Wednesday 15th August 1956 dawned at last. By the weekend we had been reasonably confident that no stone had been left unturned and we were as ready as we could ever be. So we had a couple of quiet days with no hassle – well, not much!
On the morning of the wedding we were all up early, no breakfasts in bed. I had a good night’s sleep, Annabel didn’t. The strange thing is that although Annabel was always outgoing and confident and I was the more reticent one who found it difficult to start up conversations with people, I have good recollections of the wedding day and was happy and on Cloud 9 as they say, even when I was quickstepping with Jim! Annabel says she hardly remembers anything and was a bundle of nerves all the time – which you would never have realised from the lovely pictures of her.
I shall pass over all the doing hair and makeup, getting partly dressed and swanning around in our housecoats till it was time to get the dresses on. Mum’s younger sister Annie and her husband Bob were to be Annabel’s ‘parents’ for the day, and Uncle Bob would walk her down the aisle. They arrived around lunch time, and they were hardly in the door when Auntie Annie caught my eye and signalled to come away a minute. Annabel followed. When we went into the bedroom she looked at me and said ‘Oh, Chrissie, your Mum is going to kill me!’ It turned out her dress was exactly the same as Mum’s but a different colour. We were able to calm her down by saying people would think, if they noticed at all, that it was on purpose! I don’t think Mum ever realised, nobody else mentioned it and they both looked very nice indeed.
We had tea and sandwiches to keep us going till we got to the Tontine. The flowers had been delivered mid-morning and were lovely. The bridal bouquets, corsages for Mum and Auntie Annie, and white carnations for the men. John and Jim’s lot were delivered to their homes, as were the bridesmaids. Annabel and I had ordered special buttonholes for Jim and John, a rose from our bouquets. You may notice in the pictures that John has a white carnation! I whispered to him when I got alongside him in the Church, ‘Where’s your golden rose buttonhole?’ His reply: ‘When my Dad saw it he took it and said Chris must have put that one in for him specially!’ Although I was very fond of Dad Mitchell I was a bit peeved with him that day and I hoped he noticed Jim’s pink rose and realised his error. But I don’t suppose he did!
The mothers of the brides went away first leaving us with the dads. Dad and I went in the first car and Annabel and Uncle Bob in the second. We were very surprised to find so many people waiting outside to see us leaving – all the neighbours and more! When we got to Ardgowan Methodist Church there were even more people there, it was just great. I have to mention, of course, with it being a double wedding which didn’t happen very often, the local newspapers were interested and there were several pages of pictures and talk in at least three. I still have them tucked away somewhere. Annabel and I discovered when we saw the photographs later that both our coronets were askew! Mine due to Dad having trodden my veil on the way into Church and leaving a corner of it lying on the step and the same happening to Annabel’s veil. Mine was just gauze but hers was a McInnes heirloom!
The Church was full and it was such a wonderful feeling, after waiting so long, to be actually walking towards John knowing we were starting a new life together. Mr Whitehead was the Minister and he married Annabel and Jim. This is where my memory fails me. Joe Dickinson, John’s tea club friend, who was ordained on the same day, was assisting and I can’t remember if he actually married us, just read some of the Service or did readings. However we were really and truly wed whichever one of them asked the questions and got the correct answers!
The Brides and Grooms processed to the Vestry to sign the Register. The Banns had been called in the Church on Sunday for two or maybe three weeks beforehand. While we were away Betty Barclay, John’s cousin, sang the wedding hymn ‘O, Perfect Love’. She had a lovely voice. Then the bridal group assembled and we walked down the aisle and gathered at the door for a few photographs. There was a crowd of well-wishers outside again. People do love to see a wedding and this one was more of a novelty than usual! As each of the Bridal cars drove away there was a throng of children waiting for the ‘bowl’ money to be thrown out the car windows, another Scottish custom. We threw a few pounds made up of coppers, ‘thrupny’ bits, sixpences and the odd shilling or two. Then there was a scramble!
I know the meal at the Tontine was lovely but I can’t remember any of it except the dessert which was fruit and ice cream with hot chocolate sauce. We’d never had that before! We did our dancing and, to be honest, even if I had tripped myself up in the Quickstep I wouldn’t have cared a bit because I was so happy I would just have laughed. There was one wee misunderstanding which I regretted. We had said to the bridesmaids the two mothers were to have the bouquets after we had left. On our honeymoon I wrote a note to Mum asking her to press a rose for me to keep. The reply from her said Auntie Annie and John’s Mum had been given them. I was quite unhappy about that because John’s Mum had already had two mother-of-the-bride bouquets, and one to go, and my Mum only had one chance. However I couldn’t have made it clear enough that it was the brides’ mums. We got over it but I know Mum was a bit hurt at the time.
When the party was well along John and I managed to get away with just confetti thrown over us. Annabel and Jim had a bit more to contend with – some of Jim’s pals got hold of him and stuffed confetti down his neck! We all were driven to George Square to change into our going away clothes. The limousine waited for us and took us to Greenock Central station, leaving behind us the house strewn with lots of confetti where we had shaken the garments we had taken off. We all went to Glasgow and parted there with hugs and kisses. John and I took a taxi for the short journey to St Enoch Station Hotel and Jim and Annabel stayed at the Central Hotel. We left confetti there also – no concealing that we were newlyweds! John and I left next morning on the Aer Lingus bus to Renfrew Airport and flew to Dublin. Annabel and Jim went to Paris.
Dublin was lovely, we had a walk around before getting the train to Bray. As we were walking across a bridge, probably over the Liffey, a street photographer took our picture. We paid him I think, 5 shillings, and the photograph hasn’t arrived yet! However I had bought a Box Brownie camera so we have some black and white reminders of our stay in Bray. It was a lovely week. The hotel was comfortable, the staff were cheery, the food was super and the sun shone. The final rationing had only ended in the 50s, and many things were still in short supply, so it was a revelation to see the plentiful shelves in Eire. Oh, another funny wee episode. When we came out of Bray railway station we took a taxi to the Hotel which was quite a long way. Then when we went out for a walk next day we found the Station and the Hotel were practically next door to each other! We must have looked as green as grass as well as starry-eyed.
I called this Wedding of the Year meaning only for us, but 50 years later I had a call from Annabel to tell me something interesting. The Greenock Telegraph has a column every week that recalls something from 50 years ago and in 2006 our Double Wedding was reported there, so they must have considered it to be indeed The Wedding of the Year in 1956.