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Couples who married on this show received one of the most lavish weddings one could have in the 1950s. They were provided with their formal outfits from the show, clothes for their attendants and music from an organist, a harpist, and a solo singer.
The host(s) interviewed the couples to learn about their romance before the ceremony, and after the wedding the lucky pair received about $2,000 worth of gifts at their reception (all elaborately plugged) plus a free weeklong honeymoon with a Pontiac car on loan for the week.
When Bride and Groom moved to TV following an ABC radio run from 1945-1950, the series received more than 70,000 letters from prospective couples wanting to be on it.
Automatically restricted from the series were Roman Catholics (the religion’s doctrine required weddings to take place only in a church) and divorcées.
The show did accept couples from outside the United States, however, and weddings were arranged for people ranging in age from their late teens to mid-eighties.
Before the end of its run, more than 2,500 couples had been married on the series (including the radio days), and they generated more than 1,000 children.
The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) suspended Olympic track and field star Lee Calhoun for the 1958 season after his Bride and Groom wedding because he received gifts which were judged to be in violation of the terms of his amateur status. Undaunted, Calhoun returned to competition, won his second gold medal in the 110-metre hurdles in the 1960 Olympics, and even stayed married.
Original host John Nelson came from the radio version and even saw his sister get married on the show.
When NBC revived the show in 1957, it had two hosts, Robert Paige and Frank Parker (pictured), with the latter singing a song to the newlyweds.
Because of other commitments, Parker left within a month and was replaced by Byron Palmer, who also sang.
In July 1951, producers John Masterson and John Reddy and host John Nelson won $800,000 from a jury who upheld their claim that a local Hollywood show titled Wedding Bells was a ripoff of Bride and Groom.
That amount had shrunk to $50,000 within a month, and by September, the “three Johns” said they really just wanted to win in principle and settled for an $800 cocktail party for all sides instead of the settlement.
John Nelson (1951-54)
Robert Paige (1957-58)
Frank Parker (July 1957)
Byron Palmer (1957-58)