52 Ancestors,
in 52 Weeks
Week 23:
Wedding

Wedding Announcements

A while ago I read a genealogy blog post suggesting the use of wedding announcements as a source of family information. In the past, wedding announcements often included the names of family members attending the wedding, where they were from and their connections. This sounded like an intriguing idea, so I sought out as many wedding announcements as I could find for my family. There were not many, but I will share a few I did find. I especially like the ones with descriptions of the dresses.

Oldest

During my search for wedding announcements, I found mentions of marriage licenses dating back to the mid-19th century. But, the oldest description of a wedding that I found was that of my great aunt Grace Osborne to her first husband Gurdon Fithian in December 1903. [1, 2] The article reveals they were married at her parents (my great grandparents) home and the address. It also describes Grace’s dress as ‘dainty‘, I wish I had a photo.

Wedding Announcement for Grace Osborne
Wedding Announcement for Ray King

Photographic Mystery Solved

Several years ago I was given an old, damaged, sepia tone, photograph of a wedding party that was eventually identified as that of my great uncle Ray King and his first wife Minnie Henschen as groom and bride. But who were the others in the image? Well, I found the wedding announcement from June 1920 and it answered that question. [3, 4] Earl Stetler is the best man, Nellie Miller is the bridesmaid, the flower girls are Irene Henschen on the left and Erma Shows on the right.

Ray and Minnie King wedding 1920

Flowers, Dresses and Guests

Among my favorite announcements are those that describe the dresses, flowers or guests. My Aunt Lois’s wedding announcement from March 1941 includes details about the flowers, and a few I had not heard of, like rubrum lilies and buddilia(sp?). (Note: I think buddilia refers to buddleia, also know as butterfly bush.) It also includes dress details I find particularly interesting, including the fact Lois wore a borrowed dress. The color of dress worn by my grandmother, Pearl LaFara, is described as Alice blue. I’ve looked it up and it is a light blue, a color I do not recall seeing her wear. Additionally, Lois’s announcement includes the name of several guests and I recognize many as family. [5, 6]

Wedding Announcement for Lois LaFara
Wedding Announcement for Ella Dyer

Colorize

My parents wedding announcement also includes details about the dresses worn. But, in this case I could ask my mother to confirm the colors, additionally she told me the color of the suits worn by the men. I have made an attempt to replicate the colors of the clothing on the black and white photograph of the wedding party. Scroll over the image to see the original. [7, 8]

Wedding of Betty and Bob LaFara 1948

More Dresses

In April 1971 I was a bridesmaid in my sister Susan’s wedding. In this case I remember well the dresses, flowers and guests. But, it was fun to discover the write up of the wedding in the ‘out of town‘ paper with descriptions of our dresses. They were home made, including the matching slips. Susan spent hours restoring the dress she wore. It was worn by my grandmother for her high school graduation in 1913. The tatting, and portions of the dress, had yellowed and required a good deal of care to bring back to an off white color. [9, 10]

Wedding Announcement for Susan LaFara

Conclusion

Don’t overlook the value of wedding announcements for genealogy. Even if you do not find vitals for your ancestors, many of the details are quite interesting and can give color to marriage records.

SOURCES:

  1. Entry for Martha Grace Osborne, Indiana, Select Marriages Index, 1748-1993 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Indiana, Marriages. Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013. FHL Film Number 49938
  2. The Indianapolis News, Indianapolis, Indiana; 2 January 1904, page 22, column 2, 2nd paragraph.
  3. Entry for Raymond O. King, Indiana, Marriages, 1810-2001 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Indiana, Marriages, 1810-2001. Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013. FHL Film Number 0021300294.
  4. The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, Fort Wayne, Indiana; 26 June 1920, page 6, column 5, 3rd paragraph.
  5. Entry for Lois LaFara, Marion County, Indiana, Marriage Index, 1925-2012 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Marriage Record Search. Marion County, Indiana, Circuit Court.
  6. The Indianapolis News, Indianapolis, Indiana; 7 March 1941, page 18, column 8.
  7. Entry for Ella Dyer, Marion County, Indiana, Marriage Index, 1925-2012 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Marriage Record Search. Marion County, Indiana, Circuit Court.
  8. The Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis, Indiana; 13 June 1948, page 53, column 1.
  9. Entry for Susan Jane Lafara, Indiana Archives and Records Administration; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Series Number: 89-204; Year: 1971 Apr; Certificate Range: 009523 – 012677. Indiana, Marriage Certificates, 1960-2005 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016. Original data: Indiana State Board of Health. Marriage Certificates, 1958–2005. Microfilm. Indiana Archives and Records Administration, Indianapolis, Indiana.
  10. The Daily Reporter, Greenfield, Indiana; 15 April 1971, page 3, column 5.
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While working on a family photo project I decided it would be fun to compare side-by-side my father and his parents, at similar ages, to try and discover a family resemblance.

Probate of Jesse King 1868

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Letter from Sarah Tucker Lafary

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Rumple Family Photo 1895

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Catherine Landon: Out of Place

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