On This Date in 1886, Grover Cleveland Married 21-Year-Old Frances Folsom in the White House
The only president to serve two non-consecutive terms was also the only president married in a White House ceremony. Grover Cleveland was 49 and a little more than a year into his first term when he married 21-year-old Frances Folsom. The wedding was a simple affair, attended by close friends, family, and cabinet members and their wives. But the occasion was far from quiet—John Philip Sousa led the Marine Band.
After the ceremony, “the ladies kissed the bride to their hearts content,” The New York Times reported, “but the gentlemen followed the example of the groom and refrained.” There was a 20-pound salmon to sup on and a 25-pound wedding cake.
Cleveland had known his bride her whole life. Her father was a close friend of the future president, and Cleveland bought the infant Frances a baby carriage as a gift. Growing up she called him “Uncle Cleve.” When her father died leaving no will, the court appointed Cleveland to administer the estate.
Two other presidents married while in office. John Tyler married his second wife, Julia Gardiner, in 1844, in New York City. And Woodrow Wilson married his second wife, Edith Bolling Galt, in 1915, at her home in Washington, DC.
Excerpted from David Holzel’s list of memorable White House weddings.
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