Perseverance with a Kiss – 50 Years of Wedded Bliss

Sometimes I feel like a bit of an anomaly these days as I still have the same set of parents I started out with.  [I can just feel Mum digging me in the ribs for finishing a sentence with ‘with’…..]  They haven’t divorced, remarried, run away to find themselves, married anyone else etc etc etc, as seems to be the norm these days.  Even I’m on marriage number 2, so what can I say except I intend to stop there!

It’s hard to remember exactly when this picture of my parents was taken.  I know where they were, and that they’d been having an almighty argument animated discussion, when their darling daughter thrust the new instant camera under their noses and insisted on taking a picture of her beloved parents.  I guess it must have been around the late 70’s going by the lack of grey hair or wrinkles.

I don’t generally write about family or friends – at least directly, but today is an exception.  I originally set up this blog to inspire others and in this post I’m going to focus on two people who have inspired me the most.  My parents.  Today, on the 13th January 2012, my parents celebrate an amazing 50 years of marriage.

50 years is  600 months, 18,250 days, 438,000 hours or 26,280,000 minutes!  Instead of sending them a card, which seemed lame considering the gravity of the event, I thought that telling their story here, with a photo montage, would be much more fun… and guaranteed to make Mum cry!  Sorry Mum!

The Wedding
My parents met while working for Kodak and were married on a bitterly cold 13th January 1962 at Harrow on the Hill Church, just north of London.

They’ll shoot me if I say it was a classic case of boss marrying secretary, but it wasn’t a million miles away from that.

Rumour has it that Mum actually didn’t want a “big white wedding” and would have been happy to elope, but it was Dad who said they couldn’t do that because his mother would have been disappointed – more than a little backwards of what you’d expect.  But that’s my parents!

It’s seems funny to me as Dad has always been the one trying to convince me to elope when I’ve planned to get married!

The Dress

Mum made her own dress, based on a simple design and it had very simple flat Dior’esque bows on the shoulders and buttons down the back. 

I’ve always questioned her thinking though when it came to making a short-sleeved dress for a mid-winter wedding (and no, the gloves don’t make up for proper sleeves Mum!).

However, Mum was very generous and passed her less than practical winter dress sense on to me.  I am the only person in Denmark still to be found wearing flip-flops in the middle of January!

Mum came from a family of women that could sew.  Two of my Gran’s sisters were professionals and my Gran was a pretty dab hand (good in other words) herself.  So everyone could help out – some more willingly than others if I remember the stories correctly.

I’ve been told that making your own wedding dress is regarded as unlucky.  I’m not sure of the logic behind that or whether it’s just an old wives tale with no substance behind it.  Whatever the case, it certainly doesn’t seem to have been unlucky for Mum and Dad!

The Bridesmaids

Mum had three bridesmaids – my father’s sister Mary and her two friends, Joyce and Jean.  Joyce and Jean both spent the night before the wedding at my Gran’s house – perhaps to make sure they turned up?!

Each bridesmaid was delegated to make their own pale blue satin dress.  And yep you guessed it, she had them in short sleeves too!   Little did everyone know that they all were wise enough to have their thermals on underneath those pretty dresses! 

As their gift each bridesmaid was given a white stole.  Lovely idea to keep them a bit warmer.  But Mum forbade them to wear them for the official photos!    

I can name one bridesmaid (Aunty Jean!) who turned up to their silver wedding party in the full outfit she’d worn on the big day – dress, shoes and hair band.  The side zip may not have closed, but it was close!  I can still remember the hysterics that ensued when she tried to remove the dress and it got utterly stuck as she tried to get it over her head!

The Wedding Car

Mum was driven to the wedding in a silver-grey Rolls Royce belonging the her boss, Norman Brick – he drove wearing his chauffeur’s hat. 

Nothing too unusual in that you might think.  But let me put this in perspective for you – Mr Brick was at the time Factory Manager for Kodak in Harrow (near London), with around 10,000 people reporting to him!  He’s later become Managing Director for Kodak in the UK.

While waiting for the off he was sitting patiently in the front room of Gran’s house, while Mum as usual rampaged around.  He said to one of the bridesmaids “You can see what I have to put up with!”  Perhaps he should have given Dad a heads up?!

Mr Brick was sitting in his Rolls after delivering Mum to church, wearing his chauffeur’s hat, and the other chauffeurs thought he was one of them and joined him in the car, not realising who he was.  He didn’t let on!

The Honeymoon

So why get married in January?  Well what better time of year to get married when you’re a ski freak, like my father, and you want a snowy honeymoon on the slopes?

The intention was nice, but it only took Mum a day to take a cracking fall and damage the ligaments in her knee.  So, did Dad stay at the hotel to keep his new bride company?  Did he heck.  Dad took off to the slopes with another woman who was staying in the hotel while Mum kept her husband – who was not very found of winter sports – company.  As you can imagine Mum isn’t the biggest ski enthusiast you can meet.

Happily Ever After…

And as we move on into married life … here’s a wonderful picture of Mum and Dad on the left and Uncle John and Aunty Myra on the right.  It’s in the 60’s a couple of years after the wedding I’d guess.  As usual Dad has that “why are you making me do this”  look on his face.

My family is extremely small so I have only one ‘real’ Aunt, but I grew up with a small collection of people I called Aunt and Uncle and who are my family – blood or not.  Uncle John was my fathers oldest friend – they met when they were around 2 years old and were friends for over 70 years.  Sadly this autumn Uncle John died.  He was much-loved and is much missed.  I couldn’t write this post without him here.

It was 5 years after the wedding that I finally arrived on the scene.  Mum had put her foot down – she wasn’t starting a family until she had a washing machine and a typewriter.  And I have a nasty feeling there was a car on that list too.

Once I arrived I was only too happy to start taking embarrassing photos.  Well with both parents working for Kodak, how could I not have a camera stuck in my hand at the age of 5?  Perhaps this picture is a warning to mothers everywhere – think twice before you start striking poses for your offspring, you never know when that photo will come back to bite you!  I guess it also gives you all an idea of where I get my showmanship from when I’m up in front of a crowd.

But of course my photo collection simply wouldn’t be complete without a really delightful 70’s picture….

 I make absolutely no comment about those hair cuts – I’m busying laughing too hard.  This was one of those post-skiing aperitif in our room before dinner – Campari is the likely culprit.  But still… those hair cuts?!

The other event of the 70’s was my father playing football on Mothers Day one year and breaking his leg.  At the same time I broke my ankle.  Closely followed by my other Gran (Dads mum) breaking her ankle so badly she had to have surgery.  Mum said the next person to break anything would be shot – just like a horse.  No photos to include, but lots of memories of the Mrs Gatehouse taxi service!

One problem of living away from the UK is that I don’t have many of my old photos here in Copenhagen.  And even if I was in the UK I’m not exactly a hoarder – if it doesn’t move it tends to get chucked out.  (My husband does worry that if he sits on the sofa too long, when I’m on one of my chucking out missions, then he might be next…. don’t worry love.)  But it all means that I was a bit stuck in terms of a 1980’s picture of my parents.  No Wham hair cuts to show off for Dad or Kate Bush for Mum.  Though I do seem to remember Dad trying to show he was cool and bringing home a copy of Fleetwood Macs ‘Rumours’ album in 1984.  Mum wasn’t impressed and I mean she REALLY wasn’t impressed.  They’re much more an opera couple than a pop duo.

Moving on in to the 1990’s they both did a great job of covering up their hair cuts with Christmas hats in this shot.  This was Christmas 1998  and a Christmas lunch in Stevenage.  Those blue party hats are just so fetching!  Our Christmas meals tended to be planned around my two grandmothers.  Granny P (Mum’s mum) was in sheltered (supervised) accommodation for a number of years so some Christmas’ we would cook the turkey and veg. at home and then decamp with it all down to Gran’s tiny flat.  It would have been fine if Mum didn’t have a tendency to leave a little something at home – peas in the microwave or roast potatoes in the oven for example!

Coming almost up to date to summer 2011…..

As Jonathan who took this photo captioned it when he sent it over “Lovely couple – and still so good-looking after all those years.”

So what gift could I give my parents to celebrate this amazing day – that was the question….

What could I give to two people who have everything they need?  Well the last time my parents went to New York was the year before I was born and 4 years after they were married – the winter of 1966.  That winter was known for a long time as THE winter as the snow was so extreme.

So this Christmas we returned for 5 days in the Big Apple.  No snow this time.  And our gift?  Well I arranged for us all to stay somewhere nice just off Times Square.  This photo was just in front of Rockefeller Plaza and the famous skating rink.

So here’s to you Mum and Dad.  Congratulations on reaching 50 years.  We love you and we wish you many more wonderful years.  Love and hugs from us all here in Copenhagen.

And a big thank you to Joyce, Jean, Jonathan and Aunty Mary who contributed stories and pictures….


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© Jacqui Gatehouse and GATEHOUSE THIRTEEN, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jacqui Gatehouse and GATEHOUSE THIRTEEN with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


16 responses to “Perseverance with a Kiss – 50 Years of Wedded Bliss

    Dear Mr and Mrs Gatehouse
    Very many congratulations on your Golden Wedding Anniversary! I send warmest wishes to you both – my second parents during my teens; two kind, generous, warm and loving people. I have such fond memories of times spent with you and Jacqui and was delighted to regain contact with Jacqui a few years back. I am now a “few” miles away and as you read this I am skiing in the Rockies (and this always reminds me of our “epic” trip to Villars when I was 14 – I am not sure I ski any better now, but am sure I am not as fit! And I will never try a downhill slope on cross-country skis again!!).
    Gareth and I hope you have a lovely day!
    Lots of love from Jackie Davies (nee Warner!!)

  2. To our great friends, Jean and Martyn

    Congratulations on joining the “50 Club”.

    Lots of Love
    Myra (& John)

  3. Jonathan Rhys Thomas

    Although when we get older many people like to have the Aunty and Uncle bit “left off” I can never do this to two people who have always been there for us (Gar, Al and me!). Aunty Jean and Uncle Martyn are and always will remain Aunty and Uncle for me.
    I have so many happy and loving memories with the times our two families spent together…holidays in Northwood, Crete, Schröcken…really competitive sporting events with my big “sis” Jacqui (sometimes, actually very often, becoming very serious??!!!)…building dens in the garden and having oranges thrown at us from the annoying neighbour!….being spoilt by Aunty Jean at meal times (especially breakfast – I always loved sitting at your breakfast bar with a choice of cereals, toast, yoghurts etc etc mmmmm)….Uncle Martyn’s relaxed and cool sense of humour….etc etc etc….I could go on for ages, but had better leave a bit space for some others??!!
    Even after so many years they still always have wide open arms for me and my family (more fool them!!!!!), always willing to help and listen and still fun to be with.
    All I can say then is thanks – thanks for all your love over the years, thanks for all the great memories and times together and basically just thanks for being our Aunt and Uncle.
    CONGRATULATIONS and wishing you both many happy years yet together. Loads of love from Germany,
    Jonathan, Steffi, Jim and Charlie xxxx
    P.S. Uncle Martyn – after seeing Aunty Jean with the “Let’s Dance Wii” this summer, I’ve realised there’s still a lot of life left in that gal !!! 😉

  4. Jeanette and Jim

    Warmest congratulations on your Golden Wedding day. It’s been a very quick fifty years and we’ve been delighted to be Honorary Aunt and Uncle to Jacqui – we were privileged to “borrow” her from time-to-time and Uncle Jim does not think that Jacqui will remember her sharing a camel with him at London Zoo! The borrowing provided us with excellent training for when James came on the scene and he benefitted from ski training and a love of sports with Uncle Martyn and words of wisdom from his Auntie Jean-Mary (especially when he forgot his Mum’s birthday!).

    This bridesmaid’s white stole, sparingly used on the wedding day, is still very much in use and, no, there’s definitely NO WAY that she can put on the dress for this extra special occasion!

    With much love to you both

    Jeanette and Jim

  5. Marainne Dalsgaard

    Dearest Jean and Martin
    Congratulations with your “guldbryllup!!! Morten and I still remember our visit with you when we were in London in April 2011. It was so “hyggeligt” to visit you, and we certainly do not hope that it will be the only time. You fortunately manage to plan your visit to Denmark, so we often get the pleasure of your company – please continue to do so! We hope you have a lovely day!
    Best wishes Malthe, Magnus, Mikkel, Morten and Marianne

  6. Congratulations to you both on a great achievement. I have known and loved (Aunty) Jean and (Uncle) Martyn all my life. The Thomas and Gatehouse families spent many holidays/weekends together and I remember them with affection.

    Jean and Martyn were kind (foolish) enough to let me stay with them when I started work in Harrow, many years ago. One of their favourite stories is the time that I was out late, not for the first time, and I fell asleep on the train and woke up in Rickmansworth. As it was the last train, the sensible thing to do would have been to get a taxi back to Northwood, but for some inexplicable reason, I decided to phone Jean and Martyn. As I was embarrassed to admit the truth, I decided to tell them that the train hadn’t stopped at Northwood. Naturally, even in his “just been woken in the middle of the night” state, Martyn saw straight through this lie but came to pick me up anyway.

    In more recent times, Jean and Martyn have become great friends to my wife Carol and to our three daughters. This is one of our favourite photos. Jean, naturally looking very comfortable with Chloe, and Martyn, despite looking a bit apprehensive, enjoying holding Louise and Emily.

    We hope you have a great day.
    Lots of love
    Gareth, Carol, Chloe, Louise and Emily

  7. I didn’t rush to write this message through lack of enthusiasm but through my reluctance to use modern technology. The very best wishes the message contains are non the less very warm and sincere.

    Jean met me (not the other way round) on July 15, 1962 as I was seconded to Kodak Limited from Kodak Pathé. When I saw that friendly, pretty and smiling face at Heathrow I felt immediately comforted as I had looked forward to but felt a little apprehensive about my stay in the UK. We have been friends ever since. I even got married from Jean and Martyn’s home three years after our first encounter.

    Jean and Martyn’s friendship has played a big part in Doug’s and my life for 50 years and we are lucky to know them.

    We wish Jean and Martyn what they deserve -the best- for many years to come. We could not do without Jean’s sense of humour (greatly appreciated and shared by our son Dominic) and Martyn’s reaction to it.


    Colette and Doug

  8. Dear Jean and Martyn.

    I am afraid I didn’t keep the stoll, nor the dress, the headband or the blue satin winkle-pickers and I couldn’t find the wedding photographs but you can be assured that they are tucked away somewhere safe. However, however….I did pass on some anecdotes to Jacqui but the one story that assured me that you were meant for each other concerned sitting in St Mary’s (?) a few weeks before the wedding; attending church was obligatory, something to do with ‘calling the banns’. To relieve the boredom you starting signing to each other. I don’t know what you were saying you could have been having a row or saying ‘I love you’ but I thought ‘how useful’ Jean will be able to communicate with her In-laws however I understand that Martyn’s response to his future wife’s skills was to say ‘you are not very good are you’

    Nothing changes. Enjoy the champagne

    Love – Joyce xxx

  9. This is a bit late on THE DAY but Ann and I had to attend a funeral this morning and we have just arrived back. However I did have fun looking at all my old photos to send to Jacqui.
    What a day it was 50 years ago – cold and crisp. Fortunately I did get to the Church properly dressed as a bridesmaid. I had cut out the blue taffeta material using the pattern we were given but I got it back to front and inside out ! A friend helped me to put that right and all was well. I didnt want to let the happy couple down…..but that was 50 years ago and I still cant sew….
    Many, many congratulations to you both – your marriage has been great and great for all our family.
    Lots of love sister Mary and Ann

  10. A BIG thank you to everyone that has left such great stories, memories and good wishes for Mum and Dad. They’re off to The Ritz tonight for dinner, where they also spent their wedding night. Until Mum mentioned it I’d forgotten what I gave them for their 40th wedding anniversary. Again they were heading to The Ritz for dinner, but this time my first husband and I were joining them. Without Mum knowing, I booked a white stretch limo to drive us in to London and back. Mum was on the phone at the time it arrived. It’s one of the few times I’ve seen her utterly speechless as she watched the limo park outside their house. The person on the other end of the phone certainly wondered what was going on!! Can’t for the life of me remember who it was…..

  11. Congratulations you two! We are very lucky indeed to know you both.
    Emma, Knud and Kirsten

  12. Congratulations Auntie J-M and Uncle Martyn!
    I’ve been incredibly lucky to have you (and Auntie Colette and Uncle Doug) in my life. Some of my fondest memories as a child involve the Gatehouses, Cones and Dennetts. And I don’t think I would have come so far without such wonderful role models.
    With that in mind, I should also mention that when I was a small child, you were the first people to introduce me to that most British of institutions….the pub! Thank you that too.
    Lots of Love on your Wedding Anniversary

  13. Congratulations Aunty Jean and Uncle Martyn on reaching your 50th wedding anniversary. I too have quite a small family and have always considered you and Aunty Jeanette and Uncle Jim to be part of it. I have so many happy memories of really fun times spent with you both (and Jacqui and James) which when I think of them just make me smile – from running across dress patterns as a 3 year old to playing with “vater” with plenty of Tupperware thrown in! I know that Anne and Matthew join me in wishing you both many more wonderful years together and in our lives. We are sending you all our love from Somerset. Dom xxx

  14. Richard Gatehouse

    Very many congratulations Martyn & Jean on your 50th wedding anniversary.

    With love and best wishes from the Gatehouse and Lewis families in Cardiff.

    Peter, Richard, Elen,Lois, Catrin, Osian, Caroline, Gareth, James & Michael.

  15. Belated congratulations to your parents on their big anniversary. It’s a lovely tribute and your mother’s wedding dress was stunning!

    I also love that you’ve been taking pictures since you were five.

    • Thanks Elizabeth – it was fun to put together and I totally agree her dress was beautiful. It was always my idea of a princess dress when I was small. I have been taking pictures for a long time, but they are not up to the same level as the fabulous ones you posted the other day with your big decision to move away from professional photography. I think you’re decision was really brave.

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