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  • Writer's pictureWendy Percival

Mystery wedding and jaunty hats

Happy Valentine's Day! A great excuse for browsing the family photograph albums for wedding photos.

The style of weddings have changed over time and the traditional "white wedding" only developed from the 1860s onwards, and then only for more prosperous families.

Couples of lesser means would have nipped down to their local photographer dressed in their best attire to record their special day, so it's not always easy to identify that the "special day" in question was their wedding day!

By the mid-1890s large wedding group photographs were becoming popular and generally taken outdoors, which followed the trend of the time.

In her book How to get the most from Family Pictures, fashion historian and photograph expert, Jayne Shrimpton, devotes a chapter to wedding photographs, detailing the history of both wedding photography and the clothes worn by the bride, the groom and their guests over time.

The mystery wedding photograph

My favourite wedding photograph in my collection is the one below which caused a bit of confusion when trying to identify whose wedding it was.

My gran hadn't been sure whether it was of my great-grandparents John Griffiths and Sarah Eliza "Lizzie" Baugh, who were married in 1894, or John's younger brother Arthur and his bride Lily Clay who tied the knot in 1903.

A few years ago, I appealed for help by posting an image on Twitter and, to cut a long story short, the photo appeared the Q & A page of Family Tree Magazine back in 2013 and Jayne Shrimpton (mentioned above) dated it as the early 1900s - so Arthur & Lily's wedding, in 1903. One of the clues, apparently was in those fabulous hats. In the late 1890s they would have been worn level and "plate-like" on the head, but by the 1900s, they were worn at an angle.

However, the mystery then took on another twist, as while I'd been waiting for Jayne's verdict, I'd confidently identified the groom using other photographs, as my great-grandfather, John... who'd married in 1894!

So, it seems that the ladies were well "on trend" with the coming fashion of the time!


Note: If you want to find out how I concluded the groom was John and not Arthur, you can read the full story on my old Family History Secrets blog, in the posts, Unravelling who's who - the groom and Wedding Mystery Solved... or is it?



Wendy Percival
Wendy Percival
Feb 14, 2020

Thanks, Helen. Yes, I was planning to do something else, then suddenly realised the date and decided a romantic subject would be more appropriate! 😁 ❤️


Helen Baggott
Helen Baggott
Feb 14, 2020

Lovely post and perfect for today!

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