The history of marriage is colorful, to say the least. Over the centuries, people have married for various reasons, whether it be the formation of a strategic alliance, economic advantage, or simply because two people (and sometimes more) have fallen in love. As for old wedding traditions, they’ve included everything from booby traps to obscene songs. In our modern age, marriage still presents some unusual situations—especially when it comes to people marrying their non-human partners.

1. The Berlin Wall

One of the first widely publicized cases of objectophilia, or objectum-sexuality, was that of Eija-Riitta Berliner-Mauer, who claimed to have married the Berlin Wall in 1979. Berliner-Mauer, whose surname means “Berlin Wall,” was distraught when the wall was torn down in 1989.

2. The Eiffel Tower

Perhaps the most famous name in the world of objectum-sexuality is Erika Eiffel, who, along with Berliner-Mauer, helped found Objectum Sexuality Internationale. Eiffel married the Eiffel Tower in 2007, after a 10-year courtship. It wasn’t her first non-human partner. Before marrying the Parisian tower, she had relationships with her Japanese sword, her archery bow (she was a successful competitive archer), and the tower crane that she operates. She has since separated from the Eiffel Tower, but remains a powerful voice within the OS community, which she often defends against attacks and misconceptions.

3. A Train Station

The old Santa Fe Depot in California.Doug Letterman, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

Carol Santa Fe, who identifies as an objectum sexual, married California's Santa Fe train station in 2015. The marriage is not legally binding, but Santa Fe said the two had been in love with each other for 36 years and it was time to tie the knot. Santa Fe also says the train station is a female called Daidra.

4. A Pillow

Lee Jin-gyu had been dating a large pillow for six years before finally marrying it in a special ceremony in 2010. It’s no ordinary pillow, but rather a dakimakura, a type of oversized Japanese pillow that normally has the image of a popular anime character printed on one side. The image on Lee’s dakimakura is Fate Testarossa, a female anime character from the series Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha. He takes his pillow-wife everywhere, including to restaurants, parks, and fairgrounds.

5. A Barbie Doll

“Man Marries Barbie Doll” sounds like a classically frivolous tabloid headline, but the story of Chang Hsi-hsum’s marriage to an 11-inch piece of plastic is actually quite touching. Twenty years previously, Chang’s human wife, Tsai, died by suicide because her family opposed their marriage. He believed her spirit lived on in the Barbie doll, which he married in a Buddhist temple in 1999. This time, however, he had the full blessing of his deceased wife’s family, who hoped that Tsai could now forgive them.

6. Fairground Rides

Two self-proclaimed objectum sexuals have fallen for fairground rides. Linda Ducharme first met “Bruce,” a Ferris wheel-like ride, in 1982. She had previously had feelings for an airplane and a train, but with Bruce she found true love. But tragedy struck in 1986 when a storm knocked out the ride, forcing the two apart. Ducharme was reunited with Bruce 25 years later when the ride was discovered rusting away in a scrap yard. They married in 2012. In 2009, Amy Wolfe, a 33-year-old Pennsylvania woman, married the 1001 Nachts, an 80-foot gondola ride at the Knoebels Amusement Park.

7. A Cardboard Cutout of Robert Pattinson

Robert Pattinson speaking at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con International in San Diego, California.Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

In 2013, Lauren Adkins married a cardboard cutout of the vampire Edward Cullen, as portrayed by Robert Pattinson in the Twilight movies. The press got hold of the story and eagerly told of her “obsession” with Pattinson, and how she climbed up to the Hollywood sign with her cardboard lover. What they failed to mention, however, was that Adkins, a Fine Arts student at the University of Nevada, was doing the whole thing as part of her thesis project called Love is Overtaking Me. As this interview with Adkins makes clear, her reasons for marrying the cardboard cutout were tied to an examination of the myth of “true love”—an aspect of the story ignored by many newspapers.

8. A Snake

When a woman in the East Indian state of Orissa announced her plans to marry a snake, local villagers were very much in favor of the union, saying it would bring good fortune to the area. And so, on the day of the wedding, more than 2000 people turned out to celebrate the Hindu marriage between woman and cobra. The snake didn’t attend the wedding, but was represented by a brass replica.

9. Trees

An Elder tree.TF 3000, Pixabay // Public Domain

In 2018, Karen Cooper married a 100-year-old ficus tree in her local park in Fort Myers, Florida. The marriage was part of a neighborhood effort to save the tree from being cut down by local authorities. A similar tactic was used a year later in the UK, when Kate Cunningham, now Kate Elder, wed an elder tree in Rimrose Valley, Liverpool, in an attempt to halt plans to build a new bypass through the park. There’s also the story of Emma McCabe, who, according to Closer magazine, had a sexual relationship with a poplar tree named Tim, who she planned to marry. The story went viral, despite questions regarding the veracity of the tree-hugging tale.

10. A Cardboard Cutout of Himself

Liu Ye married a life-sized cutout of himself wearing a red bridal gown. The traditional Chinese wedding took place in 2007, with guests and bemused local villagers watching the proceedings. The groom stated that dissatisfaction with reality was his main reason for marrying himself. He wasn’t the first person to take self-love to a whole different level. In 2005, New Yorker Kevin Nadal married himself in celebration of the single life.

11. The Ghost of a Haitian Pirate

When Amanda Large Teague married the ghost of a 300-year-old Haitian pirate, the world was quick to ridicule her. More laughter followed when she “divorced” the ghost, named Jack Teague, not long after, due to serious health problems that she believed were caused by her new husband. But the story had an underlying complexity ignored by most media reports—though most outlets sensationalized her unusual marriage, The Washington Post dives deeper into the story, detailing how the ghost was part of Teague's experiences with New Age spiritualism after the death of her 3-year-old son. 

12. A Chandelier (Almost)

Amanda Liberty hasn’t yet married her partner, a 1920s chandelier named Lumiere, but her relationship continues to make headlines in the UK. In 2020, Liberty, from Leeds, launched a discrimination case against The Sun after the newspaper mocked her in print for her choice of partner. She complained to the UK’s Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), arguing that the article was “pejorative to her sexual orientation.” IPSO dismissed the case, stating that “the complainant’s attraction to an object did not fall within the definition of sexual orientation as provided by Clause 12 and the terms of Clause 12 were not engaged.”