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Image: Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston on cover of Us Weekly
Us Weekly via TODAY
TODAY contributor
updated 7/15/2010 9:57:17 AM ET 2010-07-15T13:57:17

The bride will wear Carolina Herrera. The groom and the couple’s son will wear camo.

That’s how Bristol Palin envisions the outdoor wedding she and Levi Johnston are planning sometime in the next month or so in Alaska.

“Bristol definitely has some interesting ideas for her wedding,” Us Weekly executive editor Caroline Schaefer told NBC News in a story that aired Thursday morning on TODAY. “She wants to wear a Carolina Herrera gown … in white. She would like Levi and little Tripp to wear camo vests.”

It’s unknown whether the mother of the bride, Sarah Palin, will attend. She and husband Todd issued a tepid statement supporting their daughter Wednesday after Us broke the exclusive story of Bristol and Levi’s engagement. In the story, Bristol Palin said she was worried about how she was going to tell her mother that she’s engaged to marry Levi Johnston, the father of her 18-month-old son.

She solved the problem by telling the popular celebrity weekly.

“We got engaged two weeks ago. It felt right, even though we don’t have the approval of our parents,” Bristol Palin told the magazine in an exclusive story published Wednesday.

Thursday, Schaefer said the young couple felt that asking for approval would not have met with a positive response.

“Sarah and Todd Palin have not given their blessing to this wedding. In fact, we asked Levi, ‘Did you ask for Bristol’s hand?’ and he said, ‘No. I know that if I had, Sarah and Todd would have said no,’ ” Schaefer said.

In Us Weekly’s video, Bristol glowed as she snuggled next to her fiancé and talked about how he had proposed.

“I came home from work one day, and there was tons of flowers all over my room, and there’s flowers, like rose petals, in the shape of a heart on my bed,” she said. “Then he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.”

Bristol didn’t have to think about her response.

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“There was no hesitation at all,” she said.

Johnston told the magazine how bad he feels for having missed such milestones as Tripp’s first word and first steps when he and Bristol were apart and he was feuding with her family.

“I wasn’t there for Tripp and Bristol, and now I am and it feels great,” Johnston said in the Us Weekly video. “I love them both very much. As a father, I can’t explain. I’ve missed out on a lot of his life, and I can’t get that back. But more important, I’m here now, and I’m going to make it right.”

The young couple talked about ordinary activities like taking drives and going fishing with Tripp, and how natural it feels.

“It just feels right to be a family,” Bristol said.

Photos: Bristol and Levi's relationship: A look back

‘Redemption and forgiveness’
In a statement to NBC News, the Palins said, “Bristol at 19 is now a young adult. We obviously want what’s best for our children. Bristol believes in redemption and forgiveness to a degree most of us struggle to put in practice in our daily lives.”

Indeed, in the wake of Johnston’s recent retraction of blistering comments about the Palins and apology for making them, Bristol told People magazine: “I forgive him for what he did. He was young, mad, misguided. We’re moving on.”

Mike Allen of the website Politico told NBC News that the wedding could be a positive event for Sarah Palin and her future political ambitions.

“There are increasing signs Sarah Palin is serious and wants to be taken seriously. This closes up a messy family matter and gives her the chance to show grace and forgiveness,” Allen said.

No wedding date has been set, but Schaefer told TODAY’s Matt Lauer Wednesday morning that the reunited young couple would like to do it quickly — possibly in the next month. Until marriage, Schaefer said, the couple are living separately and practicing abstinence. Bristol Palin, who has moved out of her parents’ house, is a spokeswoman for an abstinence-only program.

Photos: On again! Stars who rekindled a romance with an ex

“They said basically within a month or so, maybe six weeks,” Schaefer said of the wedding plans. “They have visions for getting married. They want to get married outdoors; Alaska. They want it to be very small — friends and family.”

Bristol shot down rumors that the couple may be under pressure to marry, as they were two years ago when the then 17-year-old Bristol got pregnant with Tripp.

Story: Letterman tosses off mild Bristol Palin jokes

“She said, ‘I’m not pregnant.’ She said they’re actually practicing abstinence right now and they’re not living together until they get married,” Schaefer said.

Rocky relationship
In 2008, with Sarah Palin running for vice president, Bristol and Johnston announced that they would get married after the election. But when the campaign was done, they broke up and quickly began waging a war of words in the media.

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Johnston cashed in on his newfound celebrity by posing for Playgirl magazine and doing media appearances. When Sarah Palin accused him of being an aspiring porn star and called him “Ricky Hollywood,” he thoroughly disparaged the former Alaska governor on every front, from her parenting skills to her hunting and shooting bona fides. Sarah Palin responded furiously when he alleged that she referred to Trig, her Down syndrome youngest child, as “retarded.”

“About six weeks ago, Sarah asked Levi to come over because Bristol had said, ‘I want to be a family with Levi again’ — hinting that they wanted to get back together,” Schaefer told Lauer. “So Levi went over there, personally apologized for all the things that he had said, and basically said, ‘I want to be with Bristol, I want to be a family, and I’m going to get a job, get my education, really step up to the plate.’ ”

Photos: Who's wedding next?

Last week, Johnston made the apology public.

“Even if Bristol’s parents never like me again, that’s fine, I can live with that. But I want them to know how much I love her. After everything we have been through, I couldn’t put into words how much I love her,” Johnston said.

Lingering anger
But Schaefer said that all is not completely forgiven.

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“Bristol feels very angry, still, about some of the things,” she told Lauer. “They are ready to get married, but she does say, ‘We’ll probably see a marriage counselor.’ Clearly, it was a very messy breakup, the feud was very deep-seated, and I think Bristol made it clear that Levi’s going to have a lot of work to do.”

Schaefer said that the couple were paid to pose for pictures in Us Weekly, as is common in the industry, but declined to discuss whether they were paid for their interview. She said Bristol Palin came to the magazine with the story.

“Bristol came back and said, ‘I really want to get my message out. I feel I want a platform to explain it,” Schaefer told Lauer. “Sarah Palin is very protective of her daughter. They had a very messy breakup, a very nasty feud between them, so for her to be able to tell her whole story, to explain how much they’re in love, they want to get married, they want to be a family, they need a platform to do it. Us provided that.”

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Video: Newly engaged Bristol ‘scared’ of mom’s reaction

  1. Transcript of: Newly engaged Bristol ‘scared’ of mom’s reaction

    NATALIE MORALES reporting: Well, the cat is now out of the bag. The daughter of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is back together with Levi Johnston , the father of her infant son. And get this, the two are now engaged. That may have come as quite a shock to Sarah and Todd Palin as well, since Bristol says she never told her parents. The couple gave an exclusive interview to Us Weekly . Caroline Schaefer is the executive editor. Caroline , good morning.

    Ms. CAROLINE SCHAEFER (Executive Editor, Us Weekly): Good morning.

    MORALES: Given all the public feuding, all of the water that's under that bridge now, I think so many people are surprised but probably most surprised that Sarah Palin really didn't have that much of a heads-up when it came to this. Why did Bristol decide to come to you, to the magazine, to reveal this news?

    Ms. SCHAEFER: Bristol came to us because she felt like she needed to say what she wanted to say. she needed to have a platform to tell the whole story, how they fell in love, why they broke up, how they got back together, and now how they plan to be a family. And she didn't know that she would necessarily have that opportunity if the information came out otherwise.

    MORALES: I know that they were very scared and intimidated, as she said...

    Ms. SCHAEFER: Yes.

    MORALES: ...as she said, as to what the reaction would be from Sarah Palin . And we have a statement now this morning from the Palins and they say, " Bristol at 19 is now a young adult. We obviously want what is best for our children. Bristol believes in redemption and forgiveness to a degree most of us struggle to put in practice in our daily lives." So of course, they're going to try to put as much of a positive spin, although maybe a little subtext there. But do you think the Palins were completely surprised this morning with this news?

    Ms. SCHAEFER: I think they must have been somewhat surprised; however, they're -- they have been building the groundwork.

    MORALES: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. SCHAEFER: You know, six weeks ago Levi went over to Sarah 's and apologized in person and basically told her that he loves Bristol , he wants to be there for their son, Tripp . And, you know, so it's been -- they've been trying to build that foundation.

    MORALES: They've been building it.

    Ms. SCHAEFER: Yeah.

    MORALES: And just last week, as you said, he came out publicly...

    Ms. SCHAEFER: He did.

    MORALES: ...and issued an apology. So do you think that has gone over well enough?

    Ms. SCHAEFER: I think it's a start, and Bristol obviously says, you know, we're going to have to do some marriage counseling because those things that he said about the family were very hurtful, and you know she's just not going to let, you know, forget them easily.

    MORALES: Yeah. I mean, certainly a lot of bad blood I think in the past over this.

    Ms. SCHAEFER: Definitely. Very bitter.

    MORALES: And they're still very, very young. I mean, she's 19, he's 20 years old.

    Ms. SCHAEFER: Yeah.

    MORALES: They have this 18-month-old child together. Bristol says, though, that Levi has really changed. Do you really get a sense that they're in this now for the long haul?

    Ms. SCHAEFER: They say that they are. Their relationship -- you know, they have known each other since they were kids, they really grew up together, so there's a comfort level. He really has said that he is going to step up to the plate. He's going to get a job, he's going to finish his education. He really wants to be there for Tripp and for Bristol .

    MORALES: He wants to be the dad, exactly.

    Ms. SCHAEFER: He wants to be the dad.

    MORALES: And he actually got very emotional, I understand, during the interview...

    Ms. SCHAEFER: He did.

    MORALES: ...when Bristol actually confronted him about, as she said, "the lies that he has told about her family in the past."

    Ms. SCHAEFER: Yes.

    MORALES: In fact, if we go back even exactly a year ago almost to the day on this program, shortly after Sarah Palin resigned as governor of Alaska , he was on with Ann in the program and he talked then about the fact that he thought the fame had gotten to Sarah Palin 's head.

    Ms. SCHAEFER: Mm-hmm.

    MORALES: That she wanted to cash in on it and then take a listen to the rest of what he said.

    ANN CURRY reporting: Hm. Do you believe she's equipped to be president?

    Mr. LEVI JOHNSTON: Yes and no .

    CURRY: Mm-hmm.

    Mr. JOHNSTON: I mean, she's very smart but I just don't think -- if she can't handle the stress level as governor, I don't think she can handle it as president or vice president.

    MORALES: I mean, he's -- you know, there's been so much bad blood.

    Ms. SCHAEFER: Definitely.

    MORALES: I mean, the photo shoot that he did posing nude for Playgirl . So, I mean, there's going to have to be a lot of apologizing.

    Ms. SCHAEFER: Yes.

    MORALES: Do you feel that Bristol is seeing him as a completely changed person?

    Ms. SCHAEFER: I don't think she sees him as completely changed and she acknowledges they're going to do some marriage counseling.

    MORALES: Right.

    Ms. SCHAEFER: And -- so he still has a lot of apologizing to do and she's very firm with the fact that, you know, he is going to have to apologize and make a lot of inroads if he is going to...

    MORALES: With the family.

    Ms. SCHAEFER: Absolutely. He's going to have to work hard because family is very important to her.

    MORALES: And the other question a lot of people, I think, were thinking about when they first heard the news this morning is why the rush to get married because they say they want to do it very soon.

    Ms. SCHAEFER: Right.

    MORALES: A lot of people questioning is she pregnant again. And she talked to you about that.

    Ms. SCHAEFER: Yes. She said, `I'm absolutely not pregnant again.' She thinks that people will think that, but she actually is supportive of abstinence now. She says that she and Levi are not having sex and they're not going to live together until they are married.

    MORALES: That's right . So they've been living separately until then. And they also have been starting planning this very quick wedding.

    Ms. SCHAEFER: Yes. They're -- they have a lot of...

    MORALES: No wedding date set, but...

    Ms. SCHAEFER: Not yet. They hope to do it in the next few weeks, maybe a month or six weeks. You know, they have a lot of dreams for their wedding. They want to have a small ceremony in Alaska , outdoors. She wants to include camo somehow. She wants Levi to wear a camo vest or something like that.


    Ms. SCHAEFER: Yeah.

    MORALES: Of course, nothing should surprise us, given this couple now, right?

    Ms. SCHAEFER: Right.

    MORALES: All right. Well, to be a fly on the wall in the Palin household this morning. We can only imagine what was going on. Congratulations on the issue.

Photos: Sarah Palin

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  1. A scene from the TV show Sarah Palin's Alaska. Sarah Palin ready to head up the river in Todd's boat to see the fish counting in Dillingham, where the Palin family usually spend 4th of July. (Gilles Mingasson / TLC via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Sarah Palin is handed Sophie, a 10-week-old puppy, for a signature during the kick-off of the Tea Party Express bus tour at a rally on Monday, Oct. 18, 2010, in Reno, Nev. (Julie Jacobson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Sarah Palin talks to supporters at an "Evening with Sarah Palin" event on Wednesday, May 12, 2010, in Rosemont, Ill. (Jim Prisching / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. People walk by a window display of "Going Rogue: an American Life", a book from former Republican vice-president candidate Sarah Palin, as it hit stores on November 17, 2009, in New York. Palin's book has already become a bestseller, with pre-release sales knocking Dan Brown's latest thriller off the number one spot on Amazon.com. (Emmanuel Dunand / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. In the November 23 issue of Newsweek: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Sarah? She’s Bad News for the GOP - And For Everybody Else Too, Evan Thomas looks at the impact of Sarah Palin on politics. The cover sparked controversy with Sarah Palin blasting the "out-of-context" cover as "sexist" because the photos were originally published in 'Runners World.' Palin took issue with Newsweek using a photo from an article about fitness to promote an analysis piece contemplating her relevance in politics. (PRNewsFoto via Newsweek) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. This photo taken Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2009 shows talk-show host Oprah Winfrey, second from right, with former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her daughters, Willow, right, and Piper, left, during the taping of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in Chicago. Although Sarah Palin didn't answer Oprah's question about whether or not Levi Johnston was invited for Thanksgiving dinner, Sarah told Oprah that Levi is "still part of the family" and "he needs to know hes loved. When Palin was asked about a 2012 run, Palin said, "It's not on my radar screen." (George Burns / Harpo productions via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin announces that she is stepping down from her position as Governor in Wasilla, Alaska on Friday July 3, 2009. The former Republican vice presidential candidate made the surprise announcement, saying she would step down July 26 but didn't announce her plans. (AP Photo/The Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, Robert DeBerry) (Robert Deberry / The Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Susan Wynalek, right, of Coltsneck, N.J., her daughter Stephanie, center and son Brett participate in a "Fire David Letterman" rally across from the Ed Sullivan Theater, on June 16, 2009 in New York. The protest was held in response to jokes he made on "The Late Show" about Sarah Palin and her teenage daughter. (Mary Altaffer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Sen. John McCain concedes victory during an election night rally in Phoenix, Ariz., on Nov. 4, 2008. The Republican and running mate Sarah Palin were defeated by a wide margin. (Mike Blake / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Sarah Palin accepts the vice-presidential nomination before a packed house at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn. In her speech, she criticized the “Washington elite” that had raised questions about her qualifications. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Sen. John McCain, center, greets Bristol Palin and her boyfriend Levi Johnston as running mate Sarah Palin looks on. (Charles Dharapak / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. This picture provided by John McCain's campaign shows his running mate Sarah Palin, left, meeting with first lady Laura Bush, center, and McCain's wife Cindy in Minneapolis on Sept. 2, 2008. (Johnmccain.com / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Sen. John McCain greets supporters as he arrives with running mate Sarah Palin, center, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee at a campaign rally in O'Fallon, Mo., on August 31, 2008. (Robyn Beck / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Bristol Palin, 17, holds her brother Trig during the campaign rally where Sen. John McCain introduced her mother as his vice presidential running mate in Dayton, Ohio, on Aug. 29, 2008. (Stephan Savoia / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. An enthusiastic crowd greets Sarah Palin at the rally where Sen. John McCain introduced her as his running mate. (Matt Sullivan / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Palin and her family: son Track and husband Todd, in the back, daughters Willow and Bristol on each side and daughter Piper in the front. (Alaska Governors Office via EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, seen here on Aug. 13, 2008, describes herself as a "hockey mom" and an occasional commercial fisherwoman. She oversees a state that’s hardly shy about admiring her swept-back hair and celebrated smile. Bumper stickers and blogs have proclaimed Alaska and Palin: "Coldest State, Hottest Governor." (Marc Lester / AP ) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Sarah Palin visits Army Pfc. John Kegley at a U.S. military medical center in Landstuhl, Germany, on July 26, 2007. (Airman 1st Class Kenny Holston / USAF) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Sarah Palin chats with Alaska-based troops serving at a desert camp in Kuwait on July 25, 2007. (Spc. Wesley Landrum / US Army) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Laurie Serino, left, talks about high food and energy prices with Sarah Palin in Barrow, Alaska, on June 30, 2008. Palin had proposed that state lawmakers approve $1,200 emergency payments to Alaska residents to help deal with rising costs. (Al Grillo / AP ) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Sarah Palin and her husband Todd hold their baby boy, Trig, in Anchorage on April 23, 2008. Palin's fifth child was born with Down syndrome. (Al Grillo / AP ) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Appearing at the state elections office in Anchorage on March 14, 2008, Sarah Palin announces her endorsement of Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell, center, in his run for Alaska's congressional seat. Parnell had just filed to run against incumbent Republican Don Young. (Michael Dinneen / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Typically seen in black or red power suits while reading text messages on Blackberrys in each hand, Sarah Palin has appeared in Vogue, the fashion magazine. (Win McNamee / Getty Images ) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Sarah Palin is sworn in as Alaska's governor on Dec. 4, 2006, in Fairbanks. Alaska's first female governor, she took office on an ethics reform platform after defeating two former governors in the primary and general elections. Holding the Bible is her husband, Todd Palin. (Al Grillo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Sarah Palin, along with one of her daughters, poses with the caribou she shot in Alaska. Palin grew up hunting and fishing and is a member of the National Rifle Association. (Heath Family via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Sarah Palin, then Sarah Heath, worked as a news anchor in 1988 for KTUU-TV in Anchorage, Alaska. (KTUU-TV) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Sarah Palin poses for a photo after she won the Miss Wasilla beauty pagent in 1984 in Wasilla, Alaska. She went on to compete in the Miss Alaska competition, where she finished as a runner-up. (Heath Family via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Sarah Palin, a star basketball player in high school, stands with her brother, Chuck Heath, and sister, Heather Heath, in Wasilla, Alaska. (Heath Family via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. This undated photo provided by the Heath family shows Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, then Sarah Heath in Alaska. (Heath Family via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. This undated photo provided by the Heath family shows Sarah Palin, then Sarah Heath, holding shrimp her father, Chuck, caught in Skagway, Alaska, where he was a school teacher for 5 years. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. This 1964 photo shows Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin with her mother, Sally Heath, in Wasilla, Alaska. Palin was the first Alaskan to run on a national ticket. (Heath Family via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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