First lady Melania Trump arrives before the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
PHOTO: J. Scott Applewhite/AP
First lady Melania Trump arrives before the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Now playing
01:01
Melania Trump enters House chamber
US President Donald Trump smiles after arriving to give the State of the Union address in the chamber of the US House of Representatives in Washington, DC, on January 30, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Win McNamee        (Photo credit should read WIN MCNAMEE/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: WIN MCNAMEE/AFP/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump smiles after arriving to give the State of the Union address in the chamber of the US House of Representatives in Washington, DC, on January 30, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Win McNamee (Photo credit should read WIN MCNAMEE/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:00
Trump's State of the Union speech in 2 minutes
Cabinet members, members of Congress and Supreme Court justices listen as President Donald Trump delivers the State of the Union address on January 30, 2018.
PHOTO: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty
Cabinet members, members of Congress and Supreme Court justices listen as President Donald Trump delivers the State of the Union address on January 30, 2018.
Now playing
00:44
Dems boo Trump's 'chain migration' remarks
SOTU officer holets
PHOTO: POOL
SOTU officer holets
Now playing
01:38
Trump to cop: You embody the nation's goodness
estado de la union trump infraestructura segura moderna inversion sot _00001903.jpg
PHOTO: CNN
estado de la union trump infraestructura segura moderna inversion sot _00001903.jpg
Now playing
01:52
Trump reverses Obama policy on Guantanamo Bay
SOTU otto warmbier parents
PHOTO: POOL
SOTU otto warmbier parents
Now playing
02:34
Trump: We honor Otto Warmbier's memory
SOTU Ji Seong-ho
PHOTO: POOL
SOTU Ji Seong-ho
Now playing
02:51
Trump honors North Korean defector at SOTU
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 30:  U.S. President Donald J. Trump delivers the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives January 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. This is the first State of the Union address given by U.S. President Donald Trump and his second joint-session address to Congress.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 30: U.S. President Donald J. Trump delivers the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives January 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. This is the first State of the Union address given by U.S. President Donald Trump and his second joint-session address to Congress. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:36
Trump: This is why we stand for the Anthem
2018 State of the Union Pool Switched/DEM Response BU
PHOTO: POOL
2018 State of the Union Pool Switched/DEM Response BU
Now playing
01:40
Trump: Americans are dreamers too
President Donald Trump gestures as delivers his first State of the Union address in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol to a joint session of Congress Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018 in Washington, as Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan applaud. (Win McNamee/Pool via AP)
PHOTO: Win McNamee/AP
President Donald Trump gestures as delivers his first State of the Union address in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol to a joint session of Congress Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018 in Washington, as Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan applaud. (Win McNamee/Pool via AP)
Now playing
01:06
Trump: We are enacting the biggest tax cuts
US President Donald Trump delivers the State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 30, 2018.
 / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB        (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: SAUL LOEB/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump delivers the State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 30, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:09
Trump: Open borders cause loss of lives
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 30:  U.S. President Donald J. Trump waves during the State of the Union address as U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (L) and Speaker of the House U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) (R) look on in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives January 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. This is the first State of the Union address given by U.S. President Donald Trump and his second joint-session address to Congress.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Win McNamee/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 30: U.S. President Donald J. Trump waves during the State of the Union address as U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (L) and Speaker of the House U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) (R) look on in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives January 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. This is the first State of the Union address given by U.S. President Donald Trump and his second joint-session address to Congress. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Now playing
03:27
Trump outlines pillars of immigration plan
SOTU trump 05
PHOTO: POOL
SOTU trump 05
Now playing
01:13
Trump: The era of economic surrender is over
2018 State of the Union Pool Switched/DEM Response BU
PHOTO: POOL
2018 State of the Union Pool Switched/DEM Response BU
Now playing
01:23
Trump honors Scalise during speech
2018 State of the Union Pool Switched/DEM Response BU
PHOTO: POOL
2018 State of the Union Pool Switched/DEM Response BU
Now playing
01:09
Trump: We are rediscovering the American way
(CNN) —  

In a break with longstanding tradition, Melania Trump opted to ride with the guests she invited to share her first lady’s box during President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address.

The motorcade ride, from the White House south lawn to the Capitol building, is just a handful of minutes, but for a first couple who has not been publicly seen together since New Year’s Eve, the separate cars were another in a string of isolated movements from a very independent first lady.

The Trumps will return to the White House in the same vehicle, according to Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s communications director.

Melania Trump appeared to a standing ovation in the Capitol and was seated for her husband’s speech just one minute before its scheduled start.

Wearing a cream pantsuit by French design house Christian Dior, and a white silk blouse from Italian label Dolce & Gabbana, the first lady looked coincidentally very similar to the female Democratic congressional members who last year at Trump’s address to the Joint Session of Congress protested Trump’s policies by wearing white, the color of suffragettes.

The first lady took her seat in a special box, between New Mexico police Officer Ryan Holets and 12-year-old Preston Sharp, two of the guests who were part of what she deemed in an earlier tweet an “honorable group” of notable heroes and survivors. Holets adopted the baby of an opioid-addicted mother, and Sharp organized an effort to place 40,000 flags and flowers at the graves of soldiers.

PHOTO: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

As for why the first lady opted not to ride to the big speech with her husband, Grisham said Trump is “honoring her guests for the true heroes they are.”

“In addition to holding a White House reception and photo opportunity for them, along with their friends and family, she is accompanying them to the Capitol,” Grisham said in a statement. “Once there, the first lady and Mrs. Pence will host a more intimate meet-and-greet to engage with them on a personal level prior to the speech.”

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the first lady arrived separately for “no reason other than she can greet the guests and he can go straight in.”

The first lady’s decision to hold her own White House reception for her 15 special guests invited to sit at the State of the Union, and their accompanying friends and family, was another example of Melania Trump’s autonomy. Typically, the President’s annual meet-and-greet with the guests in the Oval Office suffices for pre-speech pomp and circumstance, however, according to Grisham, the first lady felt the need to host a different event, one that offered more personal exposure to the honorees and a chance to recount their stories.

Barack and Michelle Obama, as well as George and Laura Bush, walked together from the White House doors to the same limo for the drive to State of the Union for all of the eight years each held office. In February 2017, the Trumps also shared a ride in The Beast to Capitol Hill for Trump’s first Joint Session of Congress.

CNN’s Jim Acosta contributed to this report.