Barbara Bush is married.
The 36-year-old daughter of former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura tied the knot in an ‘intimate’ ceremony at the family’s estate in Kennebunkport, Maine, after keeping her engagement to writer and Vanderbilt graduate Craig Louis Coyne, 37, a closely-guarded secret.
A beaming George W. proudly walked his daughter down the aisle at the event, where the bride wowed in a stunning custom Vera Wang gown, while family members including her twin sister Jenna and her grandfather George H. W., watched on.
Celebration! Barbara Bush and fiance Craig Louis Coyne tied the knot at her family’s Maine estate over the weekend (pictured), after keeping their engagement under wraps
Family: Barbara’s twin sister Jenna Bush Hager (second from left), 36, was Barbara’s matron of honor. Her daughters Mila (front, left), five, and Poppy (front, right), three, were both flower girls. Pictured left is Jenna’s husband Henry Chase Hager, 40, center are Laura Bush, 71, and George W. Bush, 72
Proud father: A beaming George Bush walked Barbara down the aisle during the intimate ceremony that took place at the family’s compound in Maine
Together: Barbara posed for a sweet photo with her grandfather George H. W. Bush, 94
The wedding comes just six months after Barbara’s grandmother, and namesake, former first lady Barbara Bush, passed away.
Barbara paid tribute to her late grandmother by wearing a piece of her jewelry – a bracelet that had been given to her by George H. W. on their 70th wedding anniversary – as her ‘something borrowed’.
Both of Barbara’s nieces, five-year-old Mila and three-year-old Poppy, the daughters of Barbara’s twin sister Jenna, participated in the ceremony as flower girls, with Poppy also acting as the ring bearer – and stealing the show in the process.
‘Poppy realized that the box was empty so she ran to the front and she kept holding it open, like ‘This is fake, this is fake,” Jenna told her Today colleagues on Monday morning over the phone. ‘And at one point we were all praying and Poppy ran and almost tackled Barbara and gave her a huge hug.’
Barbara and her groom wanted to tie the knot in Maine because that is where Barbara’s grandfather resides, Jenna told Today.
Reunited: The bride and groom (center) posed for a group photo with their loved ones
Family affair: The ceremony was incredibly intimate, with only a few family and friends present
Location: Barbara and her groom wanted to tie the knot in Maine because that is where Barbara’s grandfather resides; the pair also got engaged at the same place that Barbara and George H.W. (pictured right) got engaged
Barbara’s twin sister served as matron of honor during Barbara’s nuptials – a natural gesture, since Barbara was her maid of honor when Jenna tied the knot with Henry Chase Hager, now 40, in 2008.
‘I’m crying 24 hours later,’ Jenna said on Today on Monday. ‘There were so many happy tears.’
The matron of honor said the ‘elusive’ bride and her groom kept the ceremony on the down-low and focused on making it a family occasion.
‘It was a very secret wedding, a little bit like my elusive sister,’ Jenna added between tears. ‘But also, just family in a place that means family love, and it was just beautiful.’
Romantically, Craig proposed in the same spot where Barbara’s grandparents got engaged. The groom, too, had his sibling by his side during the ceremony: his brother Edward Coyne III served as his best man.
Barbara and Craig are now planning to live in New York.
Jenna and Barbara’s grandmother, who died in April this year, was honored during the reception when Jenna read a letter that George H. W. wrote her years ago.
‘I ended with a letter that my grandfather wrote to my grandmother because I searched all the romantics and Shakespeare just wasn’t doing it. He was sitting right next to me as I read it,’ Jenna told Today.
Jenna paid tribute to her sister in an emotional Instagram post on Monday morning. She shared a photo of herself embracing her sister and wrote next to the shot: ‘Happy tears, heart exploding as I watched this beautiful girl get married in the place that means love and family. I’m so proud to be this beauty’s sister.’
Barbara’s father also took to social media to mark the happy occasion. He shared a photo of himself walking Barbara down the aisle and wrote: ‘Barbara is named for a unique and strong woman – and rightly so, because she is unique and strong. @laurawbush and I are so proud of our compassionate, daring, fierce, kind, intelligent, loving daughter. And we’re thrilled to welcome Craig Coyne to our family.’
Aftermath: On Monday morning, Jenna took to Instagram to share photos of Mila (left) with George H.W.’s service dog Sully, and Poppy (right) at the family’s Maine compound
Memories: Jenna posted photos of the residence the day after the ceremony, along with the words: ‘Remnants of a beautiful night’
George W. opened up about his daughter’s discreet personality in a segment for Today, recounting how Barbara and Jenna once joined their grandfather for a political rally in Texas around the age of three, and how the sisters’ respective personalities were clearly showing even at such a young age.
‘Barbara was an observer, Jenna was a participant. Barbara is more reserved and Jenna is pretty outgoing. It was a reflection of their little personalities,’ he said.
Jenna paid tribute to her sister, praising Barbara’s ‘huge heart’ and caring personality. ‘She’s gentle, she’s creative, she’s a great artist, and she’s brilliant,’ Jenna said.
Barbara and Craig were set up on a blind date by friends in November last year and officially became an item by New Year’s Eve. Craig proposed to Barbara over the summer during a family gathering in Maine.
‘It’s just been a very sweet romance,’ Barbara told People. ‘And we’ve been long-distance for most of it – he’s been in LA and I’ve been in New York -but we’ve gotten to spend a lot of time together.’
Sweetly, George H. W.’s service dog Sully, a yellow Labrador who has been at the former president’s side since June, attended the ceremony as well. A photo of Sully during the ceremony was posted on his Instagram account, with a caption reading: ‘Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. I’ve never seen my best friend so happy.’