All the Details About Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson's Enduring Love Story

They're one of Hollywood's longest-lasting couples.
joyce chen wedding news expert the knot
by
Joyce Chen
joyce chen wedding news expert the knot
Joyce Chen
Wedding News Contributor
  • Joyce writes articles for The Knot Worldwide, specializing in celebrity wedding features and pieces on wedding trends and etiquette
  • Joyce conducts interviews with real couples about how they’ve adapted to the challenges of wedding planning during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic
  • In addition to The Knot Worldwide, Joyce also regularly contributes writing to Architectural Digest, Paste magazine, Refinery29, and TODAY.com
Updated Feb 14, 2022

Tom Hanks loves love. The Forrest Gump actor has been known to crash a wedding or two, most recently a beach wedding by the Santa Monica Pier in California. The brides, Diciembre and Tashia Farries, recalled how Hanks came up to them during their October 2021 nuptials to say hello. "We see a guy walking through the crowd and initially I'm like, 'Who's this guy getting in our pictures?'" Tashia told People at the time. "And we hear everyone like, 'Wait, is that Tom Hanks?'" (Hanks previously crashed another couple's wedding photos in New York's Central Park in 2016; he shared selfies from the encounter and congratulated the newlyweds via Twitter.)

Likely a big part of the reason why the actor is so enamored with weddings ties into his love story with Rita Wilson. Hanks and Wilson are one of Hollywood's longest-lasting couples; together, they've combatted everything from breast cancer to the coronavirus, keeping their vows to love and care for each other through sickness and in health.

All About Tom Hanks' Wedding to Rita Wilson

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson got married in 1988 after less than two years of dating. Though details of the actual wedding ceremony itself are sparse—this was a time before social media, after all—the couple has been vocal about their marriage and what makes it work. In 2001, the actor told Oprah that he attributes the success of their relationship to "timing, maturity, and our willingness to have an intimate connection." Read on to see what else sprung forth from the couple's big day.

Rita Wilson wore a short wedding dress.

In a move that screamed "totally 80s," Wilson donned a short wedding dress that hugged her figure. In images released by Getty, the actress can be seen with a layer of ruffled peplum encircling her hips and a strapless, lacy neckline. She also wore a veil that she wrapped around herself in the most widespread photo of the newlywed couple, which also featured Hanks in a dapper black suit with a white satin bowtie.

They celebrated their nuptials at Rex's in Los Angeles.

The couple, who met on the set of ABC's sitcom Bosom Buddies, kept their wedding day light and fun. They got married at Rex's in Los Angeles, and were photographed with huge smiles as they left at the end of the night. "We learned the secret of happiness with each other a long time ago, and that's always telling the truth," Hanks once told Phoebe Robinson on her podcast. "She makes me laugh harder now than she did in 1986."

Hanks has stated that he felt confident that they got married for "all the right reasons."

In Hollywood, romances come and go on a near-daily basis. But for the Oscar winner and his bride, it was never a question of whether they would get hitched, but when. "When we first looked at each other there was definitely a kind of [pointing to the camera], 'Hey, this is the place!'" he told Entertainment Tonight. "I felt that anyway ... I think the end result is that we got married for all the right reasons." Case in point: the couple celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary in April 2018.

The Couple's Relationship Timeline

In many ways, Tom Hanks is the perfect wedding crasher: polite, friendly, and effusive with his love advice. His penchant for romance extends well beyond his cameos in New York City and Santa Monica Beach, however. Looking back at his love story with Rita Wilson reveals a sweet relationship that was built on chemistry and grew over the decades to tackle difficult life events like cancer, and more recently, the coronavirus pandemic.

When did they meet?

Back in the 80s, Hanks was still finding his footing as an actor in Hollywood (this was well before his name became synonymous with Woody from Toy Story). Then, in 1981, he managed to land a regular role for two seasons of ABC's sitcom Bosom Buddies, which is where he met Wilson for the first time—she was guest-starring on an episode. At the time, Hanks was still married to his first wife and college sweetheart, Samantha Lewes, but according to the actor, the attraction was instant. "Rita and I just looked at each other and—kaboing—that was that," Tom told GQ. "I asked Rita if it was the real thing for her, and it just couldn't be denied."

How long did they date?

Out of respect for his first marriage, the pair didn't date right away. When they reconnected in 1985 on the set of Volunteers, however, it was clear that the two were meant to be. He and Lewes split shortly afterward; Hanks and Wilson stepped out as a couple in December 1986 at the premiere of Three Amigos. It would be the first of many red carpets the couple would walk together.

When did they get engaged?

For all the hubbub surrounding actor Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson's enviable marriage, not much is actually known about when they got engaged or what Wilson's engagement ring might have looked like. At the time, there was actually a rumor that the pair decided to get married without a ring. In photos of the singer later on, however, she frequently flashed what appeared to be an engagement ring with a stunning emerald- or cushion-cut diamond flanked by two triangular diamonds. Perhaps it was a belated present from Hanks or even herself?

When did they get married?

The pair officially got married at Rex's in Los Angeles, California, on April 30, 1988. Thirteen years later, the Forrest Gump actor told Oprah Winfrey that the secret to their marriage success was always making time for each other as a couple, regardless of how busy they got. "Honestly, I married into a classic old-world family structure in which people like to spend time with each other and construct their lives so they can," he said. "That hadn't been part of my existence up till then. And you know what? In the 13 years Rita and I have been married, I've discovered there's no substitute for that. There's such an advantage to being involved in the day-to-day details of each other's lives. It's a marvelous fabric to exist in."

After the Wedding

Following their nuptials, the pair wasted no time expanding their family. In August 1990, they welcomed their first child together, Chet Hanks. Five years later, Wilson gave birth to their second child, son Truman Theodore Hanks. In between the birth of their two children, the couple continued to work together, co-starring in 1993's Sleepless in Seattle (Wilson played Hanks' sister in the cult classic). In 2002, they became colleagues in a different respect, co-producing My Big Fat Greek Wedding; a few years later, they brought the ABBA-themed movie musical Mamma Mia! to the big screen, and ten years later, produced Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.

Asked by Oprah in 2001 whether Wilson was his best friend, Hanks didn't miss a beat. "Yes, in addition to being my lover. And it has been that way from the very beginning. We laugh just as much now at two in the morning as we always have. And we fight less and less."

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