I am fortunate enough to have copies of my husband’s parents and grandparents wedding photos. You can learn much from wedding photos. You can learn both the dress of the time and some about the traditions. In my husband’s family, both sides were of the Lutheran religion and church weddings were the norm. Both of his grandmothers had formal wedding gowns and were married in the 1920s. I once asked one of my husband’s grandmothers what happened to her wedding dress and she replied “I cut it up to make a christening gown for one of the children”. His mother, on the other hand, was married in a lovely white suit in the 1950s. All three of the couples were active members in their respective churches.
On my side of the family, there were no church weddings and no wedding gowns. I do have a photo of my parents wedding, 1950s era and my mother is wearing a brown suit. My parents were married in the preacher’s home. My mother’s parents were married in one of the church elder’s homes and my father’s parents were married in my grandmother’s home. In this case, my grandfather showed up with the marriage license and his friend went and got the preacher and they were married right then. As far as I know, none of the three couples were active members in church.
I am fortunate enough to have known my father’s parents very well and was able to ask many questions about their lives, thus I learned the story of how they met and the circumstances around their marriage. I also sat down with my grandmother and we labeled all of her photographs. Unfortunately, my maternal grandmother died when I was 19 and did not like to answer questions about the past – especially if it involved unhappy memories. I do know that she was married twice, her first husband died at a very young age. She later married my grandfather and unfortunately they had an unhappy marriage that ended in divorce. I do wish I had been more inquisitive, especially since I inherited her photos, most of which are not labeled. I know that there are photos of her first husband among them, but which, I do not know.
Interviewing family members is truly important. Things I wish I had asked my grandmother and my husband’s grandmothers are: How did you meet your spouse? How long after did you marry? Did you have a honeymoon? Where did you live when you were first married? Now the grandparents are all gone and I will not be able to ask. Do not put off interviewing your loved ones, you never know what you might learn. If you are able, go through old photos with them and identify the people and places in them. It is also a good idea to label your photos and write down a bit of your story for your descendants to have.