Wedding on a super tight budget in wartime

LONG AND HAPPY LIFE: Jack and Dorothy Alsbury will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary today.
LONG AND HAPPY LIFE: Jack and Dorothy Alsbury will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary today. Brett Wortman

MOST brides-to-be spend months and sometimes years choosing their dream wedding dress, but wartime rationing meant Dorothy Alsbury married her sweetheart dressed head to toe in her air force uniform.

Not that there's a picture to prove it - the same rationing led Dorothy and Jack to forego a photographer for the special occasion, 70 years ago today, because it was just too expensive.

"Coupons were issued by the government and they were used to purchase essential items such as butter, milk, sugar and meat," Dorothy said.

"Film was considered a non-essential item.

"We were both married in our Royal Australian Air Force uniforms, as the allocation of coupons per person was 112 per year - and to buy a suit or a wedding dress would have consumed about 40 of our precious coupons each."

None of this stopped it being a memorable day for the pair, who were honoured to have a full air force wedding.

"There was no alcohol available at the time, but we definitely had a good old-fashioned feast," Jack said.

Five months after the wedding, Jack was off to war again and missed the birth of his eldest daughter, Helen, who was seven months old before he met her.

"Luckily I was there for the birth of my sons Victor in 1947 and John in 1951, which was extremely exciting," he said.

After the war Jack and Dorothy settled in the Melbourne bayside suburb of Chelsea and in the early 1950s moved to their new home, built by Jack, in Mordialloc.

"Following the war, things were very tight. I earned only three pound six a week as a carpenter, but we always got by," Jack said.

The couple moved to Evans Head in New South Wales in 1982, before deciding in 2003 that Buderim would be a nice place to call home. They moved to Edenlea Village, which Jack describes as "five-star".

Jack, 92, and Dorothy, 90, will celebrate their platinum anniversary celebration with family and friends at the Headland Golf Club on Friday.

With a family that now spans five generations following the recent birth of their first great-great-grandson, as well as nine grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren, the pair are looking forward to the big party.

"We are looking forward to seeing everyone as there will be visitors from Victoria, NSW, Western Australia, South Australia and Townsville," Jack said.

Jack said looking back over their marriage, the recipe for a good marriage was quite simple.

"We're great mates," he said.

"Hard work has definitely kept us going, as well as a shared interest in active sport, considering we were both competitive in RSL swimming competitions."

Topics:  brides history war weddings

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