What's the most exclusive wedding venue in the U.S. you ask? We argue it's the White House. Since it's opening in 1800, the president's residence has hosted a mere 18 weddings—making those lucky enough to say "I do" at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue part of a very special group.
"It's an interesting group of people that have gotten married in the White House, and it encompasses a lot of different marriages," historian Lina Mann of the White House Historial Association tells Brides. "You have a wedding of a president in the White House. Then you also have presidents' daughters getting married, and of course, White House staff even get married in the White House."
Meet the Expert
Lina Mann is a historian at the White House Historial Association and holds a master's degree in public history from American Univeristy.
The first documented nuptials at the residence was between Lucy Payne Washington (the sister of First Lady Dolley Madison) and Thomas Todd in 1812. The most recent occurred in 2013, when President Obama's Chief Official White House photographer Pete Souza tied the knot to Pattie Lease in the Rose Garden.
And unlike royal weddings, White House weddings don't come with many rules. Mann explains, both the ceremony and reception can occur wherever the couple (and the First Family!) prefer, although the Blue Room and East Room tend to be the most popular sites. "Some of the smaller weddings, and particularly weddings in the 19th century," she says, "tend to do occur in the Blue Room. And then some of the more extravagant [weddings] typically happen in the East Room."
But when it came time for Tricia Nixon (the daughter of President Richard Nixon) to wed Edward Finch Cox in 1971, the couple chose the Rose Garden, and simulteanously started a new trend for modern White House nuptials.
"My personal favorite White House wedding is the 1906 Alice Roosevelt wedding. Her marriage to congressman Nicholas Longworth was just a really big deal. It was in all the papers nationwide, worldwide," Mann also reveals. So much so that Roosevelt (the daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt) and her new husband left the reception from a window to avoid the huge crowds outside and start their honeymoon.
From the intimate to the grand, learn about every single wedding held in the White House below—and perhaps find inspiration for your own big day!
Alice Lee Roosevelt and Nicholas Longworth
February 17, 1906
One of the most grand weddings in White House history, Alice Lee Roosevelt wed Nicholas Longworth on February 17, 1906. Per Mann, the newlyweds cut their wedding cake with a military sword—an action that has since become somewhat of a tradition for weddings at the White House.
Pete Souza and Patti Lease
October 19 2013
The most recent White House wedding, Chief Official White House photographer Pete Souza wed Patti Lease in the Rose Garden in 2013. The ceremony was much smaller than previous modern weddings, with just about 35 guests in attendance—including President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama! "The relationship between President Obama and Souza was quite strong," says Mann. "They were pretty close. I think that in order to get married in the White House as a White House staff member, you really have to develop a close relationship with the First Family."