12 Unusual Marriages Involving Non-Human Partners

The Eiffel Tower was involved in one of the most prominent non-human marriages.
The Eiffel Tower was involved in one of the most prominent non-human marriages.
Pedro Szekely, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

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.”

7 Ghost-Hunting Tools Recommended by Paranormal Investigators

Etekcity / Olympus / Amazon
Etekcity / Olympus / Amazon

My former apartment was haunted. The ghost, who seemed to be friendly, delighted in knocking container lids off the kitchen counter when no one was in the room. Sadly, I never documented the evidence because I didn’t have a night-vision camera handy.

Don’t make the same mistake I did. Whether you're a full-fledged believer in the spiritual realm or a hardcore skeptic looking for some spooky fun, you can conduct your own paranormal investigations with just a few essential tools. “You don’t want to get lost in the gear,” says Jason Stroming, founder and lead investigator of the New York Paranormal Society. “Some people bring so much stuff to investigations that it looks like they’re about to launch the Space Shuttle.”

Here are seven expert-recommended devices to get you started.

1. Olympus Digital Voice Recorder; $32

Olympus/Amazon

On any ghost-hunting TV series—A Haunting, The Haunted, Most Haunted, Ghost Hunters, Ghost Asylum, or Ghost Adventures—the investigators will whip out a digital voice recorder to conduct an EVP session. That stands for “electronic voice phenomena,” but can encompass any mysterious sounds or voices from spirits in the vicinity. These handheld, battery-operated devices are an essential tool for any ghost enthusiast, Stroming says.

He recalls an EVP session at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden in Staten Island, New York: Just before midnight, during an otherwise uneventful investigation, Stroming and his crew heard the distinct creak of footsteps on the old wood floors. “We went to see if the security guard had come back in, but you can’t really get in to the front door without it making a lot of noise. We would have heard that,” he tells Mental Floss. At Snug Harbor a few months later, the crew had his digital recorder running when “the same thing happened—the footsteps. That to us was exciting, because it was the same time and the same activity,” Stroming says. “We all heard it.”

If you’re ready to capture your own EVPs, the Olympus VN-541PC recorder offers 4 gigabytes of storage and a one-touch record button.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Canon PowerShot; $249

Canon / Amazon

Stroming approaches the paranormal from a more skeptical point of view. “We try to debunk things first and look for rational explanations,” he says, so a digital camera with a night vision function is a must-have. They’re essential for capturing everything from unexplained light anomalies and shadow figures to mysterious creaks, thuds, and footsteps. The pocket-sized Canon PowerShot SX620 digital camera takes still photos and 1080p HD video in low light. Basic camcorders will record movement and sound (and not disrupt electromagnetic fields like a smartphone can). Those adapted for ghost hunting, like the Cleveland Paranormal Supply Co.’s model ($189 on Amazon), record in night vision and let you switch easily from infrared (also known as thermal imaging) mode to full spectrum mode.

“We try to take a lot of photos,” Stroming adds. “You just never know what’s going to show up.”

Buy it: Amazon

3. K-II ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELD (EMF) DETECTOR; $60

Electricians use inexpensive EMF meters to locate sources of electromagnetic radiation from homes and offices (common culprits are older appliances and cell phones). Ghosts are also thought to emit EM radiation or disturb the existing magnetic fields in a room. Stroming’s team uses EMF meters primarily to debunk spectral sources of EM radiation. “We’ve had cases where people are sleeping right next to an old alarm clock, or they don’t realize that their fuse box is right below them and could be giving off huge electromagnetic fields. That can cause hallucinations or the feeling of being watched,” Stroming says. “We say, ‘Move the alarm clock for a week, call us back and let us know.’ They always say it stops.”

On the other hand, an anomalous EM field in the middle of a room with no obvious source merits further investigation. While Stroming prefers the basic K-II EMF Meter, the ghost-hunting supplier GhostStop suggests its Rook EMF Meter. This fancier version can block man-made frequencies and indicate EMF disturbances with light and sound alerts, says paranormal investigator Graham Ober, GhostStop’s customer service tech.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Etekcity Lasergrip INFRARED THERMOMETER; $16

Etekcity/Amazon

A regular thermometer can measure the ambient temperature in a given environment. An infrared thermometer, commonly used by electricians and HVAC technicians, can take the temp of specific object with a laser. They’re handy for detecting cold spots in a potentially haunted area, which ghost investigators say can be signs of otherwise invisible entities.

Stroming uses an infrared thermometer to identify drafts around windows or air conditioning vents before an investigation begins, as well as for measuring thermal radiation during the session. When held about 14 inches in front of the object to be measured, the Etekcity Lasergrip 774 infrared thermometer can detect temps from a frigid -58°F to a broiling 716°F, although most paranormal entities seem to shift the room temp just a shade in either direction (3 degrees is the threshold for possible spectral activity, Ober tells Mental Floss).

Buy it: Amazon

5. Portable Home Security; $71

Any serious paranormal investigator will use motion sensors or vibration detectors to pick up movement in empty rooms. A basic portable home security system, with a couple of sensors and a receiver, is an inexpensive option. Just place the sensor on a table or shelf in an unoccupied room and carry the receiver with you. The receiver will emit an alarm or chime when motion is detected in the empty location, and you can then send in the unluckiest member of your ghost-hunting crew to check it out.

Vibration sensors (sometimes called geophones) work in a similar way. They can be set on the floor to detect phantom footsteps or other unexplained movement, and will light up when anomalies are sensed.

Buy it: Amazon

6. BINARY RESPONSE DEVICE

Binary response devices, or “yes/no boxes,” are another important tool. Investigators can ask suspected spirits simple questions and allegedly receive answers through the device—the theory being that spirits can harness the energy in the machine and use it to respond. Different replies are indicated with lights on either side of the gadget. GhostStop’s Flux Response Device features green and red lights to facilitate yes/no questions (green for yes, red for no) and to obtain answers to slightly more complex inquiries, such as “which corner of the room are you in?” (red for left, green for right). The steampunk-style Gyroscope Digital Talking Board from Paranologies has a yes/no/maybe function along with a full alphabet for longer words, much like a 21st-century Ouija Board ($17 on Amazon).

7. P-SB11 GHOST BOX; $130

NUATE / Amazon

A ghost box is a catch-all term for a device used to verbally communicate with spirits. Many of these gadgets continually scan radio frequencies, creating a din of white noise. “The idea is the spirit can use that white noise to communicate in some way, either verbally or through EVP sessions,” Ober says. Users can simply listen for disembodied voices, or yell questions into the void and hope for an answer from beyond.

There are numerous models on the market, from the popular P-SB7 Spirit Box (and the more advanced P-SB11) designed by Gary Galka of DAS to GhostStop’s Sbox, a similar device with added recording capability. “A lot of people are interested in recording the audio from the SB7,” Ober notes. “We’ve taken that technology a step forward, so you’re able to record that audio without having to have a second device present.”

One of Ghost Adventures’s fave devices is the Ovilus, designed by Bill Chappell of Digital Dowsing. Instead of scanning radio frequencies, the various Ovilus models generate words in response to environmental fluctuations or EMF anomalies, supposedly translating the spirit’s communications into English terms. Not everyone is sold on the device (“It’s like a high-tech Magic 8 Ball,” Stroming says), but Zak Bagans, lead investigator of the Ghost Adventures crew, is very fond of shouting rude questions at local spooks through it.

Buy it: Amazon

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The 10 Best Holiday Gifts $25 and Under

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Whether you're shopping on a budget or looking for gifts for the person in your life who's halfway between acquaintance and friend, this list of great presents for small prices should do the trick. Fun and silly, thoughtful and serious, useful and frivolous, this group of gifts is filled with old favorites and new delights. Fair warning: You may end up buying two of whatever you pick.

1. Anker Power Bank; $22

Amazon

Need a little extra boost? Tired of looking down at the Low Power Mode warning? This incredibly light on-the-go charger is a tiny powerhouse that will keep your phone at 100 percent and keep you from scrambling to find a wall outlet at the airport. It also comes with its own travel pouch and an 18-month warranty, but the cable is sold separately. It's a solid one-for-me-one-for-them gift.

Buy it: Amazon

2. FYC Wool Socks; $13

Amazon

For the friend in your life with feet, consider these thick, stylish socks that evoke a vintage design while keeping toes toasty (and sweat-free). They're made of a blend of cotton, wool, and polyester, so you get the best of all worlds: comfortable, warm, and breathable. Plus, they're versatile enough to go with pajamas, your hiking gear, or Zoom-ready business casual.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Zulay Kitchen Stovetop Espresso Maker; $17

Amazon

This sturdy, classic brewer is perfect for the person in your life who is interested in upping their cup game. It's simple and sleek, but it also comes with a pressure valve (couldn't we all use one?) to boost caffeine extraction, and the design allows for espresso, crema, foam emulsions, and more. Best of all, clean up is easy, so you don't have to worry about grimy boiled bean build-up.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Meriwool Beanie; $21

Amazon

Need a great gift that everyone can appreciate? No sweat! Meriwool's wool beanie comes in nine different colors and will look great on anyone hoping for something soft to hug their cranium. Made with 100 percent all natural superfine 18.5-micron Merino wool, it's not a head-scratcher, and the material is naturally moisture-wicking.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Bob Ross Coloring Book; $7

Amazon

No one is going to judge you for using paintbrushes on this coloring book. Or crayons, markers, pencils, or your fingers. The beauty of this official coloring book celebrating the art of American icon Bob Ross is that it gives you a rough image to project your own designs on. It's far from paint-by-numbers, and it'll be a welcomed gift for anyone in your life who needs to destress with a little creativity.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Jim from The Office Funko; $9

Amazon

Six days since our last nonsense seems ambitious, but fans of the hit workplace comedy will appreciate having an adorable version of Jim Halpert to sardonically stare at them from behind their keyboard. Naturally, there's also figures of Michael, Pam, Dwight, and the whole Office gang in case you've got someone with a growing collection on your list. Plus, there's always the rabbit hole of Funkos that should satisfy fans of everything from Anime to Zombie flicks.

Buy it: Amazon

7. The Godfather Family Album; $25

Amazon

It's almost criminal that this book is so inexpensive. This 512-page hardcover gem showcases Steve Shapiro's iconic on-set photography of the immortalized mob film. Striking, unique images of Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, and the rest of the cast of The Godfather sit alongside the sharp film writing of historian Paul Duncan, making this a definitive tome that belongs on every fan's coffee table.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Star wars The Child Monopoly; $20

Amazon

There are hundreds of different versions of the classic game about buying rectangles and charging outrageous prices for landing on the wrong ones, but for those who are loving The Mandalorian, this version drops you right into the series' adventures. The only problem is that everyone will call dibs on the Hoverpram piece. This is the way.

Buy it: Amazon

9. British Chocolate Bar Selection; $20

Amazon

Give someone the ability to travel to Britain from the comfort of wherever they can unwrap a wrapper. Crunchie, Bounty, and Fry's Peppermint Cream are just a few of the offerings in this Global Treats pack that can remind someone of home or share a piece of the UK with your favorite anglophile. Don't worry—no fun size here. They're all full size and delicious.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Stanley travel mug; $25

Amazon

Stanley has over a hundred years of quality craftsmanship under its toolbelt. This sturdy, cup-holder-ready mug benefits from that experience and boasts double-wall vacuum insulation to keep piping coffee hot for seven hours and chilly lemonade cold for up to 10. Toss in some ice cubes, and whatever you're sipping stays cold for up to 30! It comes with a trigger action lid for one-handed, leak-proof use, making it perfect for the exercise bike or the office. Everyone could use another way of transporting their drink of choice, and this might just replace what they've already got.

Buy it: Amazon