President Joe Biden will turn 80 this weekend, but the big party at the White House will be for an entirely different, more youthful occasion. Biden’s great-granddaughter, Naomi Biden, is set to marry Peter Neal at the South Lawn White House on Saturday.
One day after the wedding, Biden will mark his place in American history as the only octogenarian president, a digital milestone that highlights a fundamental issue that Biden struggles with with his opponents: his age. Despite a recent string of wins—better-than-expected midterm elections for Democrats, a relatively flawless trip to Egypt and Asia, and a lackluster presidential announcement from longtime rival, Donald Trump—Biden can’t shake being the oldest leader. America’s all-time achievement.
But a sparkly wedding for two twenty-somethings, starting a new chapter in life with music, dancing, and revelry, can really bring a youthful touch to the 80th birthday holiday. It’s no coincidence that Naomi Biden’s wedding weekend coincides with President’s Day — two people familiar with the wedding planning said — noting that the “age issue” is never something Biden wants to highlight.
“The wedding gives some cover,” says one person.
The wedding, which CNN was told includes the extended Biden clan on the guest list, as well as the couple’s friends and family, would also mark a launch of sorts for a tight-knit Biden to begin serious discussions about 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 on its heels, as the hour draws nearer for Biden to decide whether to be in or out in 2024. Both the president and first lady said they would weigh the pros and cons of a second round, something Biden has previously said he “intends” to do.
The wedding itself will have 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 not previously used in the history of White House weddings. There will be no tent, the source confirms, which could make for a chilly morning outdoors; Temperatures for Saturday are expected to be in the mid-40s. After the vows are exchanged, a small, 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 take place inside.
Somehow, Naomi Biden, 28, is having a White House wedding, thanks in large part to her glee. Biden, an associate at the Washington, D.C., law firm of Arnold & Porter, pushed her grandfather to run for the first time.
Although the father, Joe Biden has always included his larger family circle, including his five eldest grandchildren, when considering life choices. His sensitivity to their feelings and the aggressive nature of a vicious political battle weigh on him.
“I don’t think there was any decision, no matter how big or small, that we didn’t make as a family,” Naomi Biden said in a video interview shown at the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
Although it was usually the older Biden family members who invited them, it was Naomi Biden who held the most important, in-person, and practical family meeting on deck, the one that will have the greatest impact on Joe Biden’s future. Biden was worried — but they weren’t.
“He thought we’d kind of call a meeting to discuss whether we wanted him or not [run,] But they were really calling it out to be like, “Get in this race!” Naomi Biden said. In the years since, Naomi has been the most publicly vocal on her social media channels about Democratic issues, standing up for her grandfather. : “Democracy wins in the Senate. Never think your vote doesn’t matter.
Naomi is also the granddaughter who is closest – literally – to her grandparents. She and Neal, 25, a recent University of Pennsylvania Law School graduate working at Georgetown University’s Law Center on National Security, moved into the White House last August, a person familiar with the living arrangements told CNN.
The proximity to the couple’s wedding location increased their involvement in the planning. The source familiar with the details told CNN that the wedding planner is Brian Rafanelli, founder of Rafanelli Events. Ravanelli is no stranger to throwing fancy parties at the White House. He oversaw seven state dinners during Barack Obama’s presidency, including the administration’s final game for Italy, which featured a glass-roofed tent on the South Lawn and a performance by Gwen Stefani.
He also planned and organized the wedding of Chelsea Clinton in 2010.
A Ravanelli wedding isn’t a cheap endeavor. Pricing for many of his events start around $300,000 and can run into the millions of dollars. “In keeping with other special events hosted by the First Family and following the traditions of previous White House weddings in previous administrations, weddings hosted at the White House will be paid for by the Biden family,” said Elizabeth Alexander, Jill Biden’s director of communications. CNN.
Naomi’s father is Hunter Biden. Her mother is Kathleen Ball. Her parents, who divorced in 2017, wrote a memoir about the struggles in their relationship, many of which involved Hunter Biden’s years-long struggle with addiction.
Neal’s family is from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where the couple were engaged in September 2021. (The engagement ring includes Nell’s grandmother’s engagement ring, and it was designed by a DC jeweler, someone with knowledge of its construction told CNN.)
The designer of Naomi Biden’s wedding dress has yet to be revealed, though many fashion insiders contacted by CNN speculated that the job went to Ralph Lauren, perhaps the most famous American fashion designer alive today. Joe Biden is part of Lauren’s suits, having worn one on Inauguration Day. Jill Biden is also pictured wearing the poster. In March, Naomi and her sister Finnegan, 23, and Nell attended Ralph Lauren’s Fall 2022 show in New York City, which sparked most chatter that she’d be wearing the designer for at least one of her wedding looks. The White House has not commented on the speculation about the dress.
Pictures of the wedding are scheduled to be released to the press on Saturday afternoon, sometime between the morning ceremony and the evening reception, says the person familiar with the planning.
Without a doubt, the wedding will be the social event of the White House this year, and possibly the entire Biden administration. It’s the 19th wedding to take place at the White House, and the latest was for Obama’s chief photographer, Pete Souza, who wed in 2013 in the Rose Garden. The last presidential daughter to celebrate a White House wedding was Jenna Bush in June 2008. Bush held her wedding and reception months earlier at the Bush family ranch in Texas, but her father, George W. Bush, hosted nearly 600 guests at the White House for his daughter’s second reception.
But the scope and scale of Biden’s wedding is most closely related to those of Lucy Johnson, who held her reception in the East Room after marrying Patrick Nugent, and Linda Johnson, who in 1967 married Charles Robb in the East Room of the White House. In June 1971 Tricia Nixon married Edward Finch Cox under a white flower-laden gazebo erected in the Rose Garden. All these weddings were catnip, newspapers were printing recipes for 6-foot-tall wedding cakes.
Pieces of the Johnson and Nixon daughters’ cake were sent to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. (Nixon was stiffened into a 2-inch by 2-inch piece that now looks like a dry sponge, according to the White House Historical Association.)
No word yet on the flavor of the Biden cake, or whether, like the aforementioned White House weddings, guests will take home a slice as a treat at the end of the evening.