Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Jenna Bush Hager
Jenna Bush Hager has gushed about her dad's sweet role at her 2008 lakeside Texas wedding. The father of the bride, then-President George W. Bush, even hosted a reception at the White House, where he and hundreds of guests danced the night away.
Behind the scenes, however, the president may have preferred a more low-key affair.
"My dad wanted us to elope," Hager, 40, said with a laugh while chatting with her Today co-host Hoda Kotb on Wednesday's broadcast.
When Kotb, 57, asked if it was "because of all the hoopla," Hager said, "Because it was a pain. He was like, 'What are y'all doing? Y'all should just elope!' "
The president acknowledged as much back in a 2008 interview, telling Glamour ahead of the nuptials, "I'm convinced that she loves the guy and he loves her. Only advice I had was: Are you sure you don't want to elope?" But he clarified then that he wasn't "really ... serious about it."
The wedding topic came up on Today on Wednesday during a conversation about living life with spontaneity — inspired by Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker's surprise, post-Grammys wedding in Las Vegas. (Kardashian and Barker, however, wed without a license.)
"He wanted us to elope," Hager told Kotb of her dad, "but I don't know if he wanted us to go to Vegas to do it."
The Hagers tied the knot as the sun set on the Bushes' secluded 1,600-acre Prairie Chapel Ranch in Crawford, Texas. Hager's dad drove her to the site of the ceremony in a pickup truck. She and Henry exchanged vows before a 4-foot limestone cross and altar — the structure was her father's idea — which still stands on the property.
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Shealah Craighead/The White House via Getty
"The wedding was spectacular. It's all we could have hoped for," President Bush said at the time. "It was just a special day and a wonderful day, and we're mighty blessed."
Hager said Wednesday that she was much more carefree before adulthood limited her opportunities to make impromptu decisions.
"I was that kid. I was sort of on the impulsive side. Didn't think everything through," she told Kotb. "Some of that I've weeded out, because sometimes that impulsiveness isn't always great — to blurt stuff or jump from a cliff or some of the stuff that I did that wasn't always thoughtful."
Still, she finds time for thrills when it matters
"I miss some of it. It's hard to be spontaneous when you have a full-time job and kids and a mortgage," she continued before admitting, "I want to be spontaneous. Would you ever skydive with me?"
"Why are you asking me this?" Kotb replied. "I have to think about it … I do, but I have two children!"