At first glance, you could well be forgiven for thinking that these sepia images are of the same couple, but closer inspection reveals that they are in fact different.
They are the wedding pictures Cissie and Lottie Morrison two sisters from the Cornhill area who married James Smith and Frank Law around 1919.
After the wedding, Cissie and James settled into a house in Aird Street, Portsoy before moving to Hill Street with their three young daughters while James carried on his business as a joiner. Lottie and Frank lived in Glasgow until he retired from the Police Force in the mid-1960s.
The grooms – almost impossibly handsome with their slicked-back hair and identical, coal-black moustaches – were survivors of the Great War; James served as a submariner and Frank a soldier who witnessed the horrors of the trenches.
If you study the sepia images closely, it reveals the brides’ swollen, puffy eyes. Veils are attached to the girls’ stylish hats but it’s likely the wide brims, instead of being a fashion-statement, were pulled down in an attempt to disguise the ravages of a sleepless, tearful night. The smiles of the sisters are slight, sad shadows of the radiance usually seen in wedding pictures and the bridal party seems to be shrouded in an air of melancholy.
The girls’ mother had refused, point-blank, to attend the wedding. She considered the girls were marrying far beneath what she perceived as their “status” as the eldest daughters of a well-to-do farming family. To her, love had nothing to do with marriage; it was prestige which counted and she certainly would not have considered a joiner and a policeman as a suitable match regardless of the fact that both couples were clearly very much in love. Although both James and Frank had faithfully served their King and country, this counted for very little in her estimation.
It’s hard to imagine what the household would have been like in the lead-up to the wedding day. Were there arguments and tantrums? It’s unlikely; the girls would have been very much in awe of mother and it was indeed a true testament to the depth of their love for James and Frank that they went ahead at all. Perhaps that’s why they decided to have a double wedding – to give each other the courage to defy their mother. As they stood in front of the Altar they must surely have nurtured some hope that Mrs Morrison would have a last-minute change of heart.
There would have been no excited planning and the usual soul-searching and head-scratching over table plans. The sisters instead possibly spent many tearful nights together, after their parents had retired to bed, putting the finishing touches to their beautiful outfits.
The girls’ father, a stern man who left the running of the household and the overseeing of their many children completely in the hands of his wife, had told the girls if they insisted on marrying their beaux that he would provide the funds for a simple wedding but nothing more. He did, however, agree to attend the ceremony and give them away and so the sombre, quiet wedding took place in Cornhill Church. There is nothing to reveal now if there were any guests but perhaps it’s fair to assume that there were not.
Did the rift between mother and daughters ever heal? It’s doubtful and perhaps more likely that the formidable Mrs Morrison went to her grave with the disapproval of her sons-in-law still on her lips despite the fact that they were good, loving, caring husbands and fathers.