Photos of the Week – “My Wedding Day” by Genevieve Mirota,1934

The photographs this week are from the wedding of Genevieve “Jennie” Mirota to Theodore Lubas on 18 August 1934 at Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic Church, in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey.  Jennie was from Readington Township in Hunterdon County and Ted was from Belle Mead in Montgomery Township, Somerset County. Both sets of parents had been born and raised in Poland. Ted and Jennie had met at a wedding about a year beforehand. She was 24 and he was 21 when they married. I’ve always loved looking at these wedding pictures since so many different emotions are reflected in Genevieve’s face. This one above was taken in front of her childhood home on her wedding day. She looks so tense and nervous, and this is what she wrote:

“The priest married us in Polish. When Ted answered he sounded frightened and very quiet. I answered very clearly, we had to exchange rings. I was putting his ring on and couldn’t put it on so I said quietly oh, Heck, put it on yourself and smiled. Then we kissed and left the altar for the kneeler and Francis and Ann sang, Do Twej Dążym Kaplicy a polish song at a polish wedding.”

What is so exciting is that her children saved what she wrote down about her wedding day. Reading it is like opening a door, and taking a time travel into the past. Here, in this photo, Jennie is outside the church with her father, Joseph Mirota. He looks so stern and protective, and she looks completely happy.

Jennie wrote about the preparations for the wedding and reception, in letters also saved by her children. Her mother, Sophia, had worked so hard, yet was so happy to have the house filled with family and friends. Jennie had worked as a maid for a few years, saving her money, but then lost most of it when her local bank failed. She itemized the wedding costs. “My outfit cost me $39 (the gown was $16.90, the veil $15.95, and shoes $2.44), Mary’s (her sister and maid of honor) cost about $12. The wedding altogether cost too much. It cost Ted around $100.” Here below is a photo of radiant Jennie in her gorgeous gown and veil. To me she always looked like a beautiful Hollywood movie starlet of the 30s with her fashionable bobbed hair and stylish veil.

Her sister, Mary Mirota, looked stunning also, dressed in soft pink with a pink hat and sash, and she carried a bouquet of tea roses.

After the wedding ceremony, photographs were  taken at a studio in nearby Bound Brook, and then the wedding party came back to the church hall for the supper reception at 8 P.M., with about 125 people invited including children.  The wedding invitation read:

Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Mirota request the honor of your presence at the marriage of their daughter Genevieve to Mr. Theodore Lubas on Saturday, August the eighteenth, Nineteen hundred and thirty-four at 4:00 P.M., Whitehouse Catholic Church, White House, N.J.  Reception after the ceremony, Catholic Auditorium.

And yes, during the Depression years there were wedding crashers, too. Jennie wrote that the invitations were taken at the door to the reception hall, and lots of people had to stay out, since they were strangers! I love the hats the women are wearing, and the little boy in the overalls. Behind Mary Mirota you can see the crowds milling about.

At the hall Jennie and Ted were met by her parents with wine, salt, and bread – a traditional Polish wedding custom – and the Wedding March. Another favorite Blessed Virgin Mary hymn, Serdeczna Matko, was played and everyone sang along. There had been some kind of mix-up, and Jennie and Ted couldn’t get the first choice for the orchestra, Johnny Leonard, that the Lubas family picked out, and instead hired another group, possibly Joe Dziedziec, since Jennie mentions him playing and lots of dancing. But in true wedding drama only three or four family groups from Ted’s side came to the wedding,  the rest simply wouldn’t come staging a boycott, because of the choice of band. Jennie writes, “What relatives.”

Here’s a photo of the entire wedding party outside the church.  The best man was Ted’s brother, Frank Lubas. Also in the wedding party were:  Elia “Al” Del Carlo – Jennie’s childhood friend and next door neighbor, with Ben; Helen and Tony; Nell Wach and Steve Phillips; Steffy Wach and Bill.

Here’s a photo of Al Del Carlo’s lovely dress. Each bridesmaid wore a slightly different dress, with matching hats. Al wore Nile green and white kid shoes. Al, and her brother, Edward, were good lifelong friends of the Mirota girls and their brothers, Steve and Joe.

The family spent weeks getting everything ready and family, neighbors, and friends all pitched in. These are some of the folks that Jennie mentions that helped: Mrs. Vladich, Mrs. Gorawski, Mrs. Petut, John Gutowski. Also, the Wach’s, Wrobel’s, Szablowki’s and the  Del Carlo family. Mrs. Rozenek and Mrs. Szmek (godmothers) came from Chicago for the month to help out. Kumoska Szmek was the hit of the reception when she tied an apron on Jennie with four dolls on it to signify the children she soon would have, then stole Jennie’s shoe and went around collecting money in it for the future diapers. Kumoska served Jennie and Ted coffee with more dolls floating on top. “What people, what corkers,” Jennie wrote.

Jennie also wrote out (in her spelling) what they had for the reception supper:  chicken, baloney, veal, gowampki, ham, mashed potatoes, potato salad, cole slaw, sour kraut, peas and carrots, pickled beets, plums, bananas, kobasy, Russian pigeons, tomatoes, bread, cake, whiskey, soda, coffee, and beer.  What a feast! The wedding reception ended at 1:00 A.M.

That night the married couple went back to her parent’s home, and her dad let them have his car, and then they went to Ted’s house at 3:00 A. M. The next morning they came back to Our Lady of Lourdes Church for a blessing from the priest. Jennie ends her recollections stating, “I am writing this almost 2 weeks after the wedding and I think married life is pretty good with a fellow like Ted.”

5 thoughts on “Photos of the Week – “My Wedding Day” by Genevieve Mirota,1934

    1. Hi Joe, Wow – it is a small world. I hear you used to have an 11-piece orchestra and played lots of great old songs at weddings and on TV. The Lubas family has some great Polish roots! I’m looking forward to hearing more about the Polish cemetery project you have been working on with friends. God bless and have a happy Thanksgiving Day.


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