Writing Family Wedding Stories Graphic with wedding rings over stained glass

Family wedding stories aren’t just stories of the big day. It’s a culmination of a romance story, often with a fair dose of drama thrown in.

As my oldest and his bride-to-be plan their big day, I realize there are tons of little backstories that lead up to family wedding stories.


Researching Family Wedding Stories

Where did the story start? That’s missing in a lot of families.

The vital records will tell us the date and place of the wedding, the officiant, sponsors, and parents. But that’s far from the full picture.

For instance, I have no idea where or how my maternal grandparents met. Ditto, my paternal grandparents.

My maternal grandparents both lived in Lunenburg County at the time. Though I’ve found no strong link between her family and the Crymes, I still have some research questions to pursue. How close did they live (Land Records)? As more church records become available, I hope to find out if they attended the same church.

I suspect my paternal grandparents met shortly after my grandfather came home from WWI. My theory is supported by this photo of my grandmother in this Red Cross uniform.

Did my grandmother's red cross work lead to a family wedding story

My grandmother in what I believe is a Red Cross uniform.

Newspaper clippings often contain minutiae about the wedding,

Comb newspapers clippings for engaging details to include in your family wedding story. Who were the attendants? What did the wedding party wear? Who gave the bride away?

Some facts (and by that, I mean people) are conspicuous by their absence. Were family members missing? Was the wedding far away from where they lived?

Does the family have any photos that bear out those accounts? Be sure to include them. Also, examine the details in the photos. What new story clues do you find there?

My mother and her brother on her wedding day

My mother’s parents could not travel to her wedding, so her brother gave her away.

Interview relatives about what they remember or what stories may have been passed down. Were both families in favor of the marriage? Any striking cultural or socio-economic differences between the two families? Did the bride and groom a likely couple?

Writing a Family Wedding Story about Living Relatives

Get out your writing pad and start making notes and brainstorming. What do you know? What do you wish you knew?

Great Questions to Explore

(For tips about reminiscing with relatives to collect stories see also How to Start an Oral History Tradition and How to Preserve Meaningful Stories à la Humans of New York.)

Where did they meet? What did they think at the time? (link to story about dad saying he knew)

Who asked who out? Were they “fixed up” by friends or family? When did they know their now-spouse s was “the one”?

The proposal is often a remarkable story itself. Be sure to ask about that as well. Did it come as a surprise to the bride-to-be? Was the groom-to-be nervous or confident?

Drama and story arcs

Not everyone when from an idyllic date to a fairy-tale wedding to a happy-ever-after. There may have been disagreements between families, struggles with logistics (jobs, deployment), and other obstacles to overcome.

How well did the bride and groom know each other? How did that impact your family member emotionally?

Ask about the wedding planning and the choice of the dress? Was it purchased, hand- or homemade? How affordable was the wedding?

What about the BIG day? Any big calamities? Unexpected moments?

For examples of unusual circumstances, listen to NPR’s “Wedding Stories Worth Remembering” which aired in 2008.

Family Wedding Stories Memories

Whether it was their own wedding or another wedding, ask family members what memories of weddings and romance stand out for them. Many times, these are moments that had emotional significance to them and reveal family dynamics and backstories. In addition, the little moments of humor and poignancy can bring family wedding stories alive.

Scrapbooking your family wedding stories?

See also Once upon a time: Remember Wedding Dreams Coming True

Your Turn

How have you written or otherwise preserved or memorialized family wedding stories? What advice would you give to others?  I’d love to see your comments.

This post was shared on the The Genealogy Blog Party: Weddings.

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