Just for a change, here’s a set of photos this time, instead of a written story, though in a way the pictures themselves do tell a story, a story spanning nearly a hundred years!
The first photograph is of my grandmother’s wedding in a tiny village near Bristol, called Frampton Cotterell. It was taken in the orchard alongside ‘Cherry House’, the venue for the reception and you can see some of the fruit trees in the background. Many years later, my parents and I used to travel by bus out to Frampton from Bristol every summer to pick the luscious Victoria plums, orange pippin apples and walnuts growing there. The house was owned by then by two great aunts of mine, who I knew as very old ladies. They appear in the wedding photo as young women, one, the second lady from the left in the back row, the other seated, in a white dress, immediately to our right of the bride and groom. I love looking at the clothes, worn by both the women in the party, and the men, as well as the formality of the pose, with the youngest guest lying on the ground in front of everyone else.
The second picture is of my parent’s wedding (Walter and Hilda Lee). Again, it’s a photo taken at the reception after the wedding, but this time the venue is at my grandmother’s home at (would you believe it?) Melbourne Road in Bristol, where she had moved soon after her wedding in Frampton Cotterell. A slightly less formal group this time, of just the principal participators in the ceremony, being the only shot I have been able to find. Note the pretty dresses and hats; and the truly enormous bouquets of flowers!
Next we come to our wedding photo, taken outside the church at Downend on the outskirts of Bristol, in January 1959. Formality has returned to a certain extent and it’s noticeable that there are quite a few overcoats in evidence! This is because of the winter wedding, necessary because within a few weeks we were leaving England and moving to New Zealand to live. For the same reason there were rather more people there than there might have been, come to make sure we didn’t change our minds and stay at home! Jacqui is wearing a beautiful dress, designed by her and made especially to her design. The only notable thing about me is that this is one of the last photographs which show me with no beard… Something that is rarely seen!
Finally, we come to our daughter Kerry’s wedding to Philip, in 1984, taken outside the registry office in Trowbridge, a market town in Wiltshire. The dress she is wearing was a genuine wedding dress that had been worn by a lady in about 1920 for her own wedding. Jacqui had bought it some years earlier, when she was running an antique business with a friend and Kerry fell for its soft pink colour and the fact that it was made of pure silk! A wonderful vintage find. The wedding was again a winter event as can be guessed from the clothing people were wrapped up in. Jacqui and I are standing just behind and to the left of the bride.
It’s very interesting to see the changes in style and method that can take place over a longish period like this, and yet at the same time there is a sense of unity between them all, not because they are all of the same family, I believe, but more to do with the way traditions continue through generations, with just minor changes to suit the era.
So there you have it – four weddings but no funeral! I hope that’s a situation that doesn’t change for many years yet!
What was your wedding like? What wedding traditions does your family have? Share your thoughts in the comments below…