CRAWFORD — It may have been the greatest wedding those in Crawford never saw.
Just seven miles outside town — past the Secret Service, the roadblocks and the gates — first daughter Jenna Bush and fiance Henry Hager stood by a lake, in front of a Texas limestone cross and altar, and took their vows.
A historic moment, as Jenna Bush became the 22nd daughter of a president to take vows while her father was in office.
While most Texans weren’t among the approximately 200 invited to the private ceremony, many wanted to get as close as possible to it.
"Even though you can’t see it, you can breathe the same air they are breathing," said Mary Wood, who drove from San Antonio to spend the day here. "I just had to be here to say I was here for it."
Hundreds of others felt the same way, crowding into this one-traffic-light town with a population of about 700.
On a typical Saturday, one vehicle might pass through the main intersection every few hours. This Saturday saw a stream of traffic, with visitors pouring into the two souvenir shops and filling up the coffee shop.
"It’s like our royalty in Texas is getting married," said Stacy Wallace, a Temple woman who originally hails from Fort Worth. "I’ve been wanting to come by for some time, and I thought [Saturday] was the perfect day to do it."
The first family’s wedding festivities began Friday with a lunch and rehearsal dinner in Salado.
Around 7 p.m. Saturday, five Coach America buses believed to carry wedding guests drove through Crawford, to the applause and cheers of a few spectators.
The ceremony began a half-hour or so before sunset. The couple stood at a cross, made of beige Texas limestone, that was erected near the ranch’s man-made lake. The cross and altar, made of the same stone used to build the Bushes’ ranch house, will be a landmark at the ranch for years. The Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell of Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston officiated.
In Crawford, a banner celebrating the wedding was stretched in front of the Red Bull souvenir shop; a marquee down the street offered congratulations as well.
Visitors posed for pictures in front of the Angel of Steadfast Love, a metal sculpture given to the city after President Bush’s re-election in 2004, which was dressed in a white veil and carried a bouquet of white flowers.
Souvenir shops ran out of mugs, key chains, mouse pads and other wedding memorabilia, with many having to take special orders for the merchandise.
"We sold out Friday," said Jaime Burgess, manager of Red Bull, who served wedding cake and cookies made from first lady Laura Bush’s own recipe to shoppers. "It’s great. It shows how much people do support Jenna and Henry."
And Jenna’s dad, the president.
Many visitors said they are big Bush supporters and wanted to be there for him.
"President Bush is a good person, and he loves his country," said Deborah Miller of Grand Prairie.
"We don’t like all his ideas, but we’d do anything for him."
Not all the visitors are fans.
A green van shoe-polished to say "Troops Home Now!" and "No War in Iraq!" drove around Crawford for several hours.
Details of the wedding were closely guarded.
White House officials have said it’s a private event and didn’t allow media in or release any details, but they said they might release a photo or two today.
The Associated Press did report Saturday evening that Jenna Bush would dance to You Are So Beautiful for the father-daughter dance at the wedding reception and that Lovin’ in My Baby’s Eyes would be the newlyweds’ first dance.
Other songs Tyrone Smith of Nashville and his band, The Tyrone Smith Revue, planned to play at the reception included Celebration by Kool & the Gang, Proud Mary, Play That Funky Music, and Hey Ya! The reception was expected to last until about 1 a.m.
"It’ll be a 'get down’ party," Smith told the AP.
Despite the privacy surrounding the wedding, some visitors wanted to make it as far as they could toward the president’s ranch.
At an information tent set up to help visitors, locals drew out a map to show the way to the ranch, even pointing out where a roadblock manned by law officers and Secret Service turns sightseers around.
"They’ll go anyway, even though they know they can’t get through," said Marilyn Judy, president of the Crawford Chamber of Commerce.
Count Sherry Pennington of nearby Woodway among the offenders.
"We’ll drive to the roadblock just to say we did," she said. "It’s fun to feel like you’re a part of Jenna’s wedding day."
In nearby McGregor, Valerie Citrano made a special wedding cake to celebrate the occasion, complete with a White House and two Secret Service agents on top.
She made an event of cutting the cake at the Coffee Shop Cafe shortly after 6 p.m., saying she hated to cut it before Jenna and Henry exchanged vows.
"I just thought it would be something fun to do," said Citrano, who received orders for wedding memorabilia from as far away France and Sweden.
"I just thought it would be a nice way to celebrate Jenna’s wedding, even if we didn’t get an invitation.
"How better to do it than with a cake?"
This report includes material from The Associated Press.
1President Bush’s daughter Jenna is not the first twin to be married while the father was in the Oval Office. Andrew Jackson Jr., a twin boy born to President Jackson’s sister-in-law, was adopted at birth by the president and his wife, Rachel, and raised as their child. He married Sarah Yorke in 1831 while his father was president.
2President Nixon’s daughter, Tricia, is the only child of a president married in the Rose Garden.
3The wedding celebration of President Monroe’s daughter, Maria, was marred by murder. One of her wedding receptions was held near the White House in the home of American war hero Stephen Decatur. After Decatur was murdered, all the other wedding receptions were canceled.
4Dorothy Bush, daughter of President George H.W. Bush and sister to President Bush, is the only presidential child married at Camp David, Md.
5Nine children of sitting presidents had wedding ceremonies at the White House.
Source: All the President’s Children, by Doug Wead
Here are basic facts about President Bush’s daughter Jenna’s wedding Saturday to Henry Hager.
Bride: Jenna Welch Bush
Groom: Henry Chase Hager
Place: President Bush’s Prairie Chapel Ranch, Crawford
Guests: More than 200 friends and relatives
Maid of honor: Jenna’s twin sister, Barbara
Attendants: 14 women known as members of the "house party," not bridesmaids
Best man: The groom’s brother, John "Jack" Hager
Ushers: 14 men also in the "house party"
Bride’s gown: Oscar de la Renta white silk organza with embroidery
Ring: Platinum ring with round diamond, from groom’s maternal great-grandmother, flanked by sapphires
Earrings: 18-karat white gold and platinum, chain-framed minted iced quartz teardrops, diamond detail
Ceremony site: At a cross made of beige Texas limestone erected near a lake on the ranch.
Engagement: Aug. 15 at Acadia National Park in Maine.
First lady’s dress: Short, deep turquoise designed by Oscar de la Renta
Groom and President Bush’s attire: Suits
Entertainment at reception: The Tyrone Smith Revue of Nashville, also called Super T band.
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