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Cardboard Cakes at the Co-op - Wartime Weddings
Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund
Leila Parker's Wedding

Leila Parker

We were married at St Edmund’s Church, and we had... Luckily, we were very fortunate, because you couldn’t really get, a café or anything, but we were fortunate that we had a reception in the Co-op in Bridge Street, in Bolton (laughs) and quite a lot of people came. And my Mother’s friend managed to make me a wedding cake, because you couldn’t get wedding cakes, a lot of them were cardboard. They just had a cardboard with some sort of a cake underneath. But she managed to get this small wedding cake. I think she made it, and so we had that. I was 21 on the 10th of September that we were married on the 28th. Joe was 24.

Did you have a honeymoon?

Yes, we went... oh, a wonderful honeymoon - four days in Morecambe! And we wouldn’t have got that, except my Aunt and Uncle used to go to Morecambe every year, they thought it was absolute paradise, and we never really went to Morecambe, and the boarding house that they knew - they wrote to them and the two ladies did us a real favour by taking us in. So, yes, four days in Morecambe! A bit different from today.

Did you have to pool rations to have food at the reception?

Well, we had... as far as I know, the Co-op did it. So they must have had some sort of thing that they could use, do a little bit. But it wasn’t a posh affair! It was in Bridge Street, upstairs, in the Co-op, but at least it was nice. And I had two bridesmaids. My cousin and Joe’s sister were bridesmaids, and a friend of Joe’s and his brother were groomsmen. Yes, so it was... considering it was Wartime, it wasn’t bad!
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Edith Thorpe

I always remember my wedding cake... Yes, it was a cake, and I thought it was a real one. It had a cardboard top, it looked like icing, but it was cardboard that they'd just fixed over it and painted it white!
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Dick West

Because it was Wartime, we were only allowed to have fifty people there, and we got into a lot of trouble, because we made what was a wrong decision. Because we had such a big family, and we needed about one hundred and fifty or a hundred and eighty, something like that, we had to leave some of the family out. But we decided we'd take one from each family. Well, this didn't half... you know, you get a wife and don't let her husband go with her, you know, it would never happen there, you know, but to get enough people in, in the fifty, we had a problem and it did cause a lot of aggro' because those who didn't get there and thought they should have done...
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Edith Williams née Hart

When my brother got married, just as I'd joined the ATS, and I wore my uniform. I always regret that I had to wear my uniform when I look at the wedding photograph, but I wore it actually because my husband was being groomsman and he had his uniform on - well he wasn't my husband then, he was my boyfriend - because he hadn't a suit to wear, so we both wore our uniforms.
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Betty Jean Hall

I had enough money to go into Bath, to one of the nice shops to buy a dress. Just an ordinary pale blue dress, I remember, it was the only thing that was suitable, I remember, and I sent a telegram to my bridesmaid suggesting she got a dress in dusty pink, which was her least favourite colour! And I remember the best man couldn’t get leave and a brother-in-law who was in the RAF happened to be on leave, so he stepped in - he was best man. And my Mother arranged a little reception, saved up a lot of points and things from the rations.

Where was that held?

Something called the Empire Café on Bradshawgate. It was a kind of little café come restaurant on the first floor, over some shops, that’s all I can remember about it. And I was married at Bridge Street Methodist Church, which is now a casino, in a bitterly cold day in February, when there was a blizzard blowing.

Did you have a honeymoon?

Yes, we went to the Grange Hotel, and I remember travelling on this train, which of course, was blackout, and arriving at this hotel, which was also blackout, trying to find our way into it, because there were no lights anywhere, and eventually finding a door (laughs) to get into it! And we had a week’s honeymoon there, touring the Lake District.
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