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Jenna Bush Hager shares wedding toast she gave at twin sister Barbara's wedding

Jenna's new book shares the heartwarming wedding toast she made to her twin sister, Barbara, and stories of the tight bond forged in their childhood.
/ Source: TODAY

Jenna Bush Hager's new book not only shares essays about her touching relationship with her late grandparents, it also highlights the special bond she has with her twin sister.

Jenna read an excerpt on TODAY Tuesday from "Everything Beautiful in Its Time" in which she revealed the toast she made to Barbara at her sister's 2018 wedding to Craig Coyne in an intimate ceremony at the family's compound in Kennebunkport, Maine.

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"This is a toast that I wrote to my sister on the night of her wedding with our grandpa sitting between us," Jenna said. "I want to toast my beautiful, closest Barbara on the night of her wedding. Tonight, guided by the ocean, the soundtrack of our childhood, you married sweet Craig.

"There is one person we are missing tonight, whose seat is impossible to fill, who would be beaming with pride. And that is our Ganny. She would be thrilled by this wedding."

"Everything Beautiful in Its Time," by Jenna Bush Hager

Barbara's wedding came six months after the death of her and Jenna's beloved grandmother, former first lady Barbara Bush, whom the twins affectionately called "Ganny."

In her new book, Jenna reflects on her childhood with her sister as well as her annoyance at the pestering Barbara endured about when she would get married once the sisters reached their mid-30s.

"I faced constant questions about my sister’s love life—namely, her lack of a spouse," she wrote. "On our book tour, I was struck by how often she was asked when she was getting married and how often I was asked to account for why she wasn’t married yet. She was accomplished in countless ways, and yet no one ever seemed to ask about her life-changing work in Africa."

Barbara's love story with her husband began when she and Jenna were traveling together.

"I believe that love comes when it is supposed to; I saw it happen for my beloved sister when we were on our book tour," Jenna wrote.

Jenna and Barbara were promoting their bestselling children's book, "Sisters First," when Barbara first met the man who would become her husband. Friends had been trying to set them up together, and Jenna urged Barbara to meet him for a casual drink at the hotel bar during a tour stop.

"Earlier that day, Barbara had made me swear that I wouldn’t invite him to our book event, no matter how well the drinks were going," Jenna wrote. "I am usually true to my word. But this was a moment when I took it upon myself to break my promise. When I asked Craig if he would like to come to our talk that evening, Barbara dealt me a sharp elbow to the ribs. Craig, ignoring my yelp of pain, said he would love to."

The two had their first date that evening at Jenna and Barbara's book event in Atlanta moderated by author Emily Giffin.

"While we were onstage talking, Emily told the crowd that Craig was on a blind date with Barbara," Jenna wrote. "Barbara groaned. Craig blushed. Emily doubled down and asked for the spotlight to shine on him sitting in the audience. Fortunately, the tech crew did not know what Craig looked like and put the wrong man in the spotlight’s glare.

"After the talk, Emily insisted we all take a photo together. 'This way when you two get married, you can look at this picture and remember the night you first met!' Craig and Barbara laughed. Then, just six months later, they did just that."

The couple moved up their wedding so that it could be attended by the sisters' grandfather, former President George H.W. Bush, who was 94 and in failing health following his wife's death.

The 20-person wedding took place along the coast in Maine where the sisters have plenty of cherished memories from growing up. It started raining right after the ceremony.

"I joked that it was a sign Ganny was upset that we moved the furniture around so we could have a cocktail hour inside," Jenna wrote.

Jenna shared the emotional moment when she rose to toast her sister at the reception.

"As I did, I looked in her eyes and realized that my earliest, greatest love—the person who taught me the most about being in a partnership—had been just down the hall of our three-bedroom ranch house growing up: my sister, with her narrow shoulders, tortoiseshell glasses, and thick-as-rope auburn hair," she wrote.

"Barbara, I have loved you every moment of our lives," she said in her toast. "Having you as my life partner has been one of the greatest gifts of my life."

Jenna then shared a love letter that George H.W. Bush wrote to Barbara in 1994; the two were married for 73 years.

"This is what I wish for you: the laughter, devotion, and adoration they felt for each other," Jenna concluded in her toast. "The respect and, most of all, the compassion. Craig, I hope in fifty years you’re writing a love letter like this to Barbara. Oh, and, Craig—good luck keeping up with Barbara Pierce Bush from Texas."