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Remember When: June brides, World War II brides

Many sources say that the tradition of the June bride actually began in ancient Roman times. The month of June is named for the Roman goddess of marriage Juno.

The term “June brides” refers to the times when baths were annual or at most twice a year. Flowers came out in bloom in June so, just to be safe, brides carried a bouquet of flowers to mask the smell of not bathing. Hence the custom evolved of the brides walking down the aisle with a bouquet! It was thought that couples who married in June would be blessed with prosperity and happiness.

The 1954 Broadway musical “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” featured a song “June Bride” with these words: “Oh, they say when you marry in June, you’re a bride all your life, and the bridegroom who marries in June gets a sweetheart for a wife!”

While I am reminded that a wedding in our family will take place in June, two World War II wedding photos in my possession come to mind. Neither of these weddings took place in June, but I thought these events might be of interest to the readers.

The Brooks-Utsey wedding was a December event at the old downtown First Baptist Church on December 1, 1943. “Dr. Jesse Cook, pastor, officiated at the evening ceremony in the presence of a large assemblage. The decorations were beautiful and elaborate with massive palms and ferns interspersed with a background of Southern smilax garlands….The bride’s loveliness was enhanced by her wedding gown of moonbeam satin. The new high neckline was accented with a yoke of Chantilly lace and trimmed in seed pearls. Her flowers were orchids in a bridal bouquet. …A reception followed at the home of the bride’s parents. …Lieut. Jimmie Utsey and his bride the former Barbara Brooks left for a short wedding trip to Florida after which they will reside in Pensacola where the groom, a Marine pilot, has assignment.”

This wedding photograph was taken at the Brooks home on East Three Notch Street which was staged in the living room that is now almost 80 years later and presently occupied as the waiting room for Dr. Reid Kerr’s patients. Apparently, some of Utsey’s Marine and Navy buddies were groomsmen as was the sign of the war times.

“The marriage of Marjorie Brunson and Ensign Charles Bass, Jr. took place August 25, 1944 at the home of the bride’s parents with Rev. R. P. Cochran of the First Methodist Church officiating. Branched candelabra with baskets of white gladioli and white asters with a background of ferns and shower arrangement of tube roses made the altar decoration.”

“The bride given in marriage by her father in the presence of family and close friends was lovely in a sheer crepe fashioned with a trim of sequin. She carried a prayer book topped with a white orchid and cascade of narrow satin ribbon with knotted small clusters of stephanotis…. A reception was held following the ring ceremony. The bride’s table in the dining room was veiled in lace. In its center was the three-tiered cake embossed with white roses surrounded by clusters of wedding bells in spun sugar. …The couple will reside in Pensacola where the bridegroom, a Navy pilot, is stationed at Whiting Field in the U. S. Naval Air Corps.”

Both of these local weddings were written up in much detail in The Montgomery Advertiser social columns along with teas and showers preceding both weddings.

Many of my readers, especially the ladies, love to read the wedding write-ups of today and,like these, of long ago. We are reminded when we Remember When that the 1940s brides and grooms of the war weddings often had short engagements. I especially remember my mother telling me that in late August, it was so hot at their wedding that the candles drooped. Those were the days before air conditioning in the homes. She also remembered that the pastor said “holy macaroni” instead of “holy matrimony” when the vows were recited!

     Marge Brunson Bass also recalled that when she and her groom arrived at “Bacons By the Sea” in Mary Esther, Florida for their honeymoon, the rooms where reservations had been made in advance had been pre-emptied by important meetings of military personnel, the team of Jimmy Doolittle! Does that mean anything to you WWII history buffs? Have you been watching the History Channel lately or the black and white war movies on the classic movie channel over the Memorial Day holidays? I have and these touching historical stories of the way life was back then were my inspiration for this column. Congratulations and best wishes to all of the upcoming June brides and grooms!

 

Sue Bass Wilson, AHS Class of 1965, is a local real estate broker and long-time member of the Covington Historical Society. She can be reached at suebwilson47@gmail.com.