The months and weeks before a wedding are filled with preparations. Cyn, Cec, and Carol sent invitations to friends and family in England, Canada, the States, and the West Indies, knowing that only local friends and family would be able to come.
As responses came in, Cyn kept organized lists of the wedding presents that accompanied them and Cec booked travel tickets and hotels for an August honeymoon in France. Outfits were planned: the groom and best man would wear their naval uniform; the bride, bridesmaid, and flower girl would wear white. Auntie Moo had sent the silver Hazell bouquet holder that other family brides had used, and the florist was entrusted with it.
The week before a wedding is filled with crises! Ours involved a frantic outfitting of my three small future stepsons with navy blazers and grey trousers on Boxing Day, the day before the ceremony. Cynthia’s involved The Wedding Cake. After years of organizing Christmas cakes in her Cookery classes, supervising the making and decorating of ‘hundreds’ of them, Cyn wanted to decorate her own wedding cake.
With rationing still in existence in England, the difficulty of obtaining suitable ingredients for the traditional fruit cake was overcome by asking her Auntie Muriel in St Vincent, who had sent them a Christmas cake in December, to send the cake made already, for her to decorate. It arrived from St Vincent, soldered into tin containers, and Cec was called upon to open the tins. The three tiers emerged, solid with fruit and preserved with lots of good West Indian rum! A fruit cake is traditionally topped with a layer of marzipan paste and then iced with white royal icing that hardens, then is decorated. Cyn covered the three tiers with the marzipan and smooth icing and allowed it to harden overnight before starting on the decorations. But in the morning she discovered that the rum-soaked cake was bleeding through and discolouring the white surface. A thicker layer, preferably done at the last minute, was required. This worked, and the intricate lattice work, flowers, and appliqués of lucky silver horseshoes was completed. Assembly had to follow, before the final piping of rosettes around the pillars for a finished look. But when the pillars were set upon the cake, and the heavy next layer balanced on them, they began to sink! Cyn and Cec hastened to disassemble before irreparable damage was done, and Cec was forced to sacrifice candles the size of the pillars, carefully core out the cake, and insert the candles as firm supports for each of the upper tiers. Then Cyn could finish her piping and on the morning of the wedding day, add the silver vase on the top, filled with fresh flowers. Cec, who had sampled the cores he’d removed from the cake, suggested the guests would get tiddily from merely consuming a slice…