This one is not too old but I do it again because I added a video interview that I recently came done shortly after this post was originally created. In the clip, Luci Baines Johnson discusses her wedding day between newsreel footage shots. Sharp-eyed viewers will catch glimpses of the actual Pricilla of Boston fussing around the bridal gown as Luci gets in and out of the limo. replayed from January 17, 2008
No White House wedding for her, though – she’s opting for a more
private affair at the Crawford Ranch. It’s just as well because no one
– and I mean no one – could out do the extravaganza that took place
when Luci Baines Johnson had her White House wedding in 1966. Tricia
Nixon Cox may have had a tasteful and elegant White House Rose Garden
wedding, but that was a quiet afternoon at the rest home compared
Luci’s reception. This 10-page article from TIME magazine for August
1966, Three Ring Wedding, lays it all out.
On page 1, Luci is quoted: “I only want,” she said last month, “as
personal a wedding as possible in the circumstances in which I find
myself.” By page 2, the National Shrine’s 56-bell carillon is
thundering for solid hour before the ceremony, a 100-voice choir is
singing and 2 priests are standing on the altar ready to marry Luci and
Patrick Nugent in the presence of 10 bridesmaids, 12 ushers, a matron
of honor, a flower girl, a ring bearer and about 700 invited guests.
That was back in the day when the wedding party processional looked
like a marching band, everyone wore gloves and the dresses came with
color matched head pieces. Here are the gals lined up on the White
House steps and rocking some fierce kind of pink watered taffeta.
Luci’s dress was a Priscilla of Boston creation with a flowing 9-foot long Watteau court train that
fell from the shoulder. The finished dress, kept secret till the day of
the wedding, traveled from Massachusetts to Washington with an armed
escort of secret service agents.
correct myself to say that it was Tricia Nixon’s Priscilla of Boston
wedding dress that had the secret service escort. All I can say by way
of apology is that all these mesmerizing images put me into a pink
taffeta trance that made it difficult to think straight.]
This is one of those pink dresses, now on display at Neiman-Marcus in Dallas, complete with matching shoes. The inside hem is embroidered with the words “The White House Wedding of
Luci Baines Johnson.”
Dear readers, this is the one time in my life that I regret not
having a paid account with the New York Times. There is no less than six full pages listing article after article about the wedding preparations,
everything from the showers to the gifts to the wedding dinner menu.
We’ll have to wait for some casual googler with paid access to the
archives to come along and inform us all in a drive-by comment.
Until then, all we’ve got is the cake. And what a cake it was – 13
tiers, 8 feet tall and 300 pounds of white fruit cake. It thrills me to
know that this was not your basic white wedding cake. Your own Suzette
had a delightful cherry-walnut wedding cake, although it was only 2
tiers tall and didn’t have any swans on it.
I highly recommend clicking that picture for a larger version in which you can see:
- Lady Bird Jonson’s knees
- some big Texas hair
- Luci cutting the cake with her father.
- the watery taffeta goodness of the bridesmaid’s dresses
Sadly, the marriage did not last, but a good cake can keep you company for a lifetime.
Recipe for Luci Baines Johnson’s Wedding Cake, ramped down to serve 12.
1/2 cup seedless white raisins
1 3/4 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
5 egg whites
3/4 cup chopped candied pineapple
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup sugar
5 tablespoons cold water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon lemon extract
Cover raisins with brandy and let stand in refrigerator overnight.
Preheat oven to 300°F. Line two 8-inch cake pans with greased paper and
grease the sides.
Mix together flour
with baking powder and salt; sift. In a large mixing bowl, cream
butter. Gradually add sugar, and cream until light and fluffy. Beat in
egg whites one at a time. Drain raisins; add to batter with pineapple,
walnuts, and extracts. Add dry ingredients to batter a little at a
time, beating after each addition; blend until smooth.
cake batter into prepared pans and bake in preheated oven for 1 1/4
hours, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on
wire racks before frosting with seven-minute icing.
In the top of a double boiler mix together all ingredients except lemon
extract. Cook over rapidly
boiling water, beating constantly at high speed with an electric hand
mixer until stiff peaks form, for about 7 minutes. Remove from heat,
lemon extract, and beat for another minute. Let cool slightly before
icing cake (not too long, or icing will harden).
IMPORTANT UPDATE: Bless the generous hearts at TIME
magazine who have freely opened their archives to searches by the likes
of me.In their August 12, 1966 recap of Luci’ wedding, we find the
answer to “Why is the bride cutting the cake with her father?”
“When Luci finally got around to trying to cut the 13-tier wedding cake,
it balked. The President of the U.S. brought his considerable pressure
to bear, but the cake still would not cut. Luci cried, “I quit,” but
Pat suggested trying the fifth layer. The knife finally cut through,
and Pat submitted to the bridegroom’s traditional cake-eating
It’s a fruitcake.