Keith and I were married on 23 October 1971 - 37 ears this year - and I was 20 to his 25 (he was 26 three days later). People then thought that was a heck of an age difference, me barely out of my teens and him 'late 20's', but how little it seems today.
The wedding was at St. Hugh's Church in the parish where we both lived, though Keith is Catholic, and how different it was from weddings today, how much lower our expectations.
Mimuther organised it all; my opinion was neither asked nor given. Dad decided where the reception would be, as he was paying, and what form it would take (a cold buffet). Mimuther ordered the flowers from the Co-op, even my bouquet! She did tell me a couple of weeks later what flowers I was having but I had no idea what those flowers were like.
On 15th August 1971 Dad, Mum and I went to C&A in Sheffield to buy my dress. What a day - it tiddled down with rain the whole time, culminating in an almighty thunderstorm. And - you'll think I'm daft - I felt so sorry for Princess Anne because it was her 21st birthday! Anyway, the dress, when we found one that fitted, cost £35, which thought was an awful lot to spend on one dress. I had never had anything that expensive before. In any case, it had to be one of those on that rail. There was no question of "I don't fancy any of these, let's try somewhere else." and it never occurred to me that there should be.
We chose my wedding ring together, just the two of us, but only the one ring. He had to wait another ten years for his! It is 9 ct gold and only cost a fiver but it meant the world to me the and does now. We two sorted out the cars as well but this came about mainly because Keith went to school with the lad whose father, a local undertaker, owned them. Thinking again of the reception it's perhaps just as well Keith never told my dad that he was also at school with the son of the bloke who owned the best fish and chip shop in town!
Came the big day and the wedding was set for 2pm. At 10 in the morning I had to go to the hairdresser. No DIY jobs then, you had to have a shampoo and set and have your tiara fixed in your hair. Now, don't ask me why, but my two bridesmaids had to go to the hairdresser in town on the bus. I had a taxi; God knows why we didn't share it but none of us thought to ask! Such was the power of the bride's mother. My sister came home in floods of tears. She was supposed to have broderie anglaise flowers in her hair (well, it was the early 70's) to match the ones on her dress, which she had made herself. She had saved the flowers specially and the hairdresser, who was about 70, only put two flowers in her hair and they were at the front of her head - one above each eye!! She was all for pulling them out and doing the job herself but Mimuther wouldn't hear of it. That hair-do had been paid for and she wasn't to muck it up. Poor sis reckoned she looked like a gargoyle. Well, that's one word.......
When it came to my own outfit there was no shortage of 'something borrowed'. My tiara and veil belonged to my sister-in-law-to-be and my tights, which had to be whipped off the radiator at the last minute following a disaster with mine, were my sister's. Wouldn't you have thought that for such an auspicious occasion somebody would have run to the shop and bought me some new ones? The tights would have passed for the 'old' component but I can't think what the 'blue' might have been. It won't have been a garter like they have these days - much too risque.
There are certainly some things which have passed into custom now but were rarely thought o then. Gifts for the bridesmaids for a start. I had never heard of that. Nor had they, fortunately. "Evening Invitations": it wouldn't have occurred to us to have an evening do after the wedding reception. You were either invited to the wedding or you were not. Wedding announcements in the local paper would always include the words "Friends welcome at Church" but that's as far as it went. Whopping great bouquets for the respective mothers - well how would I know? Mimuther dealt with the florist. Honeymoons somewhere hot and sunny had not yet become the norm and, in fact, we went to.........our house!
Our first home-cooked meal as a married couple was mashed potatoes, cabbage, carrots .....and a tin of corned beef. Knowing our honeymoon would be at home I had bought a leg of pork to roast for Sunday lunch. We didn't own a fridge but as the weather for weeks beforehand had been wet, windy and cold, I immersed the meat in a pan of cold water, put the lid on and left it outside. On the morning of the wedding the sun came out, the temperature leapt up
and nobody in the whole wide world was bothered about an ickle-wickle bit of pork outside the back door of the Poplars. So corned beef it was......
Now here I am back in the present day and so glad I didn't marry someone else. Not that suitors were exactly fighting each other. Thirty-seven years on would I change anything? Not a thing. Not-a-thing. You can keep the extravagant holidays, the off-shore bank account, the designer clothes. If you're loved you've got it all.
As my friend Judith says "We've got no money but we do see life"