Vintage-themed Bridal Events: Perfect Venues for Your Family Artifacts
If you have a wedding coming up in your family circle, consider including family artifacts in the décor. Incorporating your treasured family heirlooms into a bridal shower or wedding creates a natural setting for sharing family history and memories.
Adding Family History to the Occasion
Last summer, my niece Katie and I gave a bridal shower for her cousin. Initially, my niece was inspired by the vintage-chic theme, knowing it a favorite of her cousin’s. She had gathered table setting ideas from Pinterest including floral teacups, fake pearls, and stacks of old books. Our theme was set, and we knew the bride would love it.
The shower was to be held in a small town nestled in Arizona’s White Mountains in a rustic stone room with a long mesquite table around which twenty guests would sit. Over the years, this town has become a special gathering place for our extended family, and the bride had decided to hold her wedding there.
“My aunts and cousins told the stories behind each object on the table before we sat down for lunch, and there was not a dry eye in the room.” – the Bride
I knew one of the main gifts the bride-to-be’s mother wanted to give her was an ornate tea set purchased by the bride’s great-grandparents in Turkey in the 1950’s. This tea set had been passed down from her great-grandmother, to her grandmother, and to her mother.
Unbeknownst to the bride, it would be passed on to her at the bridal shower. “So, the tea set became our focal point,” Katie recalls.
Selecting Family Treasures
As we continued to brainstorm ideas for the table settings, we quickly realized that the shower was an ideal venue to incorporate family history through more family artifacts.
We decided that we could blend multiple sterling silverware place settings, china patterns, and crystal bowls that had been passed down to us from our mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and great-great-grandmothers to create unique and beautiful place settings.
Katie said she and her cousin had rarely seen these heirlooms in their lifetimes. Knowing that four or five generations of women used these artifacts in their own homes with their own families made her feel very connected.
As Katie explained, “I know I felt connected – that’s the best word I can think of. There are so many people who don’t have that, who don’t have a deep connection with a long family history, and I think we’re very lucky to have that connection. I know where I belong. I definitely know where I belong.”
The bride herself felt the same way as she expressed in an email recently.
“My family made my wedding shower incredibly special by using china and silver that had belonged to women in my family over generations. My aunts and cousins told the stories behind each object on the table before we sat down for lunch, and there was not a dry eye in the room. My mom created an ‘artifact list’ to explain each object’s history and significance, which I will forever treasure as a wedding keepsake.
“It meant so much to be surrounded by such beautiful heirlooms symbolic of the strong women, history, and marriages in my family. In the midst of the craziness of the wedding weekend, these treasures forced me to slow down, go back in time, and picture my ancestors’ special days so many years ago and, especially, to reflect on all that the women in my family accomplished and the incredible bonds they formed with their spouses and families.”
These special artifacts embodied a sense of hope, a hope that someday I too will be able to pass on heirlooms that deserve to have their stories told, as these beautiful treasures did. – the Bride
Family Artifacts “Tell” Your Family’s History
As family history writers, many of us research the origin of our artifacts and collect the “hard facts” about them, but what we really want to uncover are the people, events, and the stories our ancestors associated with them.
In this instance, generations of grandmothers’ artifacts tell the family history of women who treasured not only beautiful objects, but the opportunity to share their tables with family and friends.
Write a Family Member to Life Series
- Capturing a Family Member's Essence
- Writing a Family History Biographical Essay, Part 1: Select Your Subject
- Writing a Family History Biographical Essay, Part 2: Identify Your Resources and Research Questions
- Writing a Family History Biographical Essay, Part 3: Organize Your Writing Plan
Write Your Family History to Life Series
Write a Family Artifact to Life Series