Jenna Bush and her white wedding

But not in the White House. The wedding will take place on May 10, 2008 at her parents’ Prairie Chapel Ranch.

Questions:

1. At least in a romantic comedies from Hollywood it looks like America is obsessed with the white weddings. Do you agree and do you see any real influence of such movies I mentioned on the society?

2. Jenna Bush will only have a private ceremony on the Texas ranch. I know it is a question for almost newlyweds but don’t you think it would be usual to have the wedding in the White House because children of presidents in the past had weddings there? Why not now?

Answers:

Katherine Jellison, Associate Professor of History, Ohio University, Author of the book  It’s Our Day: America’s Love Affair With the White Wedding, 1945-2005

1. Yes, America is obsessed with white weddings–especially those of celebrities like Jenna Bush and characters played by movie stars in motion pictures. And average Americans do model themselves on these people. I think that our culture’s obsession with celebrities in general, including celebrity brides and bridal characters in movies, is a variation on the old rag-to-riches American dream: “maybe someday i too can be a celebrity–or at least look like one.” For many brides, a formal wedding is a chance to be a celebrity for a day. A woman can be the center of attention for her family and friends, wear an elaborate gown, and let everyone take her picture. Walking down the aisle at her wedding is the closest most women will ever get to walking down the red carpet on Oscar night. Studying magazine spreads, television programs, or web sites devoted to celebrity weddings gives women ideas about how they want to orchestrate their own celebrity-for-a-day experience. And for those who have already gotten married or may never marry, focusing on a celebrity’s wedding or a movie wedding fulfills the same purpose any kind of celebrity or movie watching does–it provides a mini-vacation from the routine of one’s own less exciting life.

2. I don’t think we should be surprised by the low-key nature of the event. Unlike their counterparts of 35 or 40 years ago–Julie and Tricia Nixon and Luci and Lynda Johnson–the current pair of first daughters have largely shunned the spotlight. Unlike the Nixons and Johnsons, the Bushes have not employed their daughters in politically motivated photo-ops. Instead, following the lead of the Clintons with Chelsea, the bushes have tried to protect their daughters’ privacy. I remember Laura Bush saying during the 2000 presidential campaign that she admired the way the Clintons had kept their daughter out of the limelight and that she hoped to do the same for Jenna and her sister Barbara. The fact that the Bush sisters have sometimes received very negative press–such as early in their father’s administration when they were caught drinking under age–probably contributes to their continuing desire for a relatively low media profile orchestrated on their own terms.

Elizabeth Freeman, Associate Professor of English, UC Davis, Author of the book The Wedding Complex: Forms of Belonging in Modern American Culture

1. I think it is fair to say that mainstream America is obsessed with weddings.  Hollywood has had a big influence, at least since the 1950s, when Father of the Bride showed a middle-class American family struggling to put on a proper white wedding.

2.  It’s possible that the President may want to keep the wedding private because President Richard Nixon got criticized for having a showy White House wedding for his daughter Tricia while the Vietnam war was on.

My second question was answered also by Doug Wead a presidential historian, Author of the book All the Presidents’ Children

Actually, Jenna Bush will be the 22 child of a president to be married during her father’s term in office.  (Elliot Roosevelt had two marriages during his father’s term so it is the 23rd wedding.)  and of all of those… only 9 have taken place at the white house.  so this is not that unusual.

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