‘Weddings today are not like they were in our day’

Jun 26, 2021
The extravagance was one thing to change, but then coronavirus hit and weddings became so different to how Barbara remembers them. Source: Getty Images

Remember the weddings of our era? Back in the 1950s, one of the girls in our street was getting married.

This was an event for the whole street to enjoy. On the big day all the neighbours gathered at the bride’s house to wait for her to step through the front door with her father and walk down the path to the waiting car.

We would smile to see the bridesmaid and matron of honour emerge too. (Do matrons of honour still exist or is the very word ‘matron’ out of vogue?) Back then the bride’s married sister or married best friend had that honour.

Meantime we took up our positions near the fence on the footpath. Lots of “Oohs” and “Ahs” because, as you know, all brides are beautiful and glowing. The dress did not cost thousands of dollars and was usually made by the bride’s mother or the local dressmaker. It too, was beautiful.

No one expected to see four bridesmaids plus flower girls and page boys, and the family dog wearing a dog tuxedo! We didn’t expect to be invited to the reception, but would sometimes gather at the church after the ceremony or even creep into the church and sit up the back if there was room.

When the bride and groom emerged as Mr and Mrs we’d throw confetti. Alas, no confetti throwing any more! It’s messy, it sticks to your clothes and stains them and is lots of bother to clean up. But wasn’t it pretty? All those perfect little circles of colour.

I remember little pieces of wedding cake appeared next day for the neighbours, carefully wrapped or in a little silver tin. Now if you’re an ‘also ran’ and not invited to the formal reception you’re invited to an afternoon tea close by or in the church hall. How embarrassing is that! You feel obliged to take a gift even though you’re not a real invitee!

The lucky (?) people who are going to the reception have to fill in time somehow while the bride and groom have photos and video taken. It’s such a production now.

Back then casserole dishes or toasters were considered to be a great present. If you had no idea, you quietly chatted with the mother of the bride for suggestions. Not now! You have an official list of items the happy couple need/want and you sort it out with their shop of choice. That store sends a list of stuff with the prices. The store chosen wraps said present and delivers it. Mercenary? Yes or no? Either way there’s no fun in buying a present.

Recently, I was invited to a pre-wedding event for two senior people, both of whom had been married before and both successful business people. We were asked to drop money in a Wishing Well instead of buying a present! Money please! Bad taste? Yes or no?

I’ve even heard of weddings where the guests are expected to fly to some exotic island at their own expense to celebrate their friend or relative’s wedding.

Then coronavirus came along. My granddaughter’s wedding was in disarray. It was to be in another state and impossible to attend since most of the guests were in lockdown and the borders were closed. What to do?

It seemed silly to postpone the happy day since they weren’t living together, which is now the custom. Why not just get on with it since no one knew when this pandemic would end. Who could possibly know if or when the world would get back to normal? Catch some happiness while you may.

It ended up a totally memorable day with the dress arriving just in time. Sadness, but much joy. Five people in a gazebo in a park, one matron of honour waiting distanced under a tree and the groom’s friends tinkling their bicycle bells as they rode by.

People walking their dogs waved from a distance. The bride looked stunning. The father of the bride relieved the day would not cost a bomb. The bride’s grandmother on Zoom in another state, hat on, champagne glass in hand and crying tears of joy. The groom’s parents on Zoom in yet a different state. Also champagne glasses in hand and crying tears of joy.

Wedding cake? Chocolate brownies baked by the bride’s mother with two little chocolate brownie people propped up on top. Wedding breakfast? Takeaway duck courtesy of Uber. What’s not to like? Mission accomplished. Two happy people and now a baby on the way.

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