The White House is generally regarded as the People’s House and, as such, many Americans hold a dim view of presidents using that taxpayer-funded and protected formal residence for purely personal affairs that have little or no connection to the occupants’ official duties.
So it is that questions have been raised following an announcement this week that Naomi Biden, a granddaughter of President Joe Biden, will hold her wedding ceremony on the White House South Lawn in November, Breitbart reported.
Biden’s granddaughter announces wedding plans involving White House
Naomi Biden, the daughter of Hunter Biden, revealed Thursday that she had picked the White House as the setting for her upcoming marriage to fiance Peter Neal, to who she became engaged to last year.
“Sooo not sure how best to update but was supposed to do so weeks ago … but we have finally figured out where the ceremony will be … and much to the relief of secret service and with the dogs’ endorsement … we’ll be getting married on the South Lawn! Couldn’t be more excited,” Biden tweeted.
Sooo not sure how best to update but was supposed to do so weeks ago…but we have finally figured out where the ceremony will be…and much to the relief of secret service and with the dogs’ endorsement…we’ll be getting married on the South Lawn! Couldn’t be more excited pic.twitter.com/CHfvmJ9ZHL
— Naomi Biden (@NaomiBiden) July 28, 2022
Jean-Pierre defends planned wedding, says taxpayers won’t foot the bill
Naturally, that announcement from President Biden’s granddaughter came up near the end of Thursday’s press briefing with White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who defended the planned use of the People’s House as the location of a purely personal event entirely unrelated to the president’s duties.
A reporter referenced Naomi Biden’s announcement and asked, “Can you assure the American people that taxpayer dollars will not go toward that ceremony?”
“I can ensure it to you that taxpayer dollars would not go to that,” Jean-Pierre replied. “Look, I — that is — that is a personal affair that’s happening. That is not White House business, so I cannot speak to that from here.”
As to whether the press pool would be granted access to the ceremony, given that it would be on the White House South Lawn, the press secretary said, “I — again, that is a couple months away. That is not even something I was tracking — to be very honest with you. But I’m just not going to speak to that at this time.”
Not the first time the White House has hosted a wedding ceremony
Jean-Pierre’s assurance that no taxpayer dollars would go toward the wedding is a bit dubious, to be sure, unless the Biden family intends to personally pay for each and every bit of arrangement and decoration and the salaries of all White House staff and Secret Service agents who will necessarily play a part in the event.
That said, it is not entirely unprecedented for wedding ceremonies to be conducted on White House grounds, as according to the White House Historical Association, there have been at least 18 such events throughout the nation’s history, as well as at least four receptions at the White House following a ceremony held elsewhere.
The first White House wedding occurred in 1812 with the marriage of first lady Dolley Madison’s sister and the latest happened in 2013 with the marriage of White House photographer Pete Souza. The most recent White House wedding to feature a family member of a president was in 1994 with the marriage of first lady Hillary Clinton’s brother Anthony Rodham.