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Older grans! Can you tell me something about 1940s weddings?

(65 Posts)
Illte Wed 08-Jul-20 09:42:55

After my father died over 20 years ago my sister took all the photos and papers to keep at her house.
Now she has died I have and having time over lockdown have been going through them.

A couple of things about the wedding photos have puzzled me. Not important but I just wondered if anyone could tell me more about the conventions of the time.

I have the formal group photos of my mother and father's wedding, her brother's wedding and two of my father's sisters wedding. In none of them is the bride's mother present. There is the brides father, the best man, the bridesmaids, page boy, even on one the grooms mothet. Was that the convention at the time? Would there have been a seperate photo of the bride with her mother?

Also, the snapshots are taken in the village church where I grew up 15 miles from the nearest town but the formal photos are clearly taken on a studio by a photographer in that town. The reception of all of these weddings was at home and nobody had a car to get to the town on the same day. Would they have all got dressed up again and gone in the next day. The bouquets are still fresh. Or would the photographer have brought out all his equipment and a quite elaborate backdrop to the village?

I can't make out how they would have done it.

Like I say it's not important but I'm finding it interesting. The weddings were all 1945 to 1946.

My thanks to anyone that can help🙂

grandtanteJE65 Wed 08-Jul-20 12:42:53

Judging by photos in my family, it was common between the two world wars for wedding photos either only to be of the bride and bridegroom, or of them plus the bridesmaids and best man.

In my childhood, my parents displayed a wedding photo of them alone taken in a studio. This was in Scotland at least usually taken on the day of the wedding.

The bride and groom drove to a local photographer from the church, while the wedding guests went directly to where the reception was to be held.

The fact that the bride's mother wasn't in the photo might indicate that she had gone to supervise the reception, or that she just didn't like "having her photy took"

Two of my parents friends only had a photo of the bride on show, both husbands having declined to use a photo of the happy couple.

I always found that a little odd.

annsixty Wed 08-Jul-20 12:49:15

I was bridesmaid to my cousin around 1946 after her fiancé came back from the war.
We did have studio photographs taken but I no longer have any.
We girls, all cousins, looked hideous , we had like big powder puffs tied onto our heads with ribbon and the youngest girl, then about two had one far too big for her and it slipped sideways and nearly obscured her face.
I can only remember one photograph which was the bride, groom and us bridesmaids.

grandtanteJE65 Wed 08-Jul-20 12:52:09

My parents married in 1946 - Daddy in RAF uniform and Mummy in a white wedding dress, material provided courtesty of the WAAF on condition that other WAAFs from RAF Sylt could borrow the dress. (None ever did). She wore Daddy's mother's veil.

And the bride wore white by Ann Montsarrat published by Corgi in 1973 gives both descriptions of wedding wear and traditions

trisher Wed 08-Jul-20 13:03:15

My mother got married in 1941. She wore white but the dress was borrowed. My dad wore his army khakis because apparently he had outgrown the dress uniform he had been given when he joined up. On the night before their wedding the photographer was bombed so there are only family snaps. On the day of their wedding Hull was divided in two as they staged a mock invasion. The organist was called up for it. My dad had to pass through the road blocks to the wedding, he was carrying his army pay book so he got through (he could have been arrested as a German spy). A few years ago we went to an exhibition about WW2 in Hull where there were photos of the mock invasion, the man in charge said they weren't sure of the date. When my mum told him he asked if she was sure "I should be," she answered, "It's my wedding day"

Elrel Wed 08-Jul-20 13:46:03

1945, my aunt’s sister married an American soldier so was a GI bride, they then had a long and happy married life in California. My cousin and I, 4 and 5, were bridesmaids, my aunt was matron of honour. It was a church wedding in a Birmingham suburb. We went straight from the church to a photographer’s studio nearby. I have no memory of the reception! I loved my bridesmaid dress, made by the bride’s mother, a seamstress, and wore it to parties until I outgrew it! I will look for the photo, I am sure it includes both the bride’s parents as well as the happy couple, MoH and bridesmaids. I’m wondering whether the groom had a fellow GI as a best man and he was also in the photo.

Cabbie21 Wed 08-Jul-20 13:49:19

Lovely to read all the stories and memories.
My parents married in 1939. There are only two photos, one of bride and groom, both wearing dark suits ( a navy costume, my mum called it. I still have her handbag). The other is my mum only, with the sea in the background and wearing the same suit, having just arrived at the seaside for their honeymoon.
No parents would have attended on my mum’s side as her dad died when she was 9, and her mum was in a wheelchair. She probably didn’t go to the service as she did not approve.

TerriBull Wed 08-Jul-20 14:22:35

My parents married in the late 40s, they didn't meet each other until after the war. They appeared to have quite a large gathering of both sides of the family and other people, from the photos I have. They married in the catholic church in my mother's home town where my maternal grandparents had also married. My father was wearing a full morning suit and looked very dapper and dark, it occurred to me when viewing "The Sopranos" recently, in his younger days my dad was a bit of a Christopher Moltisanti look alike grin From the photos, they appeared to have quite a big reception given we were in the midst of austerity, although from the picture I have of them cutting the cake, I'm thinking it may have been in the church hall. My mother's best friend was one of her bridesmaids, they were at school together and that was an enduring friendship for many years. My parents took off to France for a month after they married staying with various family members who lived there along the way to their final destination in the south where my father's sister and her husband lived.

Many years later my mother's wedding dress which had been stored away, was cut up to make my First Communion dress. I remember the feel of it mainly because it had a raised embossed pattern which I can recall touching all the way through the mass.

lemongrove Wed 08-Jul-20 14:42:39

have just looked out the wedding photos from my mothers first wedding in 1941 Illte and all the relatives at the time are on it, including both sets of their parents.
I also looked at grandparents wedding in 1920 or thereabouts and all the relatives are in those photos too.This is in England
I do remember my mother saying there was no real cake, just a cardboard one with some flowers on it.

Susie42 Wed 08-Jul-20 14:47:34

I have no photos of my parent's wedding just a newspaper cutting giving details. I don't know if the reason for this was that they married on Christmas Day and they could not book a photographer.

jacq10 Wed 08-Jul-20 17:32:59

The only photo I have of my Mum & Dad's wedding was in 1939 and it included a bridesmaid and best man but although they were married by a minister I think it was in the manse as war had just been declared so everything was scaled down. I do have a photograph of a cousin's wedding as I was flower girl and have vague memories of it. Think it would have been around 1949/50. Bride was in white and I can remember my dress was pink (back in the day when everything was black or white or so my DGS thinks!).

callgirl1 Wed 08-Jul-20 17:49:56

I`ve only seen one photo of my parents wedding, in January 1942, it was taken outside the front of my grandma`s house. There are my parents, his cousin who was best man, my auntie who was the bridesmaid, then my mother`s father, or maybe stepfather, as my grandma was married twice, and on the end a young man who I haven`t a clue about, and there`s no-one left to ask about it. My father was wearing his RAF uniform, he was killed the following December, 6 months before I was born.

BBbevan Wed 08-Jul-20 18:08:43

My mum and dad were married in 1942. Dad wore his army uniform as did the best man. Mum wore a long white dress and veil with an enormous bouquet of red carnations with lots of trailing fern. Both sets of parents plus 2 bridesmaids are in the photo. It was taken outside the church.We have no other photographs.

Lexisgranny Wed 08-Jul-20 18:34:38

My parents married in the late 1930s and had several photographs with “both sides”, bridesmaids and groomsmen, and another with all the guests. Photos were taken both inside and in the garden of the hotel where the reception was held. The internal photographs could well have been mistaken for a studio, but I recognised the inside of the hotel, and they left for their honeymoon directly after the reception.

Not strictly relevant to your question, but I have a cutting from the local newspaper from the early 1900s which I found relating to my grandparents’ nuptials . There was a lengthy account of the wedding, including venue of reception, a full list of wedding presents, guests, bridal party outfits, brides going away outfit, where honeymoon was etc. However alongside was an account of another couples’ wedding, written in the future tense. Eg the bride will be wearing, the bridesmaids will be carrying bouquets of............., guests will enjoy a delightful reception at.......... full marks to the bride for confidence in the smooth running of her arrangements! Have done quite a lot of family history, but never come across either of these type of accounts before.

Welshwife Wed 08-Jul-20 18:40:26

My parents were married in 1938. My father and all males wore suits and ties - my mother had a long dress made of a lovely jacquard type fabric which was actually a strappy top and over it a matching jacket which was fitted and had a high neckline - looking at the photo you would think it was a dress. One of her sisters was a bridesmaid - my fathers sister did not like dressing up so refused! One my cousins on my fathers side was dressed in a lacy dress and put in the front row by her mother - my mother was enraged by that and mentioned it whenever the photo was looked at! Her flowers were a large bouquet and they had a tiered cake. Her head dress was beautiful with wax orange blossom - she kept it all her life and also the dress which she had dyed a lovely shade of blue.
I was a bridesmaid to my fathers youngest sister in 1947. She had a white dress etc and four bridesmaids - my new uncles sister an an older cousin of mine and my cousin and I were the child bridesmaid - our dresses were made by two sisters who were dressmakers - a lovely heavy crepe fabric and all The same fabric. They had their sit down reception in the reception room of a posh pub.
I can remember my mother’s sister getting married in a suit at the registry office just after the war.
I think you got extra clothing coupons for wedding clothes.

janeainsworth Wed 08-Jul-20 18:48:33

What a fascinating thread. My parents married in 1944, no photos of the actual wedding, only one of them on the prom at Blackpool where they went for a couple of nights before Dad had to go back to the RAF station where he was based. In the photo he’s wearing his uniform and Mum is wearing a suit. I’m pretty sure that’s what she must have worn at the wedding too.
What I do have is a wedding breakfast menu (from the Grand Hotel in Manchester) signed by all the guests - about 8 in all.

Mamie Wed 08-Jul-20 19:37:23

Mine married in the late 1930s. Parents, best man and bridesmaid in the photos, except that my maternal grandmother was a widow. She gave my mother away. My grandmother worked as a professional photo colourist and she has coloured the photos. We have a lot of examples of her work.

Welshwife Wed 08-Jul-20 19:43:01

When may parents married - 1938 - no one really flew anywhere but during the 30s when jobs were so scarce one of the jobs my Dad did was being a photographer - he did a variety of things and sometimes was sent to places - he went to Jersey and took a photo of the then Prince of Wales. He loved it so much he was determined to rake my mother there. They did not go then as it was feared that U.K. would soon be at war with Germany. They waited a year and went in August 1939! They flew there and while on holiday took the boat to St Malo and also visited Dinard. They arrived back in London the day or so be before war was de larked.
They never went abroad again but it the trip had great memories for both of them. I was always amazed my father got Mum to go as she would not even go on his motorbike with him. She did ride on the back of the tandem though with me on a seat behind her. I can remember some lovely outings with them and Mum wearing slacks!

Whitewavemark2 Wed 08-Jul-20 19:44:01

My parents married in October 1939.

I have the wedding breakfast menu at 3/6d a head. Mum married in white with a massive bouquet of red roses.

So in the wedding photo is Mum, Dad, bridesmaids and Brides father. That’s the main participants isn’t it?

Whitewavemark2 Wed 08-Jul-20 19:48:32

Parents honeymooned in Torquay in The Grand Hotel. War had been declared so a U.K. holiday was in order, Dad was drafted almost immediately they returned, he spent the war in India so they didn't see each other again until 1945.

callgirl1 Wed 08-Jul-20 21:14:05

This is my parents wedding photo, January 1942.

Illte Wed 08-Jul-20 22:43:17

Wow! Thank you everyone. It seems to have been an individual choice rather than a set convention. But obviously from some of the posts the brides mother didn't figure heavily like she does today, the father who gave her away was more important.

Do you know who they all are in the photo callgirl? Lots of men and no female parents there.

I'm so glad I posted. It's fascinating reading all these stories. I just wish I asked more and listened more when those members of my family where still alive.

Callistemon Wed 08-Jul-20 23:36:42

Your last sentence Illte - how many times have I asked myself that question!

rosecarmel Thu 09-Jul-20 01:44:53

I'm in the US, there are no parents in wedding photos from that period, but the wedding photos earlier than that include the parents-

rosecarmel Thu 09-Jul-20 01:49:08

Truly wonderful stories everyone!

Grandad1943 Thu 09-Jul-20 07:21:31

It has to be remembered that many marriages in the early to mid-nineteen forties took place against a background of the second world war.

My parents got married in 1939 when my father who was in the army when the war broke out was told his Regiment was to be sent to France. Therefore like many couples at that time they got married quickly by way of my father getting a 48-hour marriage leave pass from his commanding officer.

My wife's parents were also the same as they got married in early 1942 on a forty-eight-hour leave pass following her father being told that his Regiment was to be shipped out to Burma in the far east.

In the above, such marriages were arranged very quickly and with so many being in the armed forces or specially reserved occupations it was a case of who was available to attend at the time, and if anyone could be found to take any photos.

Many newly married couples then did not see each other following such marriages for many months if not years. My wife's father was sent out to the far east in 1942 and those two never seen each other again until he returned home in early 1946.

Of course, sadly some would never return home ever again.