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Only Child looks at weddings back then and now

Only Child's Mom and Dad a few years after they were married

Only Child’s Mom and Dad a few years after they were married

November holds a lot of close family anniversaries – sad and happy. Last week I posted about the anniversary of my dad’s death. Mom’s birthday was November 9; I got married November 13 – and with that date it’s no wonder it didn’t last. But my parents’ marriage lasted 26 years. That doesn’t seem like a long time, but that was because Dad died in 1965.

Mom and Dad were married November 25, 1939 in St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Toronto. Weddings back then were very different from now. Besides the World War II factor, couples getting married weren’t so greedy – insisting that guests not only bring expensive gifts but cough up money to pay for their too expensive wedding. Considering that many marriages don’t last “til death do us part” these two penchants for money, money don’t make sense. And I thought weddings were supposed to honour the bride and groom, not pay their bills.

I’m not going to delve into this much further, but here is a link  from a very recent Toronto Star story about a wedding gift issue that gets the (wedding) cake  (for the brides to choke on) for stupidity, crassness, rudeness – all bad traits and no good ones from these brides.


And smart advice from the relationship expert – Ellie – in the Toronto Star on this issue. http://www.thestar.com/life/2013/08/30/wedding_gifts_shouldnt_cost_more_than_you_can_afford_ellie.html

 When you read the first one (and it is linked from Ellie’s column), you may reach the same conclusion as me. Abolish lavish weddings and elope.

In 1939 with the Second World War just started, weddings focused more on the basic raison d’être – celebrating with the bride and groom. Fabrics for white wedding dresses weren’t readily available. Mom wore a satin blue suit. I remember this suit – and no, I sure wasn’t around then (and not for nine years after) but the suit sat in Mom and Dad’s bedroom closet – I think it was even in my bedroom closet for awhile. No idea where it went but I suspect it got swept out with a lot of stuff when Mom downsized in 1968 and the two of us moved to a two-bedroom apartment.

Mom didn’t say much about the wedding and its reception. From photos I have outside the church and inside the reception hall (and they are mostly too small to post, so you get one of the happy couple a few years after they were married) , I gather it was a small family affair. The reception was held at 10.30 a.m. (I remember hearing that – I’d never make it to a wedding, let alone a reception, at that time) and it was a breakfast. The fiancé of Dad’s youngest sister was manager of the dining hall at a small hotel near the church, so that’s where the reception was held. The funny part is the way the small party attending was seated. Tables were put together in the shape of an L – with Mom and Dad at the head in the middle – on Dad’s side for the rest of that part of the L, sat all his blood family members (and outlaws, I mean, the inlaws, too) and on Mom’s side it was her family.

I have no idea what gifts they received but it sure wasn’t stacks of money. I suspect it was maybe some place settings for their good dinner set, maybe a lamp – something useful and thoughtful.

This wedding gift setup still existed when I got married November 13, 1971. My fiancé and I registered our good dinner set choice at Eaton’s and Simpson’s and received a number of place settings (cost from $20 to $29 per – there was a sale on part of the time), wine glasses, bed sheets. It was unthinkable then and when Mom and Dad married for guests to fork out cash to pay for the wedding. And we didn’t have a lavish reception – but that was partly by choice. We married in a hurry (no, I wasn’t pregnant – my Mom had died suddenly three months prior and my fiancé and I had moved the wedding forward three months) so we didn’t have much money and the tradition of the parents of the bride paying wedding expenses obviously didn’t apply. We did use the downstairs dining room of the restaurant Mom and I had picked –fortunately Mom had booked the room, albeit it for the later date, and the restaurant owners just changed the date. It wasn’t the Ritz, but Mom and I knew the family who owned it and it was in the neighbourhood.

I’ll leave you with one question and please comment.

What do you think of the current trend of the wedding couple (gay or straight) insisting that guests help finance all their wedding expenses and then also expect an actual gift?

You know what I think.


Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes


Filed under Eaton's, Family, Mom and Dad, Money, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Uncategorized