An Affair of State

UPDATED 06/02/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 06/02/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT

The Dress
Mrs. Bush chose her gown (and four outfits) during a visit to see Manhattan couturier Oscar de la Renta's spring line in February. "She saw this dress on a hanger," says de la Renta. "She loved the fabric—she saw it was bright." The First Lady returned for a fitting May 7, but no alterations were necessary. "She dresses in a very classic manner. She doesn't want anything overwhelming," says the designer. And, he adds, "she has a great figure."

Thursday 11:00 a.m.
Calligrapher Debra Brown begins work on 130 place cards; an equal number of menus, each hand-painted with watercolors, will become souvenirs for guests to take home.

Friday 9:00 a.m.
Peony bouquets are refrigerated over the weekend. Mrs. Bush vetoes tall arrangements that might block guests' views.

Monday 10:45 a.m.
In the ground floor kitchen, chefs prepare lamb chops and gazpacho, part of a menu first tested on the Bushes in March. Upstairs, pastry chef Roland Mesnier (right) goes tropical with mango sherbet, coconut mousse, pineapple and chocolate. "I tried to put together a dessert with Philippine flair," he says.

Monday 3:00 p.m.
Four hours before the guests arrive, White House usher Daniel Shanks (center) gives the head tables, set with the Clinton china, a final going-over. "The room is so finely tuned, it's like a Stradivarius violin."

Monday 7:30 p.m.
Right on time, the Arroyos pull up to the North Portico where, greeted by the Bushes, they meet the press. Guests like Tom Brokaw are in attendance. "It's a magical night," says an aide.

Your Reaction

Follow Us

On Newsstands Now

Robin Roberts: How Loved Saved Me
  • Robin Roberts: How Loved Saved Me
  • Emma and Andrew: All About Hollywood's Cutest Couple
  • Prince George! More Yummy Photos

Pick up your copy on newsstands

Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine


From Our Partners

Watch It

Editors' Picks

From Our Partners

Sign up for our daily newsletter and other special offers.
    Choose your newsletters
Thank you for signing up! Your request may take up to one week to be processed.
    see all newsletters