A wedding in the 1900s
My grandparents were married in 1908, and there are no photos from their wedding, but here are their photos.
Robert lived with his parents in Uphouse, the family croft house. My mother talked about what she had heard about her parents wedding. She remembered that they cleared all the furniture out of the house (a small two room Shetland croft house) into the barn. They left the sturdy kitchen dresser for the fiddler to sit on!
The wedding took place in the nearby chapel and the guests would then walk down to the reception in the house. Looking at the bill from the local shop, it seems that they paid a lot for the wedding. Given that the house was so small, I wonder if folk from the community stayed briefly for a dram of whiskey and then left. There were certainly big amounts of whisky used at the event!
Family and close friends would maybe then stay on and be fed and dance to the fiddle tunes.
A wedding in the 1940s
My mother’s wedding took place in the same chapel, from the same house, Uphouse in Clibberswick, in the Haroldswick area of Unst. They were able to use a barn owned by relatives, and have tables set for folk to be fed. Since she was trained as a cook by this time, I am sure she had a hand in the catering for the wedding reception.
A wedding in the 1970s
My wedding reception was held, as was the custom 50 years ago in Unst, at the local community hall. The venue was booked, trestle tables and benches for seating were set up. The bride went round and asked various ladies to be hostesses. These ladies came to the hall the evening before the wedding bringing enough crockery and cutlery for a table of 10 or 12 people. They set the table with white tablecloths, their fine crockery, and plates and cake stands. They were given flour and asked to make bannocks. The bride’s family supplied the meat, salad etc, and home bakes. My mother, a neighbour and I did home bakes for the 100 guests.
After the wedding in the local church, the guests gathered and were fed, then the tables were cleared away and the dancing began with a band of musicians playing on fiddle and accordion. As always, it started with the bridal march.
So, that was three generations of weddings in our family. Customs change and evolve with each generation doing things slightly differently, and so it will continue!