July 23 2011: Wedding Procession in a Cemetery (Unidentified Location, 1950s or 1960s)
It’s hard to resist the collision of love and mortality framed (presumably accidentally) within the slightly discoloured white borders of this image. After all, while every church wedding will inevitably, at some point on its way to the altar, have to cross the threshhold of the cemetery, most wedding photographs studiously avoid the uncomfortable juxtaposition of Bride and gravestones seen here. Symbols blur and become confused: the formal dress of the Bride’s father becomes the professional dress of an undertaker while the Bride’s extravagant bouquet – traditionally intended to evoke fertility in a mildly pagan throwback – comes to resemble a wreath. The drain exposed in the foreground seems to hint at wasted potential, the cracked cement path a kind of obstacle on the road to fulfilment, consummation and the creation of new life. It’s a scene from a slightly melodramatic novel – one by Thomas Hardy, perhaps – where the happiness of the wedding day is seen under heavy shadow. Like the previous wedding photographs featured here, on June 4 and June 5, this is an example of a snapshot escaping the usually precise constraints of its type.