We’re so used to modern technology being at our full disposal that wedding photos and even videos are something natural and habitual for us. Could you imagine your wedding without photographers, wedding photo albums, and all these hundreds of pictures to remind you about the happy event? People lived like that for centuries. Only the royalty and high-status people could afford to make a portrait of them with their spouse on the wedding day. So, when photography was invented, people rushed to use it, especially the newlyweds. Here are several lovely photos of brides and grooms made in the late 19th century, though you can hardly call them romantic.
All of the photos are from The McCord Museum
You can see elegant grooms and their brides in lovely wedding attire. In the background, are sophisticated furniture, furs on the floor, lush plants, etc. The pics scream elegance and chic. But where’s the newlywed’s happiness? They look serious, don’t smile (only some brides sport a little half-smile), hardly touch each other – there’s no affection between them, from what we can see. Sadly, this was the rule when you were taking photos in the 19th century. No smiles, no inappropriate touches, no relaxed poses. There are very few 19th-century photos where we find smiles on people’s faces. So, these couples – surely, some of them were in love and happy to get married – look like strangers in their wedding photos. Awful, isn’t it?
Also, the quality of photo equipment was much worse in the late 1800s than modern cameras, so some brides look rather ghostly in their fully white apparel, otherworldly even.
Still, it’s nice to see how couples looked like in the 19th century, what wedding attire they wore, what accessories they had, etc. These are real people long passed away by now. I wish we could find out more about their lives together and their relationships. Was it an arranged marriage or were they in love? How many children did they have together? And what their marriage was like in general?
Another interesting trait of the 19th century – the photos are signed with only the groom’s name, while the bride’s name usually remains unknown. She’s just mentioned as “his bride” or “bride”.
G.W. Craig and his bride, Montreal, Canada 1880
J.R. Hutchins and his bride, Montreal, Canada, 1872
Dr. Cameron and his bride, Montreal, Canada, 1880
Mr. McKenzie and his bride, Montreal, Canada, 1871
William J. Watson and his bride, Montreal, Canada, 1881
C.M. Alexander and his bride, Montreal, Canada, 1869
R. Tait and his bride, Montreal, Canada, 1870
R.G. Livingstone and his bride, Montreal, Canada, 1872