Counting the Clues in a Wedding Photo

By Maureen A. Taylor

Sign up for the Family Tree Newsletter Plus, you’ll receive our 10 Essential Genealogy Research Forms PDF as a special thank you!

Get Your Free Genealogy Forms

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
wedding photo identification

Sandy Eichelberger answered our call for unidentified images by sending in three photos. One of them is a group wedding portrait. You may be thinking, an unidentified wedding portrait is unusual. Unfortunately it’s not.

I often see abandoned wedding images in antique stores and yard sales. One time, I saw wedding photos, the dress and other wedding memorabilia in an estate sale. There may be lots of reasons for letting these things go. It happens.

This photo that came down to Sandy, might not even be a wedding of her direct descendants. It could be a memento sent to cousins or a relative could be a member of the wedding party.

There are clues in this picture that can help her figure out who’s in the picture and when it was taken.

Dress Clues

Instead of focusing on the wedding dress, let’s look at the bridesmaids first. Their clothing often reflects contemporary fashion. Unlike bridal parties of today, early twentieth century wedding attendants didn’t dress alike.

The woman on the far right wears a dress full of clues such as hem length and bodice style. The v-neckline and wide collar on the bodice combined with the ankle length dress suggest a date of circa 1910.

Sometimes shoes can date a picture too. Take a close look at the groom’s shoes. He’s wearing spats. A detail that agrees with a circa 1910 date.

Who’s Who

This couple married somewhere in the vicinity of 1910, likely before World War I. Using the 1910 census, Sandy can create a list of all the young people in her family of the right age to be in this party. As an estimate let’s think of them as being in their twenties.

Before creating the list, I’d take a good look at their faces.

  • Does anyone in the photo resemble one of Sandy’s relatives?
  • Do any of them look like they could be siblings? Wedding parties are often a mix of family and friends.

With no other information on this picture it could take some time to figure out the mystery. A place would narrow the possibilities.

I’m hoping these clues will help her identify the significance of this image in her collection.

A Mystery in a Framed Wedding Certificate

Photo Detective: 1850s Wedding Photo

History Matters: Weddings

Editor’s Book Recommendations: Family Photo Detective