Our series “Holidays 101” shares how these festive days came to be, the foods associated with them, and the peculiar ways to celebrate.

Mawwage — ahem — marriage. It’s what brings us together. It’s also a ceremony rooted in centuries-old superstition.

Did you know the tradition of a groom carrying his new spouse across the threshold dates back to ancient Rome? It was a way to prevent the bride from tripping and, thus, conjuring up the evil spirits who once occupied the newly wedded couple’s home.

And while today’s wedding guests gather ’round to catch a bouquet or garter belt in hopes it will bring them future love and marital bliss, historically, it was a small piece of the bride’s gown that was torn off for good luck at the end of the wedding ceremony.

A photo of history of marriage with a bride looking at her photos while bridesmaids do their makeup in the background

So book the hall, pick out your invites, dust off that rented tux that you forgot to bring back — and cue up the band for a first dance of facts about engagements, weddings, marriage, and anniversaries.

Did you know…

…in 2020, there were 62.34 million married couples in the United States, compared to 45.37 million married couples in 1970.

…the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. in 2020 was $28,964 (this doesn’t include the honeymoon).

…the longest marriage on record is that of Herbert Fisher (born 1905) and Zelmyra Fisher (born 1907), who were married on May 13, 1924. The Fishers remained married for 86 years, 290 days until Herbert passed away on Feb. 27, 2011. He was 105. Zelmyra died two years later, also at the age of 105.

harry & david gift basket

…Mariah Carey bumped Elizabeth Taylor off the No. 1 spot of possessing the world’s most expensive engagement ring. Australian media mogul James Packer proposed to the singer with a 35-carat, platinum-set, emerald-cut diamond flanked by two baguette diamonds valued at $10 million. Carey reportedly sold the ring for $2.1 million as part of their breakup.

…the current estimated median age for a first-time marriage is 30.5 for men and 28.1 for women.

…73% of all weddings take place between May and October, with the three most popular months being October, September, and June.

…the practice of a groom and his groomsmen wearing matching suits began during medieval times. Back then, it was thought that by dressing identically the men would confuse evil spirits wishing to curse the newlyweds with bad luck.

A photo of history of marriage with a wedding tablescape with colorful flowers

…the largest vow renewal ceremony in the U.S. consisted of 1,201 married couples. It took place in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on Oct. 8, 2016, during Western Michigan University’s homecoming weekend.

…the shortest marriage on record is believed to be a mere 180 seconds held by a man and woman in Kuwait. It’s said the new bride tripped and fell after saying “I do,” and instead of lending a helping hand, her new husband called her stupid. Back on her feet, the bride demanded the judge annul the marriage ASAP.

…rumored to be the most expensive wedding gift a groom has bestowed on his new bride, a $20 million Gulfstream jet was given to Katie Holmes by Tom Cruise when they wed in 2006. The present was a foreshadowing of sorts, as she jetted from their marriage six years later.

…the average honeymoon duration is eight days. The tropical paradises of St. Lucia, Bora Bora, Fiji, and Hawaii are among the most popular destinations for post-wedding getaways. Oregon is nice year-round, by the way.

…traveling to an exotic destination — or traveling anywhere — for a honeymoon wasn’t always customary. In 19th century Great Britain, instead of setting off for foreign lands, a newlywed couple would visit those friends and family who were unable to attend the wedding. And many, many, many moons ago, ancient Norse bridal couples jaunted off after their wedding into hiding, where they were brought a cup of mead (honey wine) for one moon cycle. Hence, the origin of the word.

…U.S. couples celebrating 50, 60, and 70 years of marriage can receive a free anniversary greeting from the current U.S. President and First Lady.


Jenn Bussell has worked as a writer, editor, and communications strategist for more than two decades. She’s the co-author & editor of “Have Fork Will Travel: A Practical Handbook for Food & Drink Travel Industry Professionals” and a contributing writer to Centennial Media’s “The United States Presidents: The Best and Worst of All Time | 2020 Election Special.” In addition to writing about food & beverage, travel & tourism, and political history, Jenn also covers fashion and personal style. Her previous work includes a style column for the Washington Examiner and content creation for The Working Wardrobe.

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