James + Sharon. Today is my grandparents 57th wedding anniversary and I am so excited share this. These are their wedding photos from 1955 and I cherish every single one of them.
I still remember taking baths at their lake house while my grandmother sang songs to me. She sings lightheartedly the way a Disney princess does and I imagine a bird has perched on her finger a time or two. I admire how genuinely happy she is. When I think about my Grandfather, to me he has always been the man on a sailboat. I have vivid memories of sailing expeditions and him teaching me how to fish at the edge of their dock. I only recently discovered his passion for art. Before he took over his fathers company he attended art school with the intension of being a painter. I’ve only heard of the landscapes and portraits that were being stored in the attic but I look forward to someday hanging one in my living room.
I had only seen one photo from my grandparents wedding before this. She found time recently to scan all her photos and send them to me on a disc (she is surprisingly computer savvy). When I first opened them up on my screen, my eyes welled up and I couldn’t believe what a treasure I had. All I could say was “Wow, she is so beautiful.”
They were married in Champagne, Illinois 57 years ago in a candlelit cathedral. My Grandmother was a classic beauty and that warm inviting smile still lights up a room. That dapper man next to her (my Grandpa) looks like he stepped out of the show Madmen. In the spirit of Christmas, her bridesmaids held poinsettia bouquets and wore velvet dresses. I can’t express to you how much I love her dress. Maybe I’m biased but I think she looks like a movie star.
Looking through these photos revitalizes me and what i love about wedding photography. Beautiful portraiture is wonderful, but there is nothing better than capturing true emotion and happy couples. Wedding photos are your first family heirloom that you can someday show your grandchildren (like me). These photos aren’t about the handmade details, the cool venue or the fancy food, they are about family and celebration of love. These days are fleeting and after all is said and done the photos will be all that is left alongside faint memories.
Vintage is a word that gets thrown around a lot in the wedding business these days. So many brides today are trying to emulate this classic time in American history. I read somewhere recently that modern wedding photography really began and gained popularity in the 50s with the marriage of the Kennedys. I’ve actually searched and searched the web for real weddings from the 1950s and have only come across the Kennedy’s as well as a few portraits here and there. Maybe all these photos are hidden away in shoe boxes or collecting dust on shelves, or maybe it just wasn’t as common back then.
Now obviously it goes without saying that no I did not take these photos, but if I ever met the photographer who did, I would kiss them on the mouth. Their style was surprisingly candid and I am blown away by the shots in the candlelit cathedral.
I hope you enjoy stepping into a different era the way I did Happy anniversary you two!
Author: Sara Byrne