Reading a bunch of old posts as well as articles like this one and more recent listicle I am getting tired of seeing great deal of false information spread online. Information that for the most part is flat out untrue, distorted, and more or less regurgitating viewpoints put forth by a select group of individuals (Joe Quesada, Tom Brevoort in his manifesto) and others. Initially I thought I'd go to a old thread and do it, but that was derailing the topics.

TO BE CLEAR: this is Trivia. I am merely going to list an assumption and idea and notion, and succinctly point out the truth (with proper citations). This is not about OMD, or whether the marriage is right or not. At least this topic is not about that. One can still hold whatever opinions or feelings one holds about this, but one can do that with better facts I believe. I am sure most would agree with the attitude of "disapprove of a bad argument about a viewpoint I share".

Since this is mostly about MJ before the marriage, this basically addresses the stuff before ASM#292 or 1962-1987, aka Spider-Man's first 25 years. The Wedding Annual was published in Spider-Man's 25th Anniversary year.

1) Mary Jane Watson was a minor figure until the marriage
Mary Jane made 185 comic appearances between AF#15 to ASM #1 across all Marvel Titles (ASM, SSM, MTU, WOS, and cameos in other titles such as FF-1, Ms. Marvel 1-3, Daredevil 160 and others). That puts her as the third most prominent supporting player behind Aunt May (199 Appearances) and
Jameson (318 appearances) across all Marvel-Wide Titles. And far and away the most prominent love-interest. MJ's appearances are remarkable since she didn't make her first appearance (face covered) until #25, and then official introduction until #42, and the fact that she was written out of the books for significant absences (ASM#65-82, ASM #193-238). To restrict oneself to the main ASM title:

ASM 1-100: 30 appearances.
ASM 100-200: 65 appearances
ASM 200-237: 2 apperances
ASM 238-292: 39 appearances

Mary Jane became especially prominent after her second return as you can tell. For comparison, Felicia Hardy who came in the period of her second absence, made 18 appearances in ASM in the entire period.

Overall, as of 2015, Mary Jane has appeared in 1000 comics more than Jameson (961), and Aunt May (962). That's more appearances across Marvel Wide titles than Dr. Doom (587). So she is the second most important character in Spider-Man in terms of appearances.

2) Mary Jane would not have been famous had it not been for the marriage

Her first appearance in any media was the third season of the 1967 cartoon. One episode alone. This was released in 1970. And she's a dancer at a Kingpin front, who is also the niece of Captain Stacy. Released when Gwen Stacy was still alive in the pages, and yet MJ made it before her, and usurped her connection to Captain Stacy. Mary Jane also appeared in the best-selling crossover Superman Vs. The Amazing Spider-Man, where she, Peter, Jameson, crossed over with Lois, Clark, and Morgan Edge alongside Dr. Ock and Luthor. Mary Jane was the only one of Peter's love interests to make cameos and appearances in other Marvel titles and books (such as Fantastic Four #61-62 with Blaastar, Daredevil #160, Ms. Marvel 1-3). She also appeared in the hostess cakes commercials with Peter and the Electric Company tie-in comics. And of course the newspaper strip which had in that time a significant non-comics reading public and was the primary idea of Spider-Man, non-fans i.e. newsreaders around the world, knew Spider-Man in the Pre-Fox and Pre-Raimi era. Nobody else came close.

3) MJ's backstory and the twist she knew Peter's identity was invented to justify the marriage

MJ's backstory was more or less developed by three writers, none of whom at the time believed Peter should get married, nor was it intended to set that in motion. Marv Wolfman in ASM#191-193, in one thought bubble had MJ mention her divorced parents. Roger Stern brought her back in ASM#238, and in ASM#246 revealed the existence of Gayle and as per Tom Defalco invented her backstory in an outline he left behind. Tom Defalco working on that, wrote her family history and introduced the idea that she had figured out (at some unspecified point) that she knew Peter's identity. In other words, in so far as Mary Jane's character developed away from the "party girl" it happened before the wedding, independently of it, and was not intended to justify it. Two years after the marriage in 1989, Gerry Conway wrote Parallel Lives and he introduced the idea that MJ learned Peter's identity offscreen in AF#15, but that's outside the period covered, yet aside from that addition, answering the "when", all Conway did was streamline what earlier writers had done before. The issue in which MJ reveals her origins ASM #257-259, happened 30 issues before Peter proposed to her a second time (ASM#290-292).

4) Every writer at the time opposed the marriage

When the decision to marry the couple had been taken, the previous editor Jim Owsley had been removed owing to a feud he engaged with Tom Defalco and Ron Frenz (who Owsley fired). His replacement was Jim Salicrup who had been a co-editor alongside Danny Fingeroth, and the writing team included David Michelinie (taking over from Web of Spider-Man), PAD (Spectacular Spider-Man), and J. M. DeMatteis (who was engaged to write the story that would become Kraven's Last Hunt). The active team at the time -- Salicrup, Fingeroth, PAD, JMD, and also others such as Sal Buscema -- were in favor of the marriage, saw it was a good idea, and liked it. David Michelinie who was taking over from ASM was taken aback and opposed at first but eventually accepted it and gradually came to enjoy it. The principal people who opposed the marriage were ex-writers who had long finished the runs at the time (Wolfman 1980, Stern 1984), or the outgoing team (Owsley, Defalco, Frenz...ironically the only thing the three of them agreed at the time), though eventually Defalco agreed with the marriage, and Frenz more recently Post-OMD has also admitted to having pride in developing the issues that led to Mary Jane's growth. None of them stopped because they opposed the marriage or anything.

5) Every editorial team since the marriage has tried to end it since Day 1

David Michelinie's lasted from 1987-1994. The team in place when he started out mostly remained for the early and middle years as did Jim Salicrup who Michelinie cited as his favorite editor, and followed by Danny Fingeroth (who drove Michelinie away with the Robotparents idea). Neither of them tried to end the marriage. Nor did Jim Shooter's replacement, Tom Defalco, ever have any intention of ending the marriage. It was only in the Clone Saga and the sundry corporate shenanigans and messes, that you had people try and end it.

6) The Marriage era was weak in sales and importance

The first marriage story was Kraven's Last Hunt, immediately recognized as a masterpiece and having the same importance in inaugurating the marriage era as the Master Planner did the College Era. Michelinie's run also led to the collaboration with Todd MacFarlane whose first issue broke a record in sales for its time. It also led to Maximum Carnage, Marvel's biggest selling event until Civil War.

Character Appearances List
MJ -
Aunt May -
Jameson -
Dr. Doom -