Are you in love? Or when was the last time you were in love? Do you plan to fall in love?
The answer to the last part is a YES.
Each year, more than millions of people fall in love, often leading to weddings. However, getting married can vary from time to time. In other words, not everyone who gets married is, well, “in love.” Per usual, each year, around 80% of marriages consist of shotgun weddings.
According to the Independent UK, there have been over 200,000 children who wed by the time they are a teenager; let alone, by the time they truly hit puberty and grow up and develop their own mindset with values and their own wants. However, getting married at a younger age, especially as a minor (under the age of 18), is not frowned down upon in many countries and states. The reasons can vary. Most of the time, it is a common factor that a couple is expecting; therefore, both parties have their families and loved ones enforce a shotgun wedding. But there are also other cases where the couple is, yes, truly and deeply in love and want to get hitched.
They shut it down.
If you are in for more details on the 20 youngest marriages by state, then this piece is for you! Check out the stories below:
20. Pregnancy OR Child Birth (Florida – 16)
This is a sad story and personally, a disgusting one. In a recent telltale, a then eleven-year-old, Sherry Johnson, confided to a New York Times reporter that she was forced into marriage. One day she found herself awakening to the news by her mother that she was going to marry a twenty-year-old church member; a man who had abused her just months before the breaking news. Johnson had become pregnant from her assault, which stirred a fright in both her mother and herself. They were both devoted Christians; therefore, what would others think, knowing that an eleven-year-old was expecting. Johnson said that the only solution that her mother found was for her to get married, covering up the fact that her daughter had intercourse out of wedlock. Yet the truth be told, assault is forever a criminal act, never in the survivor’s “choose.” Johnson was nor ever will be at “fault” for her assault. Luckily, the state of Florida revoked Johnson’s mother from forcing her daughter into marriage; especially when they found out the circumstances for the family.
19. Sweet Sixteen (Minnesota – 16)
Considered to be the state with the most marriages, Minnesota has been losing some of its steam. As of 2015, the Star Tribune claims that the state has slipped 15% with marriages. There is no exact reason for the decrease, but with an estimated count of people tying the knot by the time they are forty-five years old says A LOT. Although the state of Minnesota has a law that one must be sixteen-years of age and older to tie the knot, residents have noticed that may not be the case. According to one fellow Minnesotan, Kate Redpath, she had picked up on the fact that the decline in marriages is because of young adults and teenagers’ ambitions to focus on school and work. Redpath later explained that the delay of marriages being put off is an exceptional aspect, so the younger crowd can develop and grow maturity wise before jumping on the bandwagon and tying the knot.
18. Common “Law” Marriage (Nevada – 16)
Ah…home of the Grand Canyon and casinos if one is a gambler; only, this is not exactly about one of the famous landmarks in the state of Nevada. Instead, Nevada has also become known for their marriage law. Anyone as young as sixteen-years-old can tie the knot. However, at this age, it does consist of receiving parental consent on both ends if the soon-to-be newlyweds are both underage. Since Nevada has developed both a good and, perhaps, bad reputation, getting married at sixteen almost seems like another head-scratcher. Regardless, this is no surprise, considering that Nevada is known for its other landmark aka Las Vegas. The city that never sleeps, millions of people elope annually to get hitched, whether that be in an intoxicated or sober state of mind. Hopefully, none of those marriages involve those under the age of eighteen who rush to the altar out of a drunken truth or dare game or simply, out of force by parental guidance.
17. Like Vermont (Connecticut – 16)
As the headline speaks for itself, like Vermont, the age requirement to getting married in Connecticut is sixteen-years-old. Today, the state sees many marriages but not as many teenage weddings. According to the local search engine search (thank you Google!), this state appears to focus more on the history of marriages from the earliest wedding to the geographical aspect of it. Connecticut marriages have been dated back to the early sixteenth century in the state of Connecticut, also known for a young groom and bride due to, what is always known as, the era. Recently, the New Haven Register announced that Connecticut was planning to raise the age of marriage. This is to primarily prevent child marriage from occurring. Often, the state flexes the age of eighteen (a legalized adult) and even allows someone as young as 16 to still wed. Fortunately, the state seems persistent on finalizing a law for once to keep underage marriages banned for good.
16. Delaware (Delaware – 18)
On May 23rd, 2017, more than half of the residents living in Delaware could let out a breath of fresh air. It was only a few months prior when the clerk of the peace, Ken Boulden, had brought attention to the reality of underage marriages. We News was one of the many sources to cover the final call for this complaint. Governor, Ruth Ann Minner, had finalized a law with the stroke of her pen. The law was called to action when multiple of residents filed a complaint of there being too many underage marriages. It was brought to Minner’s attention who agreed with the growing rate of teenage marriages. Approximately twenty-five couples had married last year due to unexpected pregnancies. Most of the soon-to-be mothers were under sixteen-years-old which Delaware now classifies as statutory rape, making it an automatic felony. This still goes towards the parental guardian consent. Perhaps there continuous to be a growing change of values for many of this state’s residents. Whether one agrees or disagrees, the official legalized age to get married in Delaware is eighteen-years-old.
15. Pregnant OR Child Birth…again (Arkansas – 16)
Arkansas has a common law like most of the other states. If any resident is to wed under the age of eighteen, a mandatory parental consent is needed for the judge to approve it. Otherwise, a marriage is commonly seen with those over the age of eighteen. Nowadays, the state has become known for its shotgun weddings. Sorry but not sorry, there is no other way to describe that it has been recently documented that most of the marriages consisted of a soon-to-be mother. In other scenarios, it is also not uncommon that most of the today’s millennials get married sooner than later. One couple, Bryce Imhoff and Emily Hollansworth, had only dated for a few minutes, according to the Arkansas Traveler, before he had officially asked her to be his girlfriend. Perhaps this state is building its own reputation for the phrase of love at first sight. Literally.
14. Of Age (Hawaii – 15)
Let’s be honest, getting married in Hawaii must be one of the most basic things ever. Yet the scene is beautiful with a backdrop of crystal blue water, sea turtles, and sand getting up on your grill and other uncomfortable places. But based on marriages that do occur over there, it is worth it. The legalized age to get hitched in Hawaii is the standard eight-years-old; with an exception of the age being lowered to sixteen and fifteen-years-old with parental consent. Often, this is seen from time-to-time such as soon-to-be teenage parents or those who are bitten by the young love bug. Whatever the case may be, getting married in Hawaii has become more so of an attraction. Recently, UFC fighter, Ronda Rousey, married her UFC fighter boyfriend, Travis Browne, on the island over the summer. Even Daily Mail seemed to hint that the two were still young with getting married. Rousey is thirty. Browne is thirty-five years old.
13. Before 1997 (Georgia – 16)
Before the year, 1997, everything seemed more accepting. Although the legalized age to get married is sixteen-years-old in the state of Georgia, the state has developed a controversial reputation. Many marriages have consisted of girls, as young as twelve-years-old. One soon-to-be bride named Georgian-Azeri was documented by the National Geographic just a few hours prior to her marriage to her soon-to-be husband. Azeri had only met her fiancé a month beforehand. The magazine had also quoted journalist, Daro Sulakauri, who claimed that she grew up around a society where talking about marriage as a child was “normal.” Sulakauri recalls the discomfort and how deeply disturbed she felt when her own classmates were running off and getting hitched; whereas, she was just attending class for the day’s lecture. Even at a young age, Sulakauri felt that getting married in high school, let alone middle and grade school, was just flat out not “normal” as most people made it seem.
12. When in Cali! (California – 18)
The OC Register had stated earlier this summer that the state of California had its own share of problems. Writer, David Whiting, claimed that California had no exact marriage license law; meaning that anyone could get hitched. Whiting then proceeded to explain how California was becoming known for allowing children to get married. Overall, his point was that the state truly never had a minimum age requirement for marriage. However, like other counties and states, any marriages that were seen in the court was viewed as a form of child abuse; regardless, if the parental guardian or guardians was “approving” this matter. Often, many women are forced into marriage by their families. Whiting uses the story of a Sara Tasneem, a teenager who was forced into marriage by her family due to “religious” matters. Like Tasneem, many women have come forth of their wedding not being out of love but as a job. Often, these cases are seen in a family with a financial stress; therefore, marrying off their daughters no matter what their age may be.
11. The Big 15 (Mississippi – 15)
Like Minnesota, getting married under eighteen-years-old, what is considered the adult and legal age in most states such as California, is never looked down upon. Often, this can be part of the problem when it comes to parental consent. In the state of Mississippi, it is required by law that parents of the future newlyweds must be put down onto paper due to a previous report. In 2015, the New York Times made headlines with their piece on “America’s Child-Marriage Problem,” due to calling out multiple states where underage marriages were being considered “legal” due to children being forced into marriage by their parents. The list included Mississippi which enforced the state to develop a negative reputation like many other states due to this matter. However, it would soon be written in the paper for the state of Mississippi that brides had to be over the age of fifteen-years-old to wed; for males, they must be seventeen-years-old.
10. 16 & Younger (Vermont – 16; with parental consent = younger to wed)
Vermont has a continuous list of stories where teenagers are tying the knot; let alone, anyone as young as twelve-years-old with the consent of their parents. If that is not scary enough, a Vermont writer, Jennifer Ludden, had traveled to Africa back in 2013. There, she met a young girl named Arinafe Makwitit. A year prior, Makwitit was forced by her parents to drop out of school. The reason was for her to get married to a man twice her age. Makwitit’s parents had enforced this type of action regarding their financial crisis after hitting a snag in their payment. Regardless, Makwitit is now a divorce with a nine-month-old daughter to raise without the father in the picture. Although Makwitit was not living in Vermont during the time she had wed and divorced, like Ludden and potentially others worldwide, there should be a law enforced where parents cannot force or persuade their own child to wed as a child.
9. Licensed at 16 (Montana – 16)
Known for the famous National Yellowstone Park and glacier mountains, Montana has also become known as one of the very few states of underage marriage being, well, legal. According to the Montana law, the consensual age of marriage starts at sixteen-years-old. At that age, most sixteen-year old’s (aka teenagers) are either finishing their sophomore year in high school. Others are also edging towards the age of seventeen during their junior year in high school. At least in the state of California, it is legal for one to drive at the age of sixteen. Whatever the case may be, the state of Montana also lives by three priorities before any marriage is pursued upon. These priorities are competency, consent, and cohabitation; therefore, the age factor does not really matter to them. At least in this state, all marriages are considered “legal” IF both future Mr. and Mrs. agree to, well, exchange vows.
8. Shotgun Weddings (Oregon – 18)
In today’s world, the increase in “hookups” has now officially become a cultural so-called “thing.” Today’s millennials have developed the term, “hookup culture,” based on the ongoing increase in dating apps which studies have proven to be the new booty-call app. So, when the term of “millennial divorce” is tossed around, it piques a few eyebrows. The Mic had recently made head waves with their latest studies on the ongoing rate of divorce. Portland, Oregon had ranked the number one spot with an estimate of 8,000 divorces being filed between the years 2009 – 2011; and that does not include the latest counts since then. With a growing divorce rate in millennials, it can be said that is no surprise. The state of Oregon also has a reputation for having the most shotgun weddings; aka where marriages are only pursued due to a soon-to-be mother. That is the case for most Oregon residents.
7. 27…IF added together (Texas – 13, males & 14, females)
Did you know if you add 13 and 14, you get 27? Well, that is the case and a common age for most marriages today to occur…unless you are in Texas. In the state of Texas, one can get hitched as young as thirteen-years-old. Yes…that is correct—a pre-teenager can tie the knot with another person. However, only males can legally get married at thirteen; whereas, females must be a minimum of fourteen-years-old to tie the knot. Texas has become known for their changing laws, where even owning a weapon is said to be amateur talk. Nowadays, carrying a weapon out in public is highly praised; and the same goes for marriage if one wants to get married. This does not include a shotgun wedding, as we see with other states. In fact, Texas weddings have grown over the years due to the young ages one can legally wed. However, the laws might be up for change, considering that Texas had recently banned child marriages; therefore, anyone under the age of eighteen is unable to wed. Perhaps we should all stay tuned in the upcoming months.
6. In Wyoming (17)
In a 2015 article by the Casper Star Tribune, it was reported that both men and women in the state of Wyoming were the first to head down the aisle. This also includes teenage and children marriages. One Wyoming resident, Cortney Richards, recalls some backlash she had received after deciding to marry her soon-to-be husband, Daniel Wise, at twenty-two years old. Talk about hypocrisy, considering that the law to legally get married in Wyoming is seventeen-years-old. Although, studies have shown that it is typically seen with women around the age of twenty-five and men at twenty-six years old who get married. Yet these two ages seem to be more praised according to the Casper Star Tribune. However, Richards further detailed that she and Wise stuck to their own beliefs and chose to get married, regardless of their loved ones’ support or not. If anything should be taken away from this story, it should be sticking up for what you believe in.
5. Adulting (Wisconsin – 18)
WTMJ Radio 620 was one of the very few sources to report the ongoing problem with child marriages due to its growth. With that being said of the increasing rate of underage marriages, this includes the state of Wisconsin; regardless of the state considering seventeen-years-old deemed as legalized adults. The radio hosts further detailed that more than one-hundred and thirty girls were documented into the system of getting married between 2012-2013. That is a lot, considering Wisconsin has a population of approximately five-million and growing. Further studies had also indicated that girls under the age of eighteen were marrying men twice their age; the highest count was nineteen-years their senior. And if that is not confusing enough, the biggest head-scratcher is when one parent had to give parental consent to his daughter when she attempted to get married at seventeen-years-old. The penalty was a waiting period for five-days after her father gave the “okay” to get married.
4. Turning 16… (Tennessee – 17)
Tennessee has been known for its affordable wedding venues. Just check Pinterest for a better and closer look at the stunning indoor and outdoor locations. In a recent study, PBS cited that there were many states, including Tennessee, who was part of the problem rather than a solution when it came to legalized marriages. Regardless of many states raising the age for marriages, Tennessee has been known for sticking to their own set of rules and values; which could be another head-scratcher for being thrown into the PBS report of young marriages. Nowadays, most states are considering the age of seventeen to be established as adulthood. According to Law J-Rank, Tennessee was also enlisted as a state where girls were able to get married at sixteen years old with a three-day waiting period for parental/guardian consent. Perhaps Tennessee used to have a socalled bad reputation years beforehand with younger marriages under the age of sixteen; but whatever the case may be, a priority is to keep child marriages out for good.
3. The Age of Seventeen (Missouri – 17)
At fourteen-years-old, Heather received some news that would forever change her life. She found out that she was pregnant. By her fifteenth birthday, Heather was already far long into her first trimester; whereas, most teenagers her age were cramming in last minute studying sessions or hanging out with their friends before the sunset called for their return to home. Heather had been dating her boyfriend, Aaron, for quite some time. Aaron was twenty-four-years-old, making him a perpetrator in the state of Idaho where the couple had their relations. Regardless of their unexpected pregnancy, the couple loved each other. So, it was why their parents enforced the two to get married.
But Heather and Aaron lived off a field by the Yellow Stone National Park, a county where getting married under the age of eighteen was considered illegal. So, the couple packed up their bags one morning and drove across the states. They established their new home in the state of Missouri, where the legal age of getting married is seventeen-years-old whether it be the groom or bride.
2. When she is 12… (Kansas – 14, males & 12, females)
In 2006, a fourteen-year-old found herself expecting the unexpected with her then, twenty-two-year-old boyfriend. They lived in Nebraska, making their relationship illegal. It was called for statutory rape. The couple decided to flee the state, wounding up in Kansas where their relationship was considered “okay” and “normal.” They were legalized to get married. That same year, Fox News was one of the first to break their story and the news of young, and in most places underage, marriages. It was reported that the law to get married was a minimum age of fifteen-years-old. The vote was 119-0 in order for the bill to be enforced into action; therefore, the state appeared to make further shocking news when the law had changed. Today, marriages can go as young as twelve-years-old but for females; whereas, males are able to tie the knot as young as fourteen-years-old. The state of Kansas has been known for allowing this sort of flexibility for girls to marry younger. For some of us, we have family and friends who reside in the state of Kansas; often, the answer to marriages being accepted for girls and teenagers is because of family. Starting a family and raising them young is something that most considered to be a lifelong goal for Kansas residents.
1. With parental consent (Louisiana – 17)
According to the Washington Post, Louisiana was one of the few states to not be listed as one of the states with childhood marriages aka illegal and just flat out wrong to many people. In fact, Louisiana has raised their legalized age to wed to seventeen-years-old after the much debate change from the original sixteen-years of age. Often, the younger marriages are seen with someone under sixteen-years-old due to financial issues. NCBI had reported that most underage, and often illegal, marriages occur when families find themselves in poverty or close to it; and part of the tradeoff is marrying off their own children. Studies have shown that more than thirty-one percent of girls (a child or a teenager) who get married under the age of eighteen will tend to face a higher risk of living in poverty herself down the line. Other research studies have detected that eleven percent of these young brides are more likely to be poor.
Sources: Independent Co., PBS, Chicago Tribune, Pew Research Center, Star Tribune
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