HomeEntertainmentMusicOn This Day: Hank Williams Records ‘Wedding Bells’ in 1954

On This Day: Hank Williams Records ‘Wedding Bells’ in 1954

by Katie Maloney
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

What would you do if your ex invited you to their wedding? Sixty-seven years ago country music legend Hank Williams sang about that exact dilemma.

“Weddings Bells” is about a man singing to his ex-lover on her wedding day. Although he was invited, he can’t bring himself to attend the ceremony. He’s happy that the woman he loves has moved on but he knows that he’ll never do the same. During the song, Williams sings, “Wedding bells are ringing in the chapel. That should be ringing out for you and me. Down the aisle with someone else, you’re walking. Those wedding bells will never ring for me.”

“Wedding Bells” peaked in the number two spot on the Best Selling Retail Folk chart in 1949. And the song was significant for two reasons. First, it was Hank Williams’s first single after his biggest hit at the time, “Lovesick Blues.” Second, Williams recorded the song after boarding his first flight ever. Hank telegrammed his producer Fred Rose before takeoff, “Flight 58 will arrive at 5:45. I hope.”

Hank Williams’s “Wedding Bells”

Hanks Williams Married the Same Woman Three Times

Unlike his song, Hank Williams did hear wedding bells throughout his life. In fact, he heard them a few times. Hank married country singer-songwriter, Billie Jean Jones, on October 18, 1952, in Minden, Louisianna. It was the second marriage for both Hank and Billie, and they spared no expense. In fact, over the course of a few days, the couple married three times. After their official wedding ceremony, Hank Williams performed twice in New Orleans. During both performances, he and Billie exchanged vows in front of the live audience. Billie even wore her bridal gown for the events. The couple ate wedding cake and did basically everything they did during their first wedding two more times. The sold-out audience of 14,000 could buy a program of the event for 50 cents.

Unfortunately, just a few months later, Hank Williams died suddenly of a heart attack. Additionally, a judge ruled that Billie and Hank’s marriage was invalid. Hank’s first wife, Audrey Shepard sued after his death claiming that the wedding was not valid because Billie’s divorce with her first husband wasn’t finalized when she married Hank. The court ruled in Audrey’s favor. This wasn’t totally fair because Audrey also married Hank before her first divorce was finalized. Nevertheless, Hank and Billie’s wedding bells were considered unofficial. Years later, Billie married country singer Johnny Horton.