(Submitted by Skepticality listener Arthur Lavigne

Me and my wife Amy decided to go out on a special brunch on our 28th wedding anniversary.  I made reservations at a very classy restaurant and we had a wonderful time. The they sat us next to the window and sitting behind us was another couple. About half way through I heard the waiter next to me ask if anyone was having their anniversary today, I looked up ready to answer that it was us when the couple behind us said proudly that it was their 28th anniversary today!  Two couples seated next to each other married the same day 28 years ago. I am sure the odds of this are high enough but this is not the first time it happened to us; something very similar happened before.

Three years ago our children gave us a 25th anniversary party but since our actual anniversary was on a weekday they did it on the weekend. So my wife and I went out to dinner at another restaurant that day (this time a not so expensive chain restaurant).  Halfway during dinner the servers made a grand announcement that a couple was celebrating an anniversary, but not just any anniversary but indeed a very special wedding anniversary with them tonight and they headed towards our table with a cake. My wife looked at me and asked did I tell them, “no” I said confused to what was happening. They passed us right by and went to the table BEHIND us as that couple was celebrating their 50thanniversary!

Two times:

One the same day and same years

The other the same day but x2 the years

So tell me what are the odds?

First, Wendy’s amateur analysis:

I can figure out part of it: I think people tend to go out and celebrate landmark events, 25th and 50th anniversaries, as well as the usual annual birthdays and anniversaries. It doesn’t seem that unusual to me to go to a high end restaurant for a special occasion and another group to be there also celebrating. But my analysis is strictly amateur hour…

Below are the extended notes provided by cognitive psychologist and statistician Barbara Drescher for use in Skepticality Episode 236.  Take a look and leave your comments below. Also, please be sure to listen to the podcast for our own hilarious commentary. Also, visit Barbara’s blog.

You’re exactly right. There is no way to calculate the odds that there are multiple couples celebrating anniversaries at an upscale restaurant, but they very high. The higher you go in numbers of years married, less likely they will match, but there are a finite number of years to work from. So, if they said it was 5 years, the chances are better that they’d match than at 28 years, but in either case the odds are not outrageous.

On a side note, it’s nice to see that so many couples are making it that far. My own parents celebrated 50 years last October.

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