White House Weddings: The Johnson Family Had a Huge Affair – Davie County Foundation Register
White House Weddings: The Johnson family had a huge affair
Published at 2:36pm Tuesday, September 19, 2023
by Betty Aitchison West
For the institution
It had been 32 years since a wedding had been held at the White House when Linda Bird Johnson, daughter of President Lyndon Baines Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson, and Charles Spital Robb married in the East Room of the White House on December 9, 1967.
The last White House wedding was that of Harry Hopkins, advisor to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Louise Jill Macy, which was held in the Yellow Oval Room on July 30, 1942.
Linda Byrd was not the first daughter of President and Mrs. Johnson to marry. Her sister, Lucy Baines Johnson, Johnson’s youngest daughter, had married the previous year. She converted to Catholicism and was married in the church, attended by the groom, Patrick John Nugent.
Lucy was the first presidential daughter to be married in a church, the first to be married in a Catholic ceremony, and the first bride to be married at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the largest Catholic church in the United States. Although the bride did not choose to marry in the White House, a huge reception was held in the White House after the wedding ceremony in the church.
There was a lot of activity at the White House as staff prepared for the 700 guests who would arrive for the reception after the Johnson/Nugent wedding. Among these guests will be special guest Alice Roosevelt Longworth, who was married at the White House sixty years ago.
In their book “The White House Wedding,” Mary Smith and Louise Durbin describe some of the reception decor: “A canopy was placed over Jacqueline Kennedy’s lawn where guests waited before moving into the Blue Room to meet guests. The bride and groom. The long corridor through which guests walked into the Blue Room was lined with green buckets of white petunias and pink geraniums. A gold chandelier in the formal dining room was used as a stand from which greenery and flowers flowed. Clusters of yellow, white, blue and orange flowers decorated the buffet table in the formal dining room. ”
After cutting the cake with a sword-like knife and dancing to the music of Peter Duchenne’s orchestra, the bride and groom went upstairs, dressed in their traveling clothes and left for their honeymoon.
In the fall of the following year, 1967, the Johnson family was preparing for another wedding. Linda Byrd, whom the president described as being more like her mother than he was because she was hardworking and ambitious, became engaged to Navy Captain Charles Robb. Linda Byrd met Captain Robb while working as a social assistant at the White House. Of all the officers who served as White House aides, it was Captain Robb who caught the attention of the president’s daughter. More importantly, it became its source of funding.
Robb was scheduled to be deployed to Vietnam in early 1968. The young couple wanted to get married before that dis left. The date was set as 9/1967. The wedding was held in the East Room with the Reverend Gerald Nicholas McAllister performing the ceremony. There were 650 guests at the party.
Linda Byrd looked beautiful when she entered the room carrying the arm of her father, President Lyndon Baines Johnson. She wore a dress designed by Jeffrey Bean. It was a high-necked, long-sleeved dress made of silk satin. It was not decorated with any lace, but was fastened in the middle of the back with a long, gathered train. Her veil was long and thin. Linda Byrd carried a small bouquet of white flowers. She had eight bridesmaids, who wore red in recognition of the season.
After the ceremony, guests were asked to leave the East Room for a while. The family went upstairs to the yellow oval family room to take photos. Guests were then invited back to the East Room for cocktails, a buffet, cake cutting, and dancing. This was the first time that the East Room was transformed from a wedding venue into a venue for cocktails and a buffet meal. After enjoying their meal, the newlyweds cut the wedding cake, then danced their first dances to music provided by the Peter Duchenne Orchestra before disappearing. They went back to the family residence where they changed into their traveling clothes. Linda Bird and the Krills flew away to their honeymoon destination by helicopter.
President Johnson wanted to make sure the American people knew no taxpayer money was being spent on his daughters’ weddings, so he issued a statement. He said he may have to take out a loan to pay for his daughters’ weddings but taxpayer money has not been spent. The loan part was probably a joke because the family was wealthy as a result of owning telecommunications facilities. In fact, Mrs. Johnson inherited the first station, and has managed it well ever since. “You know my wife is the only one in the family who has ever been on the payroll,” Mr. Johnson said. ‘
Captain Robb had already served two tours of duty in Vietnam. He commanded a rifle company in combat and was awarded a Bronze Star. After Charles Robb was discharged from the US Marine Corps, he went to the University of Virginia where he earned his law degree. He was elected Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in 1977 and then Governor of Virginia in 1981. Robb later served two terms, from 1989 to 2001, as a U.S. Senator. After leaving the Senate in 2001, he joined the faculty at George Mason University. His wife, Linda Byrd Johnson Robb, was a member of the National Basic Reading Council and was a contributing editor for the Ladies Home Journal.
Tragedy struck the Robb family when fire destroyed their Virginia home in 2021. Both former Senator Charles Robb and his wife, Linda Byrd Johnson Robb, were taken to the hospital but were not seriously injured. According to Fairfax County real estate records, the value of the house, which overlooks the Potomac River, was $3.4 million. “We have what is most important to us — our mother and father,” said Robin’s three daughters, Jennifer, Katherine and Lucinda.