US President calls Jenna's wedding 'spectacular'
President Bush spent months joking about being a father of the bride,
but on Sunday he was downright wistful about giving his daughter Jenna
away to her longtime beau.
''Our little girl, Jenna, married a really good guy, Henry Hager,''
Bush said, standing next Mrs. Bush at an airport in Waco where he
boarded Air Force One for his flight back to Washington. ''The wedding
was spectacular. It's just -- it's all we could have hoped for.''
Unlike other first family weddings that have been broadcast live, the
Bushes didn't share their daughter's nuptials with the nation. The day
after, however, they briefly shared their joy.
''The weather cooperated nicely,'' Bush said about the wedding at his
1,600-acre Texas ranch. ''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.''
A reporter asked the president if he had been up late partying. Bush
winked, then turned toward the plane, ignoring a second question about
whether the wedding had given the slumping U.S. economy a boost.
In recent days, the White House has dribbled out details about the
bride's dress, the ring, the wedding attire and pre-wedding events. It
was part of a carefully orchestrated communications strategy to disclose
bits of information, but keep the wedding from becoming a media circus.
Jenna and Henry
But it wasn't a complete media blackout. On Sunday, while it
disclosed no more details, the White House released 11 photos of the
affair at Bush's Prairie Chapel Ranch.
Former President George H.W. Bush, who did a reading during the
ceremony with former first lady Barbara Bush, moseyed back to the press
section of the plane, but wouldn't dish. He said he dutifully replied
''Yes sir!'' when he was told not to disclose details.
A White House official confirmed by e-mail at 9:28 p.m. EDT Saturday
that Jenna and Henry, the son of the chairman of the Republican Party in
Virginia, had been officially hitched.
The post-wedding party ensued. The more than 200 family and friends
were entertained by the Tyrone Smith Revue, a 10-piece party band from
Nashville, Tenn. The musicians gave the newlyweds what Smith described
as a ''get down'' party.
At Tricia Nixon's White House wedding in 1971, President Nixon and
his daughter danced to ''Thank Heaven for Little Girls.'' Bush and Jenna
glided across the dance floor to ''You are so Beautiful'' -- a ballad
made famous by Joe Cocker. The newlyweds danced to ''Lovin' in My Baby's
Eyes'' by Taj Mahal.
U.S. President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush with Jenna and
The bride and groom were reared in Republican families, but this was
a bipartisan ceremony.
Officiating was the Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, an influential minister
from Houston and longtime spiritual adviser to the president, has
endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.
But while the wedding is now a part of presidential history, it was
not a night for politics or publicity.
Millie Martin Bratten, editor-in-chief of BRIDES magazine, said the
wedding was a letdown for some who craved a Princess Diana-style event.
But she said Jenna's wedding -- her classy Oscar de la Renta gown and
all -- might even set a trend for future presidential weddings. Bratten
foresees future first family weddings that mix protocol and formality
with creative individual touches from the bride.
''Instead of the event being turned over to the White House social
secretary who follows the strict rules of protocol -- something that
comes from our British heritage of royal weddings -- this one had a lot
of input from her,'' Bratten said.
As the nuptials drew near on Saturday, tour buses loaded with wedding
guests began rolling through downtown Crawford, past souvenir stores
that earlier in the day had sold out of Jenna and Henry coffee mugs and
An 18-foot rusty metal sculpture of an angel, a gift to the town
after Bush's re-election, was adorned with a white veil and bouquet of
white flowers. Plastic geese ornaments on a lawn were dressed up with
white knit hats and draped in tulle.