How to Spot the Clues in Your Mystery Wedding Photos

How to Spot the Clues in Your Mystery Wedding Photos

If you have a mystery wedding photo in your family history collection, it's time to solve the case. Photo Detective Maureen A. Taylor is here with the clues you should be looking for to identify the couple in your wedding photograph.

clues mystery wedding photo

Sandy Eichelberger has yet another mystery to solve. Some people (and I’ve met them) tell me that they don’t have unidentified photos. I wish that was true in my family.  Even though I’m the photo detective, we have a few of those.  I’m working on my mysteries too. Bet you were one of those lucky families with boxes of ID’d pictures as well.

Sandy seems to have more than her share of unknown pictures. Take this couple for instance.

Clues in the clothing and posture

There are wedding clues in this picture:

  • Their formal dress (her outfit and his suit).
  • That could be a head piece on top of her curls.
  • That appears to be a corsage on his jacket.
  • They are posed as a loving couple.

My favorite detail is how the photographer adjusted her bustle so that it’s visible instead of behind her.  This is not an inexpensive dress.

Find the clues in your photos

Can you spot the wedding clues in your family photographs?

Look for the following:

  • Head pieces or veils
  • Corsages
  • Not all brides married in white.  For average families that’s a twentieth century tradition. The details in her dress date this picture.  His wide lapels suggest a date in the 1870s, but her dress should narrow it from a decade to within a few years.

In 1875 bodices looked like jackets and skirt featured a few ruffles on the hem.   These fitted bodices were called, cuirass or basque. Bustles became lower like the one of this bride’s dress.  It starts about half way down her skirt.

Bustles led more women to pose standing or leaning on furniture in profile to show off the shape of the drapery.   That’s what this woman is doing in this image.  She stands at her husband’s side turned partially toward him to make all that fabric on the back of her dress visible.

There is no photographer’s information on this image, so it’s difficult to pinpoint a location for the event.

Now the question is:  Who in Sandy’s wedding married circa 1875?


Want to become a photo detective? Our Family Photo Detective book will teach readers how to identify and verify people in family photographs by comparing facial features in a collection of photos.

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