William H. Gates III, co-founder of Microsoft Corporation, marries Melinda French on January 1, 1994.

  • By Cassandra Tate
  • Posted 1/01/2000
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 2295

On January 1, 1994, William H. Gates III, 38, co-founder of Microsoft Corporation, marries Melinda French, 29, a mid-level Microsoft executive, in a $1 million seaside ceremony on the Hawaiian island of Lanai.

To keep journalists from snooping, Gates reportedly booked all the hotel rooms on Lanai and hired all the helicopters on nearby Maui. Among the 130 wedding guests were four billionaires: investor Warren Buffet, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer, and cellular telephone magnate Craig McCaw.

Gates, who would be ranked the wealthiest person in the world by Fortune magazine in June, wore a white dinner jacket and black slacks. The bride wore a $10,000 white silk-faced organza wedding gown by Seattle designer Victoria Glenn.

The guests included Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham, who said she respected the couple's decision to bar the press. "They really wanted a private, human wedding and they didn't want publicity," she said. "They didn't want people with cameras and notebooks."


The New York Times, January 3, 1994; Seattle Post-Intelligencer, January 3, 1994; People, January 17, 1994.

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