Diamond pair celebrate unusual Barking wedding with 16 brides
But a conveyor belt of brides was not abnormal at St Margaret’s Church in Barking in 1955.
One couple who wed on that July 23 were Marion and Nigel Panzetta.
They said cars circulated as brides waited for their slot to jump out and marry while wedding vehicles were double booked with only limited numbers to go around.
“As soon as one bride walked out of the church another bride walked in – all married by the same priest,” recalled Marion.
“I remember seeing bridesmaids in multicoloured dresses everywhere. Our car had been taken by another bride after I left the church – it was chaotic.”
Marion, who lived in Wilmington Gardens, Barking, until she married, said the date was sought-after because the Ford factory closed for a fortnight the previous day. As workers only had those two weeks of holiday, everyone wanted to get married on that date.
“It meant they had time for a honeymoon straight afterwards before they went back to work,” Marion explained.
“And schools had just split up for summer holidays too.”
Marion, now 83, had been teaching at Manor Infants School, Barking, for three years and was surprised to see pupils from her class appear on the day.
Tradition had it the bride and groom would leave their wedding halfway through the celebrations, she explained.
“You’d go off on your honeymoon in your going away outfit and your guests would carry on partying without you – there was never an evening celebration like there is today.”
The pair’s reception was held at the Plough pub in Ilford Lane.
A speedy photographer developed his snaps immediately and brought them back for guests to choose which copies they wanted there and then.
For their honeymoon the newlyweds visited the New Forest to stay in Nigel’s uncle’s house while he was away.
To earn their keep they were instructed to eat the strawberries and raspberries growing in the garden and mow the lawns.
“I changed out of my wedding dress and into my going away outfit, which was a dark turquoise linen dress and jacket and a lace hat,” Marion added.
“We bought a 1929 Morris Minor before we were married and it cost £5 second hand. We travelled to our honeymoon in it but it broke down halfway to the New Forest.”
The couple had met two years earlier at a train station during a group holiday in the Norfolk Broads.
Despite not knowing anybody, Marion had agreed to go on the holiday with a colleague and Nigel was also on the trip.
The group greeted him as he got off a train and Marion turned to her colleague and said: “That one’s for me.”
Sixty-two years on they plan to revisit St Margaret’s for their diamond celebration.
But to mark the actual day on Thursday they invited friends and former bridesmaids over for an unlikely choice of cuisine.
“We’re having KFC because I didn’t fancy cooking,” Marion explained.
“It’s not really relevant to our wedding, although we did have chicken at our wedding breakfast I suppose.
“We just haven’t had a KFC for ages and fancied it.”
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