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Barbara Bush sped up her wedding day to make sure grandfather could be there

The newlywed said she was caught off guard by her grandmother's recent death and wanted to be sure her grandfather would attend the ceremony.
Craig Coyne, George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush
Former President George H.W. Bush poses with the bride and groom.Paul Morse Photography
/ Source: TODAY

After being caught off guard by her grandmother’s death, Barbara Bush said she knew she wanted to get married as soon as she got engaged to ensure her grandfather would be there on her special day.

Barbara, the 36-year-old twin sister of TODAY correspondent Jenna Bush Hager, tied the knot Sunday to screenwriter Craig Louis Coyne, also 36. The couple exchanged vows on the Bush family’s oceanside home in Kennebunkport, Maine.

Former President George H.W. Bush watches granddaughter Barbara Bush's wedding
Former President George H.W. Bush watches his granddaughter's wedding from a front-row seat.Paul Morse Photography

Barbara said she felt blindsided when her namesake grandmother, former first lady Barbara Bush, passed away in April at age 92. Barbara was dating Coyne at the time but hadn’t introduced him to her grandparents.

“Craig didn’t get to meet my grandmother. I thought there would be plenty of time for that to happen,” she told People magazine.

Coyne proposed four months later during a Bush family gathering in Maine, at the same site where her grandparents got engaged.

Barbara Bush and Craig Coyne wedding on October 7, 2018
The happy couple after tying the knot Sunday.Paul Morse Photography

“We actually would have gotten married the next week if we could have,” Barbara said. “We just thought, let’s try to do it soon. We knew we wanted to be married — we’d already made that decision — so we didn’t need months of an engagement.”

Barbara, the co-founder and chair of the nonprofit Global Health Corps, also kept thinking about her 94-year-old ailing grandfather, former President George H.W. Bush.

“You can have this great career and this great life. But, of course, the older you get, you lose people that you love,” she said.

The couple knew they wanted to hold the wedding in Maine, which Barbara called the couple’s “happy place” after the pair spent time there with her grandfather over the summer.

“We just thought, let’s try to do (the wedding) soon — a small wedding with just our family and my grandfather, here,” she said.

Her grandfather sat in the front row of the ceremony as Barbara was walked down the aisle escorted by her father, former President George W. Bush. She exchanged vows in a ceremony officiated by her aunt, Dorothy Bush Koch.

Barbara Bush and George W. Bush
Former President George W. Bush escorted his daughter down the aisle. Paul Morse Photography

The elder Bush also took part afterward at the dinner celebration, where Barbara’s sister gave a tearful toast.

“My eyes are still swollen,” Jenna told her colleagues Wednesday on Megyn Kelly TODAY.

Jenna described the evening gathering as “a sweet party.”

She also said the entire event was so low-key that they found the wedding musician, a classical guitarist, on Facebook.

“There were 20 people. There was no wedding planner,” she said.

While there were some glitches on the big day — she and her sister almost walked out without their bouquets and the men forgot to wear their boutonnieres — everything seemed perfect in the end.

“You forget about the little things and you focus on the big things,” she said.