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By Jean Schmaal.

Victor Harbour Times (SA : 1932 - 1986), Thursday 24 May 1973, page 9

The day of the wedding is the bride's day. though most bridegrooms get hot under the collar and squirm at the thought of all the fuss and bother. For all that the fact remains - it's her day.


Below: 1860 A German wedding party outside a thatched roof building.

1860 Barossa V alley A German wedding party outside a thatched roof building..jpeg

The following little stories have come down the generations and have been flavoured to a large extent because of the great immigration to South Australia in early times of German Lutherans, who left their homeland because of religious persecution.

Many of their customs influenced early bridal lore.

  • White was worn for mourning - so brides, naturally, chose the opposite colour - they wore black.

  • By the mid-seventies ideas were taking a different turn, and fashion, ever fickle, changed too, and golden colours began to make their appearance.

  • During the late 70's and early 80's browns and greys became popular for weddings.

  • The late 80's saw cream as the 'in' thing, and this, in the 90's, became white.

  • But, by this time, mourning colours were black. This was not a general Australian custom, but a 'trendy' South Australian one.

1890 Mrs Livingston is seated for her portrait, facing the camera. She is probably in mour


1890 Mrs Livingston is seated for her portrait, facing the camera. She is probably in mourning for her husband (who died in 1886) as she is wearing a widow's cap in white

Then, as now, the celebration of a wedding was mostly a time of great rejoicing.

  • The night before the wedding it was the custom to hold a 'tin-kettling' performance at the home of the bride.

  • People came from near and far, and were mostly folk other than those who were invited to the wedding itself. Many came on horseback from miles away.

  • The tin-kettlers gathered at aboui 8 o'clock.

  • They were careful to tether their horses well away from the house, for fear of their being frightened by the noise which was set up when the 'tin-kettling' commenced.

  • Usually someone brought his accordion with him, and once the music started there was a great old sing-song.

  • The bride's parents provided the visitors with ample supplies of wine and yeast cake.

  • The visitors usually ! stayed until about 11 o'clock before departing for their homes.

1905 Wedding Party, Waterloo_edited.jpg

Came the day of the wedding.

  • Half-an-hour before the bride and groom left for the church the horses were harnessed up and brought into place, and then the bridesmaids and their partners decorated the harness, horse, and buggies with rosettes and coloured streamers.

  • The bride and groom most times went to church together, setting out from the bride's home.

  • There was no such thing (then) as 'giving the bride away.'

  • The bride wore a wreath of orange blossom or myrtle, and a veil with her frock - it was not always fashionable to wear a long frock, but sometimes the veil was worn long.

  • It was the custom for the groom to wear a buttonhole and both bride and 'groom wore wedding rings.


After the ceremony yeast cake and wine were handed around among those gathered outside the church.

  • When the bridal couple left to drive home to the wedding reception there was often a rope or two pulled across the road to stop the buggy's progress.

  • A bottle of wine was given to the rope-holders to gain free passage for the buggy. This was usually as double-seater - the first attendants sitting in the front seat and the bride and groom in the rear seat - the driver sitting up in front.

  • Children lined the roadway and 'conversation ' lollies were thrown out to them.

  • In the church itself streamers decorated the scene with an archway over the last two pews just before the altar.

  • Usually the 'coach' in the buggy saw to it that there was ample provision made to ensure a clear passage both ways for the bridal party.

  • On one occasion eight gallons of bottled wine were passed out as the bridal pair travelled to and from the church. (Wine, by he way, in those days was 2sh.3d. a gallon.)

  • The wedding reception usually lasted for the entire day, although it was not unusual for weddings to go on for three days, before the called it a day and returned to their homes.


Below: 1915 Wedding reception - tables set in a marquee at Auburn.

1915 Wedding reception - tables set in a marquee at Auburn..jpeg

Cooking had gone on for days beforehand, and very often the mother of the bride was so busily engaged in preparing for the reception of the wedding guests that she could not attend the wedding.

  • During the reception it was the custom for some of the lively lads to crawl under the table and remove the bride's shoe, which was then sold at auction.

  • It was the; groom's job to get the shoe back, no matter at what cost.

  • Sometimes it became quite a costly business.

  • The money so gathered went into church mission work.


After afternoon tea, the barn was cleared and festivities commenced.

  • Dancing, mostly to button accordion and fiddle, continued through into the small hours.

  • With the light of Day, the guests (after breakfast) set out for home.

  • At the end of the evening the last couple married in either family -removed the bride's wreath and the bridegroom's buttonhole and the bride's travelling hat was put on.

  • It was not very usual for the honeymoon to be of any very long duration - most times only a couple of days before the young newly-weds returned to their home.

  • The occasion was excuse for yet another 'tin-kettling' and still more yeast cake. Those were the days!

1875 Early view of trestle tables set for dining in a barn.jpeg
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