U.S. Sen. Susan Collins married her longtime friend and mentor, political consultant Thomas Daffron, in her hometown of Caribou on Saturday morning.
The senator wore a floor-length ivory lace dress in a ceremony performed at the Gray Memorial United Methodist Church by the Rev. Dr. Thomas Bentum. A reception followed at the Caribou Inn and Convention Center.
About 50 family members and close friends attended the wedding, which featured much family involvement.
Collins, the daughter of Donald and Patricia Collins of Caribou, was escorted down the aisle by her father. Her sisters, Kathleen Wiesendanger and Nancy Collins, were among the bridal party, which included best man Steve Abbott, former longtime Collins chief of staff and now athletic director at the University of Maine, and groomsman Sam Collins, brother of the bride.
Also participating in the ceremony were Daffron’s daughter, Susan Daffron, and his brother-in-law Richard Weishaupt and four of the bride’s nieces: Tess Collins, Catherine Collins, Emily Collins and Annie Collins.
Her former teacher Margaret Cyr of Caribou played the organ and was accompanied by Tess Collins, who sang a solo during the ceremony. Collins’ sister Nancy Collins performed on the piano at the luncheon, which featured lobster salad over summer greens, chicken salad, a vegetarian option and roasted Maine potatoes.
The wedding cake was a Maine wild blueberry cake with traditional butter cream frosting. Cupcakes were also served, including chocolate with chocolate ganache filling and a white frosting, lemon with lemon custard filling and a light lemon frosting and white with Maine blueberry filling and white frosting. The cake was made by Jessica Simmons of Momma Jay’s Cakes in Windham.
Collins carried a bouquet of ivory wedding tea roses and discovery blue irises, by Noyes Florists in Caribou.
Minutes after the ceremony, Collins was responding through her staff to media requests for comment on Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential choice, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, before moving on to a luncheon reception at the inn.
Meanwhile, other Maine politicians were issuing statements of congratulations, including U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe and her husband, former Gov. John McKernan.
“We couldn’t be more pleased and thrilled for both Susan and Tom at this exciting moment in their lives. Their common interests and love of Maine and politics have brought them together over the years and will undoubtedly continue to enrich and strengthen their union for years to come,” they said in a joint statement.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton threw an engagement party for Collins that included female senators and former U.S Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
Clinton and Collins served together in the Senate from 2001 to 2008. Clinton, as a Democratic senator from New York, and Collins both sat on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Collins’ constituents ate up details about the impending nuptials, which the couple tried to keep secret until Saturday.
Collins and Daffron’s wedding registry featured a list of modest and practical requests, such as a $19.95 knife sharpener, a gas grill and a hand mixer. The wedding was scheduled during the congressional recess, lest Collins lose her perfect voting record.
Collins, 59, and Daffron, 73, announced their engagement in February. It was the bride’s first marriage. The bridegroom’s first marriage ended in divorce.
Daffron, chief operating officer of Jefferson Consulting Group in Washington, D.C., served as chief of staff to U.S. Sen. William Cohen for nearly two decades and was the national campaign manager for Elizabeth Dole’s 2000 presidential bid. He also spent three years as senior vice president of the Baltimore Orioles. As a behind-the-scenes operator, Daffron’s political advice is highly valued by Maine politicos.
The wedding capped off a long-standing political relationship and friendship. Daffron hired Collins as a 21-year-old intern at Cohen’s congressional office in 1974 and mentored her on the inner workings of the Senate. Collins said Daffron was the driving force behind her successful bid to fill Cohen’s seat after he stepped down from the Senate in 1996.
The couple own a four-bedroom row house on Capitol Hill.
Details about a wedding trip were not disclosed.
Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at: