Memories of Weddings and Courtships

How Wedding and Bouquet Styles have Changed

By Richard Potter

Photo:Bob and Trish's wedding in 1971

Bob and Trish's wedding in 1971

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:Bob and Trish's wedding in 1971

Bob and Trish's wedding in 1971

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:From Ella's Photo Album- a 1920s wedding

From Ella's Photo Album- a 1920s wedding

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:From Ella's Photo Album- a 1920s wedding

From Ella's Photo Album- a 1920s wedding

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:From Ella's Photo Album- a 1936 wedding

From Ella's Photo Album- a 1936 wedding

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:From Ella's Photo Album- a 1950 wedding

From Ella's Photo Album- a 1950 wedding

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:From Ella's Photo Album- a 1974 wedding

From Ella's Photo Album- a 1974 wedding

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:From Ella's Photo Album- a 1976 wedding

From Ella's Photo Album- a 1976 wedding

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:From Ella's Photo Album- a 2002 wedding

From Ella's Photo Album- a 2002 wedding

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:From Ella's Photo Album- a 2004 wedding

From Ella's Photo Album- a 2004 wedding

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:From Ella's Photo Album- a 2006 wedding

From Ella's Photo Album- a 2006 wedding

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:From Ella's Photo Album- her grand daughter's wedding

From Ella's Photo Album- her grand daughter's wedding

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:From Ella's Photo Album- her sister-in-law's wedding

From Ella's Photo Album- her sister-in-law's wedding

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:Ella's Wedding

Ella's Wedding

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:Ella's Wedding

Ella's Wedding

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:Ella's Wedding Day

Ella's Wedding Day

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:Ella's Wedding

Ella's Wedding

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:Joan's Wedding in 1940

Joan's Wedding in 1940

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:From Joan's Photo Album - a wedding in 1981

From Joan's Photo Album - a wedding in 1981

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:From Joan's Photo Album - a wedding in 1981

From Joan's Photo Album - a wedding in 1981

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:From Joan's Photo Album - a wedding in 1981

From Joan's Photo Album - a wedding in 1981

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:From Joan's Photo Album - a wedding in 1981

From Joan's Photo Album - a wedding in 1981

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:Joyce's Wedding in 1952

Joyce's Wedding in 1952

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

The Interview sessions were held at New Derby House, Eastbourne in August 2008. The sessions were facilitated by volunteers Meg Wooler and Marjorie Wotton.

Trish and Bob

Bob and I met at a Youth Club and about a year later started courting. As we both did other organizations we only met weekends, usually at the pictures and caught the last bus home. We walked to his Aunties at Alfriston once and missed the last bus home. As we had no telephone at home we had to contact the Police and ask them to tell our parents.

We got engaged three years later and had a party at our parents’ house. After two years of saving we bought a house in Queens Crescent which needed a lot of work done to it. This took several years once we were married.

I made mine and my bridesmaids dresses and on the Friday picked two buckets of daffodils to decorate the Church. We were married at St Andrew’s.

Mum, Dad and I made all the buffet food and cake and took it to the Hospital Social Club where we were holding the reception (I had my hair in rollers).

About forty family and friends came to the Church and Reception which we left around 6 o’clock, and after I had changed we caught the train to Lewes and then came home again as the hotels there cost too much. We left a trail of confetti everywhere we went. Bob put a note on his Mum’s nightie to ask them to pick us up from home on the Sunday afternoon to take us to GatwickAirport and not from Brighton as originally planned. Luckily she saw it! We went to Jersey for our honeymoon.

In our house we had Mum’s old cooker, a T.V a card table and two chairs, two deck chairs for the front room and a new bed. Bob grew vegetables in the garden and we made little mats to dot about.

Courtship Wedding Day and Reception

Doris

I had lived a few doors away from my husband most of my life. After serving in the WRENS and my future husband came out of the Navy, in 1945, we met again along the seafront. He asked me to go to the pictures and we continued to see each other. After about a year we got engaged on the 15th October and married the following year on the 25th October 1947.

We were married at St Andrew’s Church in Seaside and had our reception in a room above the Arlington Arms, which is practically opposite the church. We had lots of family and friends and had a buffet and a wedding cake.

After we were married we lived with my Mother in Martello Road and I worked in Fort Road for Jones making shoes. Mum did all the cooking until she got fed up so I had to give up work and stayed at home to do the cooking and housework. We stayed there until Mum died and then moved into a flat in Avondale Road, then on to Ashgate Road. We had our only child, a daughter after six years.

Vera

I met Harold when I was about 17 and was evacuated to Nailsworth in Gloucestershire. About eight months later Harold went into the Navy and we wrote to each other for the next few years. When he came out of the Navy in 1947 he moved to Eastbourne and we were married on the 16th April 1949.

We were married at ChristChurch and had three bridesmaids. Harold’s sister, my cousins Meg and Pat. Our reception was held at the Mission Hall in Firle Road (now knocked down and replaced with a Doctor’s Surgery. We had a sit down meal, followed by a buffet in the evening for extra guests, dancing to a three piece band and the whole thing cost about £100 which was quite a lot of money in those days.

Harold’s family and friends hired a coach to come to the wedding and on the Sunday we went back to Gloucester with them for our honeymoon. After we were married we lived with Mum and Dad for a while and then got the house which I still live in. I carried on working and I think Mum did most of the catering. Our son was about three months old when we got the house.

Muriel

I was looking after children in quarantine for Scarlet Fever (I had previously had this). We had to be in by 10 O’clock. Another Nurse had been out to a party and when she came back late, she threw stuff up at the window for me to go down and let her in, she then introduced me to her escort Jimmy Little, who was a cadet at Sandhurst. The next time we met was at his passing out party and we started to write to each other. I was about 17 and he was ten years older when he proposed in 1943. He was stationed in Margate and when his next leave was due I spent most of it in bed with mumps.

 I was living in Ifield but didn’t want to be married there and it would be more convenient for most people to get to Crawley and the Co-op Hall where we wanted our reception, which was near to the church. As you are supposed to live in the Parish where you get married I had to pay lodging money to a lady for a room although I never used it.  We were married at Crawley on the 29 January 1944. I cannot remember what food we had, probably sandwiches and trifles, but there was plenty of drink. Ours was the last reception held at the hall because of government restrictions.

We had to walk and queue at the photographers to get the official photos taken. A friend had our camera and was going to take pictures for us but forgot to take the lens hood off. We left afterward and spent our first night at the Grosvenor Hotel in Victoria Station. According to what I have been told most of the people at the reception went back to my Mother’s house to eat her out of house and home and to get warm as it was a cold day and many stayed and slept on the floor and in chairs.

When we arrived at the hotel there was a anti-aircraft raid on and we went into the shelter about three times. The next time we met an old lady in a dressing gown with her tooth pot in her hand and her hair in curlers so I decided to go back to our room and risk it. I tried to insist that my new husband had a breakfast before we left for our honeymoon in Torquay but he had a bad nose bleed so didn’t eat. When we got to the station we were most embarrassed as an Aunt of mine in a big booming voice was calling out “Captain and Mrs Little” to try and find us.

On our arrival at Torquay for our honeymoon the sirens were sounding and the seafront was blocked with scaffolding and barbed wire so we could not see much of the sea. There was very little to do there and on looking in a shop window we noticed some rug wool so decided to buy some and make a rug. When the maid came in to turn the bed down she couldn’t get in as we had locked the door whilst we were rug making.

As I was under 21 and married I couldn’t stay nursing so I a living in job with a family as a Mother’s help for about a year until I was pregnant and moved back home to live with Mum and Dad. I shared all the work and cooking with Mum although she did all the washing in the copper. When Jim was demobbed he moved in with us. When Steven was 7 months old, we then rented a house in Ifield which needed a lot of work done. After moving we were offered a brand new pre-fab but it was too late then.

Ella

I lived in St. Phillips Avenue on the corner off Hunloke Avenue where Ken lived and we just used to say hello. I was a cadet officer in St. John’s and was standing in on duty at the Winter Garden when Ken asked me to dance.

The following week Ken was getting ready to go to the dance and asked his Dad to come to my house and asked if I would go to a dance with Ken. This was to give me time to get ready and I agreed. This was early in May and we got engaged in October and were married in April 1948 at St. Andrew’s Church, Seaside.  Had a long white dress under which I had thick white stockings which I hated. A cousin had sent them to me and my Mother insisted I wore them. We had our reception with a buffet meal for about 100 people at the Indian Pavilion at the DevonshirePark. I never did taste my wedding cake as my mother in law sent the top tier to people at Luton to people who couldn’t come to the wedding.

We first lived in a house in Gore Park Road. Friends were going to Canada for a year so we stayed in their house for 18 months in all. We then moved in with my Mum, then Ken’s Mum and back again to my home when Mum went into hospital to look after my Dad.

We then took over a shop on the High Pavement in Seaside. This was in a filthy state but after lots of work we opened it to sell milk, and then groceries and stayed there for twenty eight and a half years taking on neighboring shops as the business grew.

Meg

I first met Don at school and then again at the YMCA Youth Club and started to go out with him when I was sixteen and he was seventeen. At eighteen Don had to do his national service being discharged after having Rhuematic Fever in August 1950. In January 1951 I had to go into hospital with a TB Spine and came out 15 months later. As soon as I was able to walk far enough we went out and bought my engagement ring but the Doctor’s would not permit me to get married until I was discharged from the hospital completely.

We were married on the 3rd April 1954 at ChristChurch, and had our reception at the Mission Hall in Firle Road. We had a sit down meal but I cannot remember what we ate. I think we had apple pie for a sweet. In the evening we had a dance and party games and all of the Eastbourne Scottish Pipe Band marched in and performed for us. Don had joined the band as a drummer whilst I was in hospital.

On leaving the reception we all went to my home for a cup of tea and then Don and I walked through the back alleys to his house where we had two rooms. His father had died three weeks before our wedding and we decided to live with his Mother.

The next morning we went back to my home for lunch with family and friends and they were having such a good time we didn’t want to leave them. They all came to the station with us to see us off on our honeymoon and filled the carriage with confetti. When the train stopped at HampdenPark we changed carriages. Some close friends of Don’s family whom he called Aunt and Uncle couldn’t get to our wedding from Scotland so they invited us to their home in Luggie Bank, near Cumbernauld in Scotland for our honeymoon. Another ‘Aunt and Uncle’ of my husband met us at Victoria and took us to their house in CamdenTown for tea before we caught the night sleeper to Scotland. This was so exciting as I had never been north of London in my life. I will never forget looking out of the carriage window as we crossed the border and viewed the beautiful Scottish countryside.

We moved in with my Mother in Law and had two upstairs rooms, one as a kitchen/dining room and the other as a bed sit with a put you up suite (a settee that opened out into a bed). I had a small Flavel cooker, two rings, grill and tiny oven and my Uncle made me a sink, lead lined in a cupboard. We had to carry water up stairs and buckets of dirty water down. The house didn’t have a bathroom and only an outside toilet. When we wanted a bath we used to go to my Mum and Dad and bathed in a bungalow bath in the kitchen.

Joan

I met my first husband in Eastbourne on my sister’s birthday on the 28th August 1939 and he had just been called up from the Territorial Army in Hailsham. He was billeted in Meads and we used to meet in the town. I took him home straight to meet Mum, we then discovered that my sister’s boyfriend was his cousin. He moved from Eastbourne and was sent to Dunkirk and we got engaged on his return, after I had known him for about nine months. We were married at St Elizabeth’s Church on the 15 June 1940. I was all in white and had two bridesmaids, one in pink and the other in blue. My mother wanted me to carry lilies but I didn’t like them. We had our reception at the Drive Hotel with a sit down meal for about 90. I had two children before my husband served with the 8th Army and one on his return.

I lived with Mum until he was demobbed in December 1945. We were married for 39 years before he died and then when I was 61 I married my cousin Clem and we were happily married until he died last year after 26 happy years.

We were married at the BaptistChurch in Eldon Road. I wore a long green dress with a small spray of flowers. My sister was Matron of Honour and my two granddaughters were bridesmaids and we had our reception at the same hotel as my previous marriage.

Clem proposed in a pub. He ordered a bottle of champagne which I thought was because my sister was going back to Australia but then he produced an engagement ring.

When we were first married we shared out time between his house in Hooe near Stroud in Kent and mine in Eastbourne, but then moved to Eastbourne for good.

Joyce

I knew my husband as a work colleague for many years. We worked at Simmonds and Cowley’s Dairies. He was a Milkman. We met socially at the Simmonds and Cowley’s Social Club after his wife had died. We were married in 1952 and moved into his bungalow in Willingdon. Previous to this I had been living with my Aunt.

We were married at the Registry Office and I wore a suit. We had a reception at my Aunts house in the garden and an evening party with friends. Mum and my Aunt did all the catering. We then went back to our bungalow.

Marjorie

My Mother and Frank’s Mother met when they were both in the PrincessAliceHospital. I met Frank when he brought his Mum to visit mine at home in Hailsham. Then, after meeting at a dance in the Drill Hall, Hailsham, we started going out together. After about a year we got engaged and then on September 18th 1954 we were married at Mary’s Church, Hailsham.

Our wedding reception was at the Corn Exchange behind the Crown Hotel in Hailsham attended by 80-100 family and friends. The meal was ham salad etc., and followed by Trifle. Our wedding cake was two tier in a horseshoe shape from Bondolfi’s. After the meal Frank’s cousin Ernie Pike played the piano, so if anyone wanted to dance they could. Frank and I left early in the evening for our honeymoon at Sandown on the Isle of Wight.

When we first married we lived with Frank’s parents. The only time I cooked was Sunday breakfast. After a year we managed to get a first floor flat in Gorringe Road after Frank’s cousin Ernie and his wife moved into a bungalow at Lower Willingdon.

Our son Derek was born whilst we were there and then we managed to get a mortgage on a house in Wannock Road, Eastbourne where I still live 49 years later. I lost Frank in 1995.

This page was added by Richard Potter on 27/10/2010.

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