It cannot have escaped your notice that ladies’ magazines are currently bursting with ideas in inspirational articles about weddings and marriage. The pages of Vogue, Vanity Fair and Woman’s Own are full of photographs and pages upon pages of advice. They are just the thing for early February days as young women sit wondering when it will be their turn to embark on the joyful state that is matrimony.
A Good Scottish Marriage
I, of course, married much later in life despite dear Mamma and Pappa’s desire to see the apple of their eye firmly established in a good Scottish marriage. My parents were not ones for “silly notions” about love; that was for the working classes who had nothing else. Pappa saw marriage as a business arrangement. As one of Scotland’s leading ironmongers with naval contracts and some award winning knobs and knockers in the art nouveau style, he longed for me to form an alliance with a foundry or a forge.
Apart from a girlish dalliance with Sooty Sandy, a blacksmith in the village where we had our rural retreat, it was not to be. I still feel a little thrill when I think of Sandy with his poker and bucket of whale oil hissing away as he toiled in that honest way we Westbourne School gels so adored. My Pappa would never have agreed to an alliance with anyone who actually got their hands dirty as was proved when I returned home late one night with handprints on my broderie anglaise chemise. To be frank my interest in metal work was in any case more at the retail end of things. Like so many Glasgow Girls I loved the arts and crafts movement and my mane of flowing red hair was said to have inspired many of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s designs.
Finding My Niche and Heart’s Desire
I came out as I am aware many of you have and was finished off at some very expensive establishments. I was always something of a “thrawn girl”, strong willed and determined to have a career of my own. Men do not always like a woman with her own mind or indeed anyone else’s but theirs and I suppose I came across as haughty and independent.
In the end I found my niche in love of country and my secret wartime work in the S.O.E. as well as soft furnishings for which I had a natural aptitude. Fortune does favour the bold and of course not long after the last Unpleasantness I met Jasper which was like an earthquake. I did have a wartime romance, but they never managed to find him in that rubble and I rarely talk about it as Jasper finds it difficult to accept I once loved another. At least he does when he can be bothered to come out of his wretched Museum in a Shed.
We had a simply marvellous wedding with only a few hundred close friends, but it was not to be the sort of Princess Grace wedding of which so many young girls dream. In one’s late forties tulle and lace make one look like the window dressing of a council house. Nevertheless as the press said I looked simply marvellous in that restrained, unaffected way that has become my understated self effacing trademark.
A late flowering has not meant that my advice on matters matrimonial has gone unsought. In fact I am regularly asked to contribute to magazines and radio with my experience of life, love and marriage and of course style and good taste. For, love and marriage are like everything else, matters of gracious living. Only recently I received a large number of letters and telephone calls from you dear readers and students on the road to a simply marvellous way of living and I thought in this grey but hopeful month that I would share some with you. As I always say if you share it comes back tenfold.
From My Postbag…
- The Question of Fathers
I am considering asking my girl friend for her hand in marriage. Should I ask her father first?
Gary of Grangemouth
In my day no man would think of popping the question before asking her father. There was always a shot gun by the front door. These days it is not strictly necessary, but manners suggest you should lose no time in asking him informally and expect some questions about your prospects. Fathers care very much about their daughters. Mothers are usually only too glad to see the back of them.
P.S. Is it necessary to be both Gary and from Grangemouth?
- The Engagement Ring
I intend to ask my girl friend of 8 years for her hand in marriage. Is it strictly necessary to have an engagement ring.
Barry, from Bothwell
No, not strictly but she may be suspicious of your honourable intentions especially as Bothwell appears to be in a different time zone. If money is an issue perhaps you should rethink it all or ask your grandmother for help. Mine always had a few spare stones suitable for setting by a jeweller. The romantic but cheapskate gift of knotted string or flowers is a sure sign of a bounder and a virtue in danger.
My fiancé wants me to go away to Portobello for the weekend. He earns little money and has given me an engagement ring of garden twine. It is so romantic and I know he respects me. Should I go?
Nell of Newhaven
Are you sure you are not just a big Nellie rather than Nell? Garden twine might be suggestive of upright Gladioli in the garden, but it is not something to base a future together on. I would not go to Portobello under any circumstances, except those authorised by a Minister of religion. After all Nell would you buy a book having already borrowed it from the library?
- Press Announcements
Is it necessary to announce one’s engagement in the press?
Unsure of Uddingston
I can only assume you have not been to a very good school. In the part of Glasgow where everyone goes to a good school it goes without saying. If it is not in The Glasgow Herald then it has not happened.
Remember the announcement only appears on a Friday in “Social and Personal” or you might as well think about a change of identity and a life abroad. The announcement should be preceded by informing close relatives by letter, using a fountain pen; never write in biro – that is common.
All that is required are the facts, it is not necessary to make excuses about the brevity of the letter because you have so many to write. Of course they know that or you would be a no-body and live in Ayrshire. Send all letters by the same post or you will be written out of several aunts’ wills.
- Who Pays for the Wedding?
Who pays for the wedding?
Iain of Inchinnan
You sound like a tightwad, but for your information the bride’s family pay for the wedding. After all you will be paying not only for the rest of your life but for the honeymoon and the house and the house furnishings. Believe me.
Jasper (as Muriel has left the typewriter for a gin and it)
- Looking Back
When my intended comes up the aisle should I look back?
I really do worry about you. Are you some religion other than Presbyterian? Certainly not. This is a wedding, not Hollywood or the Episcopalians.
- Wedding Gifts
I am marrying above my station there are several things I worry about. I am thinking about giving my fiancée a string of pearls as a wedding present is this appropriate?
Also some of my rough diamond friends are suggesting cash is the best present or a gift that can easily be exchanged. Please advise.
Dave of Dennistoun
Firstly does Dennistoun have a station and secondly I feel somewhat apprehensive at anyone marrying a Dave. Do you perchance play in a skiffle group?
Now let us get back to basics.
While your idea of a gift of pearls is to be commended and suggest us to think your intended is chaste, I am afraid the answer is no. Pearls from a fiancé or husband are considered an ill omen as they traditionally represent tears, especially if the string breaks which they are apt to do. A young woman either inherits pearls or is given pearls by her father or godparents usually as a 21st birthday present. Sometimes they are, if they are particularly good pearls, given one at a time from first birthday onwards so that on reaching maturity one has a reasonable string to wear at one’s swan-like neck.
A word or two about wedding presents – wedding presents are only sent once an invitation is received and then sent a few days later. Presents for the Bridegroom are sent to his address, but shown with the Bride’s at her home on the Wedding Day. This is not America, a shower is something one has at Corporation swimming baths. All presents are acknowledged on receipt.
It is in very bad taste to exchange any gift even if you hate it – you should see my carved horn peanut dish, not that you ever will. I wouldn’t put it out if you paid me. The exception is where duplicate gifts are received and the sender has suggested in such a case an exchange should be sought. This does, however, suggest friends of unoriginal thought. I am sure your rough diamonds are most imaginative. Do they dress like Edwardians, ride scooters and use Brylcreem?
Having a list in a department store is the height of grasping vulgarity. One should, however, have a personal list to show to friends should they ask. Gifts of money are only given by family or very old friends of the family. You should not give gifts of table linen, or intimate gifts of bed sheets or pure wool Witney blankets – that is for relatives.
Oh Dave, how I can see your Wedding day in my mind’s eye particularly after the meal with the band as your by now rather merry rough diamonds engage with the Bride’s mother in an over enthusiastic Orcadian Strip the Willow.
I wish you the best of luck
- Where to Wed
What do you think about Registry Office marriages?
Name and address supplied
Dear Name and address supplied,
No wonder. When I received your letter, I had to have two Askit Pooders, a wee Dubonnet and a lie down.
Well it is legal, but lacks romance and warmth.
Are you on the run or from Edinburgh?
- Wedding Attire for the Older Woman
I am a wealthy widow of some years who has just accepted a proposal of marriage from a handsome rough diamond who has a scooter, plays in a skiffle band and has a friend called Dave. He has made me feel like a woman again, especially when we went to Portobello for the weekend.
We plan to marry in Church as my fiancé is thinking of becoming a minister. What should I wear?
Patience Pentland-Firth (Lady)
Somehow I thought it was you. Shouldn’t you be busy preparing for Wagner at the Classic Country House Concerts, not running around on the back of a scooter?
To answer your question – as a widow several times over you may marry in any colour you wish. Your head should be covered (remember St Paul’s teachings) with a small hat. A veil is for first marriages and for those who should have stayed at home. Figured netting is acceptable.
As a widow bride of several times over, you should not carry a bouquet although you may wear flowers on your costume. You should be attended by a friend and yes I am happy so to do, provided it does not clash with a soup and sandwich lunch. Bridesmaids are not required as you are certainly no maid. A widow bride does not remove her first wedding ring (or rings) until the morning of the second marriage. In your case it might be as well to have a jeweller with cutters standing by and I am sure you will be able to reverse the current decline in gold reserves at the Bank of England.
I trust this is helpful, see you at the Rural on Wednesday.
- The Best Man
I am writing to you in between the rehearsals for the Crew Show where I play Marlene Dietrich. I am about to be married to a very nice girl in Southampton, my home port and I have a very theatrical friend who I would like to be my best man. Do you think this is acceptable?
Chief Steward Mike, S. S Arcadia
Thank you for your letter. I see you are all at sea!
Wedding receptions can be rather stilted and become somewhat tedious so a very theatrical best man might well be a good idea. On the other hand the most important thing about a best man is that he is calm, cool and collected when he needs to be. Things do go wrong. He needs to be in control and of course has to make a speech. His speech should be “very light and very gay”.
I am wondering Mike if you are entering this marriage “unadvisedly” or “wantonly” as the Vicar will say. Remember one day you will have to stay ashore.
Well as you can see I have my work cut out when it comes to advising couples about the great day ahead and it is a great day and not as Mrs Travers will have it when viewing a wedding from the top of a bus “another lamb to the slaughter”.
Advice to Guests
Before I leave you I have a few final words of wisdom to offer regarding the nuptials. Above all the day should be dignified. Even if one has a very theatrical friend present or some rough diamond friends on scooters, one of which is called Dave. So please plan ahead, and do not get over excited.
Do not get overdressed. My neighbour, Lottie Macaulay, looked ridiculous recently at a Catholic wedding when she went dressed in a mantilla and flamenco outfit. I was unsure as to whether we should be singing Ave Maria or the Toreador song. As Jasper said if someone had speared her it would have been a mercy. Do not talk too loudly it is not your day and do not cry, weeping at the important parts of the journey that is life is for servants.
On that note I think I have said enough. In the mean time I have a fact sheet I will post on to you on receipt of a stamped addressed envelope. Next time we will take a peek into the wedding night and the life ahead. Must dash that’s the telephone.
“Thank you for the offer Patience but I have no desire to go to Portobello in February with Dave or Mike, even if it is on the back of a scooter.”
With thanks to Ettiquette for Everyone by Arthur Groom