Ina And Jeffrey Garten Have Been Married Over 50 Years (After A Bad First Date)

Ina Garten has been married to her husband Jeffrey Garten for nearly 55 years, but after their first date, she thought she'd never see him again. The "Barefoot Contessa" star's long relationship with the future Yale professor started when they were both teenagers, and fans have seen their love story play out in adorable scenes on Ina's Food Network show.

While speaking of their romance during an episode of her cooking show, Ina revealed that she met Jeffrey at age 16 — he was two years older and in college — and that she would send packages of sweets to his dorm. "I used to make him brownies and send them in a big box to school. I think he was the most popular guy in the dorm when they arrived," she said in 2008, according to People.

It was in 1964 that Jeffrey first saw Ina while looking out the window at his dorm at Dartmouth College, per a Food Network article about their love story. After he pointed out the "beautiful girl" to his roommate — she was on campus visiting her brother — Jeffrey soon asked her out. But that first date had a major glitch... and it was all Ina's fault.

Ina Garten's idea for a first date was a 'disaster'

Ina Garten is known for her perfection in the kitchen, but her dating decisions? Not so much. She once revealed that her first date with Jeffrey Garten was a "disaster" after she got caught in a bit of a lie. "Why he ever wanted to see me again I have no idea," she said during a November 2022 appearance on "The Drew Barrymore Show." 

On the talk show, Ina revealed that because Jeffrey was "a Dartmouth guy," she figured he'd want to go to a bar for their date. While she was only 16, he was 18, which was the legal drinking age at the time. Ina told Barrymore that while she had never been to a bar in her life, she pretended to have experience and suggested to her date, "'Oh let's just go this bar Hilltop,' like I'd been there many times." But she was put on the spot when the bouncer stopped her at the door and demanded proof of her age. "I didn't understand what they were saying," she admitted. "Finally, Jeffrey said 'They want your ID,' and I said to him, 'What's that?' I had no idea that I needed fake ID to get into a bar when I was 16!"

In the end, Jeffrey drove his underage date to a coffee shop, and while Ina questioned why Jeffrey would ever ask her out again after her faux pas, he did. The two married four years later at Ina's parents house in Connecticut, according to People.

Ina Garten revealed the secret to her long marriage

Despite the early dating glitch, Ina and Jeffrey Garten found lasting love. During their time apart, Jeffrey was known for sending love letters to his wife, and now he sends her flirty love texts. And the Hamptons-based cook still lights up when her husband enters the room, as fans of her TV show can see. "I think he's like husband we all want," Ina told People in 2016. "Totally supportive, adorable, smart, funny, and incredibly generous." The smitten star once told Vanity Fair that not only is Jeffery the greatest love of her life, but that her greatest regret is "not marrying Jeffrey sooner."

In an interview with Publisher's Weekly, Ina also revealed the key to her decades-long marriage. "No matter where he is or I am, he knows I'm the most important thing in his life," she said. She added that even in the early years of their relationship, when they had long periods apart due to Jeffrey's work commitments, they always vowed that their top priority would always be each other.