The President Requests...

updated 07/25/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/25/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

LUCI BAINES JOHNSON & PATRICK NUGENT

She wed at 19, over the President's misgivings, because, says Luci, "I was desperately looking to be normal. One way out of this fishbowl life was to marry." The escape wasn't easy. When she shopped for a wedding gown in Manhattan, onlookers barged into her dressing room; and she was blasted for marrying on Aug. 6, 1966, the 21st anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. Thirteen years after her East Room reception, Luci and Patrick divorced. When she married banker lan Turpin in 1984, there Were just 50 guests—650 fewer than had attended her first wedding.

TONY RODHAM & NICOLE BOXER

Hillary's 39-year-old brother recalls "two little songbirds starting to sing," just as he and the 26-year-old daughter of Sen. Barbara Boxer said their I do's on May 28. But it was the ticking of a wedding present that caught the attention of a Secret Service agent. Alarmed, he tore the box apart—and didn't stop, even after it turned out to contain a clock. "All we got," says Rodham, who is a coordinator for the Democratic National Committee, "was a shell with a glass face on it." Never mind: The First Family couldn't have been more gracious. Hillary offered the White House. Chelsea was a bridesmaid. And the President delivered a toast. "He said that the Israeli-PLO accord had been signed on the spot where we married and that FDR had breakfast there every morning," recalls Nicole, a film company exec. "And that our wedding was among the most touching events that had happened to him in the Rose Garden."

ALICE ROOSEVELT & NICHOLAS LONGWORTH

The spirited daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt (far right) was known as Princess Alice—and her Feb. 17, 1906, marriage to Representative Longworth approached the frenzy of a royal wedding. Thousands vied to be among the 680 invited to the East Room ceremony, and the White House overflowed with gifts. England's King Edward sent an enameled snuffbox, the President of France a priceless tapestry, Pope Pius X a mosaic replica of the Vatican. Ordinary Americans, meanwhile, weighed in with a pair of turtledoves, a box of snakes, brooms and feather dusters, and a barrel of popcorn.

NELLIE GRANT & ALGERNON CHARLES FREDERICK SARTORIS

Orange blossoms were transported from Florida to the East Room when President Ulysses S. Grant's 18-year-old daughter wed a British junior diplomat on May 21, 1874.

ELEANOR WILSON & WILLIAM GIBBS McADOO

Six months earlier, her older sister Jessie had wed in the East Room. But on May 7, 1914, Eleanor, 24, chose the less formal Blue Room to exchange vows with the 50-year-old Secretary of the Treasury. Her father, President Woodrow Wilson, threatened to deal with prying reporters "man to man."

TRICIA NIXON & EDWARD FINCH COX

Tricia was determined that her wedding to the young Harvard law student would take place in the Rose Garden. And she wasn't deterred when a steady rain began to fall on the afternoon of June 12, 1971—despite the pleas of dad Richard to move the wedding inside. Miraculously, the drizzle stopped just before the ceremony started and resumed right after it ended. Nearly as astounding was the sight of President Nixon dancing for the first time in public. Though he quipped, "I've been trying to figure all night how to get out of it," he cut in on Cox and danced with Tricia to "Thank Heaven for Little Girls" in front of 400 guests. Most deemed the wedding a delight, except Alice Roosevelt Long-worth, who got caught in the rain and muttered that she felt she had been sitting on "a wet sponge" throughout the affair. "No," she said, the wedding didn't "bring back one goddamned memory" of her own White House nuptials 65 years earlier.

LYNDA BIRD JOHNSON & CHARLES ROBB

In many ways, 23-year-old Lynda and her 28-year-old Marine captain faced typical travails in planning their Dec. 9,1967, wedding. Even though the head count was a hefty 500, recalls Lynda, "the guest list was very hard to pare down." There were also some unfortunate last-minute developments. The cakemaker died of a heart attack just days before completing the 250-pound wedding cake; antiwar protesters marched outside the White House the day of the wedding; and, before the ceremony, an overload of TV cameras in the East Wing caused the fuses to blow out. But there were pleasant surprises too. When the minister asked, "Who giveth this woman to be married to this man?" President Johnson departed from the traditional "I do" to respond in a more feminist vein: "Her mother and I." Says Lynda: "I had never realized he was that progressive."

GROVER CLEVELAND & FRANCES FOLSOM

At 7 p.m. on June 2, 1886, before only 28 guests, Cleveland, 49, became the first—and, to date, only—President to wed in the White House. His bride, 21, holds the record as youngest First Lady.

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