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Kassebaum, Baker Marry In Washington

December 7, 1996

WASHINGTON (AP) _ In a simple ceremony attended by their families and a few well-known friends, Sen. Nancy Kassebaum and former Sen. Howard Baker were married Saturday, the first time two people who served in the Senate have ever tied the knot.

``She was beautiful, he was handsome, and they were happy,″ said former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander, who attended the wedding with his wife, Honey, at St. Alban’s Church in Washington.

The bride, 64, who is retiring in a few weeks after serving three Senate terms from Kansas, wore a straight, dark purple dress just below knee length, accented by rolled pearls. Baker, 71, who served three Senate terms from Tennessee ending in 1985, wore a navy suit, white shirt, and navy tie with small yellow dots.

Viewed through the glass outer doors of the church, the couple clasped hands before the ceremony and then walked together down aisle of the stone church, which is adjacent to the huge National Cathedral.

The 15-minute ceremony before 80 guests was performed by former Sen. John Danforth of Missouri, an ordained Episcopal priest, and the Rev. Martha Anne Fairchild, a Presbyterian minister from Baker’s hometown of Huntsville, Tenn.

The matron of honor was Kassebaum’s daughter, Linda Johnson. Baker’s son Darek was best man.

After sealing their marriage with a kiss and greeting guests, the newlyweds came outside in a steady, cold rain to talk to reporters. Kassebaum said she wasn’t nervous, but Baker felt a little differently.

``I’ve been nervous for days,″ he said.

Kassebaum said she felt ``wonderful and glad it’s over.″

Baker was asked whether he felt a sense of history as the first two senators ever to marry each other, which was verified by the Senate historian.

``Nancy and I have known each other for a long time. We share a lot of the same interests,″ he said. ``And besides that, you know, love conquers a lot of things.″

Aside from their families, guests at the wedding included former first lady Barbara Bush, former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole and his wife, Elizabeth, former ambassador Robert Strauss and former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger.

Dole, who has kept a low profile since his loss to President Clinton in last month’s election, didn’t speak to reporters but did visit a day care center at St. Alban’s when its director, Rhonda Buford, hollered out that the children had made Christmas ornaments for sale.

The Doles gave a donation for two red ornaments picked out by Mrs. Dole, Ms. Buford said.

After the wedding, the Bakers _ Kassebaum said she will drop her maiden name Landon and go by Nancy Kassebaum Baker _ attended a larger reception across town. Among those on the 180-person guest list were former President Bush, the Doles, United Nations Ambassador Madeleine Albright and more than a dozen senators, including William Cohen of Maine, Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, Strom Thurmond of South Carolina and Fred Thompson of Tennessee.

The couple planned a honeymoon, but wouldn’t reveal where they will go. They plan to split time between her farm in Burdick, Kan., and his home in Tennessee, but both will also spend some time in Washington.

Kassebaum, daughter of former Kansas governor and 1936 Republican presidential nominee Alf Landon, has been divorced since 1979 and Baker’s first wife, Joy, died three years ago after a long illness. The couple, both Republicans, began dating about a year ago.

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