Bad Taste? : Wedding Photos

Yesterday, I posted some old wedding photos taken during the 1920s. That prompted me to compare them with some of the awful wedding dresses popular around the world today.
As I had hoped, that post, and my opinion, generated some debate.

So out of interest, here is a short selection of some bad taste wedding outfits taken during the last few years. I know which brides I prefer.

To me, this just looks wrong.

Some of us may indeed like to see your huge boobs. (Yes, me included)
But not on your wedding day, please.

As above, but even bigger boobs!

‘Tacky’ is the word that springs to mind.
(The same bride from the top photo, but a better view of the dress)

Oh dear. What was she thinking?

Maybe I am just old-fashioned, (yes, I am ) but I would hate to be the groom standing next to a bride dressed like these.
And what will their descendants think, when they look back over the photos of the ‘Big Day’?

Or maybe they won’t care? Times change.

The Roaring 20s: Wedding Day Photos

I think I missed my time in history. I have always wanted to live during the Jazz Age of the 1920s. Fabulous music, Art Deco architecture, and fashions to die for.

Here are some wedding photos from the period, when people knew how to dress! They were all taken in England, from 1920-1929.

Some happy-looking Bridesmaids.
And an uncomfortably awkward Page Boy. 🙂

Nice flowers, and suitable cloche hats.

A fashionable large hat for the occasion.

Marrying a sailor. He wore his uniform of course.

The bigger the bouquet, the better!

This might have been taken twenty years earlier. If not for the hemline, and the white silk stockings.

Photo-bombed by a grumpy schoolboy. 🙂 Spot the tiara!

It didn’t matter if you were not that attractive, as long as you looked smart.

Strange how wedding photography has not changed that much, in almost 100 years. But the dresses have certainly changed, with many brides choosing to reveal far too much of their chests, and sleeveless and backless bridal wear to showcase the now-common tattoos.

But one day soon, those 1920s fashions will be back in vogue. Mark my words!

May the Best Man win

A nostalgic post from 2013, concerning my numerous outings as the Best Man at weddings. I think only Eddy has seen this one.


Being asked to be the Best Man at a wedding, is a bit like Jury Service. Some spend their whole lives without a summons, others have to appear frequently. I have been asked to be the Best Man on many occasions, (actually six) and have never had the heart to decline this honour. Every time, it was very different, yet I am very happy to have had the experiences.

The first time was long ago, as far back as 1970, when I was just 18. I had been asked by one of my best friends, and I was very pleased to be asked too; I think I would have been upset if he had asked someone else. He was marrying his childhood sweetheart, someone we had both known from school. In fact, I went out with one of her friends, and we frequently double-dated (as they say in America). Although…

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Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

Weddings, and Marriage.

I suppose because Spring is soon upon us, and the wedding season will begin in earnest, I woke up thinking about the subject of weddings today.

I have considerable experience of the process of course, having been married three times, with two divorces behind me. But those failures also imply I may not know what I am talking about.

I get that.

So the following is just a personal opinion, and as always, just ‘thinking aloud’.

Things to think about.

Just because you get on really well now, don’t expect that marriage will just make that even better. In many cases, it changes relationships beyond all comprehension. You can wake up the day after the wedding, and wonder who that person next to you really is.

Just because you might have been cohabiting happily for a long time, perhaps even already have children together, don’t expect marriage to seal that deal, and add a certain something to what you already enjoy. There is a very good chance that it will have the opposite effect entirely.

Don’t spend a fortune on your big day. People can spend thousands, as much as £40,000, even more, on a wedding these days. That one day is just not worth it, believe me. That money could have been put to so many better uses. And within a few months, you will probably never watch that expensive video again, or even look at the photographs. (This advice is undoubtedly too late, as by now you will have almost certainly booked everything)

Seriously consider not getting married at all. There are so many different reasons why people get married. Commitment, security, tradition, excitement, stability, and more. But if you already have all of that, then that one day in a church, registry office, or a nice hotel won’t make any difference at all. Whatever you think now.

But you are going to ignore my advice, I know that. You will get married anyway, because it will be different for you. You won’t make the same mistakes others did. You have a fresh approach to marriage, and you will make it work. Yours will never end in divorce. You will have 2 point 4 children, be happy and fulfilled, and you will celebrate your Diamond wedding anniversary surrounded by your family and friends. I hope that’s true, and I wish you luck with that.

Some tips.

If you are determined to carry on with the plans to marry, take it seriously. It’s not a game, and will change your life in ways you never anticipated.

Don’t just think about compromise, be sure to compromise. If you don’t, it will end badly.

Remember that you don’t exist just as a couple. You are two people, very different people. Never forget that.

If you are going to bother to get married, don’t put your family before the person you marry. By marrying him or her, you have made them the most important part of your family, even if you didn’t realise that was going to happen.

I wish you all well. Bride and Groom, Groom and Groom, Bride and Bride. Whichever combination works for you.

Just don’t expect miracles. Because they don’t exist.

Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

Births, Marriages, and Deaths.

With a recent birth in the family, followed almost immediately by a death, it is understandable that I woke up thinking about family this morning. I have written before on this blog about how families are spread out further these days, and how that close contact of my youth has come down to emails, text messages, and rare phone calls, in most cases.
So please forgive the familiarity of the theme.

By most standards, England is a small country. Many of my American blogging friends live almost a continent away from close relatives, and are used to travelling great distances to see them, and having to deal with time-zone differences too. But in this country, one hundred miles is considered to be a very long way indeed. Traffic, unreliable public transport, weather difficulties, and the high cost of tickets or fuel can make physical contact a real issue. Decide to move a long way from your family base, as I did, and you have to accept that there will be less contact, few visits, and only occasional meetings. Add to this the fact that most people are still dealing with having to work, or raising young families, and that tight family unit of the past becomes a fond memory, no longer practical to achieve.

But three things still bring that family together. A new baby, a wedding, or a funeral. Meeting children who now look like adults, having to explain who you are, and what your position in the extended family is. Re-telling family stories, recounting memories of old parties, humorous events, trying to keep such recollections alive in the minds of the younger relatives. Sometimes, old photos appear. Faces unknown to some, familiar to others. We are stiff and uncomfortable in our rarely-worn formal suits, and perhaps a little upset that so many there don’t actually know who we are. Introductions complete, identities established, we proceed into whichever of the three ceremonies awaits us, once more a family.

If only for one day.

Thinking Aloud on a Sunday


I saw a report this week stating that over 50% of marriages in the UK end in divorce. As I have been divorced twice myself, my own strike rate is a little higher in that regard. But I woke up today wondering if the institution of marriage is something that may one day be consigned to history.

In 1970, I was Best Man at a close friend’s wedding. The bride and groom (and me) were just 18 years old, and some people suggested that they were too young to get married. They defied the odds, had five children, and are still together today. They are the only couple I know from that time who didn’t separate, or get divorced.

I don’t suppose any of us get married believing it won’t last, or intending to just ‘give it a try’. For most people, it is a huge emotional commitment, as well as an expensive day. I didn’t get married in 1977 expecting it to last only eight years, that’s for sure. I anticipated raising a family, retiring outside of London, and celebrating my silver wedding anniversary with family and friends.
But that was not to be.

When I married again in 1989, I was perhaps more cautious and realistic, but still felt the need to show the commitment by having a proper wedding. No prenuptial agreement, and no talk of children by this time. We were both mature, and with both of us working in well-paid jobs, we could afford to live in a nice house, and enjoy a very comfortable life. But that didn’t work either, mostly because I became disillusioned with life in general, and marriage in particular. I had tried marriage twice, and failed both times. But I still believed in it as an institution, perhaps because of my background.

Even an amicable divorce can be emotionally draining. Despite having no children to consider, I had to lose half of everything I had built up over more than a decade, as well as some mutual friends, and a family I had come to think of as my own. And that happened twice. But by 1997, divorce was much easier. Some claimed it had become too easy, and couples no longer tried to work out their problems, taking divorce as an easy option. But as anyone who has been divorced can tell you, there is nothing easy about it.

In fact, I was all for the laws changing to make it easier to get divorced. When I was young, it was very difficult to obtain a divorce, and people went to great lengths to get one, including pretending to spend the night with another person, to provide grounds of Adultery. In so many cases, this left women being physically or mentally abused for much of their marriage, as they didn’t have the support, or the finances, to get divorced from husbands who treated them shabbily. Men suffered too of course. Living with domineering wives who nagged at them until any love that existed was not even a memory. So the change in the law was to be welcomed, as far as I was concerned.

When I got married again in 2009, I had learned my lesson, so took my time. We were together for nine years before we married, and both ready to share the same plans for the future. Meanwhile, the whole idea of marriage was changing around us. People could now get married almost anywhere, no longer restricted to a church, or the offices of their local council. And they could also marry anyone they liked. Men married men, and women married women. In some cases, transgender women married transgender men. Some married people that they had met online, and some from countries on the other side of the world.

It seems that marriage has never been more popular. So perhaps I have answered my own question.
But then divorce has never been so popular either…

A Photography Website

As most of you will know, I don’t post photos here. I don’t even take any these days, as I keep all the images in my mind.

One of my very good friends is a keen photographer. He doesn’t do it for a living, but he could, as he is more than proficient. He is well-travelled, and has taken some stunning photos in foreign lands, as well as many excellent portraits. He has also dabbled in wedding photography, and took some superb photos at my own wedding, in 2009. There are also some unusual abstracts,  and a range of architectural and cityscape images, that I admire greatly.

After years of experimentation with equipment, he now uses a top of the range SLR, and a compact camera, also of very high specification. He has a self-taught skill in Photoshop, and instinctively manages to manipulate photos in a very good way, without spoiling the themes or ideas behind them. His black and white and still life work is admirable as well.

Although he is a lot younger, and started out a little later in photography, there is much he has taught me, about good picture-taking, and choosing the right equipment. He has just launched a web site, to showcase his work. It is still new, and will no doubt be developed. But in the meantime, can I ask all of you with any interest in photography to follow the link, and have a look at it. There is a contact form there, if you want to comment, or ask questions, but it is not a blog.

And there is a great photo of Ollie there, for all of you who would like to see my dog!


Significant Songs (5)

If I Ain’t Got You

If any of you have ever been involved in a romantic relationship, I will bet my bottom dollar that there is a song that reminds you of it. You may not like to admit it though. You might consider it to be slushy and sentimental, to have a song that makes you come over all amorous, or reflective, but I am sure that there is one lurking there, filed under ‘Love’ in your brain’s memory banks.

When I met Julie, in 2000, we soon had a few songs that we could associate with the time and place of our new relationship. As well as our individual favourites, there were a few contenders for songs that were new to us both, and made us think about each other, when we were apart. One worth a mention, was the hit song ‘Groovejet (If this ain’t love)’, by Spiller, with vocals by Sophie Ellis Bextor. This was released that summer, before we started seeing each other in the autumn. I played it a lot, and Julie liked it too. The lyrics seemed to have a connection to our situation at the time, and we often thought it a very special song, just for for us. The other song with seemingly appropriate lyrics and theme that year was ‘The Time Is Now’, by Moloko, sung by Rosin Murphy. As we started our journey as a couple, it was as if songs written perfectly for us, were appearing from everywhere.

Of course, we were old enough to appreciate that they were just pop songs, and that the symbolism, though relevant, was just amusingly coincidental. Music featured a lot in those early days, and we would sit in my flat in Camden, and have ‘music nights’, both of us playing our favourites, old and new. As we carried on seeing each other, and becoming closer, we took less notice of lyrics in songs, perhaps settling into the knowledge that we were going to stay together, come what may. We did still have a soft spot for the Spiller and Moloko songs though, and always mentioned that they were ‘our songs’, whenever we heard them.

In 2003, I heard a new song, from Alicia Keys. I already knew of this talented young woman, and had bought her CD ‘Songs in A Minor’. This new song was instantly memorable, with a piano intro, great structure, and meaningful lyrics. I couldn’t get it out of my head, and bought the CD soon after. It was called ‘If I Ain’t Got You’, and the words immediately made me think of Julie, and our relationship. We both liked it very much, and played it often. One day, I remarked to Julie, that if we ever got married, then this song should be our first dance, such was the relevance it had for us. She agreed, and that was the end of the conversation.

Six years later, in 2009, we finally did get married; after nine years together, and many ups and downs in our lives, that we had worked through as a couple. Although many great songs had appeared in those intervening years, there was still only one choice for our first dance. And I almost missed it. I was standing outside the venue, chatting, and had to be rounded up by friends, to go in and have the first dance at our wedding. This September, we will have been married for five years, and together for fourteen. This song still means as much to me today, as when I first heard it, all those years ago.

May the Best Man win

Being asked to be the Best Man at a wedding, is a bit like Jury Service. Some spend their whole lives without a summons, others have to appear frequently. I have been asked to be the Best Man on many occasions, (actually six) and have never had the heart to decline this honour. Every time, it was very different, yet I am very happy to have had the experiences.

The first time was long ago, as far back as 1970, when I was just 18. I had been asked by one of my best friends, and I was very pleased to be asked too; I think I would have been upset if he had asked someone else. He was marrying his childhood sweetheart, someone we had both known from school. In fact, I went out with one of her friends, and we frequently double-dated (as they say in America). Although young to marry, at 18, they were a determined, and loving couple, who are still together today, having raised five children; which, considering my own poor track record, is something to be commended.

The groom had decided that we would defy convention, by wearing white suits. This was a long time before ‘Saturday Night Fever’, and it was also in Rotherhithe, a down to earth working class area of London, so it wasn’t going to be normal. Then again, it was 1970. We managed to get the suits made to measure, at a very reasonable price, by a tailor in nearby Peckham. The lapels were as wide as the wings on Concorde, and the bell-bottoms of the trousers completely covered our shoes, but this style was all the rage then. We chose plum-coloured shirts and white ties to complete the outfit, and we had a great day, at a lovely church next to the Thames. I was so pleased with the suit, I wore it for years afterwards, sometimes as separates, and became known as ‘The man in the white suit’, by some friends. Over the years, the dry-cleaning costs far exceeded the original price of the outfit, yet I was sad to let it go.

The next occasion was some years later, though still just in the 1970’s. My good friend was marrying a lovely girl he had met as she worked behind the bar in a pub. The venue was Marylebone Registry Office, in Central London. This is a famous building, an imposing, Greek-styled edifice, where Paul McCartney, and many other celebrities, were also wed. As it was less formal, I chose a blue velvet jacket, and grey trousers, both bought new for the purpose. After the short ceremony, there was a reception in Covent Garden, and a very pleasant time was enjoyed by all. I later discovered, that sitting with my arms on the table all afternoon, had completely crushed the pile on the arms of my new jacket. The shop refused to replace it, alleging that it had been ‘worn excessively’. (In a week?) That couple also stayed together for many years, and had a lovely daughter. Though they later split up, we all remain great friends, to this day.

Moving on a few years, I was again asked to step up, by a colleague and friend that I knew from the Ambulance Service. I wasn’t too sure that he was making the right choice. He had given up on someone that I really liked, for a quieter, somewhat distant girl, and he had not known her for too long. She was a nurse, and hailed from Lancashire, and as he was a lively, popular boy from East London, it seemed an unlikely match. I kept my mouth shut, and went along with his request. As the wedding was to be in Lancashire, some 200 miles from London, there were a few logistical problems to overcome. The guest list, at least on the groom’s side, was limited to those that could get time off, and afford a couple of nights in a hotel. We had to hire a small self-drive coach, and arrange for a few drivers to be on the insurance; we also managed a block-booking discount, for a nearby small hotel. The long distance worked well for me. As the groom was to be up there for some days before, my duties would be very few. All I had to do, was to collect the flowers on the day, stand in the church for the service, and then make my speech later.

That was a speech that I wish I had never made. As some people in the North of England can be quite serious, (the word often used is dour-look it up) I reasoned that a lively, slightly controversial speech would jazz things up a bit. I led off by illustrating the differences between the sense of humour, and the contrasting traditions, that made English people from opposite ends of the country so unsuited. Not a good start. References to flat caps, ferrets, and black pudding with chips and mushy peas, did not go down too well at all. As the Southerners guffawed at my witty observations, the faces of the others grew stonier, and determinedly smile-free. I hoped to salvage the situation, by referring to his many and varied previous girlfriends, intending to point out that he had made the right choice, after a lot of false starts. Maybe it was the lack of sincerity in my voice, but even the bride began to blanch, and looked as if she was about to burst into tears. I stopped talking, and made the toasts. Later, there was a drinks evening at the family home. We were asked to go there, then shown into in our own room, away from the other guests. Can’t imagine why.

My next appearance was in 1989, and by now, I considered myself a veteran. This was a much smoother affair all round, as it involved an older couple, who had both been married before. A former colleague from the LAS, and great friend, I half suspected the groom was going to ask me, even before he announced the event. A brief ceremony at Wandsworth Town Hall, was followed by a superb meal and reception, at a lovely hotel in Kingston. It was all very civilised, everyone looked fantastic, and even my speech (modified since the Lancashire episode) was well-received. All weddings should be like that one.

The Ambulance Service was proving to be fertile ground for my Best Man role, which was fast becoming a part-time job. At the time, the late 1990’s, I was working with a much younger colleague. He had started to get ‘serious’ with a young nurse from Northern Ireland, and I could sense wedding bells were not far off. I was confident that I would be beyond consideration for the job this time. After all, I was born in the same year as the groom’s late mother, and he had a wide circle of friends, all of his own age. I thought that I may be invited, but as the wedding was to be held in Belfast, I was already preparing reasons why I would be unable to attend.

I was really shocked, when he came and asked me to be Best Man after all. It seemed that his younger friends had all declined, citing various reasons, as well as a fear of public speaking. With my track record, I was the next obvious choice, albeit some way down the original list. This presented numerous problems. It involved flying, or the infamous sea crossing from Scotland, which I would not consider for a second; as well as needing a fair bit of time off, as I could hardly arrive on the day. Coupled with this, I couldn’t shake off the feeling that the bride was unhappy. She had never seemed to take to me that much, which considering our huge age difference, was very understandable. I could also not ignore the fact that Northern Ireland is hardly the place for a 40 something Londoner, with a strong accent, given the troubled history of the Province. The groom was also well-known to be reckless, and another guest was a Territorial Soldier, also a Londoner, who just happened to be black, something of a giveaway, in the Six Counties.

I went over a couple of days early, and soon felt the strangeness of the place. This was somewhere I felt I already knew, after a lifetime of The Troubles, shown on TV; but I had no idea just how dark and unfamiliar it would actually feel to be there. However, I was warmly welcomed by the bride’s family, who despite being Catholics, and also Republicans, were all very nice to me. The wedding was in a local church, with a lavish reception following, at the romantic venue of Belfast Castle. As I rose to begin my speech, which I had decided would be a little cheeky, and might focus on cultural differences, as well as political, some other guests decided to show their displeasure, by unplugging my microphone. I soldiered on, but was only talking to a quarter of those assembled. I am pleased to add that the couple are still together, have a lovely young son, and a settled life in Northern Ireland. I have never been back, can’t really think why.

My most recent return to the groom’s side, and hopefully my last, was another much more sedate, and very pleasant duty, at a wedding in Lincolnshire, in 2008. Again, both had been married before, and the groom was an ex-colleague from the Ambulance Service. I was lucky enough to know both families and many other guests in advance, and to count most as good friends. We stayed in a nearby guest house, and helped with preparing their home for the after party. It was an exceptionally good day, with great company, in a delightful atmosphere. Not a foot wrong that time, and I even turned up to help clear stuff away the next day. One of the best.

I am happy to report, that I never once lost, or mislaid a ring. I did not disgrace myself with a bridesmaid, get unduly drunk, (at least not until after the speeches) or ever, intentionally at least, cause undue offence. I feel that I have served my time at the Best Man coal-face, and should now be excused duty. I might also mention, that as I have been married three times myself, I have managed to ‘return the favour’, and at least two of those mentioned above, were also Best Man, at my weddings.