Vera's parents were married just 3
years after the Great War of 1914-18. This was an era of a society
moving forward, breaking new barriers all combined with a society on the
verge of an economic depression
as Britain tried to rebuild itself whilst still paying for the war costs.
Many men had been lost during the war and as a result, many women lost loved ones.
These women did not even have a grave to visit as many men were buried
in unmarked graves. Vera's parents had to endure long months apart
even though the war had ended. Relations between European
countries were still fragile and men were still employed by the
Vera wrote: 'My Dad was in the Royal Canadian Navy (Petty Officer) and
due to be away for 20 months. I know he went to Esquimalt, a
remote part of Canada, but more importantly my mum was devastated to
think of a whole 20 months without him. Such
a short time in the scheme of things, but such a long separation for a
The wedding dress is worthy of note. At the time dress
lengths were fluctuating. The deep tucks, whilst acceptable
decoration for the era, may indicate that dress was worn by another bride a few years earlier and then altered to bring the dress into line with shorter hem lengths.
This wedding group photo is a reflection of the social conditions of the
era. Everyone is quite well dressed and the event was deemed worth
recording, but the surroundings are make-do.
This is someone's backyard. Perhaps it was the photographer's back yard which was out of necessity used for larger group photos.
have examined several other images of this era which seem to have been
taken in the yard of a photographer. Maybe the photographers were
just starting out, or perhaps they mainly shot portraits which don't demand much room.
However, it could have been the family's own yard. Observe the bicycle wheel
sticking out at the photo left.
Notice also the back door to the right and the corrugated sheets of iron both
sides. The latter product was used for farm buildings and also as
a temporary building material.
Considerable effort has gone into arranging the group for this old photo. The children sit on a mat or rug to protect their clothes from the rough and dirty surface.
bridal group are seated and that enables the rest of the guests to be
seen clearly. Look closely at the flowers that many of the female
guests are holding. I think they may have come from a keen
gardener in the family. No two bunches are the same
and the flowers seem to be an expression of fondness, a personal gift
for the recipients in the way that wedding favours are used today.
The women at the left of the photo wear what were commonly referred to
in the early part of the C20th as 'waists'. A new waist could
be teamed with an existing skirt for an up-to-date look. A
wedding would have also been an opportunity to buy a new skirt!
High waists like these had been a feature of fashions between
as always, there is an overlap in fashion styles in the history of the era.
The woman holding a baby in the picture above right, is clearly wearing a
newer style of dropped waist dress fashion.
Later on, in the fifties, the 'waist' was a garment mostly known as a shirtwaister.
Today we would call the item a top or smart blouse, or simply a shirt.
This old wedding photo was taken on June 11th, 1921 in Walthamstow
England. It is of Grace Roberts the bride and the groom, Joseph Brittain.
The father of the bride who is sitting far right - is the same as the
one as the father in the 1925 wedding page, but of course this is four
years earlier. His wife Florence sits beside him. The bridesmaid
to the right of the bride is
Winnie, the bride in the 1925 old wedding photo page.
This image is not so clear as some. Indeed inspection of the original
suggest that they may well have had to be still for a few minutes.
But it does show a lovely array of
summer hats and these fashion clothes worn still have a slight look of
an earlier fashion era. Despite the fact that it was taken in 1921 it is
clear that the
1920s as we think of them had not taken hold.
Jan the sender and I were both struck by the small number of men in the picture, perhaps
due to the losses of the Great War discussed
above. Jan believes the photo was taken in the back
garden of their house. If you are researching your genealogy which
includes Winne and Grace Roberts or Joseph Brittain you may contact Jan
through her web pages here.
Below is a fashion
history picture of note in that the younger the women, the
shorter the length of their dress or skirt. In this 1920s era, skirt lengths reached their
ultimate shortness between
Back gardens are often popular places for large groups to have their
photograph taken. Vera told me that this old photo was taken in 1923. Incidentally, Vera's parents own wedding in 1921 was shown in the at the top of the page.
The central character in this photo above appears to be wearing a lace
embellished dress with rather thick double satin streamer ribbon.
If you enlarge this picture you can see that the streamer ribbon is of
We ponder when this group picture was taken in relation to the wedding; was it some time after the wedding, or perhaps just before the big event.
Vera also wrote ' ....There was a double wedding in the family a few
Below this section is an old photo of a real double wedding, but which has no connection to Vera's relatives above.
You may well wonder, who today chooses to have a double wedding?
Well usually those with a non-inflated ego, or those who are interested in
having a lavish affair, but who by joining forces with a second couple
can easily reduce costs. Perhaps the brides are sisters.
The advantages of a double wedding are enormous in cutting costs, since
the reception/venue hire is all only paid for once. Guests only need to
buy one outfit. The double event also makes it worthwhile for guests who need to travel from afar to attend a momentous and memorable occasion. However they still need to buy
two presents - one for each couple.
Nowadays most brides think of themselves as the centre of attraction for
the wedding day. Few would consider sharing what has become such a big
'look at me, I am a celebrity for a day' event. In the celebrity
obsessed culture of today, 'me-me' wedding events are far more usual than
shared ceremonies. What with hen parties turning into spa weekends
of three or four days, and wedding locations being held in exotic venues,
or exclusive faraway costly locations, the average guest, especially the
single old friend, feels the pinch.
Many guests today tell of their irritation at having to pay for
excessive accommodation and flight bills just to attend weddings in
exotic locations abroad. To this they add how disgruntled they feel that
apart from the loss of holiday leave, they are obliged to top up the
wedding weekend into five or seven days to make all the effort,
arrangements and cost worthwhile.
One person told me that for the last three years she had been all but
forced to arrange her holidays around the weddings of friends. The
aspect that annoyed her most, was that others (the bride and groom) were
in effect choosing her holiday destinations, and often in peak season
when flights and single rooms were at a premium. Two must-attend
weddings in one year easily meant that her work leave and holiday budget
were soon used.
Perhaps double weddings were more usual in the 1920s. Certainly
they have been popular in the past when it was considered a joyful event
for twins or sisters to marry, and for parents paying for a wedding to be
able to provide for a more lavish event. Whether or not double weddings will
ever be all the rage again, is another matter.
I have many photographs on this website which have originated from
a colleague in Hebburn. This particular vintage wedding photo was sent to me by site visitor
The double marriage ceremony took place on 21st June 1921 at St
Aloysius' RC Church, Hebburn on Tyne, North of England. The persons
shown include :-
Front row centre left - Margaret Laydon, the first bride with her
bridegroom James Aspinwall M.M. Next to him in formal dress is the
second bridegroom Patrick Thomas Rowan, who married bride Maria Laydon
One thing that fascinates me about this 1921 Hebburn wedding is the dark colour of the footwear that both brides wear.
Flesh coloured stockings were fashionable from 1921-22, but may have
been initially considered risqué in some circles. I think
here it implies a measure of frugality and the wedding was a stretch on their resources. White shoes are not very practical in any era, and especially 90
years ago, when travel was often by foot. The brides' dark footwear was practical and must have been worn time and again after the special event.
Briefly, I can relate that what started as a happy double wedding day,
became two contrasting life stories. Margaret and James, on the left as we look at the picture, were
both colleague schoolteachers. James won a Military Medal in WWI
for shooting down an enemy German plane. Later he became a
headmaster living to be more than 100 years old. They had seven children.
By contrast, the centre right bridal couple Maria and Patrick Rowan, three children, but a relatively short marriage. Patrick had
worked as a shipyard boiler maker, but was also an accomplished piano
teacher/accompanist. In the Great Depression, in 1929 he travelled
to the USA where he sought work. But there he was diagnosed with
cancer, and unwell, he returned to UK and died in 1931 at Hebburn, he was just 36 years old.
Old family photos are often a total mystery to those who end up owning them.
So it is well worth making records of identification of people in images
before all relatives pass away. Older siblings may be more
knowledgeable than younger siblings, so when you
have opportunity to see relatives, ask about old pictures, and make notes of names and dates on the back of those old photos.
Consider making a CD of all your family photos and enclosing them with
birthday or Christmas cards.
In an era when many of us live in affluent countries, such a thoughtful
item can bring enormous pleasure in a way that expensive gifts cannot.
We all need to know our roots and genealogy can be a fascinating hobby.
Post World War I unemployment reaches 2 million in
Marie Stopes opens the first birth control clinic
1921 Coco Chanel introduced the world to the
perfume Chanel No.5.
Novelist Edith Wharton becomes the first woman
novelist to win a Pulitzer Prize for her book 'The Age of Innocence.'
1921 Albert Einstein wins Nobel prize for physics -
'for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his
discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect' or the theory of
relativity = mc2.
Russia is swept with famine and Lenin asks the
world for help.
Adolph Hitler becomes the leader of the National
Socialist German Workers Party also known as the Nazis.
Prince Hirohito was appointed Regent of Japan
The first helicopter flight is made by French
Aviator Etienne Oehmichen.
Britain recognised Ireland’s independence as the
Irish Free State when they jointly signed The Anglo-Irish Treaty in
December 1921. An Irish Free State and Northern Ireland are created
giving jurisdiction over twenty-six of the country’s thirty-two
For more information about Wedding Photos click below:-
Old photos can be useful when tracing family members and narrowing down
search dates. These photo pages may help you put an era to your
If you have old wedding photos please send them to me and if suitable I will
add them to this pictorial section of social history.
OLD WEDDING PHOTOS
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