Wedding on a Shoestring: In Camberwell by Mrs Knight

My mother got engaged on Christmas 1939. She started to collect my ‘bottom drawer’. Her fiance got called up in the Army. The first time he had a week’s leave they got married. She did all the arrangements as he was away.

My grandmother was very disapproving of the idea of a wedding before they had been engaged for two years. She said my mother should have an eternity ring before she had a wedding ring. She just thought this was a delaying tactic because there was no money to put on a wedding.

My grandfather could not afford a new suit, so she suggested he wore his Home Army uniform and anyone with a uniform who came to the wedding should wear theirs too. He was happy with that arrangement.My uncle Arthur ( home from canada) would be his best man and wear his uniform too.

She had a piece of velveteen which she used for the wedding dress. The bridesmaids dresses were made from some pink taffeta she had bought before the war and put away in her ‘bottom drawer’.They were made on a hand wound sewing machine in the evenings after my mother got home from work. There were three dresses as she had two sisters and he had one.

The bouguet was bought at a flower shop in New Cross – where my mother had to change trams on her way to work. It was made of paper flowers and real heather. My grandmother had carnations.

The night before the wedding he arrived at his mother’s house during an air raid.

On the wedding day there was only one car – it was all my mother could afford. The car went back and forth to the church with relatives and bridesmaids. Her future mother-in-law and ‘Uncle Charlie’, as he was known,were due to arrive at the house one hour before the wedding and be taken too.

By the time the car was coming back for the last time to fetch my mother and her father there was still no sign of them. They decided they would just have to go on. As they came out the door – there were Mrs Knight and Uncle Charlie just arriving. They were told to make their own way to the church and my mother and her father drove in the car.

After the wedding the main relatives went back to the house. Food was on rations, but there were three tins of salmon. This was very unusual at the time, but my mother had given my grandmother some money for the ‘do’ and she had shopped far and wide.There was also salad.

The wedding cake was bought at a shop in New Cross. They made a good dark cake. It had two layers.Instead of icing it had rice paper on the top and paper decorations. It was a very good cake and lasted to April the next year for my sister’s christening cake.

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Filed under Abou Ali, No More War

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