Did you know that Norman Rockwell Museum hosts weddings? There have been several couples who have tied the knot on the Museum’s bucolic grounds over the years… and even a few proposals!
The most popular painting that visitors seem to use as a backdrop to profess their love is Norman Rockwell’s The Marriage License (1955). Part of Norman Rockwell Museum’s permanent collection, the painting was created for the June 11, 1955 cover of The Saturday Evening Post. In the illustration, a young couple apply to get their wedding license. Rockwell set the scene with photographer Bill Scovill in the town clerk’s office in Stockbridge, Massachusetts in the winter of 1954.
To pose as the young couple Rockwell hired his neighbors, Francis (Mo) and Joan Mahoney, who were actually engaged in real-life; the artist also asked local business owner Jason Braman to pose as the clerk. Mr. Braman owned the department store in town, right next to the library and yards away from Rockwell’s first Stockbridge studio. Learning that Braman had lost his own wife recently, Rockwell asked if he might like to pose as a way to give him something else to think about. In the painting you see the clerk looking distractedly off into space, which adds a touching theme about the passing of time to the work.
Recently, a Japanese film crew visited the Museum and set up a recreation of the painting for a program about Norman Rockwell that aired earlier this year. Although the original painting was on the road as part of the Museum’s traveling exhibition, Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera, a member of the Museum’s staff also helped a young man plan a surprise proposal of his own in front of the mock-up set of the painting—as a result, the man and his fiancee are planning a wedding of their own in Stockbridge for February 2013, just in time for Valentine’s Day.