In this two part series to honor President’s Day this month I thought it would be interesting to discuss the weddings of the Presidents of the United States. For practical and logistical reasons I have selected just a few of the forty-five Presidents ranging from George Washington to John Kennedy in Part One (please click on the link for more information on that post) Part Two will include information about the weddings of the most recent Presidents from Ronald Reagan to Donald Trump.
Ronald Reagan – the 40th U.S. President (1981 to 1989)
Ronald Reagan was born on February 6, 1911 in Tampico, Illinois and the family eventually settled in Dixon, Illinois. He attended Dixon High School and then to Eureka College graduating in 1932. Reagan started his career as a sports radio announcer and while in Los Angeles covering a Cubs baseball game in 1937 he took a screen test with Warner Brothers and received a seven year contract with the motion picture studio. Later Reagan would work in television as host and actor in the General Electric Theater show and he also starred in Death Valley Days show.
Reagan had been previously married to actress Jane Wyman; they were married in 1940 and divorced in 1949. Wyman stated that one of the reasons for the divorce was because of their opposing views in politics (she was a Republican and he was a Democrat, he would later change his political party in the 1950s). They had one daughter, Maureen born in 1941 and an adopted son Michael who was born in 1945.
Nancy Davis (born Anne Frances Robbins on July 6, 1921 in Manhattan) met Reagan in 1949. At the time she was an actress and he was the president of the Screen Actors Guild. After dating for several years, Reagan and Nancy were married on March 4, 1952 at the Little Brown Church located in the San Fernando Valley in California. Fellow actor, William Holden, was their best man. The couple went had two children, Patti born in 1952 and Ron born in 1958.
Ronald and Nancy Reagan on their wedding day
Given his experience as SAG President, Reagan became very interested in politics. He decided to run as a Republican candidate for Governor of California, he served two terms from 1967 to 1975. Reagan went on to be elected President and served two terms in office from 1981 to 1989.
Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1994 and died in 2004. He is buried at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA. Nancy died in 2016 and she is buried alongside her husband at the Reagan Library.
Special Note: Ronald Reagan was the first President to be divorced.
George W. Bush – the 41rd U.S. President (1989 to 1993)
George Herbert Walker Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts on June 12, 1924. The Bush family would move to Greenwich, Connecticut, the family would often vacation in Kennebunkport, Maine. Bush served in the United States Navy during World War II, then after graduating from Yale University he moved to Texas and established an oil company. After an unsuccessful bid for the United States Senate he won a seat in the House of Representatives in 1966. In 1971 he was appointed to be the U.S. Ambassador, in 1974 he served as the Chief of the Liaison Office to China and then in 1976 he became the Director of the Central Intelligence. After Reagan won the Republican presidential nomination he selected Bush as his running mate, he served in that position from 1980 to 1988. Then in 1989, Bush became President serving two terms from 1989 to 1993.
Barbara Pierce (born on June 8, 1925 in the New York City), met George Bush and after a year and a half of dating they became engaged. When he returned on leave from the Navy, they were married on January 6, 1947 at the First Presbyterian Church in Rye, New York. The couple had six children: George W. born in 1946 (later the 43rd U.S. President), Pauline “Robin” born in 1949 died of leukemia in 1953, John “Jeb” born in 1953 (later governor of Florida), Neil born in 1955, Marvin born in 1956 and Dorothy “Doro” born in 1959.
George and Barbara Bush on their wedding day
Barbara was diagnosed with Graves’ disease in 1988; she was also a heavy smoker for 25 years and suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Later she would be diagnosed with congestive heart failure and underwent an aortic valve replacement surgery in 2009. Sadly by 2018, her health was failing and she died on April 17. Her funeral was held at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston and she was buried at the George Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas.
Bush died on November 30, 2018 just seven months after his wife’s passing. Bush lay in state in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. for 3 days and then the Bush casket was transferred to the Washington National Cathedral for a State funeral on December 5. After the funeral, Bush’s casket was flown back to Texas to the George Bush Presidential Library and he was buried next to his wife, Barbara.
Special Note: Barbara was one of only two women to be the wife of one U.S. President and the mother of another. Abigail Adams was the other first lady; she was married to President John Adams and the mother of President John Quincy Adams.
William Clinton – the 42nd U.S. President (1993 to 2001)
Bill Clinton was born and raised in Arkansas, after high school he attended Georgetown University, University College at Oxford and Yale Law School. It was while he was at Yale that he met a fellow student named Hillary Rodham (born on October 26, 1947 in Chicago, Illinois) in the school library and they began dating. After Hillary graduated from law school, the pair took a trip to Europe and while in England Bill proposed. Initially, she said no and he asked several more times until she finally said yes. The small wedding took place in the living room of their new home on October 11, 1975, Hillary wore an off the rack Jessica McClintock lace dress. Later a larger reception was held in the backyard and the couple spent their honeymoon in Acapulco, Mexico. The couple had one daughter, Chelsea, born in 1980.
Bill and Hillary Clinton on their wedding day
Clinton would go on to serve as Arkansas attorney general from 1977 to 1979, then Arkansas governor from 1979 to 1981 and then 1983 to 1992. Relatively unknown nationally, Clinton ran for President as a Democratic candidate. He won and served two terms from 1993 to 2001, but in 1998 he was impeached by the House of Representatives. At the time he was only the second U.S. President to be impeached, Andrew Jackson was the first.
Hillary would go on to be elected as the first female senator from New York in 2000, she was re-elected in 2006. Then, from 2009 and 2013, she served as the U.S. Secretary of State in the Obama Administration.
George W. Bush – the 43nd U.S. President (2001 to 2009)
George Walker Bush was born on July 6, 1946 in New Haven, Connecticut. He was the eldest son of George and Barbara Bush, he holds the distinction of only two Presidents to be the son of a President (the other one was John Quincy Adams who was the son of John Adams). The Bush family eventually moved to Texas and George attended the local schools and then went the Phillips Academy, a boarding school in Andover, MA for high school. He attended Yale University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1968, after failing to get into the University of Texas School of Law, he went to Harvard Business School and graduated in 1975 with an MBA degree.
George met Laura Welch (born on November 4, 1946 in Midland Texas) at a friend’s backyard barbecue in July 1977, at the time Laura was a schoolteacher and librarian. After dating for only a few months, Bush proposed to Laura in September and they were married on November 5, 1977 at the First United Methodist Church in Midland, they honeymooned in Cozumel, Mexico. The couple have twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna born in 1981 (the girls were named after their maternal and paternal grandmothers)
George and Laura Bush with his parents on their wedding day
After a failed attempt at a House of Representative seat in Texas, the family moved to Washington, D.C. and Bush Jr. went to work on his father’s Presidential campaign. A few years later Bush Jr ran as a Republican candidate for the governor of Texas, he served from 1995 to 2000.. He became the first governor in Texas history to b elected to two consecutive four-year terms. Bush Jr. ran for President and after a controversial win against Al Gore, he serve two terms in office from 2001 to 2009.
After leaving office in 2009, Bush and his family returned to their ranch in Crawford, Texas and also bought another home in Dallas, Texas. The Bush family would also spend time at Walker’s Point in Kennebunkport, Maine.
Barack Obama – the 44th U.S. President (2009 to 2017)
Barrack Obama was born on August 4, 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii (he is the first President to be born outside the continental United States). After his parent’s divorce and his mother’s remarriage, he lived in Indonesia from the time he was six to ten years old. In 1971, he returned to Hawaii to live with his maternal grandparents. He attended Punahou School from fifth grade until he graduated in 1979. He attended Columbia University and graduated in 1983, later he worked as a community organizer in Chicago, Illinois. In 1988 he enrolled in Harvard Law School and after graduating he would return to Chicago to work as a civil rights attorney.
In 1989, Barack interned at a Chicago law firm and met Michelle Robinson (born January 17, 1964 in Chicago, Illinois). Although Barack was interested in Michelle, she resisted because she felt it was not appropriate for co-workers to date. Eventually, Obama’s charm wore her down and the two began dating. Barack proposed during a finishing the bar exam celebratory dinner in which the engagement ring was brought out on the dessert tray.
The wedding took place on October 3, 1992 at the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, a small reception followed at the South Shore Cultural Center. Michelle wore an off the shoulder long sleeved wedding dress with a veil and drop pearl earrings.
Barack and Michelle Obama with their mothers on their wedding day
From 1992 to 2004, Barack taught constitutional law as the University of Chicago Law School. Then, he decided to enter politics and served in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004, during that time he traveled back and forth to Springfield. In 2004, Barack won a seat in the U.S. Senate; he served from 2005 to 2008. He would go on to get national attention that same year when he gave well-received speech at the Democratic National Convention.
In February 2007, Barack announced his run for President in a very symbolic place. It was in front of the Old State Capitol building in Springfield, IL where Abraham Lincoln had delivered the historic speech regarding a house divided cannot stand. He ran on the theme of hope and change and won the 2008 election to become the 44th President of the United States serving two terms in office. Nine months after his inauguration, Barack received the distinction of being named the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
The couple have two daughters, Malia born in 1998 and Natasha (“Sasha”) in 2001. Before moving their family to Washington D.C. for the duration of the presidency, the Obamas sought the advice from past first ladies regarding raising young children in the White House. To aid in handling the transition Michelle’s mother, Marian Robinson, also moved into the White House to assist in taking care of Malia and Sasha.
Donald Trump – the 45th U.S. President (2018 to current)
Donald Trump was born on June 14, 1946 in the Queens section of New York City. He attended the coed college preparatory school Kew-Forest School from kindergarten to seventh grade. He then attended the New York Military Academy, a private boarding school located 60 miles north of New York City. After graduating from there, Trump attended Fordham University and then transferred to the Wharton school of the University of Pennsylvania, he graduated with a B.S. in economics in 1968.
During his time at Wharton, Trump was able to obtain student draft deferments and also a medical deferment for bone spurs and was eventually classified as 4-F, meaning he was permanently disqualified from military service. Then, in 1971, Trump took over the family’s real estate business, which he renamed the Trump Organization. He expanded the business from Queens to Brooklyn and Manhattan.
In 1977 Trump married Czech model Ivana Zelnickova and they had three children – Donald, Jr. born in 1977, Ivanka born in 1981 and Eric born in 1984. The couple divorced in 1992 after Trump had an affair with actress Marla Maples. Maples and Trump had a daughter, Tiffany, born in 1993. Trump and Maples married in late 1993 and divorced in 1999. (Trump is the only U.S. President to be twice divorced)
In 1998, while in the process of divorcing his second wife, Trump met Melania Knavs (born on April 26, 1970, her name was later Germanized to Melania Knauss). Melania was a former Slovenian fashion model that would later relocate to the United States in 1996.
Trump married Melania on January 22, 2005 at the Bethesda-by the Sea Episcopal church in Palm Beach, Florida with a lavish reception held afterwards at Trump’s nearby estate Mar-a-Lago. Melania wore a very extravagant wedding dress designed by John Galliano of the House of Christian Dior. It was made of white satin and featured a strapless bodice and a 13 foot train, the dress was heavily embroidered and accented with crystal and pearls. Melania wore a 16 foot veil and accessorized her bridal ensemble with a diamond necklace and three diamond bracelets. Since the dress weighed about 60 pounds, she would later change into a Vera Wang gown for the reception. The couple have a son named Barron who was born in 2006.
Donald and Melania Trump on their wedding day
Trump has the distinction of being the oldest elected U.S. President, the first without military or government service experience and also the only reality television personality elected President.