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President Bush: An ‘Awfully Special’ Wedding Weekend May 12, 2008

Filed under: Miscellaneous News,Politics — gervmaine @ 12:30 pm

As tiny Crawford, Texas, and surrounding towns emptied of wedding guests on Sunday, President Bush pronounced the weekend an “awfully special” one. And, by all accounts, an emotional one for the First Family.

“Our little girl, Jenna, married a really good guy,” the president told reporters on the tarmac before boarding Air Force One with First Lady Laura Bush and his parents for the return trip to Washington, D.C.

The ultra-private wedding on Bush’s gated ranch was the president’s first turn at playing Father of the Bride. In a suit and tie (Jenna, aiming for a more “natural” and casual affair, didn’t want black-tie), Bush walked his 26-year-old daughter down the aisle to a limestone altar topped by a 4-ft. cross where she and Henry Hager, 30, exchanged vows just as the sun set. The bride’s twin sister and maid of honor, Barbara, did a reading during the ceremony, as did their grandfather, George H.W. Bush.

The former president later joked that he’d had a whole speech planned. “It was supposed to be 40 minutes but they cut me back to 20,” he kidded reporters aboard Air Force One before stopping himself, noting that he had been told not to talk about the wedding.

Wedding singer Tyrone “Super T” Smith of Nashville evidently missed that memo. He happily told PEOPLE how Jenna and Henry gazed into each other’s eyes during their first dance, to Taj Mahal’s “Lovin’ In My Baby’s Eyes.” And he described a poignant father-daughter dance to the Joe Cocker ballad, “You Are So Beautiful.” And when the band played “Sugar Sugar,” the president hit the dance floor again, Smith said. “He was right there. He got down. He got down!”

Asked at his Sunday appearance, just before noon, whether he’d been up late partying, the president just winked.

‘We’re Mighty Blessed’
“The wedding was spectacular. It’s just — it’s all we could have hoped for,” Bush said. “The weather cooperated nicely; just as the vows were exchanged the sun set over our lake and it was just a special day and a wonderful day and we’re mighty blessed.”

Back in Crawford and nearby Salado, where many of the guests had booked rooms at the quaint inns and B&Bs, it was time to pack up and clean up. One twentysomething man checking out of the Old Salado Celebration Center & Retreat, where Friday’s rehearsal dinner had been held, told PEOPLE: “The wedding was a great party. It was beautiful, incredible, outstanding.”

Jamie Burgess, who manages the Red Bull Gift & Gallery in Crawford, sounded like she was going to miss the nuptial hubbub. “We’ve had over 100 tourists and media people in here just in the last couple of days,” Burgess enthused. But in this one-stoplight hamlet that boasts not one motel, she added, “A lot of people say they wish they’d thought to rent out their houses.”


Jenna Bush Wedding Photos

Filed under: Miscellaneous News,Politics — gervmaine @ 9:17 am


Jenna Bush Wedding Big Event For Tiny Town May 9, 2008

Filed under: Miscellaneous News — gervmaine @ 1:14 pm
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CRAWFORD — Saturday, in an Oscar de la Renta gown with twin sister Barbara at her side, Jenna Bush, 26, will marry 29-year-old business school student Henry Hager at her parents’ Central Texas ranch.

It’s probably as close as Oscar de la Renta will ever get to Crawford.

Celebrating their marriage at the president’s secluded ranch is an effective way to keep it private. The property is guarded by local law enforcement and Secret Service agents, with fencing, roadblocks, surveillance cameras, an overhead no-fly zone and more.

Undeterred, the media are sending correspondents to Crawford to cover the wedding, somehow. The usual skeleton crew of White House reporters staying in nearby Waco has been swelled by arrivals from People magazine and Inside Edition.

The wedding also is a last hurrah of sorts for Crawford. The town saw its fortunes and profile rise when Bush built his 1,600-acre ranch there. More recently, like the president’s approval ratings, Crawford has fallen on hard times.

The few gift shops still open for the trickling tourist trade are stocked with wedding souvenirs, including mugs with Jenna and Henry’s engagement photo.

Despite the best efforts of her parents and the Secret Service to shield her, Jenna Bush has grown up before the country’s eyes, from boisterous college party girl to earnest teacher and author.

“We’re both really, really excited,” first lady Laura Bush said at the White House this week of herself and the president. “We’re very thrilled, and, of course, Jenna is so happy, and Henry is very happy. And that makes their mother and dad really happy.”

The White House is being secretive about the ceremony, secretive even by the opaque Bush administration standards.

“Be assured that there will be absolutely no readout of the wedding, whatsoever,” White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said Thursday. “This really is a private event for the family.”

A few scant details
Still, some details have leaked out. About 200 guests will gather Saturday at a remote location for a security sweep and transport to the ranch.

Jenna and Henry will be married at twilight in front of a limestone altar and cross near a man-made lake on the property.

Jenna’s dress is organza with embroidery, beading and a small train. Barbara, serving as maid of honor, will wear a moonstone-blue silk gown with an open back. Fourteen friends will serve in the house party, wearing custom gowns of cocktail length in shades of Texas wildflowers.

“It will be really beautiful,” Laura Bush said. “This is the time when the wildflowers are all blooming. And I think it will be a very, very lovely wedding, and it will be very like Jenna and Henry. And, of course, that’s what we want. We want what she wants.”

Getting married at the ranch was Jenna’s idea. It was a move that deprived the nation of a White House wedding. The last presidential daughter to get married at the White House was Tricia Nixon in 1971.

Even during their brief residencies in Washington, Jenna and Barbara never lived in the White House. It’s not home to them. And having the wedding at the White House probably would have meant more news media presence.

“Henry and I are far less glamorous than the White House,” Jenna told Vogue magazine. “We wanted something organic and low-key.”

Keeping things quiet
As for the wedding, the menu, the vows and the guest list have all been guarded like state secrets. Don’t bother asking about a honeymoon. (They are going to Europe.)

“It’s very much in keeping with her image as first daughter from day one, when her parents made it clear they wanted to keep both their daughters out of the spotlight,” said Katherine Jellison, an Ohio University historian.

It’s all a far cry from “Jenna and Tonic,” the tabloid sobriquet she earned after two college-era busts for underage drinking. Jellison said it’s clear Jenna has put some work into improving her public image.

After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in English, Jenna taught at a charter school in Washington, D.C.

In 2006, she went to work as an unpaid intern for UNICEF in Panama. During her time in the region, she traveled around Argentina, Paraguay and Panama, creating photo diaries of the stories of children and adolescents she met there. Her work sparked her book idea for Ana’s Story: A Journey of Hope.

More recently, she collaborated with her mother on a children’s book.

Future plans
After the wedding, Jenna and Henry are expected to settle in Baltimore, where they recently bought a $440,000 home in a historic neighborhood.

Henry, a former White House staffer and the son of the Virginia Republican Party chairman, John H. Hager, will get his MBA from the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business on May 18. He is expected to take a job at Maryland’s Constellation Energy, the state’s biggest power company, according to several sources. It’s unclear what Jenna’s plans are, and the White House isn’t saying much.

President Bush, who mugged for the cameras Thursday, practicing his father of the bride walk down the aisle, is said to like the groom and has said he’s proud of his daughter. The first lady said both parents are excited.

“It’s a very interesting passage of life when you get to that time in your life when your child, first child is getting married — and we’re getting, for us, our first son,” Laura Bush said. “So it’s a thrill, and we’re very happy about it.”