June 2: The White House Wedding

Cleveland WeddingThree American presidents have gotten married while in office. While John Tyler married his second wife in New York City, and Woodrow Wilson married his second wife at her Washington, DC home, Grover Cleveland is the only president to get married in the White House. It was on this day in 1886 that the president married Frances Folsom at a small White House ceremony.

The story of the Clevelands’ romance is an unusual one, but what else should we expect from the only presidential couple to spend two non-consecutive terms in the White House? There was a 27 year difference in age between the bride and groom; on their wedding day he was 49 and she was 21. Amazingly, this isn’t the biggest gap in age between a president and his wife, as John Tyler was 30 years older than his second bride.

Grover Cleveland had known Frances Folsom her entire life, as he was a friend of her father’s. When Folsom was 11, her father died unexpectedly and without a will, so the courts appointed Cleveland to oversee the Folsom estate. Cleveland would check in on the girl from time to time, gaining the nickname “Uncle Cleve”. It appears that when Folsom was in college their affection for each other took a romantic turn. Cleveland proposed in a letter shortly after Folsom graduated from college, and the couple didn’t announce their engagement until just days before the wedding.

The presidential wedding was a simple affair. After a day of work, Cleveland, Folsom and their guests gathered in the White House’s Blue Room at 7PM. The guest list was small; just family, a few close friends, the members of the cabinet and their wives. After the wedding, the assembled guests sat down to a reception that featured a 20-pound salmon, a 25-pound wedding cake and a performance by John Philip Sousa and the Marine Band.

The Clevelands would have five children during their 22 years of marriage, and Frances Folsom Cleveland proved to be a popular First Lady. Legend has it that when the Clevelands left the White House after the 1888 election,  Mrs. Cleveland told the staff to take care of the White House, as she and her husband would be moving back in in four years. Her prediction would come true when Grover Cleveland won the 1892 presidential election.

I believe I’ve mentioned before that the cocktail called White House is pretty boring (1/2 ounce tequila, 1 ounce orange curacao, garnished with a lime and served in a cocktail glass), so instead of drinking that, let’s make a Wedding Cake. This is a remarkable work of mixology that uses gin, citrus juices, cream and amaretto to make a drink that actually tastes like a nice wedding cake!

Wedding Cake

  • 3/4 ounce Gin
  • 3/4 ounce Amaretto
  • 1/4 ounce orange juice
  • 1/4 ounce pineapple juice
  • 1/4 ounce cream

Pour all ingredients into a blender with a cup of ice. Blend well and pour into a hurricane glass.

Tomorrow: A not-so-royal wedding.

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