President Bush Called Jenna's 2008 Wedding 'Spectacular' but She Now Says, 'He Wanted Us to Elope'

Jenna Bush Hager TODAY

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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.

RELATED: Jenna Bush's Wedding Album

Henry Hager And Jenna Bush Wedding

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.

RELATED: Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker Were 'Totally in Love' at Wedding: 'Barely Came Up for Air'

"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

Hager took an aerial plunge last summer to honor her late grandfather President George H. W. Bush, in another moment she said made her father proud.

RELATED: The Most Beautiful Photos from Past Bush Family Weddings

"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!"