The importance of a Wedding Album

I'm first generation Canadian. My mother arrived on a big boat that traveled across the Atlantic Ocean for two weeks from Northern England.

My grandfather had served in the British Navy in WWII. After its end the textile-factories in their town were shutting down, so with few working prospects at 40 years old, with 4 kids in tow, they decided to move everything to Stratford, Ontario.

My grandparents on their wedding day, in Chorley, Lancashire, England

My grandparents on their wedding day, in Chorley, Lancashire, England

There was no social media, long distance phone calls weren't common, letters took time... my grandparents left and basically only saw their families twice again in their lives. This feels unfathomable now, but that was their reality.

Family photo albums were something I was obsessive over when I was younger and looking back I think it is because there was this lack of history in my life.

When it comes to our own personal histories, if you think about it, even now... how often do you print your photos? How often do you have all of your friends and family together in one spot celebrating you & your love? This record is relevant. Not only just for you, but for future generations.

Case Example: Me. At my Grandmother's house when I was about 11 years old, she was teaching me how to quilt in her sewing room and for whatever reason (my unending curiosity to understand who she was, where she came from, what that meant to me) she pulled out her wedding album.

My Grandmother Ellen, on her wedding day. You can see my grandfather grinning in the background. (She always loved carnations & marigolds.)

My Grandmother Ellen, on her wedding day. You can see my grandfather grinning in the background. (She always loved carnations & marigolds.)

Even as I write about it now, I am overwhelmed by emotion. For one, I saw my grandmother young and childless for the first time ever. She had always been Old to me, and somewhat burdened by the hardships of her life -- and in these photos I saw joy, a sense of promise. This was a revelation to me. With my Grandfather I was bowled over by how boy-ish he appeared -- he was such a big burly man in my life and one of the only solid male fixtures I had ever had in my childhood.

Ellen & Frank, married 1949?

Ellen & Frank, married 1949?

Seeing them in this Kiss photo, I had to choke back tears. I was embarrassed because I had never seen such open intimacy between my grandparents -- sometimes they would dance, but kiss? That just wasn't done.  I was overwhelmed by this book of until now unknown history.

The family & friends in front of the pub on the street, the great grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins I would never know... it gave me at least a sense of place. A contextual set of images that allowed a glimpse of the roots in my personal history.

A wedding - it's celebration, and it's record - it's important. It might feel fanciful to you right now, but never underestimate its wealth for generations to come.