a blue tweed coat with velvet lapels and a coordinating dress from the previously little-known brand.
Naomi Biden’s bridal choices stand to impact future brides, since high-profile weddings routinely create fashion trends and interest in the labels that were worn. Also, the start of the peak season for engagements — Thanksgiving through New Year’s — is nearing with 19 percent of all engagements happening in December. The bridal market continues to bounce back, as many couples who had postponed or rescheduled weddings during the pandemic are going forward — and often splurging — with their celebrations. Globally, bridalwear is expected to generate $61.1 billion in sales this year and increase to $69.9 billion in volume by 2026.
Naomi Biden, who earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania and a law degree from Columbia University, lived in New York for a stretch before relocating to the Beltway, where she and Neal have been living at the White House. Her sisters Maisy and Finnegan are in-the-know about Markarian, having attended one of O’Neill’s fashion shows.
Biden didn’t play up her bridal side for the official ceremony. In an Instagram photo posted by Neal of the couple holding hands beneath a white frilly arch, she sported a white blouse, white heels with black jeans at the District of Columbia’s Marriage Bureau. Neal posted, “Gotta nail the money shot to secure the license to wed.”
To ensure that she and her bridesmaids were dressed to impress during their hair and makeup prep, the bride-to-be was said to have given them ivory-colored satin pajamas from Morgan Lane. Maybe that cue came from social media, as the much-followed Nicola Peltz took a similar tack with her bridesmaids before marrying Brooklyn Beckham. Ivy Getty also counted on Morgan Lane loungewear on her wedding day.
However, none of the designers, who had a hand in dressing the bridal party and the first family, were open to sharing any pre-wedding news. Creatives involved with Saturday’s nuptials had to sign NDAs, according to a few sources, who requested anonymity.
So what’s it like to celebrate at the White House? Those who have are hesitant to say publicly. Obama’s former White House photographer Pete Souza wed Patti Lease in the Rose Garden in 2013. But Souza declined an interview request to discuss what was the last White House wedding before this weekend’s. Former first daughter Jenna Bush Hager got married in Texas, and held a reception a month later at “the People’s House.” Like Souza, she declined to comment last week.
The public’s zeal for White House weddings hasn’t seemed to subside since another former first daughter, Patricia Nixon, married Edward Cox there in June 1971. Interest was so intense that such random details as the couple’s wedding-day breakfast choice of Cream of Wheat and the official picture-taking speed — 10 seconds per shot — were shared with the media. Nixon, (whose spokesman did not acknowledge an interview request Friday) chose a wedding dress from Priscilla of Boston, as had her sister Julie and another first daughter, Luci Baines Johnson, for their respective weddings
But that summer of 1971 affair may still take the cake — literally. The old-fashioned lemon pound cake weighed in at 350 pounds and stood 6 feet, 10 inches tall. At a pre-wedding press conference in June of that year, chef Henry Haller of Le Perigod compared cutting it to like “plunging a sword into a bull.”
Cox, who celebrated her 50th anniversary last year, once described the wedding as “the happiest day in the White House for her family.” She said last year in an interview, “My father was right when he said, ‘It was a day that all of us will always remember, because all of us were beautifully, and simply, happy.'”
The Biden family celebrated another milestone on Sunday — a birthday brunch for the president’s 80th. The merriment will continue Monday afternoon, when First Lady Jill Biden will be ready and waiting for the arrival of this year’s official White House Christmas tree — a Pennsylvania-farmed one — with Kelly Hokanson, the spouse of the National Guard Bureau General.