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What marriage was like the year you were born

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Patrick Riviere // Getty Images

What marriage was like the year you were born

On its face, marriage seems like a simple proposition. A couple meets, falls in love, decides to spend the rest of their lives together, and plans a ceremony to make their choice official. But in reality, nothing could be more fluid and more ever-evolving than marriage, which has changed tremendously over the past century alone.

One hundred years ago, interracial and same-sex marriages were illegal, women were not allowed to gain access to lines of credit without a husband—or the signature of another willing male—and couples in and out of wedlock were not allowed to procure contraception. In the past century, norms regarding marriage and its accompanying privileges have evolved along with gender equality.

And broad societal changes aren’t the only things that have impacted marriage over the past 100 years. Trends in weddings themselves have reflected technological changes and advancements as they have happened, with photographs replacing portraits, camcorders supplanting photographs, and Instagram—and its accompanying wedding hashtags—making it all visible and archived on the internet.

Wedding fashion has changed dramatically over the years, too. From the flapper fashions of the 1920s to the flower child daisy bouquets of the 1960s to the big sleeves on the wedding gowns of the 1980s, the way a bride looks when she walks down the aisle has reflected the times at every turn.

And while celebrity and royal weddings have always captured the public’s interest—from Kate Middleton to Kim Kardashian—a new kind of wedding came to fascinate people over the course of the century: those of complete strangers. From flash mob weddings that make for viral videos to reality television’s penchant for making stars of ordinary people looking for love, it seems the public appetite for stories of love and matrimony is bottomless.

Stacker took a look at just what was happening in marriage during every year of the past century, highlighting the most important trends or events leading to the simple words, “I do.” In order to explore what marriage was like in every year of the past century, Stacker compiled data from Randal Olson’s analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) marriage and divorce data, the CDC’s 2017 National Marriage and Divorce Report, and the U.S. Census Historical Marital Status tables.

Read on to learn about what marriage was like the year you were born.

You may also like: What marriage rates were the year you were born 

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Topical Press Agency // Getty Images

1919: The wedding planner is born

- Marriages: 1.15 million (10.9 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 142,000 (1.4 per 1,000 people)

After World War I, formal weddings became increasingly popular. And those without social secretaries to manage the details of these increasingly elaborate affairs began turning to a new type of organizer to handle everything from the flowers to the food—the wedding planner.

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Kenneth Melvin Wright // Wikimedia Commons

1920: Two Jazz Age icons get hitched

- Marriages: 1.27 million (12 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 171,000 (1.6 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 24.6; Women: 21.2

The 1920s would come to be called the Roaring Twenties, and no couple embodied it more than the era’s chronicler, F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose novels “The Great Gatsby” and “Tender is the Night” captured the time in all its heady glamour. Fitzgerald married Zelda Sayre in April 1920, a week after “Tender is the Night” was published. The couple wed at New York City’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral, with only eight guests in attendance.

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JFK-EHEMC // Wikimedia Commons

1921: Hemingway marries his first wife

- Marriages: 1.16 million (10.7 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 160,000 (1.5 per 1,000 people)

Not to be outdone by his contemporary Fitzgerald, America’s other most famous man of letters, Ernest Hemingway, married his first wife Hadley Richardson in September 1921. The couple had known each other for less than a year, and during their honeymoon at the Hemingway family cottage on Walloon Lake, Mich., the couple both came down with a fever, sore throat, and cough. The couple would divorce in 1927, after Richardson discovered Hemingway’s affair with Pauline Pfeiffer, who became his second wife.

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Vandyk, Ltd // Wikimedia Commons

1922: A royal wedding for the ages

- Marriages: 1.13 million (10.3 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 149,000 (1.4 per 1,000 people)

After two banner American literary weddings, the British royal family took the title for wedding of the year in 1922. The most important nuptials that year were those between Princess Mary of England and Lord Henry Lascelles. The couple was married at Westminster Abbey, and it was the first wedding of a monarch’s child to be held at the famous religious site since 1290.

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Hulton Archive // Getty Images

1923: A Turkish union makes strides toward gender equality

- Marriages: 1.23 million (11 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 165,000 (1.5 per 1,000 people)

Turkish President Mustafa Kemal Ataturk made waves in 1923 when he married Latife Hanim. Hanim was highly educated and wasted no time getting involved with her husband’s political affairs. “In order to create a new family life in our fatherland, I must set a good example myself,” Ataturk said. “Are women to remain eternal servants?"

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Unknown // Wikimedia Commons

1924: The first wedding registry

- Marriages: 1.19 million (10.4 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 171,000 (1.5 per 1,000 people)

While long common to give the bride and groom gifts on their wedding day, it wasn’t until 1924 that there became a way to track what the bride and groom wanted and what they already had received. The department store Marshall Fields forever solved the age-old problem of duplicate punch bowls and china sets in 1924 when it introduced the wedding registry, which has helped married couples ever since start out their lives together with many of the things they need.

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Aumuller, Al // Wikimedia Commons

1925: A Southern belle is remarried

- Marriages: 1.19 million (10.3 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 175,000 (1.5 per 1,000 people)

“Gone with the Wind” author Margaret Mitchell was considered a rebel her whole life, often breaking with the traditions of her conservative Southern peers. Among her rebellious acts was re-marrying at the young age of 25, when she wed John Robert Marsh. The couple set up residence in a small apartment they happily called “the Dump,” and soon thereafter Mitchell began work on the manuscript that would make her famous.

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Evening Standard // Getty Images

1926: Celluloid superstars wed

- Marriages: 1.20 million (10.2 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 185,000 (1.6 per 1,000 people)

The famous film director Alfred Hitchcock married his longtime girlfriend Alma Reville in 1926, five years after meeting her in Berlin. But Reville was much more than Hitchcock’s wife­—she was also his longtime collaborator, and Hitchcock was fond of telling their mutual friends that Reville had actually entered the film business before even he did.

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Topical Press Agency // Getty Images

1927: Flappers get married in style

- Marriages: 1.20 million (10.1 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 196,000 (1.6 per 1,000 people)

The 1920s were known for “flapper” fashions, which were marked by dropped-waist silhouettes, raised hemlines, and bobbed hair. Wedding attire was far from immune to this new liberated spirit. Photos of bridal parties in 1927 show brides wearing diaphanous dresses that hit well above the ankle-length and longer gowns favored in the Edwardian era, which would have enabled brides to more easily break into the Charleston on the dance floor.

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Topical Press Agency // Getty Images

1928: Paving the way for wedding photography

- Marriages: 1.18 million (9.8 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 200,000 (1.7 per 1,000 people)

A major milestone on the way to today’s ubiquitous wedding photography was reached in 1928, when the world’s first automatic film was patented. Automatic film would later allow weddings to be captured as they unfolded, rather than simply in staged portraiture before or after the ceremony and reception.

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Fox Photos // Getty Images

1929: The Great Depression makes for somber weddings

- Marriages: 1.23 million (10.1 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 206,000 (1.7 per 1,000 people)

When the stock market crashed in 1929, the extravagant and sometime frivolous weddings of the Jazz Age came crashing down right along with it. Wedding traditions of the Great Depression would include brides wearing hand-me-down or vintage dresses instead of purchasing new wedding dresses specifically for their wedding day. The marriage rate would also drop by 22% during the peak years of the Depression, from 1929 to 1933, as fewer couples could afford to start families.

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Sasha // Getty Images

1930: Questionable marriage advice

- Marriages: 1.13 million (9.1 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 196,000 (1.6 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 24.3; Women: 21.3

Women may have already won the right to vote in 1920, but there was still a fair way to go toward gender equality in marriage in the next decade. In 1930, Liverpool surgeon “Mrs. Dobbin Crawford” advised that “nothing destroys the happiness of married life more than the lazy, slovenly wife.”

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Fink // Getty Images

1931: The origins of the Las Vegas wedding

- Marriages: 1.06 million (8.5 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 188,000 (1.5 per 1,000 people)

The City of Las Vegas issued its first gambling license in 1931, and quickie weddings followed shortly thereafter. One of the first couples to take advantage of Sin City’s easy nuptials process was the famous screen siren Clara Bow and her boyfriend Rex Bell. The couple later explained their decision to wed quickly and in secret as an attempt to keep their wedding private—a difficult feat for two of the most famous actors of their day.

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CBH // Shutterstock

1932: A wedding dress begins its long journey

- Marriages: 0.98 million (7.9 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 164,000 (1.3 per 1,000 people)

One wedding dress that would go on to have an illustrious and meaningful history began its journey in 1932, when Maria Teresa Moreno made the gown herself for her wedding. The long-sleeve dress would go on to be worn by four generations of Moreno’s family, most recently in 2017.

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Keystone // Getty Images

1933: Champagne toasts are legal again

- Marriages: 1.10 million (8.7 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 165,000 (1.3 per 1,000 people)

With the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, American couples could legally serve alcohol again at their weddings. Champagne had long been considered the alcohol of choice for celebration, and it quickly became popular at weddings again after it could be purchased and consumed without fear of police raiding the celebrations.

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Brides Magazine // Wikimedia Commons

1934: A seminal bridal magazine launches

- Marriages: 1.30 million (10.3 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 204,000 (1.6 per 1,000 people)

One of the most famous bridal magazines in the world published its first issue in 1934 under the title So You’re Going to be Married, and featured a sketch of a cover girl in a veil. The magazine is now titled Brides, and has been published for 85 years.

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National Portrait Gallery, London

1935: A royal wedding portrait

- Marriages: 1.33 million (10.4 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 218,000 (1.7 per 1,000 people)

Photography may have been de rigueur by 1935, but that didn’t stop the British royal family from commemorating the wedding of one of its own with a classic twist on photographic technology. The 1935 wedding portrait of Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, and Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, was hand-painted on a bromide print, and now hangs at the famous National Portrait Gallery.

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Invincible Pictures Corp

1936: 'A Brilliant Marriage'

- Marriages: 1.37 million (10.7 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 236,000 (1.8 per 1,000 people)

A sense of humor surrounded at least one filmmaker’s conception of marriage in 1936, when the screwball American comedy “A Brilliant Marriage” was released. In the caper, a wealthy young socialite meets a French woman, who informs her she is adopted, and that her birth mother has an abundance of skeletons in her closet, to say the least. The young woman flees straight into the arms of a questionable match.

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AFP // Getty Images

1937: A royal scandal

- Marriages: 1.45 million (11.3 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 249,000 (1.9 per 1,000 people)

British and American society alike were scandalized by the 1937 abdication of King Edward VIII of Great Britain to marry wealthy American divorcee Wallis Simpson. "You must believe me when I tell you that I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as king as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love," King Edward said at the time.

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General Photographic Agency // Getty Images

1938: Sinister marriage laws in Germany

- Marriages: 1.33 million (10.2 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 244,000 (1.9 per 1,000 people)

Nazi Germany enacted an ominous law regarding marriage in 1938, reinforcing its commitment to a prohibition on marriage between two people “of different blood.” This meant that Jews could not marry non-Jews, and further served to stigmatize and separate Jews from the rest of German society.

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Hudson // Getty Images

1939: A new standard for relationships

- Marriages: 1.40 million (10.7 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 251,000 (1.9 per 1,000 people)

George W. Crane, M.D., Ph.D., of Northwestern University, devised a quiz in 1939 for couples to see how they ranked in pleasing one another and ensuring the longevity of their union. While some of the questions show their age—the man is assumed to be the breadwinner, for one— others stand the test of time. Among these? A 20-point bump for any man who was an “ardent lover” to his wife.

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Francis M. R. Hudson // Getty Images

1940: World War II prompts weddings

- Marriages: 1.60 million (12.1 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 264,000 (2 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 24.3; Women: 21.5

With World War II ramping up around the world, the timelines for engagements and weddings were often drastically curtailed. The reason for this shortened event horizon was that many couples wanted to wed before the man left for battle. In case the man did not return, couples wanted the assurance that they had been married and were able to enjoy all the legal protections that status entailed.

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Keystone // Getty Images

1941: A society heiress weds

- Marriages: 1.70 million (12.7 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 293,000 (2.2 per 1,000 people)

In 1941, the legendary socialite and model Gloria Vanderbilt wed for first of four times—in this case to Howard Hughes’ personal secretary, in California. The bride wore a long-sleeve dress and Vanderbilt family pearls, and had a cake topper with a replica of the bride in her gown with its 30-foot train.

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Teichnor Bros // Wikimedia Commons

1942: Marilyn Monroe’s first wedding

- Marriages: 1.77 million (13.1 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 321,000 (2.4 per 1,000 people)

Another mid-century icon tied the knot the following year, when Marilyn Monroe (then Norma Jean Baker) married her 21-year-old neighbor James Dougherty. Monroe was just 16; Dougherty was a Los Angeles police officer.

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Keystone // Getty Images

1943: A big Hollywood wedding

- Marriages: 1.58 million (11.5 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 359,000 (2.6 per 1,000 people)

When screen star Rita Hayworth married director Orson Welles in 1943, it was a union of opposites in more ways than their marquee names might suggest. Hayworth was pulling in money from her various film projects but beset by insecurities, while Welles was bleeding money but riding high on confidence and critical acclaim. While each gave the other what they needed for a time, the marriage would only last three years, and the couple divorced in 1946.

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Keystone // Getty Images

1944: Keeping standards high in wartime

- Marriages: 1.45 million (10.5 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 400,000 (2.9 per 1,000 people)

Not everyone was happy with the quick pace of wartime courtship and weddings. In 1944, one Manhattan rector wrote a book called “Marriage is a Serious Business,” which he said was his attempt to push back on hasty wartime weddings. “The hasty marriage, caused by glamour and excitement rather than by genuine affection, is one of the evil products of war,” the book counseled.

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AFP // Getty Images

1945: A future presidential couple weds

- Marriages: 1.61 million (11.5 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 485,000 (3.5 per 1,000 people)

Fresh from World War II, future U.S. President George H.W. Bush wed his longtime sweetheart Barbara Pierce in Rye, N.Y., in 1945. The couple had met just before the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Pierce waited for Bush throughout his tour of duty. Their marriage would last for 73 years and take them to the apex of American political power when he was elected president in 1988 and she became first lady.

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Keystone // Getty Images

1946: The great divorce spree

- Marriages: 2.29 million (16.2 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 610,000 (4.3 per 1,000 people)

It turned out that some of World War II’s quick marriages wouldn’t last much beyond the end of the war. The first full post-war year of 1946 saw a huge bump in the rate of divorce, reflecting both the stress of long-distance unions strained by years apart, and many partners leaving for others they had met while their spouses were away.

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George Marks // Getty Images

1947: Diamonds are forever

- Marriages: 1.99 million (13.8 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 483,000 (3.4 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 23.7; Women: 20.5

Engagement rings did not always or even usually have diamonds or other precious gems in them before 1947. But that year, a copywriter for the legendary jeweler De Beers wrote the slogan, “A diamond is forever,” on an advertisement for a diamond engagement ring, and suddenly a new norm was born of marriage proposals, including a pricey addition to the classic band.

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fizkes // Shutterstock

1948: A landmark case for interracial marriage

- Marriages: 1.81 million (12.4 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 408,000 (2.8 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 23.3; Women: 20.4

The year 1948 saw a significant step toward racial equality when the state of California overturned the ban on interracial marriages. The case—Perez v. Sharp—involved a Mexican American woman and a black man. The court found that anti-miscegenation laws violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, and the county clerk was forced to issue a marriage license.

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Keystone // Getty Images

1949: New marriage laws in the United Kingdom

- Marriages: 1.58 million (10.6 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 397,000 (2.7 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 22.7; Women: 20.3

The year 1949 saw a spate of new laws regarding marriage in the United Kingdom. Among these were the prohibition of marriages between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m., a law that would not be repealed until 2012.

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Keystone // Getty Images

1950: Elizabeth Taylor’s first wedding

- Marriages: 1.67 million (11 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 385,000 (2.5 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 22.8; Women: 20.3

In 1950, screen star Elizabeth Taylor would have the first of her eight weddings. This first marriage was to Conrad “Nicky” Hilton, and was held at the Bel-Air Country Club. The bride’s dress was by famous Hollywood costume designer Helen Rose, who also designed Grace Kelly’s wedding dress.

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Ron Case // Getty Images

1951: A family affair

- Marriages: 1.60 million (10.3 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 381,000 (2.5 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 22.9; Women: 20.4

Weddings in the 1950s would take a decidedly homespun turn. This was evident at one 1951 wedding in New Hampshire, about which the local newspaper reported that the bride’s aunts and cousins served breakfast to all 200 guests.

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Hulton Archive // Getty Images

1952: Reagan marries Nancy David

- Marriages: 1.54 million (9.8 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 392,000 (2.5 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 23; Women: 20.2

Ronald Reagan’s proposal to Nancy Davis was famously simple: “Let’s get married,” the future U.S. president said. “Let’s,” she replied. And in 1952, they did, tying the knot at the Little Brown Church in Los Angeles a few short weeks after the proposal, and remaining married until his death in 2004.

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Unknown // Wikimedia Commons

1953: JFK marries Jacqueline Onassis

- Marriages: 1.55 million (9.7 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 390,000 (2.4 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 22.8; Women: 20.2

Another future U.S. president got hitched the following year in Newport, R.I., when John F. Kennedy married Jacqueline Bouvier. Their 1953 wedding cemented a union that lasted until Kennedy’s assassination a decade later. The bride’s lace veil had been worn by her grandmother, and fell from a tiara of lace and orange blossoms.

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Joop van Bilsen / Anefo // Wikimedia Commons

1954: Audrey Hepburn marries Mel Ferrer

- Marriages: 1.49 million (9.2 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 379,000 (2.3 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 23; Women: 20.3

After a spate of political weddings, the nuptials of the year in 1954 belonged to Hollywood, with the marriage of beloved actress Audrey Hepburn to actor Mel Ferrer. The couple married in Switzerland and divorced 14 years later in 1968. The bride wore a dress designed by Pierre Balmain.

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Fred Ramage // Getty Images

1955: Marriage acts around the world

- Marriages: 1.53 million (9.3 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 377,000 (2.3 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 22.6; Women: 20.2

Major legislation relating to marriage was passed around the world in 1955. This included laws in New Zealand prohibiting marriage between persons within a certain degree of relation to one another, and laws in India that introduced the concepts of separation and divorce into Sastrik (religious) law.

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Getty Images

1956: A royal wedding for Grace Kelly

- Marriages: 1.59 million (9.4 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 382,000 (2.3 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 22.5; Women: 20.1

Film star Grace Kelly captivated the attention of the public around the world with her 1956 televised wedding to Prince Rainier III of Monaco. Kelly’s dress took 30 seamstresses six weeks to make, and the cathedral ceremony was attended by more than 600 guests.

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Kurt Hutton // Getty Images

1957: A third wedding for Elizabeth Taylor

- Marriages: 1.52 million (8.9 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 381,000 (2.2 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 22.6; Women: 20.3

Just a few short years after her first wedding, Elizabeth Taylor tied the knot for the third time with Mike Todd in Mexico. The couple had one daughter together, but Todd was tragically killed in a plane crash just a year later.

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Unknown // Wikimedia Commons

1958: The origins of Loving vs. Virginia

- Marriages: 1.45 million (8.3 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 368,000 (2.1 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 22.6; Women: 20.2

The landmark 1967 U.S. Supreme Court case would that would strike down the ban on interracial marriage on a federal level actually began almost a decade earlier, when an interracial Virginia couple traveled to Washington D.C., to marry in order to evade Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage. Virginia courts sentenced the couple to a year in prison with a suspended sentence if the couple left Virginia for 25 years, which the couple spent years appealing all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Dennis Oulds // Getty Images

1959: Always a bride, never a bridesmaid

- Marriages: 1.49 million (8.4 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 395,000 (2.2 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 22.5; Women: 20.2

Never too long from the matrimonial headlines, Elizabeth Taylor wed for the fourth time in 1959, this time to fellow actor Eddie Fisher. In a nod to her multiple trips down the aisle, Taylor wore an unconventional green hooded dress—and converted to Judaism for Fisher. The marriage lasted five years.

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ENOK SKAU // Getty Images

1960: Wedding playlists are revolutionized

- Marriages: 1.52 million (8.4 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 393,000 (2.2 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 22.8; Women: 20.3

Pachelbel’s "Canon in D Major" might be a standard piece of music to walk down the aisle, but receptions were missing such a classic until 1960, when Etta James recorded what is now considered a wedding reception staple. James’ “At Last” was such a hit upon its release—and has remained one ever since—because of its admission of a lonely past that led to a happy coupled future.

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George De Sota // Getty Images

1961: A domestic goddess ties the knot

- Marriages: 1.55 million (8.4 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 414,000 (2.3 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 22.8; Women: 20.3

America’s premiere domestic goddess and de facto wedding adviser orchestrated a wedding of her own in 1961. Martha Stewart wed then-Yale Law student Andrew Stewart while she was still a student at Barnard. The couple lived in an Upper East Side penthouse they rented through a friend of the groom’s, but even the deluxe real estate couldn’t save the union from eventually dissolving. The couple divorced in 1990.

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Keystone // Getty Images

1962: Wedding standards at the United Nations

- Marriages: 1.58 million (8.5 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 413,000 (2.2 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 22.7; Women: 20.3

No less a supranational body than the United Nations took on marriage in 1962, issuing the Convention on Consent to Marriage that year. The resulting treaty mandated a minimum age to marry—16—and set the standard that marriages are to be consensual.

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Central Press // Getty Images

1963: A diva takes a husband

- Marriages: 1.65 million (8.7 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 428,000 (2.3 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 22.8; Women: 20.5

Barbra Streisand was a hot up-and-coming singer in 1963 when she wed leading man Elliott Gould, who met her while working on Broadway. Gould later shared that Streisand actually asked him for his number, and invited him to come see her sing at a nightclub. The union lasted until 1971.

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Express // Getty Images

1964: Richard Burton, part one

- Marriages: 1.73 million (9 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 450,000 (2.3 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 23.1; Women: 20.5

Elizabeth Taylor was back at it in 1964, marrying co-star Richard Burton. It was the first of two times Taylor and Burton would marry each other. The bride wore a long yellow dress and flowers in her hair. The couple divorced in 1974, but decided that had been a mistake, and remarried just a year later.

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H. William Tetlow // Getty Images

1965: Griswold vs. Connecticut

- Marriages: 1.80 million (9.3 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 479,000 (2.5 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 22.8; Women: 20.6

The landmark 1965 U.S. Supreme Court Case Griswold vs. Connecticut stipulated that married couples could not be prevented from using contraception. The court ruled that the state’s ban on contraception violated the couple’s right to privacy, and was brought about by Estelle Griswold, director of Planned Parenthood in Connecticut, and her then-illegal provision of birth control.

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Reg Lancaster // Getty Images

1966: Daisy decade

- Marriages: 1.86 million (9.4 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 499,000 (2.5 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 22.8; Women: 20.5

The 1960s were known as the time of flower children, and brides were no exception. Many brides chose to carry bouquets of daisies down the aisle as a reflection of the time, including actress Dina Merrill, who in 1966 wed actor Cliff Robertson at the estate of her mother, Marjorie Merriweather Post, carrying just such a bouquet.

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Keystone // Getty Images

1967: A cake fit for a king

- Marriages: 1.93 million (9.7 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 523,000 (2.6 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 23.1; Women: 20.6

When Elvis Presley married in 1967, the wedding was sure to be anything but ordinary. And indeed, it was not, with the wedding cake alone rumored to have cost $3,200—that’s $22,000 in today’s dollars. The elaborate yellow sponge cake was a whopping six layers high.

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Reg Lancaster // Getty Images

1968: The Jumbo Jet changes honeymoons

- Marriages: 2.07 million (10.3 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 584,000 (2.9 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 23.1; Women: 20.8

Honeymoons were typically a domestic affair for the majority of newly married couples until air travel changed forever with the debut of the 747 Jumbo Jet in 1968. The new designs made air travel faster and more accessible to everyday couples, and honeymooners were soon traveling to locations as far flung as Paris and Tahiti to celebrate saying, “I do.”

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Simpson // Getty Images

1969: Oh, Yoko

- Marriages: 2.15 million (10.6 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 639,000 (3.2 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 23.2; Women: 20.8

One of the most famous men in the world, Beatle John Lennon, married girlfriend Yoko Ono in 1969. While the couple could have had a star-studded and lavish wedding, they opted instead for a 10-minute ceremony at the British Consulate. They remained married until Lennon’s assassination in 1980.

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Express // Getty Images

1970: A Ziggy Stardust wedding

- Marriages: 2.19 million (10.7 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 708,000 (3.5 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 23.2; Women: 20.8

Legendary singer David Bowie married his girlfriend of two years, Angela Barrett, when Barrett was only 19. Far from taking a passive interest in her husband’s musical career, Barrett actively shaped Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” persona, helping him select outfits and channel his famous moniker. The duo parted ways in 1980.

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Reg Lancaster // Getty Images

1971: Upholding tradition in Alabama

- Marriages: 2.19 million (10.5 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 773,000 (3.7 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 23.1; Women: 20.9

In 1971, an Alabama court upheld traditional gender norms. The court ruled that it would not overturn a law that automatically changed a woman’s last name to that of her husband after they wed.

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Evening Standard // Getty Images

1972: Eisenstadt vs. Baird

- Marriages: 2.28 million (10.9 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 845,000 (4 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 23.3; Women: 20.9

The U.S. Supreme Court made monumental strides toward contraceptive and privacy rights with a landmark decision it handed down in 1972. In Eisenstadt vs. Baird, the court ruled that unmarried couples had the right to purchase contraception, overturning previous laws to the contrary.

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Evening Standard // Getty Images

1973: A narrow definition in Maryland

- Marriages: 2.28 million (10.8 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 915,000 (4.3 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 23.2; Women: 21

Maryland became the first state to define marriage as between “a man and a woman” in 1973. The definition would expand to other states in subsequent years, and eventually become a linchpin definition in the fight for gay marriage equality, which was eventually granted by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015.

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Cinematograph AB

1974: A miniseries sends Swedish divorce rates soaring

- Marriages: 2.25 million (10.5 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 983,931 (4.6 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 23.1; Women: 21.1

A film version of Ingmar Bergman's miniseries "Scenes from a Marriage” debuted in the U.S. in 1974. The work depicted what Bergman believed could be the corrosive effects of marriage. The show, which went on the air in Sweden in 1973, was a hit and led to a spike in divorces in Bergman’s native Sweden.

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Carsten // Getty Images

1975: The decoupling of marriage and credit

- Marriages: 2.16 million (10 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 1.04 million (4.8 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 23.5; Women: 21.1

Until 1975, it was difficult for unmarried women to open credit cards in their own name. That changed with passage of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act in 1974, and a year later, the opening of the first “women’s bank” which was operated “by women for women” to give them credit in their own names.

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Peter Keegan // Getty Images

1976: A woman’s right to choose

- Marriages: 2.16 million (9.9 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 1.09 million (5 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 23.8; Women: 21.3

Although abortion had been legal for three years in 1976 thanks to the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe vs. Wade, married women were still required to obtain their husbands’ permission before getting an abortion. That changed with Danforth vs. Planned Parenthood, a U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned a provision of some states’ laws requiring the written consent of husbands before abortions could be performed.

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SWERZEY // Getty Images

1977: A seminal New York society match

- Marriages: 2.18 million (9.9 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 1.10 million (5 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 24; Women: 21.6

Donald Trump married his first wife, the Czech-born Ivana in a ceremony at a Manhattan church in 1977. Surprisingly for the pair, who would go on to become fixtures in the Manhattan society gossip pages and to court publicity tenaciously, little is known about their first wedding. Much more is known about their very public divorce settlement more than a decade later, in which Ivana received $25 million.

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Andrew H. Walker // Getty Images

1978: A wedding to write home about

- Marriages: 2.29 million (10.3 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 1.14 million (5.1 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 24.2; Women: 21.8

Perhaps the most famous romance novelist of all time, Danielle Steel, wed her third husband, William Toth, in 1978. The wedding and marriage were far from a fairytale. Toth was a convicted burglar and heroin addict, and Steel was eight-and-a-half-months pregnant with his child on their wedding day, and one day post-divorce from her second husband—bank robber Danny Zugelder.

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Keystone // Getty Images

1979: A match made in cinematic heaven

- Marriages: 2.34 million (10.4 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 1.19 million (5.3 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 24.4; Women: 22.1

Legendary film director Martin Scorsese and actress Isabella Rossellini married in 1979. The couple had met one year prior, when 25-year-old Rossellini was sent to interview Scorsese—10 years her senior—about his new film “New York, New York.” The union lasted only three years.

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Keystone // Getty Images

1980: New trends in bridal fashion

- Marriages: 2.41 million (10.6 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 1.18 million (5.2 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 24.7; Women: 22

The 1980s are famous for the fashion the decade ushered in, and bridal fashions were not spared the decade’s extravagant styles. Puffy sleeves, nipped waists, and elaborate trains were all par for the course when it came time for the decade’s brides to take a trip down the aisle.

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AFP // Getty Images

1981: The royal wedding of the century

- Marriages: 2.44 million (10.6 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 1.22 million (5.3 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 24.8; Women: 22.3

A record-smashing 750 million people around the world tuned in to watch Lady Diana Spencer marry Prince Charles at their fairytale 1981 wedding at Buckingham Palace. The lace of Diana’s dress dated back to the time of Queen Mary, which didn’t stop Diana from accidentally spilling perfume on it moments before she was about to walk down the aisle.

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Les Films du Losange

1982: A French portrait of longing

- Marriages: 2.45 million (10.6 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 1.21 million (5.2 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 25.2; Women: 22.5

Renowned French film director Éric Rohmer's masterpiece “The Good Marriage” was released in 1982, giving narrative form to the complicated emotions surrounding marriage and commitment for many. In the film, protagonist Sabine swears to herself she will give up married lovers in order to find a good husband, but when she finally does, he doesn’t seem quite as interested as she’d hoped.

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Fox Photos // Getty Images

1983: The camcorder makes its debut

- Marriages: 2.47 million (10.5 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 1.19 million (5.1 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 25.4; Women: 22.8

In 1983, Sony released its first camcorder, changing the recording of weddings and receptions forever. The handheld device enabled more people than ever to document their special days and celebrations on film, giving rise to a whole new profession—the wedding videographer.

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Patrick Riviere // Getty Images

1984: Elton John marries

- Marriages: 2.48 million (10.5 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 1.18 million (5 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 25.4; Women: 23

Four years before he would come out as gay, singer Elton John married Renate Blauel at a ceremony at a church in Sydney, Australia, on Valentine’s Day in 1984. John gave the bride a heart-shaped pendant with 63 diamonds to wear to the wedding.

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Brenda Chase // Getty Images

1985: A rebel wedding for the ages

- Marriages: 2.41 million (10.1 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 1.19 million (5 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 25.5; Women: 23.3

Bad boy actor Sean Penn wed rebellious singer Madonna Ciccone in 1985 on the singer’s birthday. The ceremony took place at a private home in Malibu, and guests were so insistent that paparazzi not ruin the private nature of the event that they took binoculars to scan for intruders on the ceremony, destroying one Italian photographer’s entire roll of film when he was discovered.

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AFP // Getty Images

1986: An American royal wedding

- Marriages: 2.41 million (10 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 1.18 million (4.9 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 25.7; Women: 23.1

The Kennedys may be the closest thing America has to a royal family, so it was no surprise that security was tight and interest was high at the wedding of Caroline Kennedy to Edwin Schlossberg in 1986. The bride wore Carolina Herrera, and the couple said “I do” at the famous Kennedy summer haunt of Cape Cod in a Catholic ceremony.

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Hannes Magerstaedt // Getty Images

1987: A new song for the dance floor

- Marriages: 2.40 million (9.9 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 1.17 million (4.8 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 25.8; Women: 23.6

The iconic 1980s film “Dirty Dancing” came out in 1987, and its most famous song instantly changed the playlist of wedding reception DJs. “I’ve Had the Time of my Life” is a wedding reception staple, and some couples have even gone so far as to recreate scenes from the film at the reception while the song is playing.

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anoldent // Flickr

1988: An inauspicious year to marry

- Marriages: 2.38 million (9.7 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 1.15 million (4.7 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 25.9; Women: 23.6

Couples who married in 1988 have the dubious distinction of being more likely to divorce than any other couples—other than those who married in the equally unlucky year of 1986. The non-profit The Marriage Foundation found that almost half of couples who married in 1988 would divorce. However, those who married in 1988 and made it all the way to 2015 had only a 4% chance of divorce down the road.

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NIELS CHRISTIAN VILMANN // Getty Images

1989: Same-sex marriage in Denmark

- Marriages: 2.40 million (9.7 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 1.16 million (4.7 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 26.2; Women: 23.8

The year 1989 was a landmark for marriage equality, as Denmark became the first country to grant same-sex couples the same legal status as heterosexual couples. Denmark may have been the first, but many countries would eventually follow suit, including the United States.

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Matthew Peyton // Getty Images

1990: The cult of Vera Wang begins

- Marriages: 2.45 million (9.8 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 1.18 million (4.7 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 26.1; Women: 23.9

Legendary fashion designer Vera Wang launched her first bridal collection in 1990, opening her flagship salon the same year. Ever since, Wang has been the gold standard for brides looking to marry in style.

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JOHN G. MABANGLO // Getty Images

1991: The first big tech wedding

- Marriages: 2.38 million (9.4 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 1.19 million (4.7 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 26.3; Women: 24.1

In 1991, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs wed Laurene Powell. The venue for the ceremony? None other than the hotel from the horror film "The Shining" was used for the couple’s Buddhist ceremony.

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Kevin Winter // Getty Images

1992: A notable year for wedding films

- Marriages: 2.39 million (9.3 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 1.23 million (4.8 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 26.5; Women: 24.4

Throughout the 1990s, films took an outsize interest in weddings, with “Father of the Bride,” “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” and the “Wedding Banquet” ushering in a boom in interest in weddings, along with significant growth in the wedding industry. The fever was at such a high pitch that celebrities Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves actually got married on the set of the 1992 film “Dracula.”

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TIMOTHY A. CLARY // Getty Images

1993: Another wedding for Donald Trump

- Marriages: 2.34 million (9 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 1.20 million (4.6 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 26.5; Women: 24.5

In a stark departure from his small and private first wedding to Ivana, Donald Trump’s second wedding to Marla Maples in 1993 was a lavish and very public affair. The wedding took place at the Plaza Hotel and featured $60,000 in caviar, sushi, lamb, and turkey. O.J. Simpson gave a toast.

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Getty Images

1994: Rock ‘n’ roll marries pop royalty

- Marriages: 2.40 million (9.1 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 1.21 million (4.6 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 26.7; Women: 24.5

Elvis Presley was known as the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, so it was a fitting match when his daughter, Lisa Marie, married the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, in a short ceremony in 1994. Jackson had known Presley since she was only 7 and touring with Elvis. The couple split two years later in 1996.

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Jayme Burrows // Shutterstock

1995: The online registry

- Marriages: 2.39 million (8.9 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 1.2 million (4.4 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 26.9; Women: 24.5

With the launch of its Club Wedd, Target became one of the first retailers to offer a digital registry in 1995. Since then, digital registries have become the norm, making it far easier for guests to see in real-time what has been purchased and what a couple still needs.

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John Mathew Smith // Wikimedia Commons

1996: Another Kennedy wedding

- Marriages: 2.39 million (8.8 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 1.18 million (4.3 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 27.1; Women: 24.8

The marriage of John F. Kennedy Jr. to Carolyn Bessette was shrouded in secrecy. Taking place on Cumberland Island in Georgia, the bride wore a simple white Narciso Rodriguez dress to wed her groom in front of 35 guests in a candlelit, nighttime ceremony.

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Dan Callister // Getty Images

1997: The Fresh Prince takes a princess

- Marriages: 2.38 million (8.9 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 1.16 million (4.3 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 26.8; Women: 25

"Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" star Will Smith wed Jada Pinkett in a secret and lavish ceremony in Baltimore on New Year’s Eve 1997. Smith’s single from the decade, “Gettin’ Jiggy With It,” reportedly played at the reception at The Cloisters, a medieval mansion near Baltimore.

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Qualivity // Getty Images

1998: Almost there on interracial marriage

- Marriages: 2.24 million (8.4 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 1.14 million (4.2 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 26.7; Women: 25

South Carolina became the second-to-last state to lift the ban on interracial marriage in its constitution in 1998. Although the measure passed, 38% of the state’s voters opposed the measure.

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Kevin Winter // Getty Images

1999: Matrimonial Intentions

- Marriages: 2.36 million (8.6 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 1.15 million (4.1 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 26.9; Women: 25.1

“Cruel Intentions” was one of the biggest films of the late 1990s, and its co-stars, Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe, got married in 1999 as the millennium came to a close in one of the most closely watched celebrity weddings of the decade. The bride was seven months pregnant, and guests feasted on Southern food in a nod to Witherspoon’s roots.

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Philippe Beurgaud // Shutterstock

2000: Interracial marriage in Alabama

- Marriages: 2.32 million (8.2 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 944,000 (4 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 26.8; Women: 25.1

Alabama became the last state to ban interracial marriage in its state constitution in 2000. Although the measure passed and all 50 states then recognized interracial marriages, a whopping 40% of Alabamans disagreed, voting to keep the ban.

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Warner Bros. Television

2001: Monica and Chandler tie the knot

- Marriages: 2.33 million (8.2 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 940,000 (4 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 26.9; Women: 25.1

In one of TV’s most highly anticipated weddings, “Friends” stars Monica and Chandler get married in an emotional ceremony on the hit show. Chandler gets cold feet before walking down the aisle, afraid that marriage will make his relationship with Monica miserable, but the other friends talk him out of it, and the ceremony goes on as planned.

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Greenlight Films

2002: “The Bachelor” debuts

- Marriages: 2.29 million (8 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 955,000 (3.9 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 26.9; Women: 25.3

Proving that the appetite for watching strangers hunt and find true love on television is strong, the reality TV show “The Bachelor” debuted on ABC in 2002 to rapturous audiences. Almost 20 years later, the franchise is still going strong, and now includes a sister show, “The Bachelorette.”

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Vittorio Zunino Celotto // Getty Images

2003: A secret Santa Monica ceremony

- Marriages: 2.25 million (7.7 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 927,000 (3.8 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 27.1; Women: 25.3

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow wed Coldplay frontman Chris Martin in a secret ceremony in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2003. The couple would famously “consciously uncouple” in 2014, but Paltrow and Martin reportedly remain close—Martin even accompanied Paltrow and her second husband, Brad Falchuk on their honeymoon.

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Angela Jimenez // Getty Images

2004: A first step for same-sex marriage in the U.S.

- Marriages: 2.28 million (7.8 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 879,000 (3.7 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 27.4; Women: 25.3

Massachusetts became the first state to allow same-sex marriage in 2003, and a year later, the first same-sex couple was married. The couple, Marcia Kadish, 56, and Tanya McCloskey, 52, became the first legally married gay couple in the United States.

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HECTOR MATA // Getty Images

2005: A dramatic response

- Marriages: 2.25 million (7.6 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 847,000 (3.6 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 27.1; Women: 25.3

In response to legislative changes in Massachusetts, a spate of other states rushed to explicitly ban same-sex marriage in their state constitutions. In 2005, Texas joined the list, with 76% of voters favoring a ban on same-sex marriage.

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Song_about_summer // Shutterstock

2006: The gift of honeymooning in style

- Marriages: 2.19 million (7.5 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 872,000 (3.7 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 27.5; Women: 25.5

In 2006, a novel registry item made its debut. Honeyfund allows couples to solicit donations toward their honeymoons, helping those who might not have previously thought it possible to jet off to exotic—and expensive—destinations, like Bora Bora and Tahiti.

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Justin Sullivan // Getty Images

2007: Private marriages

- Marriages: 2.2 million (7.3 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 856,000 (3.6 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 27.5; Women: 25.6

As controversy swirled around same-sex marriages, some people suggested a return to the idea of a private marriage. A private marriage is one not performed by the state, but simply between the couple, after which the state must grant it the same rights as those married by the state.

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Frazer Harrison // Getty Images

2008: Beyoncé and Jay-Z marry

- Marriages: 2.16 million (7.1 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 844,000 (3.5 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 27.6; Women: 25.9

Four was the number of the day at the intimate wedding ceremony of Beyoncé and Jay-Z at their Tribeca penthouse in 2008. The couple married on April 4 in front of 40 guests. She was born on Sept. 4; he was born on Dec. 4. They each have matching “IV” tattoos on their fingers.

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ARENA Creative // Shutterstock

2009: Flash mob weddings

- Marriages: 2.08 million (6.8 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 840,000 (3.5 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 28.1; Women: 25.9

After the video “JK Wedding Dance” went viral in 2009, couples began taking their wedding ceremonies as opportunities to surprise and delight their guest with flash mob “I dos.” The video has now been viewed over 98 million times.

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photobyphotoboy // Shutterstock

2010: The Pinterest bride is born

- Marriages: 2.1 million (6.8 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 872,000 (3.6 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 28.2; Women: 26.1

When the digital scrapbook and social media platform Pinterest launched in 2010, it would change wedding planning forever. Brides were suddenly able to save inspiration and ideas for their big days in a central digital repository that would also enable them to discover more. Wedding planners everywhere had their work cut out for them—both to compete with newly equipped brides, and to live up to their expectations.

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Chris Jackson // Getty Images

2011: A new era of royal weddings

- Marriages: 2.12 million (6.8 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 877,000 (3.6 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 28.4; Women: 26.4

One of the most highly anticipated weddings of the new millennium was that of Prince William and Kate Middleton. The couple wed at Westminster Abbey in a ceremony that was watched by millions around the world, with the Archbishop of Canterbury presiding.

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Pascal Le Segretain // Getty Images

2012: A pink wedding in Puglia

- Marriages: 2.13 million (6.8 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 851,000 (3.4 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 28.6; Women: 26.6

Actress Jessica Biel wed pop star Justin Timberlake in a pink Giambattista Valli gown in Puglia, Italy, in 2012. Around 100 guests joined the couple for the festivities at a castle-like villa.

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Justin Sullivan // Getty Images

2013: DOMA is overturned

- Marriages: 2.08 million (6.8 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 832,157 (3.3 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 29; Women: 26.6

In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited the federal legalization of same-sex marriage. The high court decided 5-4 that such a ban was unconstitutional.

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Jason Kempin // Getty Images

2014: Kim and Kanye say 'I do'

- Marriages: 2.14 million (6.9 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 813,862 (3.2 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 29.3; Women: 27

Two of the biggest celebrities in the world, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, said “I do” in a 16th-century fortress in Italy in 2014. The over-the-top festivities would later be shared in special episodes of Kardashian’s hit reality show, “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”

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Alex Wong // Getty Images

2015: Same-sex marriage becomes law

- Marriages: 2.22 million (6.9 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 800,909 (3.1 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 29.2; Women: 27.1

In the seminal U.S. Supreme Court case of Obergfell vs. Hodges, same-sex marriage was legalized on the federal level. The 5-4 vote affirmed that the constitution guaranteed the right to a same-sex marriage.

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Angela Weiss // Getty Images

2016: Moving toward income equality in marriage

- Marriages: 2.25 million (7 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 827,261 (3 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 29.5; Women: 27.4

Ever-more American couples were approaching income parity in 2016. A study that year found that wives were earning 78% of what their husbands made, up from 52% in 1970.

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WPA Pool // Getty Images

2017: Pippa’s turn

- Marriages: 2.24 million (6.9 per 1,000 people)
- Divorces: 787,251 (2.9 per 1,000 people)
- Median age at first marriage: Men: 29.5; Women: 27.4

While perhaps not quite as widely watched as her sister’s wedding six years earlier, Pippa Middleton had her moment in 2017 when she wed James Matthews at a 12th-century church in Berkshire, England. Plenty of royals attended, and festive hats were in abundance.

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WPA Pool // Getty Images

2018: A special relationship

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The “special relationship” between the United States and the United Kingdom took on new meaning in 2018, when Prince Harry married American actress Meghan Markle. The interracial couple broke all sorts of precedents in the long history of the monarchy, but didn’t let that distract from the romantic simplicity of their vows and clear love for each other. Markle’s wedding ring was designed by Harry himself, and featured two stones from the collection of his mother, Princess Diana.

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