Legendary Lonestar Weddings

A look back at the state’s most famous weddings.

Since the early 1800s, before the Lone Star State was even a state, there have been plenty of epic nuptials to take place north of the Rio Grande. Whether they involve a bride in lavender, a nonhuman officiant or lavish reality-TV nuptials, nobody can accuse these Texas weddings of being boring.

Party Like it's 1829

the mass weddings of early settlers While today’s celeb celebrations may be the most over-the-top, the award for most boisterous belongs to the settlers of the 1820s. Back in the days of Mexican Texas, the law stated that the only legal unions were those performed by a Catholic priest. Unfortunately, in the outer territories, priests were as hard to come by as a snowstorm in Houston. When one finally did roll into town, couples would line up, and one by one he’d marry them quickly before moving on to the next town. After the ceremony, all of the newlyweds would eat, drink and dance their way into the night, and never did you once hear a bride whine, “But this is my day!”

Revolutionary Reception

Charles B. Stewart and Julia Shepperd, March 11, 1836

In early March 1836, delegates, including C.B. Stewart (the man credited with designing the Lone Star flag), declared Texas independent from Mexico, and on March 6, the Alamo fell. Just five days later, C.B. snuck off to marry Julia Shepperd in Lake Creek and then rushed back to Washington-on-the-Brazos to sign the Constitution of the Republic of Texas on March 17 -- so much for a honeymoon! The Stewart/Shepperd wedding is considered to be one of the first recorded unions in the newly independent Texas.

Famous Frock

Charlotte Maria Cross and Louis Wigfall, 1841

Technically, this wedding took place in South Carolina, but it’s Charlotte’s wedding dress that earns a spot in Texas history. After the couple moved to Texas, Charlotte made quite the statement when she transformed the garment into a Lone Star flag during the Civil War. Legend has it that eight Texans fell while waving the banner in battle, and “Mrs. Wigfall’s dress” earned a permanent place in Texas lore.

Epic Elopement

Lyndon B. Johnson and Claudia "Lady Bird" Taylor, November 17, 1934

LBJ couldn’t wait to get hitched -- he asked Lady Bird for her hand during their first date! Less than two months later, the spontaneous duo chose to “commit matrimony,” as Lady Bird called it, at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in San Antonio. Scrambling to pull everything together, Lyndon sent one of his friends to Sears to grab a ring (it cost $2.50), and Lady Bird slipped into a lavender dress. With an after-party at the rooftop restaurant of the St. Anthony Riverwalk Hotel, it was a decidedly low-key affair for a future president.

Namesake Nuptials

Vera Jayne Palmer (Jayne Mansfield) and Paul Mansfield, May 6, 1950

If it weren’t for her Fort Worth wedding, we may know actress Jayne Mansfield as Jayne Palmer. But even before she made it to Hollywood, the bombshell had her fair share of scandal. As rumor has it, the May wedding was actually the second time the couple was married. Though Jayne was still a high school student, the couple secretly married on January 28 of that year and never told their parents. But when Jayne became pregnant a few months later, the pair figured it would be easier to tell their folks about the baby without mentioning that they were already married. When their parents heard the news, they threw them a second wedding and the teenagers just went along with it.

Impatient Politico

George W. Bush and Laura Welch, November 5, 1977

Like the Johnsons, the Bushes had a speedy courtship (what is it with these politicians?). George and Laura tied the knot in Midland after dating for only three months. Both 31, the couple wed without attendants, as they felt they were an older couple and wanted to keep things simple. Laura’s friend’s mother commented that the “most eligible bachelor in Midland is marrying the old maid of Midland.”

Soap Opera Spouses

j.r. and sue ellen ewing on dallas, aired december 3, 1982

The cowboy hats, the perfectly feathered coifs and, oh yes, the drama. This was technically J.R. and Sue Ellen’s second wedding, but who’s counting? When the hit series returned last summer after two decades, film crews once again flocked to the real Southfork Ranch in Parker. But don’t worry -- Dallas fans can still take a tour of the property, and yes, just like Sue Ellen, you can have your wedding there too.

Political Party

carolyn perot and karl rathjen, august 22, 1992

Texas billionaire Ross Perot had been campaigning for the presidency in 1992, but unexpectedly dropped out of the race when he suspected that Republican tricksters had plans to sabotage his daughter Carolyn’s wedding. The GOP campaign, however, called the accusations “all loony.” The wedding went off without a hitch, and Carolyn’s doting dad eventually got back in the race that October.

The Odd Couple

Anna Nicole Smith and J. Howard Marshall II, June 27, 1994

White Dove Wedding Chapel in Houston is where this bizarre coupling all began. The 89-year-old groom recited his vows from his wheelchair and, as People magazine reported at the time, “The bride wore cleavage.” After celebrating with champagne and chocolate cake, 26-year-old Anna kissed her hubby good-bye and left for Greece. Yep, just your typical run-of-the-mill wedding!

Totally in Sync

Elizabeth and Allan Ramirez, November 4, 2000

When this pair wed in Plantersville, they secured themselves a spot in the Guinness World Records book as the married couple with the smallest known age difference: two minutes. Allan was born December 19, 1980, at 12:14 p.m. and Elizabeth was born December 19, 1980, at 12:16 p.m. Clearly she goes for older men.

As Seen on TV

Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson, October 26, 2002

Long before a televised Kardashian wedding was even a distant thought in a producer’s mind, we had Nick and Jessica. The bride wore Vera Wang, the ceremony was at the Riverbend Church in Austin, and Mindy Weiss was the planner for the original reality-TV wedding. Ten years later and we still have the Newlyweds theme song stuck in our heads. “I do...cherish you....”

Musical Matrimony

Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton, May 14, 2011

When two of country music’s biggest stars host a wedding, there’s no need to book a band. Fellow country crooner Neal McCoy performed, as well as Reba McEntire. Other musically inclined guests at the celebration, held outside of San Antonio at the Don Strange Ranch, included Kelly Clarkson, Martina McBride and Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley.

Digital “I do”

Diana Wesley and Miguel Hanson, July 28, 2011

Can’t find an officiant? Have your computer marry you. That’s exactly what Diana and Miguel did for their Houston wedding last year. Miguel, who’s a web developer and IT consultant, programmed “Rev. Bit,” as they’ve lovingly named their computer, to lead the ceremony and even crack jokes. Guests looked on at the 30-inch monitor and later celebrated with a cake covered in Nerds candy, a nod to their geeked-out wedding theme. Not surprisingly, the couple met online.

Tent Wedding

Matthew Mcconaughey and Camila Alves, June 9, 2012

The perpetually bare-chested bachelor finally settled down with the mother of his two children...and even wore a shirt! The duo hosted a three-day bohemian bash in Austin, complete with camping gear and tents for guests to sleep in. Granted, the tents were air-conditioned, but still -- making their hoity-toity celebrity friends sleep outside? For that, they definitely go down in wedding history.

--Amelia Mularz
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