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Thursday, 6 September 2018

Wedding Flower Fashions : Sepia Saturday


"A Weddmg on the Steps" is the title of this week's prompt photograph from Sepia Saturdyay. Who doesn't like a wedding?  so below are photographs from my family collection (1865-1971), with the focus on Fashion in Flowers.

The oldest photograph in my family collection.  My cousin's  great grandmother was Isabel Edward of Banchory, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.  Her sister Jessie married William Dower and they are pictured here with their respective parents.  William   was appointed by the London Missionary Society as a Wesleyan Missionary in South Africa and he and his new wife Jesse sailed  there  shortly after their wedding.   In March 1870, William and Jesse set out on an ox wagon journey to East Griqualand and the town of  Kokstad, where he was asked to take on the role of pastor.  The original of this photograph is in the Kokstad Museum. 

Unless the bride came from a wealthy family, it was generally not the custom to  have a special dress for the wedding, but to wear  the finest outfit the bride owned.  Was the fact Jessie was marrying a Presbyterian minister a factor in the lack of ostentation - not even a small posy?  

An elegant portrait of Sarah Alice Oldham on her wedding to George Butler in Blackpool, Lancashire  and what a showy outfit, magnificently decorated large hat, and a large posy set off by  long broad ribbons.     Sarah came from a family of carters and coal-men down three generations and George also worked in the business. 

Another Oldham wedding, but this time in New Zealand as James William Oldham married Edith Keymer.  I do like the simple classic lines of Edith's dress, but bouquets were growing even longer  - here almost floor-length. 

James'  parents Alfred and Sarah Oldham emigrated to  New Zealand in 1906, where they i ran a wholesale tobacconists and stationery business on Karangahape Road,  Auckland Following James death the family moved to Sydney Australia where his descendants still live today. 

The wedding of Florence Adelaide Mason to Charles Urstadt in New Jersey, USA.  
The bride  is wearing  such a distinctive  headdress that I wondered if it had any links to Charles' German background.  And again what a large beribboned  bouquet.

Florence (1898-1963)  was the eleventh  child of James Mason and Alice Rawcliffe - my great grandmother's sister.  They emigrated, with six children  from Fleetwood,   Lancashire to New York City  in 1888, where they had a further five children, before settling in Jamesburg, Middlesex, New Jersey. I am still in touch with Florence's descendants. 


Beatrice Oldham (sister of Sarah in the second photograph)  married Jack Clarke in 1919 in Blackpool, Lancashire.   I feel the significance of the date after the First World War is not lost in this photograph where there is a air of informality (shorter skirt, trilby hat etc.), compared with the opulence of Sarah's dress above - and much more natural looking flowers.


"Gowned in delphinium blue" was the description of this dress worn by my  mother's cousin Annie Danson,  who married Harry Ditchfield in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire with the local newspaper giving a fulsome account of the dress. "The sleeveless bodice being plain, while the circular skirt was side slashed and bordered all round with deep silver lace. Her hat was ruched georgette to tone and she wore silver shoes and hose to tone. Her bouquet was of pale pink chrysanthemums." A pity we don't have a colour photograph!

The wedding of my uncle Fred to Frances Green in Leicester in the English Midlands.  My father is the rather stern looking man on the far left, carrying the trilby (or panama?) hat, with,  I think,  his brother Charles behind him.  My grandmother is in the cloche hat next to the bridegroom and unfortunately I have been unable  to identify my grandfather - he could be the man hidden at the back. Fred's sister could well be one of the bridesmaids and I have no idea who the young boy is.  I presume the older couple on the right of the photograph are the bride's parents.   This is one of very few  photographs  I have of  the Weston family, prior to my parent's own marriage. 

The wedding of Albert Leslie Williams and Hilda Florence Coombs in London, the parents of my cousin's wife.  Blooms are all around with buttonholes for the men, and large showy bouquets for the adult  bridesmaids, to rival that  held by the bride.  

The wedding of Henry Robinson and Florence Riddell in Blackpool Lancashir,  with Elsie Oldham (niece of Sarah and Beatrice above)  the second figure on the left - I presume as chief bridesmaid.   I feel rather sorrow for the girl on the right on  her own,looking rather spare - with a much smaller  bouquet, 
A low key April wedding for my parents John Weston and Kathleen Danson  at St. Chad's Church, Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire. Flower wise, corsages were the order of the day, 

Wartime simplicity was the look for the wedding of my uncle Bill Danson and his wife Louisa Cerone who I always knew as Auntie Lou, and  who had an Italian  background.


A magnificent array of dresses and flowers  for the  wartime  wedding in New Jersey of Ruth A. Urtstadt  and Edward J. LInke -  the parents of my American third cousin Bonny - descendants from my Lancashire Rawcliffe family.  I doubt if you would see anything like this in Britain then,  when clothing was rationed. 

 A wintry austerity Britain in December 1946 when my uncle Charles Weston married his bride Vera.  I am the tiny shivering bridesmaid, dressed in dusky pink, and holding a big posy, surrounded by what I always thought was a doily more often seen on a cake plate.   Despite the weather this was  happy day, as Charles had returned home after being a Japanese P.O.W.


Postwar simplicity for my aunt Peggy Danson and her husband Harold Constable, always known as Con. They met during the war when Peggy was working on the barrage balloons in Hull and emigrated after their wedding to Australia. 

And Finally:  

  • My own wedding , with  yellow, cream and white  flowers for my small bouquet - those large style bunches of flowers were long out of fashion.
    Sepia Saturday give bloggers an opportunity
     to share their family history through photographs.

    Click HERE for other contributions on this week's  theme. 



  1. How lucky you are to have so many wonderful pictures of so many weddings! That bouquet of Edith's is amazing. I would have loved to have had one like that but for two reasons: 1. The expense! And 2. It would have overwhelmed my wedding dress which - and here's another "snap" between us - was very much like yours in the slim line, the 'boat' type neckline, and 3/4 length sleeves. :)

  2. Me too. I had the boat neck and those sleeves in 1964, first marriage, but a full skirt. What a treat looking through all the fashions of your family. It’s a wonderful collection.

  3. Love this entry as I sew, and I love to view fashions from the past!!!

  4. That was a wonderful tour of history, family, flowers, and style. I thought I had a lot of wedding photos, but a smidgen compared to this array.

  5. My parents wore similar outfits to yours, mine married in 37. And corsages were the expression of flowers with a suit in some tones of maroon I think...with an eye to perhaps wearing it later in some other situation. I wonder if mother ever did!

  6. All wonderful and how beautiful you look.

  7. You're lucky to have family photos dating back to 1865!

  8. What an amazing collection of family photographs to have especially that really early one at the beginning. I love seeing the fashions change through the ages too.

  9. That's quite a cavalcade of brides and grooms. I liked seeing the flower fashions evolve as much as the wedding garb. I wonder what the cost was for some of these early weddings compared to modern extravaganzas.

  10. Thank you all for your lovely comments. This was an enjoyable post to pull together, and I didn’t quite realise I had so many wedding photographs in my collection, with a big thank you for the contributions from my cousins.

  11. An interesting gallery of weddings, and so far back too. I really like the sound of the delphinium blue outfit.

  12. You have an amazing collection of wedding photos! Each one more striking than the next. I am wondering if there is some online colorizing software that might let you approximate the delphinium blue dress and accessories "to tone" so you could see what it might have looked like in color.

  13. lovely photos ,in themselves.And they also give a great representation of the various locations & time periods.
    I especially like the photo of Henry and Florence . They manage to be both 'formal' & having fun at the same time!

  14. Thanks for this blog specially the images you are added,being a flower lover and a florist I would like to share my blog with you
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