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1960s Weddings and Bridal Events 1963

C20th Fashion History
1960s Wedding Photos
 Empire Line Wedding Dress 1965

By Pauline Weston Thomas for


1965 Photos of Real People in Wedding Fashions
1960s Wedding Dress


1965 Pat the Bride in Her Wedding Dress

1965 wedding - Pat at her white wedding at St. Martin's Church Caerphilly This 1960s wedding photo is of Pat at her white wedding in South Wales on a cold Thursday in February 1965, amid the odd flurry of a snow shower.

You may wonder why anyone would choose a cold February day for a wedding when the majority of weddings, according to The Office for National Statistics, always take place in the warmer months of June, July, August and September.  In fashion history terms, this also means women get a better chance to don a fancy outfit and not be outdone by torrential weather.

But Pat had met and got engaged to Arthur, a man who was on a leave of duty.  He was given an earlier date to go back to the Far East where he worked. 
Panic stations - 6 weeks notice to prepare for a wedding. 

No time to book a Saturday wedding.  No time to make gowns - everything had to be bought quickly. Today perhaps we would use wedding planners when trying to arrange a wedding so quickly.

Pat wore a modern empire-line 1960s wedding dress made of a brilliant white silk fabric. The wedding gown had an empire line bodice decorated with Cornelli embroidery ribbon work.  This raised embellishment was a precursor to whole fabric flower decoration being affixed to wedding and evening dresses, by design houses like that of Jean Varon.  Pat paid 24 for the lined dress and she made the veil.  She attached the veiling to a fashionable tiara style pearl headdress she bought.

I think Pat, my favourite elder sister looks beautiful in her wedding dress.  Even now the wedding dress still looks attractive 40+ years on.  This is always a good test of a wedding gown, when it still looks like it could be worn a generation or so later.  This is usually only possible when there is classic quality and nothing too extreme about a wedding gown.

1965 Pat 's empire line wedding dress with train1960s Empire Line Wedding Gowns

The empire line style wedding gown is typical of the silhouette line.  It marked important changes in dresses in fashion history terms. This empire line style of dress was a departure for Pat, who with her hour glass figure, normally preferred typical early sixties, late fifties curvy silhouettes that emphasised her small waist. 

However by 1965, Marments of Cardiff, the shop where Pat bought the dress, were mostly stocking the newer lines of empire line wedding gowns.  Suddenly other styles that emphasised the waist looked a bit dated. 

Empire line bodices on dresses were one of the typical newer sixties fashion silhouettes.  The high waisted Directoire look had been gaining ground since around 1960.  See details of train style types below.

These 1960s wedding photos must not be published/used elsewhere -  © Copyright  2006.

1965 Bridal Dressmaking Sewing Patterns for Wedding Dresses

The Vogue Dress pattern, bottom left, is of the empire evening gown and coat from 1960 and you can see how the angel bell sleeves on Pat's dress follow a similar line.  The last two wedding patterns on the right are from 1964 and 1966.  The skirts have some fullness, but the line has changed and for anyone but a traditionalist, the new silhouette of the day was empire and figure skimming, rather than hour glass emphasising.  Looser trapeze dresses would soon become the norm in day wear too for many styles of the 1960s and 1970s.

1960  19641965/66

By today's standards, the necklines on the 1960s wedding dresses shown here are all comparatively modest.  The sleeves were also considered essential, because the arms, but especially shoulders, needed to be covered and not displayed bare inside a church.

1965 Bridal Group Photo

The bridesmaid's dresses were made of a pastel blue slubbed fabric with blue guipure lace bodices.  Their flower sprays followed the same design lines as Pat's bridal spray. 

1965 Bridal group photo

The groom and ushers wore traditional morning dress.  The guest on the far left is wearing the latest lower 'Mod' shoes.

Veils, Hats and Hair 1965Veils 1965/66

By 1965, hair was still worn high just like it had been in Carol's wedding of 1963. The bridesmaid's hair decoration was an Alice band covered in matching blue slubbed fabric and decorated with guipure lace motifs. 

The veils of 1965 were bouffant short mostly.  They were always designed and affixed to the hair in a manner to add height.  They gave an even greater bouffant effect to an already bouffant hairstyle. 

Veils were often set atop pill box hats.  Hats instead of veils also began to gain ground and some bridal gowns had hoods.  The various society weddings of earlier years also set a trend for tiara styles, although in mass market terms the bridal tiaras were mostly made of pearls, crystal or diamante rather than diamonds.

On Pat's wedding morning the bride and bridesmaids travelled to a hairdresser in Cardiff to have their hair set.  The veil was attached to Pat's hairdo by the hairdresser.  The bouffant hairdos were also arranged around the Alice bands set into the bridesmaid's hair.  The hair style was made rigid with hairspray to keep the hairstyles high.  Nowadays a hairdresser is more likely to be booked to attend the whole bridal party at a country house venue or at home.1965 Bouffant hats

Hats 1965In the wedding picture it's noticeable that many female guests wear hats that also have a bouffant silhouette.  On the small photo to the far right Phyllis wears a magnificent hat.  Gwen stands next to her wearing an interesting striped bomb hat.

You can see Phyllis's wedding of 1947 here.
You can see Gwen's 1937 wedding here.

Mother of the Bride 1965Mother of the Bride 1965

The wedding photo left shows the detail of the mink trimmed suit that the mother of the bride Lorraine wore.  Lorraine was very smartly dressed for the occasion.
You can see Lorraine's wedding of 1939 here.

Lorraine's cream boucle wool suit consisted of a boxy cut semi fitted jacket, a straight slim skirt and mink trimming at cuffs and neckline.  This mother of the bride suit jacket would be hot on trend now in autumn 2006 some 40 years later.  Fur was a feature trim on the clothes of many guests. 

Unlike today when women often walk around with jackets or coats open in a casual manner, in 1965 women mostly buttoned up their jackets in wear.  Clothes were worn to present as neat and groomed an impression as practically possible.

Lorraine's hat was made from large fabric rose petals.  Her outfit was teamed with brown leather accessories which picked up the brown banding in the mink trim.  At much the same era it was also popular to decorate an untrimmed suit with mink twirl brooches as an alternative to estate jewellery.

There are also some very similar suit fashion plates on the 1960s pages here.

Mid 1960s Wedding Photo - 1965 Large Wedding Group

Mid 1960s Wedding Photo - 1965 Large Wedding Group

 Click thumbnails

Pat's Going Away Dress and Jacket 1965

Pat's Going Away Dress and Jacket 1965After the wedding Pat and Arthur went on their honeymoon to London.  Pat wore a pale melon coloured matching dress and jacket in a slubbed fabric. 

It was usual in the 1960s to still team a going away outfit with a hat. This hat was an alternative look to the bouffant hats shown in the main wedding photo.

Again just like her wedding dress, Pat chose an up-to-date semi fitted outfit, which fashion history now shows to be the forerunner of looser easier shift dresses and boxier jacket styles.  In memory terms, such ensembles later became more associated with the 1960s than the fashions we have seen here.

These 1960s wedding photos must not be published/used elsewhere - 
Copyright  2006.

Mid 1960s Wedding of Rose 1966 - Bridal Spray Bouquets

Pat's wedding bouquet above follows the newer neater styles of wedding spray bouquet fashions popular in the 1960s, a reaction to the huge maidenhair fern dominated bouquets of earlier years.  These smaller wedding bridal spray bouquets had been making an appearance at society weddings some time, and now the fashion caught on nationwide.

Rose, another young bride of 1966Pat's bouquet was made by Rose, another young bride shown left.  Rose also married in the mid sixties in 1966, before emigrating to Australia. 

In the 60s, emigration to Australia was a dream for many Brits who hoped to make new lives with new families in a sunny environment.  1965 Dress pattern by Simplicity - Number 6352At the time a 10 passage fee and having skills to take to Australia was the main requirement for British citizens to emigrate.  Before cheap air travel, it was often decades before families were reunited with old friends.

Her 1966 empire line wedding dress left is noticeably similar in style to Pat's wedding gown of 1965.  The sleeves have that traditional bridal touch of pointing down the hand. 

You can see the dress more clearly in the enlargement and will have an opportunity to see the fresh flower headdress Rose made.  Note how similar in line her wedding gown is to the Simplicity 1960s dress pattern 6352 beside it. This dress pattern illustrates a court train which fell from the shoulders.

You can buy old dressmaking and vintage patterns at Michelle Lee's website . Michelle has old patterns spanning the best part of the 20th century.


Wedding Dress Train Styles

In Pat's wedding photo above, the train flows from the centre-back empire waistline as a loose train.  This is a different type of wedding dress train from the cut-in-one with the skirt style, as shown in earlier pages such as the wedding dress Carol (who was also one of Pat's bridesmaids).

There are several train types and sometimes only minimal difference between them!  Terms also used include fishtail train and sweeping trumpet skirt.

Sweep Train

1965 Pat the bride - back view of the wedding dress.The shortest type of train is a sweep train and it extends just slightly longer than the wedding dress hem by about 8 inches to a foot at the back of the dress.

Court Train

Traditionally a court train is 6 yards in length, but no more.  Originally a court train fell from the shoulders.  Nowadays a court train is usually shorter and can fall from any part of the back.  You can see a traditional court train above.

Chapel Train

A chapel train sweeps from the waist extending about 3 or 4 feet.  Carol's 1963 wedding dress has a chapel train.  Bridal websites create variations within this term such as semi-chapel for a slightly smaller chapel train (also called a sweep train as described above), sweeping chapel for a broader spread train and semi-cathedral train when the chapel train is a touch longer, but not as long as a full cathedral train.

Cathedral Wedding Dress Train

A cathedral wedding dress train has a much longer sweep than the chapel train.  The train spread extends about 9 feet from the bride's waist. 

Royal Train

Finally, the longest wedding train is a royal train.  As the name suggests, this wedding train is seen mainly at royal weddings.   At 10ft plus, this train is even longer than the Cathedral wedding dress train.  Cathedral and royal trains are often detachable.

To wear this style well, you need a great cathedral aisle for the dress to display to best effect.  It is also an excuse to have plenty of attendants to carry the train as you will certainly need help.  The royal wedding train is really best for a princess and a television broadcast!

Old photos can be useful when tracing family members and narrowing down search dates. These photo pages may help you put an era to your undated images.

You can read more about 1960's fashions in the 60s mini section. 

You can see more 1960s images for colouring in.
You can read how to date an old photo in this section here.


Page Added 4 October 2006

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These wedding photos must not be published or used elsewhere - © Copyright  2000-2010.

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Old photos can be useful when tracing family members and narrowing down search dates. These photo pages may help you put an era to your undated images. If you have old wedding photos please send them to me and if suitable I will add them to this pictorial section of social history.



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