This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending my husband’s best friend’s wedding. What is a wedding? The ceremonious joining of two families? The perfect excuse to buy an expensive dress and throw a crazy party? Either way you look at it, marriage is a blessing. It is the joining of two people and their families for what hopes to be a lifetime.
We traveled down to Greenville, South Carolina on Friday after dropping our little one off in Charlotte with his Grammy and Pop Pop. We didn’t have much time to explore before having to try on suits and get ready for rehearsals because my husband was one of several groomsmen. Downtown Greenville is very cool, with a mix of old and new on every corner. I loved the historic district with its craftsman houses sprinkled in with new, urban construction. This city was alive with a mass of people at any given moment. People were running around for their morning exercise and enjoying cups of coffee at trendy cafes. In the evening, people were heading off to a fancy dinner or a night out for cocktails.
I enjoyed the rehearsal at a place called Larkins. It looked like an old industrial building turned into rustic reception rooms lined with brick walls and exposed beams. And the food catered was amazing. After that we went to an Ale House with a roof top open bar concept. Too bad we didn’t notice the open night sky until they closed it off. It would have been pretty to sit in the open air and enjoy the view while drinking craft beer like the total hipsters we claim not to be.
We stayed in the city the next day and were able to check into our hotel early. I took this opportunity to try to explore Main Street. Every Saturday, Greenville plays host to a local market. It’s called Market on Main and it’s literally on Main Street. They section off a part of the downtown district and set up little white tents with local farmers and vendors. It was really nice to see that sense of community and not just feel it. The rest of the day was spent eating brunch at a restaurant across from the hotel and getting ready for the wedding after having ample time to recover from the night befores festivities.
While, my husband went to go watch football with the boys and get dressed before tons of photogs captured his goofy grin for all eternity onto film, I went with his parents to go see his grandmother. She resides in a charming home for people over a certain age. It was delightful to see her since I had only met her once before. She is 87 years old, even though she can’t really remember that.
The wedding itself was held in a courtyard of a hotel in front of a waterfall wall. It was beautiful and the bride herself, breathtaking. The reception was held at the Westin Poinsett. The ballroom draped in blush and gold. A good time was had by all and for some maybe even too much of a good time.
The next morning, I dragged my husband to Falls Park on the Reedy. It is a wonderful piece of nature tucked into the middle of the brick and mortar city. Bridges and waterfalls with rock trails sit in what feels like a secluded park away from the hustle and bustle. I knew then I should have brought my walking shoes with me…especially after wearing heels the night before.
This to me is what marriage feels like. Having the strong support of the brick and mortar to help you though the bad times but the beautiful waterfall taking you through all that life has to offer, ebbing and flowing, with your partner by your side. The family that grows as a city grows and the sense of community you have with family members.
Marriage to me as an amateur genealogist is more than just a paper document full of dates and parents names and locations, but a story of how two people met, fell in love and decided that one another was who they wanted to be with forever. It is the story of how two people joined together to make a family for themselves but received so much more with parents and cousins and aunts and uncles. These are the branches that make us strong as individuals and help hold us together as couples.
Marriage records can be a valuable source of information while researching family history. Not only did the government keep a record of marriages, but also often times churches kept records along with other life events (baptisms, deaths). Records are usually stored with a city or county clerk’s office or may be found with the state’s division of Vital Records.
Applications and licenses are the most common types of records showing intent to marry. Sometimes you may find marriage banns (public announcements) or marriage bonds (written promises of payment made). The licenses and applications offer the most amount of information of value for genealogists. This includes the couples names, ages, and residences. Some offer race, birth dates, occupations, and names of parents. I have even seen number of marriages and the number of children on some licenses in my own family. Names of witnesses could be other potential family members, later records may show ministers who married the couple and their actual wedding date.
All this information may be helpful in order to assist in researching family history. An address may be helpful in looking at city directories or deeds, searching on maps and also concluding which census to check out. A birth date for the bride or groom can be helpful in making sure that you have the correct person in your family tree. Having to be able to see the maiden name for a woman can open a whole new door in a maternal line that was not in existence before.
Church records or family bibles are an excellent source to get started with a search. City and county registrations and vital records will most likely have copies on hand if not digital records and should be available for purchase if you would like a paper copy. Other sources can include newspapers (announcements), obituaries, state archives and last but not least any online source such as Ancestry, Family Search, GenWed, etc.
I hope that this posting has proved to be helpful in your search for marriage records if you are just starting out. Finding a record like that can be most beneficial when piecing together the story in your family tree. But I still think the more important story is about the two people who, once upon a time, fell in love and lived happily ever after.
Thanks for reading !