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Bridal Malfunctions

A story by Beryl Bowden

In the 1960’s, hooped petticoats were a very popular choice for brides to wear under their wedding gowns. One Stroud bride decided to go with this fashion. Unfortunately, she had not taken into account the dimensions of the tiny church she had chosen. When she and her father attempted to walk down the narrow aisle there was insufficient width to accommodate the hoop, so her skirts ballooned front and back!! It was not a good look!

On another occasion, prior to the ceremony, the organist, seated at the organ, glanced round and saw an expanse of white at the church door. Thinking it was the bride; he immediately swung into the Wedding March. After an interval of inactivity he looked again, in time to see a female ‘of generous proportions’…dressed in white… taking her seat among the guests.

Mum’s sister Esme’s wedding was remembered for another reason. Her father, (my Grandfather Jacobs) a stickler for punctuality, with four daughters and a wife to get ready on time, often took steps to see that they all left the house together. The morning of the wedding he put the clock forward fifteen minutes and forgot to put it back! Esme arrived at the church before most of the guests. When the organist saw her standing at the door with her father he struck up the Wedding March. They walked down the aisle, and then stood at the altar for some time before being joined by the groom and best man. The minister appeared from the vestry, hastily adjusting his surplice. The service over, the minister glanced at the clock and said. ”You were early Esme.” She then realised what must have happened.

Grandfather never put the clock forward again!

Our local dressmaker, Beattie Barnes was a wonderful seamstress with one fault. She was unreliable. A spinster, she loved to make bridal dresses and would happily pick the most intricate, time-consuming pattern to make, but would seldom finish the dress! Many a time the bride arrived at the altar with the most beautiful embroidery on the gown and the sleeves tacked in, or seams hastily sewn up while the anxious bride was in it! A tribute to Beattie’s expertise was such, that brides were still prepared to run these risks, just to appear in one of her creations. Finished or not!

Beattie made the wedding frock I wore. She actually made it for my sister Betty who was married in Brisbane. And finished it! Betty and Beattie were good friends and as Betty was a good sewer, Beattie allowed her to do hand-sewing on other people’s garments while she-Beattie- worked on Betty’s dress. (Betty was not just a pretty face.) I was engaged when she married her American sailor and went to live in America. Her dress had not been worn in Stroud so I happily took advantage of her offer to leave it for me to wear. “Think of me when you wear it, Beb.” She said. I did!

The day I was married was one of the wettest on record. My chief bridesmaid, who lived next door, couldn’t even come in to help me dress.

On the day, all the family had left for the church leaving Dad and myself the only ones still in the house. Putting my frock on after my bath I discovered that the opening at the back of the neck had buttons and loops to negotiate. I found I could only do up the top button. I didn’t worry as I thought, “I will get Dad to do the rest up for me”. Of course you know where this is going… I completely forgot! A fact that was obvious to the congregation when I took my place at the altar.

My sister Nancy burst into tears, crying, “Look Mum, Bridgette’s getting married with her buttons undone.” She always called me ‘Bridgette’ – I don’t know why.

Nancy hurriedly did them up after the ceremony. It hadn’t worried me a scrap. I was so happy; I couldn’t have cared less about a few old buttons!

Myself, and the other brides mentioned, were blessed with long, happy marriages, and that is what really matters!

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2 Comments on “Bridal Malfunctions”

  1. Beryl Bowden June 21, 2014 at 5:10 pm #

    I still have the dress. Lyndell and yourself had lots of fun using it for dressing up. You had your dress made as near as possible to Aunty Bettie’s.

  2. Anne Frost June 19, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

    Two brides one dress eh Mum. Shame I wasn’t as thin as you and Aunty Betty when I was married as I would love to have worn it.

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