"The trend is for lower ratings. But that's true not just for daytime dramas, but for primetime," says Leahey. "The spread of cable, the Internet, DVDs, and digital recorders have given the public so many options."
Interestingly, Luke and Laura's 1981 wedding came along before most homes had cable TV or video tape players.
Though the audiences are smaller, the major soaps are in no danger of fading away. In fact, with wireless platforms and Web sites like SoapNet.com, daytime dramas are not just for daytime anymore.
"It's interesting that soaps -- one of the oldest forms of TV -- translate so well into the new medias," says Berman. "Nobody is predicting the end of the soap opera today." As we celebrate Luke and Laura's remarriage, here's a look at how some other notable TV marriages turned out:
Carol & Mike -- The Bradys became one big happy family on the first episode of the show. Mike and Carol's newly-blended family of six kids and a wacky maid created predictable chaos. Tiger the pooch knocked over the wedding cake, covering the groom's tuxedo in frosting. Still, the happy couple brought their army of squeaky clean kids on the honeymoon, and stayed married through five seasons of primetime.
Rhoda & Joe -- More than 60 million were watching in October, 1974, when Rhoda Morgenstern (Valerie Harper) finally made her mother happy after years of disaster dates. The bride had to run through the streets of Manhattan in her gown to reach the ceremony, but that's Rhoda. At the time, this episode of "Rhoda" was the second-highest rated hour of any TV show, behind the birth of little Ricky on "I Love Lucy." Too bad Rhoda and Joe broke up two years later.
Mork & Mindy -- In 1981, just weeks before Luke and Laura exchanged vows, intergalactic sparks were flying in "Mork & Mindy." As a space alien, Mork (Robin Williams) had to struggle with his disapproving father -- and the fact that marriage was outlawed on planet Ork. The couple ended up having a son, Mearth (Jonathan Winters), who, like his dad, aged backwards.
Monica & Chandler -- Monica Geller (Courteney Cox) finally took Chandler (Matthew Perry) as her husband in 2001, at the end of season seven, when viewers were left wondering if Monica and Rachel were pregnant. The Bings, of course, became the parents of twins and eventually moved out to the suburbs.
Dr. Mike & Sully -- Dr. Quinn (Jane Seymour) became a married medicine woman in 1995, when dreamboat Sully popped the question. They managed to keep it together through the show's remaining three seasons, perhaps because of her healing touch.
Trista & Ryan -- Most reality show marriages have a predictably short shelf life. Remember Darva Conger's lightning fast marriage to Rick Rockwell on "Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?" But it was a different story for "Bachelorette" Trista Rehn and Ryan Sutter, the groom she chose from a bevy of would-be suitors. Not only did the couple receive $1 million for letting their nuptials be broadcast, they're still married.
"General Hospital" airs on ABC TV, a division of The Walt Disney Company, which is also the parent company of ABC News.