On November 16 and 17, 1981, 30 million pairs of eyes tuned in for the nuptials of GH’s Luke (Anthony Geary) and Laura (Genie Francis), a coupling that was mired in controversy but helped catapult the show to its ratings heyday. Digest looks back on the storied wedding on its 42nd anniversary.
In the lead-up to their wedding day, Luke and Laura had a choice to make: exchange vows as planned and risk a bigamy charge, as her 1979 union to an MIA Scotty was still legally intact, or attempt to secure a quickie divorce for Laura in Mexico without Scotty’s consent. Laura decided to go with option number two, and the day before the nuptials, the lovebirds returned from Mexico, her divorce decree in hand.
That night, Luke’s buddies Robert and Slick took him out for a raucous bachelor party (his Aunt Ruby participated by jumping out of a cake), but the groom-to-be slipped out to meet up with Laura on the docks. They parted ways and slept in separate quarters. Both woke up the next morning in great spirits. He dropped in on Ruby, while Lesley helped her daughter primp for the ceremony. Opposite this, Helena Cassadine — whose husband, Mikkos, had died in a struggle with Luke on Cassadine Island — was skulking around Port Charles, and had her underlings anonymously deliver models of the Cassadine yacht, The Titan (later known as The Haunted Star), to the bride and groom.
Meanwhile, Luke and Laura’s guests began assembling on the grounds of the mayor’s mansion, where the nuptials would be held. The wedding party arrived in antique convertibles, and after Luke hopped off the 1909 Studebaker Flanders that was his transport, he took his place at the de facto altar at the gazebo with best man Robert at his side. As attendees like Lila, Edward, Steve, Audrey, Gail, Alan and Monica looked on with huge smiles, groomsmen Bryan and Joe escorted Ruby and Lesley, respectively, down the long aisle. Lesley dabbed away a tear, and guests applauded and waved as bridal attendants Amy (the bride’s sister), Bobbie (the groom’s sister), Tiffany and Claudia lined up, followed by Laura, who arrived separately with Rick. It was go time!
The wedding march began, and the attendants made their way toward Luke. A hush fell over the crowd as Laura floated down the aisle on Rick’s arm — and no one noticed Helena observing nearby. Dazzled by Laura’s beauty, Luke took her hand. The mayor, who was officiating, began, “Today is a day of joyous celebration, and with love in our hearts, we are here to witness the exchange of marriage vows between Lucas Lorenzo Spencer and Laura Webber Baldwin.” Describing them as both heroes and “children of our community”, the mayor conducted a traditional ceremony. After the duo exchanged vows and rings, they were pronounced husband and wife, and shared an ebullient kiss. The guests cheered, and Luke and Laura could barely contain their glee as they embraced their family (“It was just the best ceremony!” bubbled Lesley) and beloved pals from Port Charles and Beechers Corners. Even Laura’s ex-father-in-law, Lee, shook Luke’s hand and hugged the bride. “All the best, and I mean it,” he offered.
Mr. and Mrs. Spencer snacked on the potluck-style food at the homey reception, then shared their first dance, a waltz. The party soon morphed into a festive square dance. Then Robert offered a succinct toast, followed by the cutting of the cake. As Laura sliced into the dessert and she and Luke playfully fed each other bites, a fuming Helena intoned, “My curse on you, Laura and Luke. My curse on both of you.”
The couple then went into the mayor’s mansion to change out of their wedding outfits. As Luke marveled to Robert, “I’m actually married … I’m the guy who gets to ride off into the sunset with the beautiful girl,” Laura shut Amy down when she tried to tell Tiffany about the fight Luke had with Scotty on Luke’s would-be wedding day to Jennifer. Luke and Laura reconvened in the hallway, where she flirtatiously offered her right leg for him to remove her garter. “I think I’m gonna like married life,” he teased.Amy summoned everyone to gather below the balcony, where Laura and Luke soon emerged. Luke threw the garter; Rick scooped it up. Laughing, Laura aimed the bouquet in Amy’s direction and threw it — and it was plucked out of the air by none other than Scotty. “There is no marriage!” he bellowed. “I’ll kill you!” shot back Luke, who scurried down the side of the building for a round of fisticuffs with his wife’s ex. Scott warned that he would contest the divorce, to which Luke raged, “The hell you are!” He intertwined his hand with Laura’s and showed Scotty their wedding bands, declaring, “We are married, and we are going on our honeymoon.” Luke and Laura then ran off together, and Luke paused to wipe away Laura’s tears. “We’re okay,” he assured her. “I love you,” she beamed. He lifted her into their waiting car, which was outfitted with a JUST MARRIED! sign, and they drove off to begin their new life.