The Gearhead Family's Wedding Album

I was lucky to know all of my grandparents: four families, four dynamics (some dynamite), four income brackets. They were born before cameras were common household items--certainly before quick reproductions were available. One great-aunt speaks in several letters to a boyfriend of saving up to go "have a picture made" so he'd have something to gaze at while they were apart. Photos were made at big life moments: when all the cousins came to the family reunion, a new baby, graduation--and weddings.

I've been helping my great-aunt (father's father's sister) prepare her memoirs for printing, and I got to look at her albums. It got me thinking about the other families--the other photos that exist from each set. My grandfather's parents had photos made on their wedding day in 1906, in their wedding clothes and going-away clothes (if this works, you can click on the images to see a larger version):
My other great-grandparents, we can't tell if we've got her wedding picture--lordy, that women loved her some white dresses. But there is a photo of one of her daughters and the label says she's trying on Mother's wedding dress.

My father's parents got married in her living room on Thanksgiving Day in 1933 or thereabouts--the height of the Depression--and she wore a navy blue suit. I've never seen a photo. She would go on to run a boarding house whose lodgers included her foreclosed-upon in-laws. Her own family didn't have enough money to keep her in college, but she never talked like circumstances forced them into anything. As she put it, "In such hard times, it would have been unseemly to make a big show of it."

My mother's parents were both city people, and some of these were where I get my gearhead tendencies. Someone in my grandmother's family bought a camera early and was willing to shell out on film: there are snapshots of formal and informal gatherings of friends, relatives, neighbors. . . . She was also in the society register, so when she got married in 1928, it wasn't just photo material but in the newspaper:
They had formal pictures made (hey, that corner cabinet is now in my dining room!)

And someone was standing around taking snapshots:

What are your favorite kinds of wedding photos?


  1. You are so lucky to have those pictures. I have seen pictures of my maternal grandparents on their wedding day, but not my father's parents. I have to say I loved the different dresses as well.

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