This vintage wedding page features four different brides. The
first family wedding photo is of a bridal group who are known to have married in 1928.
Play costume detective; use these 1928 wedding photos as the basis for dating your unknown wedding pictures from the 1920s era.
wedding photo of the groom Thomas Paton and the bride Lucy Flemmings,
was taken on Sept 1, 1928. James, brother of the groom was the best man, and is seen standing behind the couple.
This delightful 1920s wedding group photo was another picture which Kathleen Paton sent to me.
I have previously shown several of her forbears in wedding pages on the site.
Both bridesmaids have abundant sprays, with generous trails of leaves; these are not the tiny posies displayed by bridesmaids of other eras. From the way the women and men are dressed, to the
style of their bouquets, even the interior scene, all features have a distinctly British look. The scenic cloudy background, to the
left, suggests a setting in a photographer's studio, or possibly a hotel lounge.
Dating old photos is hard for the beginner new to genealogy, but using
the usual principles of comparing known dated
photos against undated photos to find similarities, it is possible to draw
some conclusions that can at least give you a date to within 5 years.
For 1928, the general fashion line for brides was the short dress. But not as short as in the period 1925-27. Hemlines had already reached maximum shortness for the twenties and now skirt
lengths began to drop again. In every wedding photograph on this 1928 page the knees of the bride are respectably well covered with skirt fabric.
By 1928 hemlines settled on, or below the knee. Skirts had cross cut or circular fullness
and often indistinct wavering hemlines. Bridal
veils were still cloche style, but now quite long flowing into trains.
Changes were being introduced with
hair bands and tiara like elevation elements.
Right - McCall's bridal patterns for 1928. Note the appearance of the
'calla lily' spray in the drawing. This was a big trend in floral bouquet fashions of the 1930s, and most useful in dating old wedding photos.
The dresses here have the straight tubular bodice silhouette, which was also
popular for day dresses of 1928. The bridesmaids above wear skirts which are cut on
the cross-grain of the fabric, a fashion most popular after 1926 when
flip, flare and swing hit the hemline.
Only skirts cut on the true bias will show this smooth easy fluting so
perfectly. One aspect of bias cut garments, especially of skirts, is
that once a certain length is required, the skirt has to be
pieced together. Notice the seam line shown in the small image right and
which illustrates a pieced bias cut fabric.
The hats that
the bridesmaids are wearing in the photographs are also showing some of the side-swept
brims that became smaller, and even more popular, in the thirties. This
hat style is sign of a late twenties, or early thirties wedding photograph.
The floppy asymmetry of the hat is suggestive of the period 1927-1932 in
particular. The wide brim hat is seen in 1926 images, but it seems to me
that by 1927 that the hat style has begun to distinctly veer to one side,
with upturn, and often is weighted with decoration.
we have 1928 vintage photographs of two different brides. On the left is an enlargement of Lucy Flemmings, featured above. On the right is an unknown, probably American bride, who we wish to
The veils of these two brides mostly follow the
decorated mob cap, or cloche veil style. The front of the mob caps
appear shirred. The small amount of
fanned tulle at the back of the right headdress, is
similar to styling elements found in the veils of
1922, and seems to have mostly been an American fashion.
What makes these headdresses look different to earlier veil arrangements
is actually the fuller, bouncier, hair beneath. All of the women on this
page are showing much softer hairstyles. By 1928 soft waves had made a
comeback, and consequently, the severity of the Eton crop haircut began to decline.
The veil similarities suggest that this unknown bride was married in the
late twenties, probably 1928. When proposing the 1928 date, I also
took into account other bridal gown factors, such as the V-neckline, the
feather/fur hemline, and her footwear. Lucy (1928) far left above,
is wearing a V-neckline, but it has a modesty filler. The unknown photo
is probably not later than 1928, because by 1929, bride's skirts
were often longer.
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Compact bridal bouquets are more often seen in USA old photos. In theses
examples, the UK bride's bouquet spray is fulsome with masses of foliage, yet relatively
few flowers. The flowers are not particularly rare, and the bouquet
almost appears disorganised.
Hot Tip -
British 1920s wedding bouquets often had long trails of foliage greenery
compared to USA bouquets.
American bridal bouquets mostly show some greenery, but are more likely
to be bulked up with an abundance of trailing ribbons, bows and attached
pieces, which add volume and lightness.
This vintage wedding photograph left, was taken in the USA in 1928.
The photograph is known to be of Esther (Morrill) Reynolds, she was married in
Oakland, CA. on August 30, 1928; the photo was kindly provided by her descendant Anne Scott. The photo was probably taken at the parental house before the bride departed for the wedding ceremony.
Whilst today we might consider being photographed by a tiled fireplace
unattractive, it's important to remember this fireplace was probably the
focal point of the room and was known as a 'modern' grate. It was a
symbol of progress and of affluence in the new century. Behind the
fire grate itself would have been a system such as a Baxi Burner which
heated water for the whole house. This was modern and
comparatively clean compared to using an old copper for boiling water.
Though it probably would not have been in use on a summer's day.
This a USA wedding and Esther's bouquet has trailing ribbons instead of foliage. In
keeping with the latest fashion styles, this wedding gown has a
V-neckline, dropped hip waistline and long sleeves. Esther wears a
fashionable flapper headband to hold her veil in place.
This brings me to two more
photographs of unknown vintage, kindly sent by a collectors of old wedding photos.
vintage items including wedding photos on EBay. Note how
in both images the volume of trailing ribbon in the bride's
floral sprays implies that these were USA weddings, this would fit with the sources, as in this case both Missaamie and Manaseri2007
are USA based EBay sellers.
length of both dresses, V-necklines, footwear and the headdress veils all bear a
similarity to the 1928 photo at the top of the page. I would date both
brides at about 1927-1929. Veils gained in length from 1927.
the hemline of the first dress is covered in fur or feathers, this wedding photo was most likely a late autumn or winter wedding. The
skirt is richly embroidered. Probably this vintage photo was
taken in a studio setting since you can clearly see that the background
is like a painted stage backcloth and includes a fireplace in
I do believe this second photo above right and also near right, was taken about 1928-29.
Although the dress has a
scalloped hemline, it has a V-neckline and appears longer than mid
Note too how the full photo shows a bridesmaid who has a late
1920s look. That asymmetric hat and the longer line skirt are
clues to it being near 1929/30. These two coloured sewing pattern
hats are from 1932 and as such would have been lagging a little behind
The bridesmaid dress does not look quite 1930s and the dress does not
look as short as dresses of 1926/7. Her scoop neckline dress has
the softer slightly longer layered flutes of late twenties fashion
styles. The gown also appears to be asymmetric in cut, which is shown by
the way the skirt fabric sits over the knees in an irregular uneven
The headdress which the small flower girl wears, is also
similar to adult bridesmaid headwear of 1931. Costume lovers will
know that trends for adults
often have their beginnings in styles worn earlier by children. Fashion
history shows that fashion styles have a habit of working through the
generations and through the sexes, although rarely all at once.
Boxer Gene Tunney married Mary 'Polly' Lauder in Italy. It was one of
the most sensational love stories of the 1920s. She a Carnegie heiress, he the boxer who beat Dempsey in the famous 'long count fight'.
The film 'The Wedding March' starring Fay
Wray and Eric von Stroheim was released.
For more information about Wedding Photos click below:-
Old photos can be useful when tracing family members and narrowing down
search dates. These photo pages may help you put an era to your
If you have old wedding photos please send them to me and if suitable I will
add them to this pictorial section of social history.
OLD WEDDING PHOTOS
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