Jenna Bush Is Getting Married, Not in the White House

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THE bluebonnets are beginning to bloom here on the central Texas prairie, just in time for Jenna Bush’s wedding on May 10 at her parents’ 1,600-acre ranch. The kitschy tourist shops on Main Street, hoping for an influx of visitors, have ordered commemorative coffee mugs featuring Ms. Bush and her fiancé, Henry Hager — a fresh addition to the Luvya Dubya bumper stickers, Western White House coasters and President Bush bobble-head dolls....

The May issue of Vogue, on the stands last Wednesday, features a splashy interview with Ms. Bush. It discloses that the outdoor wedding is called for 7:30 p.m., so that the bride, in a “very structured” organza Oscar de la Renta gown, and her 14 attendants (not bridesmaids) in pastel chiffon Lela Rose dresses, won’t wilt in the Texas heat. Ms. Bush’s twin sister, Barbara, will be the lone bridesmaid. Of the 200 guests, more than half are family.

Tuesday morning, “Today” show viewers will get a prewedding tour of the ranch by Laura Bush, who will also guest-host the show from its New York studio. Jenna Bush will drop in for — you guessed it — a book discussion, with no doubt a little wedding chatter thrown in.

But press coverage of the Big Day? Forget it. The White House says it will release a photograph. Sally McDonough, Laura Bush’s press secretary, calls the ceremony a “private family event.”

Privacy, though, is not what official Washington — or many in unofficial America — yearns for in the wedding of a presidential daughter, even the daughter of a president as unpopular as George W. Bush. By decamping to sleepy Crawford, population 705, the Bushes are foregoing a grand American tradition — the White House wedding — and with it, political benefit and risk.

Nine children of American presidents have married in the White House; the only president to wed there was Grover Cleveland in 1886. Historically, such affairs have been feel-good occasions for the country and the commander in chief, casting presidents in the sympathetic role of father. But with Americans losing their homes to foreclosure and soldiers dying in Iraq, some wonder if a lavish White House wedding might not have played well.

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