Nurse reveals why she married the same man 24 times, and still has 26 more weddings to go

Marie Claire Dorking
·6-min read
Lia and George's 17th wedding in Pennsylvania (PA Real Life/Bella Maya Photography)
Lia and George's 17th wedding in Pennsylvania (PA Real Life/Bella Maya Photography)

A nurse has revealed she has married the same man 24 times, and still plans to have another 26 weddings.

Lia Trageser, 54, wants to be able to say she has tied the knot in all 50 American states and will be 80 by the time she has finished marrying husband, George Humphrey, 56, a surgical technologist.

The couple first exchanged vows in a secret ceremony in Carson City, Nevada, US, on 12 July, 1997.

After saying “I do” all over again in front of their loved ones in their hometown of San Diego, California, the following year, the newlyweds realised they had two different marriage certificates from two different states, which sparked the unusual multiple wedding idea.

Since then, the duo have travelled thousands of miles and spent around $50,000 (£37,477) on remarrying every year on their anniversary, each time in a different state.

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Lia and George's first wedding in Nevada (PA Real Life/Collect)
Lia and George's first wedding in Nevada (PA Real Life/Collect)

The couple admit to undertaking their remarrying plan more for fun than anything else, and say they have created some incredible memories.

But they also say it has had a positive impact on their relationship.

“George and I are always newlyweds,” Trageser explains. “What that means is we don’t just ignore the marriage and the relationship – we have to think about it every year.

“When we do our vows, we are reflecting on the relationship and where we are.”

Having met through mutual friends in 1996, the couple quickly fell in love and moved in together after six months.

“We knew it was heading toward marriage, so we made the mutual agreement to go for it,” the intensive care nurse explains.

“We couldn’t wait to make it official – plus eloping felt wild and romantic – so we got married in a courthouse in Nevada in 1997.”

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Lia and George at their second wedding in California, pictured here with their friend Charlene (PA Real Life/Collect)
Lia and George at their second wedding in California, pictured here with their friend Charlene (PA Real Life/Collect)

Back home in California, the pair never found the right moment to tell their friends and family they had eloped, and so set about organising a second wedding.

On 11 July, 1998 – almost a year to the day since their first nuptials – they got married again in Trageser’s sister’s back yard in front of 70 guests.

Since then, they have tied the knot on the same day every year – save for a couple of times when the date was not available at their chosen venue.

“That’s how we celebrate our wedding anniversary – we go and get married again,” Trageser says.

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Lia and George's 23rd wedding in Tennessee (PA Real Life/Ruth Lovell Bradham)
Lia and George's 23rd wedding in Tennessee (PA Real Life/Ruth Lovell Bradham)
Lia and George's 21st wedding in Alaska (PA Real Life/Collect)
Lia and George's 21st wedding in Alaska (PA Real Life/Collect)

When it comes to the logistics of prepping for a new wedding every year, the annual bride says she often buys an inexpensive white dress from the local shopping centre, setting her back around $50 (£37) a time.

“I’ve also borrowed dresses,” she continues. “I wore my mum’s wedding dress for my wedding in North Dakota, and my grandmother’s for my wedding in California.

“I’ll look for vintage dresses on Etsy, too. I have never spent more than $200 (£149) on a wedding dress and I’ve kept them all – they’re stored away at home.”

And while the couple say the weddings themselves were relatively inexpensive, if you include the cost of travel and hotels, they anticipate they’ve probably spent around $50,000 (£37,477) so far.

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Lia and George's 19th wedding in Wisconsin (PA Real Life/Emenee Studios)
Lia and George's 19th wedding in Wisconsin (PA Real Life/Emenee Studios)
Lia and George's 15th wedding in Louisiana (PA Real Life/Collect)
Lia and George's 15th wedding in Louisiana (PA Real Life/Collect)

About five years ago, after wedding number 19, Trageser and Humphrey decided to embrace the idea of themed weddings.

So far, some of their most memorable ceremonies include an Elvis-themed bash in Memphis, Tennessee, and a wedding on a runaway train ride in Austin, Texas.

This year, they opted for a retro 1970s do in Newton, Iowa, with Humphrey donning a powder blue suit and Trageser wearing a prom-style gown, of course with obligatory PPE face masks.

The couple research locations in advance so that they can incorporate some of the local history and culture into their look and their vows, and they say their weddings have become like an art project.

“We like different weddings for different reasons,” Trageser explains. “Wedding number two – the San Diego one – was our biggest, and that one was special because we had it at home with our friends and family.”

She added: “Another favourite was a wedding we had in Pennsylvania. There, they have a really unique tradition where you can have a Quaker-style ceremony without an officiant.

“You can literally marry yourselves, which we really liked.”

As well as themed weddings, the couple have said “I do” in some incredible, and unusual, places, from a cemetery in Georgia to a beach in Florida, a glacier in Alaska and a national forest in Wisconsin – where they had a baby goat as their ring bearer.

“Family and friends think it’s fun that we get married again every year, and a lot of them want to come along where they can, which makes it more fun for us, too,” Trageser continues.

“Normally it’s just us two, but if we do have friends there, we’ll make them the bridesmaids and best man.

“Because we travel to get to wherever we’re getting married, the trip itself is a little honeymoon, too. It’s not like going to Bora Bora or Tahiti, but we explore the area as much as we can.”

Lia and George's 24th wedding in Iowa (PA Real Life/Roy Serafin Photo Co/Roythephotographer.com)
Lia and George's 24th wedding in Iowa (PA Real Life/Roy Serafin Photo Co/Roythephotographer.com)

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Trageser and Humphrey are not sure where wedding destination number 25 will be next year.

Currently, under American law, you can marry the same person in every State, but only the first marriage is legally recognised – the rest are viewed more as a renewal of vows.

And while the couple are allowed to marry each other anew 50 times over, it does not mean if the marriage ever failed and they wanted to divorce they would have to do so in every State, too.

Thankfully, after almost a quarter of a century, and 24 weddings, the couple say they are closer than ever and their union seems built to last.

And despite having tied the knot 24 times, they both say the ceremonies still feel meaningful.

Trageser concludes: “We’ll still sometimes tear up in the middle of our vows which sounds crazy after all these years but we both do.”

Follow the couple on Instagram @always.the.bride

Additional reporting PA Real Life.

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