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1950s ‘Bride and Groom’ married couples on the air

Radio and TV show married lucky couples on air during the 1940s and 1950s. Host John Nelson presented newlyweds with gifts and a free honeymoon.

From left: 'Bride and Groom' host John Nelson, bride Marlene Tuller, groom Robert Hatton and singer-sidekick Phil Hanna.

Tying the knot on TV

My favorite radio memory—and my favorite TV memory, too—is of a great old 1940s programs called Bride and Groom, which featured actual weddings of young couples from all over the country. The 15-minute show aired each weekday morning, sandwiched between popular soap operas. It debuted in 1945 and rode the radio airwaves until moving to national TV in 1951. The show ran on CBS until ’53 before jumping to NBC for a single season in ’54.

The 1950s televised Bride and Groom stuck more or less to the same format as the 1940s radio version. The show’s host, John Nelson, would briefly interview the couple, asking them about how they met and their plans for the future. After a commercial break, singer and sidekick Phil Hanna would croon a love song as the couple rushed off to a small chapel for the ceremony. When the vows had been exchanged and the bride had been kissed, Nelson presented the grinning newlyweds with a variety of household gifts and sent them off on an all-expenses-paid honeymoon.

Little did I suspect, as I listened to the show in the 1940s, that I would one day in the 1950s I would tie the knot as TV viewers watched. On June 25, 1954, Marlene Tuller—like me, a lifelong resident of Columbus, Ohio—married me on Bride and Groom, broadcast live on NBC Television.

By Robert W. Hatton
Columbus, Ohio

On the set of ABC Radio's 'Bride and Groom' in 1947, host John Nelson chats with newlyweds Earl Ranney and Genevieve Reeder Ranney.Columbus, Ohio

Radio Romance

I met a girl in drama class at Pomona High School in California. It was 1941, and her name was Genevieve. We were in several plays together, and before long we became a couple. After high school the draft caught up with me, and I spent 2½ years serving with the infantry in Europe. Genevieve waited for me, and when I came  home I asked her to marry me. She said yes.

We were married on the Bride and Groom radio program on May 2, 1947. The show was broadcast live from the Chapman Park Hotel in Los Angeles. The host, John Nelson, interviewed us on the air before hurrying us off to a chapel in another part of the hotel to be married. During our 10-minute ceremony, Nelson chatted with football star Tom Harmon and his wife, movie actress Elyse Knox, who set the scene and described Genevieve’s wedding gown.

When we came back to the microphone, Nelson presented us with a new stove, a set of luggage, a camera and a photo album filled with shots of the show and our wedding.

'Bride and Groom' radio host John Nelson steals a kiss from bride Genevieve while groom Earl Ranney plays host.

Then he told us we were going off by limousine to Los Angeles International Airport and flying to San Diego for a weeklong honeymoon at the Hotel Del Coronado.

Since our Bride and Groom send-off, we’ve added three children, six grandkids and four great-grandkids to our family. And this year we’ll celebrate our 65th wedding anniversary!

By Earl Ranney
Upland, California

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Betty Layton May 2, 2012 at 2:06 pm

My husband and I were also married on the Bride and Groom tv show on February 9, 1954. We still talk to people who either heard about or watched the show we were on in 1954. We had the film converted to a tape and showed it at our 50th Anniversary Celebration. We have now been married 58 years, have four children, ten grandchildren, an six great-grandchildren.

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Mary May 10, 2012 at 2:51 pm

I loved reading this story. I’m “too young” to remember that TV show but my husband and I have been married for 42 years, with 4 children, 6 grandchildren. Living in Dayton, Ohio for 36 of our 42 years we applaud the Ranney’s from Columbus, Ohio, just down the road!!

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Sally Hille May 10, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Great stories. I was in radio for 20 years before I retired. When I hit 90 decided to go back and do a radio show for older seniors. Love it!

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Roivon Evans-Moore May 15, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Is there any video of this show? I wasn’t born yet, but I love old tv shows!

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Gordon Sisco June 28, 2013 at 6:01 pm

I have a fold out postcard of my mother and one of her sister-in-laws in a picture with John Nelson and Jack McElroy , with John and Jack’s signatures (May 27, 1947) . Standing on a set of a wedding cake with an ABC radio mike and the two aforementioned men. I believe that they had won some kind of prize to be at one of the weddings. The caption under the picture says: at the “Bride and Groom” Wedding Party.

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Robert & Roberta Manning August 2, 2013 at 11:11 am

My wife Roberta & I were married on Bride & Groom on November 11, 1952.
We celebrated our 60th Anniversary last November with our three children,
Rita & Don Meyer, Dr. Dean Manning & Lois, & Eric Manning & Agustina along with my 92 year old sister, Doris Kingsbery Neuman. We have 5
grandchildren: Becky Meyer, Kevin Manning, Angela Manning, Matthew
Manning, & Erika Manning.

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Lori Johansson September 19, 2013 at 8:54 pm

My parents got married on Bride & Groom on October 11th, 1951. They names were Anne Hagstrom & Alf Johansson. We tried to get copies of the film from CBS for their 25th wedding anniversary. We were told there was a fire at the storage facility and none of the video survived. We were so disappointed and told our parents of our efforts. My father said he did have a “record”, an actual vinyl 33 rpm record of the ceremony. He said they gave it to him after the show. We listened to it and got a good laugh.
If you know of anyone that has some recordings of the show, I’m dying to find a copy from Oct 1951.

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Edmund Carpenter January 11, 2014 at 11:32 am

My wife and I were maried on Bride & Groom TV show July 24, 1957. We celebrated ou 56th annivesty this past July. I believe Baron Palmer was the MC. We were loaned a 1957 Pontiac to drive to Fred waring’s Country Club in the Pocenos Mountains, Shanee on the Deleware (Summer Capitol of the World ) We had dinner with FredWaring and his Brother. We went to check out at 5:30 in the morning of the last day because we didn’t have any money if there was any charges. The clerk said everything was covered. We drove back to New York and turned car in and caught a Greyhound back to Columbia S.C..

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Bob Bratton January 11, 2014 at 7:34 pm

My parent Roberts Bratton and Jeanette Kreush-Bratton were married on the show 12Jun53. They received a 35mm, with sound film of the event which has since been transferred to VHS/DVD. They were also contacted several years ago and asked if they would be interested in a “Where are they now” kind of show, but apparently the plans for that fell through when the network was unable to locate enough people to make it worthwhile. Dad passed away a month shy of their 60th anniversary.

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