vintage, nostalgia and memories


May 23, 2017

Get Married Underwater! These Black and White Photographs of a 1954 Underwater Wedding Ceremony Are Stunning!

In 1954, one couple opted out of the halls of worship and into the pool instead. For Bob Smith, a diving clown, and Mary Beth Sanger, an “Aquamaid” (presumably a synchronized swimmer), exchanging vows underwater was a romantic return to the place where they first met.

For modern couples looking to replicate Smith and Sanger’s aquatic ceremony, several of their tricks are well worth noting. First, they heavily employed lead weights—in his shoes and on her skirt—to help them balance underwater and prevent unwanted glimpses of flesh. Second, they used waxed cardboard to ensure that Smith’s freshly pressed shirt remained stiff underwater.

Finally, the pros at underwater breath control practiced the art of speaking and kissing while submerged: “They bubbled their ‘I do’s,’ practiced a damp kiss—and then emerged for the traditional dry rice.”

The wedding party during a rehearsal ceremony.

The Aquarena in San Marcos, Texas, where underwater weddings are performed.

His arms are covered with waxed cardboard to make coat sleeves stiff.

His shoes, weighing 12 pounds, have lead in bottom to steady him.

Her knee is weighted with metal to help her kneel easily underwater.

Altar bound, Bob and Mary Beth steer wedding attendants toward fish.

Audience looks through the window of a watertight compartment which is submerged in the pool.

Gulping air through tubes which lead to the surface, couple take time to replenish lungs.

Coming up after underwater wedding rehearsal, Bob and Mary Beth are greeted by a shower of rice.

Bride and groom kiss after underwater wedding.

(Photos: John Dominis—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images, via TIME)

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