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A Wartime Wedding

by Wymondham Learning Centre

Contributed by 
Wymondham Learning Centre
People in story: 
Mrs. E. Pleasance
Location of story: 
Croydon
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A3538677
Contributed on: 
18 January 2005

The wartime bride and groom, Croydon 1940.

This story was submitted to the BBC People’s War site by Wymondham Learning Centre on behalf of Mrs Pleasance and has been added to the site with her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

While waiting for a bus home my attention was drawn to the photographs in the window of our local newspaper office, some were of recent air raids in the area but a few were of weddings.
A gentleman appeared from the doorway of the ‘Times’ office and said
“You seem interested in the wedding photographs, I’m the photographer, can I get you some copies?”
“Er, no thank you. It’s just that I am getting married soon. Would you take photos of my wedding?”
“I’d be delighted. Come into the office and we’ll sort out the details.”
He explained that he would take six photos and we could choose four from the proofs. Mounted in its folder the cost would be four shillings each.
Well, that was another problem sorted. The two cars had been booked. The cake ordered, only one tier due to the shortage of icing sugar, at a cost of ten shillings and sixpence. After my order the baker would be using plaster masks to replace the icing on cakes. The flowers had to be arranged, pink and white for me and bronze for my two bridesmaids.
My mother had accompanied me to buy my long white off-the-peg bridal gown. Satin, cut on the cross in the figure-hugging fashion, with a beaded neckline and leg o’mutton sleeves. That cost one pound nine and sixpence and nine clothing coupons, minus it sleeves and other slight alterations, it was later in the war transformed into a nightdress. We also purchased my wedding ring, there was little choice and I did not want second-hand, so we splashed out one pound twelve and six pence for what my Mum termed a ‘curtain ring’.
I really had not wanted a church wedding with all the attendant trimmings — a registry office would have been more in keeping with the wartime restraints. However, I was over-ruled by my parents who, following their religious leanings, considered any marriage performed outside of a church would be a sinful partnership. As, at the age of not quite eighteen I needed their consent, I gave in to their wishes.
The date set for our wedding was Thursday, 3rd October 1940, at two p.m. My father’s early closing day was Thursday and he could ill afford to lose business by closing his barber’s shop at any other time.
My fiancé was in the Army and due for his first leave from his base in Cornwall. He was granted five days from 2nd October, so you can see why all the wedding arrangements fell mainly on my shoulders, another reason for wanting a quiet ceremony.
By today’s standards our wedding was quiet. No choir or organist in the little local church. However, there was a cacophony from anti-aircraft guns to accompany the longest daylight air raid to date. The weather was dreary, a steady drizzle from dawn, but the photographer, bless him, cheered me by saying he preferred to work in the dull conditions as sunshine caused problems with shadows.
Only one car turned up at the church for our return journey. The other, we were told, had broken down, so we were packed in with our two bridesmaids and the best man. The driver returned to ferry the six guests back to my parents’ house for the wedding breakfast, for which Mum had cooked an aitchbone of beef with accompanying vegetables and salads.
It was some time before we could find a place of our own so our wedding night was spent at my parents’ house but, as we were experiencing nightly air-raids, the family slept in the Anderson shelter, something I steadfastly refused to do even in the fiercest raids. In any case, we may have had to share our wedding car but there was no way we were going to share our sleeping arrangements!

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Love in Wartime Category
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