Though the Bush matriarch died at 92 in April, the bride carried with her on her wedding day a sentimental reminder of her beloved namesake.
“It’s really sweet. The ‘something borrowed’ that I’m wearing is this bracelet that my grandfather gave to my grandmother on their 70th anniversary,” Barbara, 36, told PEOPLE just days before her seaside wedding at the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine.
After it was decided Barbara would wear the “borrowed” bracelet, her grandfather’s staff gave her another sweet memento. “They found this photo of them hugging right after he gave the bracelet to her, which is really sweet and special,” Barbara says.
On her wedding day, Barbara wore the bracelet on her left arm and recreated with her wheelchair-bound grandfather the pose he had struck with his wife just three and a half years earlier—on January 6, 2015.
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The bracelet wasn’t the only reminder of the elder Barbara Bush at the wedding.
President Bush, 72, paid tribute to his late mother in a heartfelt speech after the ceremony, a wedding attendee tells PEOPLE.
“Barbara is named for a unique and strong woman — and rightly so, for she is unique and strong,” the 43rd president said of his mother and daughter.
“As I was thinking about this toast in my studio, I was looking at the portrait I made of Barbara,” he continued of the younger Barbara. “I painted a beauty with dazzling blue eyes. In those eyes, I painted a compassionate soul who cares deeply about the less fortunate. I painted a woman who is daring and adventuresome — a woman who has fierce determination to make a positive contribution to mankind. I painted a kind friend and a highly intelligent person. I painted a loving person who loves man and cat alike. But most of all, I painted a woman who I love and for whom I have such great pride.”
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And Jenna honored her grandmother’s love story with her husband, former President George H.W. Bush, 94, who was on hand Sunday to see his granddaughter tie the knot.
In an emotional moment, Jenna read a letter George H.W. Bush wrote to his wife on their 49th wedding anniversary on Jan. 6, 1994.
“Will you marry me?” the 41st president wrote in a letter addressed to Barbara Pierce and signed GHWB. “Oops, I forgot, you did that 49 years ago today! I was very happy on that day in 1945, but I am even happier today. You have given me joy that few men know.
“You have made our boys into men by bawling them out and then, right away, by loving them. You have helped Doro be the sweetest greatest daughter in the whole wide world. I have climbed perhaps the highest mountain in the world, but even that cannot hold a candle to being Barbara’s husband,” the letter continued. “Mum used to tell me: ‘Now, George, don’t walk ahead’. Little did she know I was only trying to keep up — keep up with Barbara Pierce from Onondaga Street in Rye New York. I love you!”