Planning a CZ Wedding

In a recent oral history interview conducted by the PCMC, a Zonian expressed her unique experience of planning a wedding in the Canal Zone – buying a dress in Panama, ordering invitations from the states, and using orchids grown in neighborhood gardens. What was your experience planning your wedding and getting married in the Canal Zone?

Below are photographs of CZ weddings in the collection. Please provide the names of any unidentified people you may recognize.

Wedding0021. Mrs. Ralph Kirkpatrick is wearing the flowered dress. Others are unidentified, date unknown.

Wedding0032. Wide angle photograph taken at the wedding reception of Mary Ann and Leon F. “Bud” Hallett Jr. April 6, 1945, Balboa Union Church.

Wedding0043. Dolly and Jerome Steiner’s wedding. Bridal party unidentified, date unknown.


  • Lee Paris CS3

    Enjoy the pictures, I spent 2 years in Panama, 15th Naval dist. 48/50. Have always enjoyed thunder storms ever since. And Chico’s Bar on J Street!

  • Robert A. Dryja

    My grandparents were married in 1917 and my parents were married in 1941 in the Canal Zone. My grandparents represented the generation in which the building the Panama Canal was a major engineering event spread over ten years. My grandfather initially had seen the construction of the canal while a sailor on one of the steam driven battleships of Teddy Roosevelt’s great white fleet. He returned to the Canal Zone as a member of the police force, riding a horse in what looks like a wool uniform. He wrote a series of letters back to his sweet heart, commenting on how much he missed her. She reciprocated in her letters back to him. She sailed from New York City, taking several days to reach Cristobal. She said that she arrived in the morning and they were married in the afternoon. Their first home was next to the police station in Cristobal.

    My mom and dad followed a similar pattern. He was assigned as a new army lieutenant fresh out of college to the Canal Zone. Dad missed his college sweet heart just as had occurred for the grandparents. Mom sailed from New York a few months later, just like Grandmother. She arrived in Cristobal in the morning and they were married in the afternoon, just like the grandparents. The wedding took place on the Pacific side of the Canal Zone and she describes riding on the train, passing through the jungle and by Gatun Lake. The wedding itself involved other young army officers participating. Mother wore a simple white wedding dress that she had made herself and dad wore his army uniform.

    How many people have traveled from the Atlantic to Pacific oceans to be married in less than a day?

    Mom and Dad represented the World War II generation concerned with the defense of the Panama Canal. Dad was officer of the day when Pearl Harbor was attacked. He said he could have been held responsible if the attack had occurred on the Canal Zone.

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