As men returned home from war, couples who were separated for years eagerly made up for lost time. More couples married in 1946 than in any other year in American history to date. One year later, the birthrate rapidly increased. This expansion of the American family was accompanied by economic growth. New families were eager to spend money and establish their post-war lives.
The emphasis on marriage in the post-war period reinforced ideals that existed long before the war. The nuclear family was the heart of American society. The ultimate goal for a young woman was marriage and motherhood. Although many women survived—and thrived—during the war years without a male breadwinner at home, they were not expected to do so any longer.
The increase in marriages also gave rise to the modern-day wedding industry. The post-war economy was fueled by a growing consumer culture that allowed Americans to buy products that supported their new post-war lives. Companies capitalized on this culture by producing and advertising for a range of wedding-related goods, including engagement rings, wedding dresses, decorations, and cakes.
This is a 1945 advertisement for diamonds sold by the De Beers Company. It includes an image painted in honor of all the soldiers who married when they returned home. The painter specifically depicted the wedding of Norman Germain and Gertrude Kramer in New York City.
This advertisement appeared in several magazines, including The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, and Mademoiselle.