A Grandma’s Perspective: Today’s Weddings Compared to the 1950s
Today’s Weddings Compared to the 1950s
A few months ago, my beautiful Nan Joan graced me with her presence for a full week and I cherished every moment. You see, my Nana is now 83 years old and living so far apart from her means any time I get to spend with her, I make count. From being reintroduced to her famous SriLankan curries in the kitchen and taking note of every ingredient to listening to her stories of her younger days and strolling among the pretty blooms at Dubai Miracle Garden, we had a blast (as you can see from the below smart phone pics)!
My Nan attended my wedding in Dubai nearly two years ago and she was a VIP guest. I lived with her for five years of my life and she played an integral role in my upbringing, helping my single mother out in times of need and teaching me many important lessons! I will forever be grateful and having her there on my wedding day was very important to me. My Nan and I got talking while she was in Dubai about the fundamental differences between weddings back in her heyday (the 1950s) compared to now.
Below, I would like to share her thoughts with all my readers today, forgive the grainy images, but do bare in mind that sourcing photos for this feature proved quite difficult given the year in which many of them were taken… Over to you, Nan.
A Grandma’s Perspective
During my time, I have attended a wedding in each key decade, from the 50s to the 70s, 80s and 90s, right up until both of my granddaughters’ weddings in 2013. I, myself, got married in the early 50s to my then sweetheart and the father of my children, Emlyn.
In my day, women very much dreamt of getting married, being a good wife and keeping a lovely home, and I was no exception.
My proposal was a very simple affair, but romantic nonetheless. Before anything happened, Emlyn had to write to my father stating his intentions and asking for his permission to marry me. My father agreed, but under certain circumstances, ie, Emlyn had to promise to take care of me, treat me well and so on – wishes that any good father would want for his daughter. Once we were engaged, we had house party celebration in Galle, SriLanka.
We continued courting for about a year before the big day. Our rings were made by a local jeweler and both Emlyn and I had input into each other’s designs. My wedding ring was plain gold with an inscription and my engagement ring featured three small diamonds. I was a slight thing, very petite, so anything overpowering or too large would not have suited me. Planning my wedding was straightforward, and I was so very excited to be getting married.
Most ladies in my day had their wedding gowns designed and tailored specifically, and I did the same. My wedding dress was designed (with my input) and tailored by my aunty – in those days, we had no internet or bridal magazines to inspire us, so we turned to Hollywood starlets and their attire for ideas.
My gown was made of lace and tulle; it was quite modest (as were most gowns back then) with a mid-length veil and headdress. I had one bridesmaid, my cousin, who I was close to at that time, and Emlyn’s best man was his brother. My bridesmaid wore a soft white net, three-quarter-length dress designed by me, with an underlay of yellow. My bouquet consisted purely of white roses, with green foliage and my bridesmaid’s bouquet (if my memory serves me correctly) had yellow daises. I had no particular colour scheme for my wedding, but yellow worked well and reminded me of a film I saw, so it stuck with me.
We married during a simple ceremony in a Catholic church in Sri Lanka. There were no overboard décor elements; just small floral arrangements at the altar organised by the church. We had an intimate affair with about 50 guests, close relatives and dear friends from both sides. It’s hard to remember all the details, but I believe there was an official announcement in the local paper and invitations were by word of mouth. After the church ceremony, we had a small reception in my cousin’s house and played 1950s’ classics on a radiogram. We drank, danced, ate good food and, of course, devoured our small but elegant wedding cake.
We were stationed out in Galle, so sourcing certain things for our wedding sometimes proved difficult. For our wedding gifts, guests very much veered towards buying us items for the home, as home life was quite traditional back then, with couples rarely living together before marriage.
Throughout my whole wedding journey, the most important thing to me was marrying my husband. I was very particular about my dress, my hair and the way I looked, but then I have always been that way. But above all else, committing my love for my husband was the thing that excited me the most. All the other parts really did not bother me so much, aside from looking fabulous.
In the 50s, it was common for the newly married wife to wear a special ‘going away’ dress for the honeymoon.
I wore a turquoise blue dress, copied from a film I saw with Lana Turner, and matched my dress with black heels, a black hat and black bag. For our honeymoon, we had to keep it local, as travel was less accessible back then. We visited Candy and stayed in the Queens Hotel and went on many excursions, dined well and revelled in our new life as husband and wife. When we returned from honeymoon, we had a home coming of sorts as man and wife, which was tradition then too.
My Thoughts On Today’s Weddings
In 2013, I attended both of my dear granddaughters’ weddings, which were magical and joyous days, planned to perfection. My granddaughter Nathalya, had a beautiful wedding in Oxford which took place in a unique venue, a converted prison and it was a wonderful day full of laughter and games that carried on until the early hours of the morning. I was one of the last standing, may I add!
Rio’s wedding in Dubai blew my mind … she had thought of every single detail and looked after her guests very well. I adored my time in Dubai and can see why so many couples choose to marry there, it is such a beautiful and clean city.
I often read and follow Rio’s articles on Bride Club ME and admire all of the beautiful REAL weddings she features. I think it is fantastic that couples these days have more opportunity to travel; in turn, this means they have more options when it comes to where they hold their weddings. Venues are so very varied too, be it a beach hotel, a cathedral, a lush green garden, a farm, etc. We didn’t have all these choices in the 50s, but we worked with what we had, within our means.
Brides also have access to wedding planners, which were unheard of in my day. Once thing I would say, though, is that I feel some brides put extra pressure on themselves to plan the picture perfect wedding and, at times, can go to extremes.
This can cause stress and financial issues. Getting into debt over a wedding is not the best start to married life. Of course, every couple is different and it’s great that there’s so much choice and weddings can be made so personal, but my advice to you all is not to lose sight of the end goal, which is to marry the man you love.
All the small details are lovely, but it’s the marriage that counts … as the saying goes: