The scene looks like a set-up for the social media age—this despite it happening long before social media existed, and in the days when photography was still in its tripods-and-flashbulbs era.

The USC chapter of Delta Delta Delta sorority staged an annual Tri-Delt Pansy Breakfast, a tradition that began in 1923. The defining moment of the breakfast, as documented LIFE in its issue of July 23, 1945, was when seniors who had become engaged during the school year stepped through a giant ring of pansies. The significance of the pansy is that it was the official flower of the sorority.

In 1945 LIFE’s Peter Stackpole was there to capture this photogenic moment— which doesn’t seem to have actually been photographed all that often. All these years later, Stackpole’s pictures of women stepping through the pansy ring are among the few that crop up if you search for images of the breakfast online.

The ceremony is a throwback to a time when the average age of marriage for women was a shade under 22. The average actually dipped even lower in the immediate post-World War II years before climbing steadily to its current level, which is just above 28 years old. LIFE reported that at the 1945 Tri-Delt breakfast, a remarkable 48 girls passed through the ring. “Several had already been married but, romantically, did not want to miss the ceremony,” LIFE said.

The Tri-Delt tradition continued for some time—this photo from 1965 shows a ceremony that looks exactly what Stackpole captured. Today the pansy remains the official Tri-Delt flower and the celebration carries on in name, except it now honors graduating seniors, rather than just young women with rings on their fingers. But on the Instagram feed for the USC Tri-Delts, while there are plenty of pictures of sorority sisters enjoying their lives, it seems that the giant ring of pansies did not make it to the age of social media.

Sorority sisters picked pansies at the Los Angeles Country Club the day before USC’s Tri-Delt Pansy breakfast, 1945.

Peter Stackpole/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

The Tri-Delt Pansy Breakfast at USC, 1945.

Peter Stackpole/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

The Tri-Delt Pansy Breakfast at USC, 1945.

Peter Stackpole/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Virginia Erickson, engaged to Clair Fledderjohn, walked through a ring of pansies at the Tri-Delt Pansy Breakfast at USC, 1945.

Peter Stackpole/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Eileen Nilsson, engaged to Davis de Aryan, walked through a ring of flowers at the Tri-Delt Pansy Breakfast at USC, 1945.

Peter Stackpole/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Betty Hildreth, who married a naval ensign that March, walked through a ring of pansies at the Tri-Delt Pansy Breakfast at USC, 1945.

Peter Stackpole/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Marilyn Faris, engaged to Lt. Bill Osborn, walked through a ring of pansies at the Tri-Delt Pansy Breakfast at USC, 1945.

Peter Stackpole/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Dora Meredith, engaged to Captain C.B. Hopkins, walked through a ring of pansies at the Tri-Delt Pansy Breakfast at USC, 1945.

Peter Stackpole/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Phyllis Dixon, engaged to Davis Lavelle, walked through a ring of pansies at the Tri-Delt Pansy Breakfast at USC, 1945.

Peter Stackpole/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Virginia Luff, engaged to Lt. Elwood Laine, walked through a ring of pansies at the Tri-Delt Pansy Breakfast at USC, 1945.

Peter Stackpole/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Helen Taylor, engaged to Lt. Bob Fogwell, walked through a ring of pansies at the Tri-Delt Pansy Breakfast at USC, 1945.

Peter Stackpole/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

An engaged or married senior sorority sister walked through a ring of pansies at the Tri-Delt Pansy Breakfast at USC, 1945.

Peter Stackpole/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Clair Eder, engaged to Clifford Barnes, walked through a ring of flowers at the Tri-Delt Pansy Breakfast at USC, 1945.

Peter Stackpole/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

USC student Ethel Stevens took a pansy bath during the Tri-Delt Pansy Breakfast weekend, 1945.

Peter Stackpole/Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

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