Two weekends. Two weddings. Two seats of power. Two first families: one former, one current, both hoping, it seems likely, to be future as well. And so two nonpolitical events that, nevertheless, came framed in the mythmaking of politics.
When Tiffany Trump wed Michael Boulos at Mar-a-Lago on Nov. 12, and Naomi Biden wed Peter Neal at the White House on Saturday, the nuptials (especially those parts of the nuptials that could be seen) may have starred two happy couples, but they also reflected the two different stories that former President Donald J. Trump and President Joseph R. Biden Jr. tell the world about who they are — about what they prize, the lives they have built.
The version of the American dream they represent. The vaunted family values. That’s why, though they were private events — the Biden wedding especially so, rife with N.D.A.s and “that’s all I can tell yous” from those involved — they have public repercussions.
There, for example, was Ms. Trump, on the grounds of Mar-a-Lago, the elaborate mansion built by Marjorie Merriweather Post that Mr. Trump bought in 1985 and turned into a country club, where she may have grown up but that became her father’s winter White House, his “southern White House” and, more recently, MAGA central; the place from which he announced his 2024 presidential campaign.
And there was Ms. Biden on the South Lawn of the White House, where she currently lives with her husband, the first presidential grandchild to be married at the White House and only the 19th bride to marry there, posing on a rose-festooned balcony.
The Trump wedding took place in the evening, bathed in pastels and sunset. Ms. Trump was escorted down the aisle by her father in black tie, through a series of heroic floral arches in not-entirely-natural shades of cream, lilac, pink, blue and teal. (“Surely there is not another hydrangea bloom remaining east of the Mississippi,” wrote The Palm Beach Daily News.) The Biden wedding took place in late morning, with the bride escorted down the aisle by her father and her mother through a doorway framed in green and white blooms.
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They were not exactly day and night, but they weren’t that far off.
Each woman wore three outfits: one for the rehearsal the night before, one for the wedding itself and one for the post-wedding party.
Ms. Trump, the adult child who was most removed from her father’s administration and first campaign, wore a wedding gown and party dress by Elie Saab, the Lebanese designer known for an unabashed embrace of glamour and fantasy, in honor of her husband’s Lebanese heritage. It was covered in silvery beads and paired with a floor-length veil. She wore her blond hair down and wavy, in the Fox News style that is favored by Mr. Trump, and carried a small bouquet of lilies.
The imagery was Disney-meets- “Dynasty” dream factory, all sparkling magic carpet romance and a bit of diamanté dust. As befits the daughter of the man who promised to “make America wealthy again.”
Ms. Biden, the eldest grandchild of Mr. Biden and the one who is most involved in his political career, wore a wedding gown by Ralph Lauren, the designer who has built an empire on the Gatsby-esque promise of the American idea, and who dressed her grandfather for his inauguration. It had a bodice made of Chantilly lace and included “hand-placed organza petals along the bodice and cascading into the skirt,” according to the brand. It came with a cathedral veil. She wore her hair in a low bun, and carried a bouquet of lilies of the valley.
The visual was fully in the Grace Kelly tradition: carefully curated New England haute naturalism. Also in the wear-American diplomatic tradition.
Indeed, according to WWD, Ms. Biden chose a dress by Markarian — the New York woman-owned label worn by her step-grandmother, Jill Biden, at Mr. Biden’s inauguration — for her evening party. She wore Danielle Frankel, another New York woman-owned label, for the rehearsal dinner. And she, her husband (who wore a navy suit by Ralph Lauren) and her bridesmaids all wore Tiffany jewels at the wedding. The president wore a blue suit that appeared to coordinate with Mr. Neal’s, and Dr. Biden wore a teal coat over a blue dress.
The photograph widely released by the White House showed the president and Dr. Biden, rather than any other family members (or Ms. Biden’s father, Hunter Biden, who is currently a target for the new House Republican majority), laughing with the young couple: a polished, postcard-ready version of the off-the-cuff homeyness the president has made his trademark.
By contrast, the Trump photo that made the most ripples on social media was a posed shot of the Trump women in front of a fountain and a gilded wall detail: the smiling bride in the center, flanked by her mother, Marla Maples, in lilac; her stepmother, Melania Trump, in peach; and Ivanka Trump in her sea-nymph blue — with Lara Trump, the wife of Eric Trump, wearing what looked like a “Game of Thrones” chain-mail gown on one end and Kimberly Guilfoyle, the fiancée of Donald Trump Jr., wearing “Maleficent” black on the other.
Black? This caused a minor soap opera moment when it seemed as though Ivanka Trump had cropped Ms. Guilfoyle out of the picture she posted on Instagram, but it also meant the wedding had people talking even days after it was over. Which is in itself a signature bit of Trumpism.
Each man, after all, wants the electorate to say “I do.”