Brides often worry about their bridesmaids upstaging them on their big day. For Dana Remus, general counsel for the Obama Foundation and Obama’s personal office, the bridesmaids were the least of her worries: former President Barack Obama served as the officiant at her wedding.
This past Sunday, January 21, in a small wedding of approximately 120 people at District Winery, the president wed Remus and Brett Holmgren, who also worked with Obama at the White House, both as the special assistant to the President and the senior director for intelligence programs on the National Security Council Staff.
“We had decided to invite him because he was such an important part of our lives, we asked him if he could attend the wedding,” recalls Brett. “We also asked him if he could officiate, and he was intrigued with the idea.”
At first the couple didn’t know if the scheduling would work for President Obama, and they didn’t want to put him on the spot. Once the plans did work out, they also enlisted Reverend Oran Warder to speak at the service. The majority of the guests did not know that the President was going to speak until the actual ceremony, and the close family that did know was sworn to secrecy. The bride walked down the aisle to Pachelbel’s Canon in D, and then President Obama spoke. He’d received a temporary officiant’s license through the District of Columbia. He also was a signer on their marriage certificate.
Though the former first lady Michelle Obama was invited, she was unable to attend.
“He complimented them both on their work, on the type of people they were, threw in a tiny bit of humor. He spoke about how their work has been a service to the people and how the two of them complement each other. Very very sincere remarks,” recalls Mary Holmgren, Brett’s mother, “it came from his heart.”
In an email, Obama spokesperson Eric Schultz sends along the names of some other guests: “Susan Rice, Ian Cameron, James Clapper, Anita Dunn, Bob Bauer, Lisa Monaco, Denis McDonough, Karin Hillstrom, Anita Decker Breckenridge, Russ Breckendrige, Eric Schultz, Emily Blakemore, Sean Crotty, Stuart Murphy, Nick Mcquaid, Joe Paulsen, Samantha Tubman, Michael Bosworth, David Guggenheim, Jeff Zients, Mary Menell, Yohannes Abraham.”
After the ceremony, which was upstairs at the winery, the party moved downstairs for the reception. Though President Obama was invited to stay for dinner, he only stayed long enough for a few pictures with the family before leaving. “Friends and family danced the evening away at District Winery in Navy Yards,” Schultz writes.
“He stayed around a little bit for pictures with the family, but he did not want to detract from their day,” says Mary Holmgren, “it was a very very exciting moment. Everybody who was there was just flabbergasted and amazed at just what a nice person he is.”
For Brett and Dana, the moment was incredibly special. “We really just wanted to have an awesome party and not worry about all the little things,” says Brett.