Stories of RNS Photos: Saying "I Do" | Presbyterian Historical Society

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Stories of RNS Photos: Saying "I Do"

February 7, 2023

In 2019, with grant support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, PHS digitized nearly 500 images from the RNS photograph collection all of which are now viewable in Pearl. The photographs chosen for the project spanned various years, topic, faiths, and geographical locations, but all supported the Religious News Service’s mission to document twentieth century religious and ethical issues for a wider audience.


In elementary school, I was always excited for Valentine’s Day. I would eagerly drag my mother to the store to stand in front of the shelves of foil-wrapped notes, spending far too much time deciding which ones I wanted to drop into my classmates’ handmade desktop mailboxes. Even now, I get excited—to tell the people in my life how much they mean to me, even if I’m not sliding a cute valentine card onto their desk in third period.

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and we’ve got some recently digitized images from the Religious News Service collection to share with you. Looking at these images, you can almost feel the love in the air. These images of wedding ceremonies that were held at rather unique venues remind us of the power of love—when you feel it so strongly, you don’t mind getting married in the middle of a shopping mall.

So, use this as a reminder—to love fiercely, and to remind those you love how they live in your heart year round.

(Want more Valentine's Day content? Look no further! We've turned some RNS photos into downloadable e-cards for you to send to your loved ones.)

Wedding on Horseback, 1975. [Pearl ID: islandora:308437]. 

You’ve maybe seen couples dress their dog in a little tuxedo to trot down the aisle with them, but what about their favorite horses? These images, captured at Bobby and Wendy Wilson’s wedding ceremony in 1975, show us—as said in the corresponding caption—a “typical wedding scene…except that all are on horseback.” The couple, as well as their minister Austin Miles, were horse show performers. In fact, just three hours post-ceremony, they headed back to Madison Square Garden’s Felt Forum for the evening performance of “The Wonderful World of Horses.” Being an ordained clergyman of the Assemblies of God was Miles’ side-act—on any normal night, he was the announcer of the “Wonderful World” shows. The Wilson’s wedding ceremony was the first that Miles performed on horseback—and the second involving a couple from the show.

While hearing the phrase, “you may now share your first kiss as a legally wedded couple,” while sitting atop your favorite horse might seem strange to some people, it felt right for the Wilsons. Miles emphasized that it was both natural and meaningful for the two, who work so closely with horses, to be married atop their dependable steeds—it was a symbol of their life and work together.
(Fun fact: the two witnesses standing to the left of this image were the first couple from the show that Miles married!)

Wedding on Horseback, 1975. [Pearl ID: islandora:308439]. 


Mountain Marriage, 1945. [Pearl ID: islandora:308433].

Do you enjoy hiking? Do you enjoy hiking so much that you and your beloved trek more than 17,000 feet above Mexico City to say the words, “I do”?

Maria de la Paz Santra Cruz and Adolpha Mueller did just that.

And they weren’t alone. Not only did Father Antonio Montano, their officiant, make it to the slopes of Ixtaccihautl, Mexico’s perpetually snow-capped volcano, for the ceremony, but the couple was joined by 350 others who served as witnesses—all members of the Matterhorn Alpine Club, of which the groom was a member. Talk about dedication!


Wedding in a Shopping Mall, 1980. [Pearl ID: islandora:308434].

Imagine this: it’s your wedding day. As you exchange vows, you’re surrounded by casually dressed shoppers milling about, going to and fro, from the Boscov’s to the Macy’s.

It would look eerily similar to Catherine Wittig’s and David Foti’s wedding day in 1980, which took place at a Milwaukee shopping mall. The lucky couple were the winners of an essay contest. The prompt? “Why we want to be married in a shopping center.” We’re assuming that, as winners of the contest, all of the financial obligations of the ceremony were waived. Plus, they got media coverage, and an overflow crowd of witnesses and onlookers, attracted by advertisements for the event.

Better yet, they didn’t have to pay for catering—everyone could just meander over to the food court for post-ceremony snacks.


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