“We weren’t expecting that,” Barbara, 36, says in an interview for the new issue of PEOPLE. At the time, she was dating Los-Angeles-based screenwriter Craig Coyne, 36 — whom she wed last weekend — but hadn’t yet introduced him to her grandparents.
“Craig didn’t get to meet my grandmother. I thought there would be plenty of time for that to happen.”
Four months later, with an engagement ring on her finger, Barbara decided she wouldn’t make the same mistake with her 94-year-old grandfather, former President George H.W. Bush.
Craig proposed on Aug. 25, during a Bush family gathering at her grandparents’ oceanside home in Kennebunkport, Maine. “We actually would have gotten married the next week if we could have,” says Barbara. “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.”
For more wedding details and an exclusive wedding photo album, pick up the new issue of People on newsstands Friday.
They knew they wanted to wed in Maine, which she calls her and Craig’s “happy place” after the couple spent alone time there with her grandfather in early summer, when he returned to Kennebunkport for the first time without his wife.
“It was just us three — quiet and beautiful. I would read to him. While he napped, Craig and I would go on walks, then dress my grandfather up and take him out for martinis and oysters.”
“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,” says Barbara, board chair of the Global Health Corps nonprofit she co-founded in 2008.
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At the Sunday evening wedding on his back lawn, Bush beamed in the front row and stayed up to celebrate afterward, an attendee tells PEOPLE. “We was there with them all through dinner.”
“That’s the one thing about waiting,” says Barbara. “You can have this great career and this great life. But, of course, the older you get, you lose people that you love.”