Talk about young love! Former President Bill Clinton and wife, Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, are celebrating 45 years of marriage this year.
But their love story began long before their family was thrust into the national (and international!) spotlight. In fact, it all started in 1971 at Yale University. That first meeting eventually led to a wedding on October 11, 1975 at their Arkansas home.
From how she and Bill Clinton first met, to all the details of their intimate wedding ceremony, read on for a look into the couple's romance and big day.
How They Met
Fun fact: while Bill Clinton is definitely more well-known for his forward ways, it was actually Hillary (Rodham) Clinton who made the first move. While both were in law school at Yale in 1971, Hillary Rodham was getting a stare-down from her future husband at the library, and so she decided to break the ice—a move that would forever change her life.
"I was studying in the library, and Bill was standing out in the hall talking to another student....and I noticed he kept looking over at me. He had been doing a lot of that. So I stood up from the desk, walked over to him and said, 'If you're going to keep looking at me, and I'm going to keep looking back, we might as well be introduced. I'm Hillary Rodham.' That was it," she shared with the Clinton House Museum. A few days later, they went on their first date.
From that moment forward, Hillary and Bill became the powerful duo that they are today!
In 1974, Hillary moved to Arkansas to be with her future husband, and the two taught law at the University of Arkansas. While on a trip back to the Northeast (due to her restlessness of being in Arkansas), Bill was so distraught that Hillary was away that he purchased a small cottage for them to live in when she returned, saying "I bought it. You have to marry me now because I can't live there alone. So you're going to marry me."
However, it took Bill three times to ask Hillary to marry him before she said "yes!" She recalled, "I actually turned him down twice when he asked me to marry him. He asked me in England on a trip after law school graduation. I said, you know, I can't say yes. I feel too badly. And then about a year later he asked me again, and I said no. He said I'm not going to ask you again until you're ready to say yes."
The Engagement Party
According to the Clinton House Museum, Bill was the one who wanted an extravagant wedding bash, whereas Hillary didn't even want an engagement ring (well, she did get a house out of the deal, so not a bad trade)! The compromise? An engagement party where Hillary met all of Bill's friends—and then a small, intimate wedding and a big reception party to follow.
The future political powerhouses married on October 11, 1975 at a simple, at-home ceremony in Fayetteville, Arkansas in the infamous brick cottage that Bill had purchased. As far as a wedding dress, it is noted by the historical society that Hillary didn't even have a gown ready to go the night before, so her (horrified!) mother ran her over to Dillard's in the Fayetteville Mall—Hillary purchased a $53 Jessica McClintock Victorian lace gown, one of the first that she saw.
The ceremony was performed in the Clintons' living room by Vic Nixon, a local minister. The next day, the Clinton family hosted a large wedding reception at Ann and Morris Henry's house, who were their political friends—where Hillary announced to the crowd (and much to Bill's mother's chagrin) that she was keeping her maiden name, Rodham.
The Rodham-Clinton duo honeymooned with Hillary's entire family in Acapulco, Mexico—in the same hotel. How's that for a family-style buddymoon?
Starting Their Family
On February 27, 1980, the Clinton's welcomed their first and only child, daughter Chelsea.
The family of three became the First Family 13 years later, when Bill was inaugurated as President of the United States in 1993.
Now, Hillary and Bill are proud grandparents (Chelsea has since welcomed three children with husband Marc Mezvinsky) and celebrating 45 years of marriage in 2020!