Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Wedding Pictures

We have a wedding picture of our parents taken in 1938. It was very much washed out, but after some touch-up, it gives us a glimpse of its original glory. My mother tried very hard to keep her pictures safe. She valued them more than the old silver coins, which she knew would save lives during the war emergency.


In this picture, you can see that taking a wedding picture was an event in itself. You would have to go to a studio, bringing your formal clothes, and spend a considerable amount of time there, with hair-dressers and with your best friends’ help. It was a more intimate commitment. You may be surprised to learn that this private “ceremony” could be more important than the public wedding ceremony followed by dinner.  
By 1965, the photographer would come to the wedding and be part of the process to record the ceremony:


Nowadays, everyone who participates in the wedding can take his or her own pictures of the ceremony. The record is multidimensional; it is more than a technological change. The whole purpose of having a record of the event has been expanded. Our children’s wedding pictures are more relaxed and natural:




  1. Tom, what a fabulous entry! First, I feel as your mom did vis-a-vis family photographs: they are truly precious, and all I have of many family members that I either didn't know at all or knew when I was a child. I would be hard pressed to get them all out of the house in case of fire, but now that I don't have a cat, they are what I would go for first, at least in NYC.

    Second, it was so interesting to see each of the wedding photographs of the three Huang generations! Beautiful family, indeed.

    Finally, reading about the emphasis in your mother's era on the wedding photograph reminded me of a conversation I had in Hong Kong with one of Brown's alumnae there. We were on a mission to find a gift for Martha Joukowsky '58 who was to be the Grand Marshal of the Commencement Procession and found ourselves in the area in Kowloon where they have wedding photographs taken today. What I had taken for dresses and other wedding (all Western) pharaphernalia for sale, were actually the property of the studio where couples would go to have their wedding photos taken, well before the actual wedding and not in their own clothing! I was quite amazed at this phenomenon, and my friend described her distress at the large part these photographs took up of the wedding budgets of her employees, who could usually ill afford it. So the custom lives on, for good or bad.


  2. You are absolutely right, Jennifer!

  3. baby usually arrives after a wedding. Many pictures in my memory file of my brain would pop out from time to time and give me different feelings about life. After seeing Tom off at Taipei's "Pine Mountain Airport" when he was US bound in 1962, I saw him again in 1969. I was already a freshman at the National Taiwan University. He was already married, and his wife Janice just gave birth to a baby girl. We (Father, Mother, Ed and I) were going to meet Janice and Margaret for the first time. We were very excited. Mother could not sleep in anticipation, Father arranged to have the necessary home improvements done before the arrival. We had a new bathroom! There was a flush toilet (we had the squat type before)installed, a new bath tub with colorful small tiles (we had a wooden barrel before)put in, and a western mattress put in Tom's old bedroom. And of course a thorough housing cleaning! We were back in the Pine Mountain Airport. From the window of the waiting hall, I could see them coming down the air plane, walked toward the reception hall. Tom looked so handsome and he was carrying a cloth basket (Margaret was sleeping inside!)in his right hand. His wife walked beside him. What a beautiful scene! This picture has stayed permanent in my mind. Mother was tearful, but smiling. I was too wrapped up with my own excitement to feel what my parents might be feeling. I wish now that I could have understood their feeling more deeply. I do not remember if Ed was with us. I think Ed was in ROTC training that summer.