Barbara Bush Married Quickly So Her Grandfather Could Be There While He's Healthy

Barbara Bush’s decision to marry Craig Coyne just five weeks after their engagement was due to the fear of not having her grandfather, former President George H.W. Bush, at the wedding.

Speaking to PEOPLE following the Sunday ceremony in Kennebunkport, Maine, Barbara, the 36-year-old daughter of former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush, revealed that her whirlwind romance was prompted after the death of her grandmother, former First Lady Barbara Bush.

“We weren’t expecting that,” Bush recalled of the former First Lady’s April death at the age of 92. “Craig didn’t get to meet my grandmother. I thought there would be plenty of time for that to happen.”

Just weeks after the former First Lady’s death, Bush’s grandfather was admitted to Southern Maine Health Care where he was treated for “low blood pressure and fatigue.” He was released from the hospital in June, though the health scare had a lasting effect on Bush.

“He’s great — totally with it. He is, of course, 94 years old and misses my grandmother. We just thought, let’s try to do [the wedding] soon — a small wedding with just our family and my grandfather, here,” Barbara said. “That’s the one thing about waiting. You can have this great career and this great life. But, of course, the older you get, you lose people that you love.”

The couple, who became engaged in August in the same spot where Bush’s grandparents had become engaged nearly 75 years earlier, opted not to have a lengthy wedding planning period, already knowing that they wanted to get married in their “happy place” in Maine.

“We actually would have gotten married the next week if we could have,” Babrara 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.”

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The intimate ceremony was attended by only 20 close family members, including Barbara’s parents, her sister Jenna Bush Hager, Hager’s two daughters, and Coyne’s niece. Former President George H.W. Bush was seated in the front row and later attended the reception afterward, where Hager read a love letter that he had written to the late former First Lady.

Barbara also chose to honor her grandparents by pairing her custom ivory silk crepe Vera Wang gown with a bracelet that her grandfather had gifted her grandmother on their 70th anniversary, revealing that the small memento was her “something borrowed” for the big day.