Would you get married during Christmas week ? It would be difficult to get relatives to travel to the wedding, especially if they had to travel long distances, and you would probably get a cheaper wedding present than at other times of the year given all the other presents which had to be bought. I knew I had come across marriages in me and my wife's trees around this period which got me wondering how common it used to be and why.
25th December : Sarah Shire 1818, Moses Shaw 1844, Mary Wareham 1857 and William Musgrove 1859
26th December : Caroline Musgrove 1908 (Week 39)
27th December : William Coveney 1814
29th December : Shire Page 1812
30th December : Harriet Vincent 1925
31st December : William Anderson & Annie Spence 1925
It seems that it was not uncommon to be married on either Christmas Day or Boxing Day in the 19th and the early part of the 20th century because they were days when working people were not expected to work.
The couple of days labourers and servants had off work at Christmas were obviously ideal for getting married as families and friends of the couple also didn't have to work and could also attend the wedding. If you're going to have a party, why not a double celebration ?
It seems some churches brought their prices down for the Christmas period and some would even marry you for free !
As you can see from the article (opposite) it was not uncommon for churches to hold group weddings where more than one couple were married simultaneously.
“I shall be marrying 16 couples at my church”, said the Rev. Martin Davidson, vicar of Holy Trinity, Canning Town in 1928. He could not account for so many marriages, but said it might be that some couples liked to combine the marriage and Christmas festivities.
“They are generally poor people who get married on Christmas Day," said Mr. Davidson. "On Christmas Day I shall marry two couples at a time, as I have done in previous years."
It was not just Churches which were busy marrying couples in 1928. "On Saturday a record was established at the register office of the Edmonton Board of Guardians. Three officials were busy marrying people, 48 ceremonies being performed between 9.00 in the morning and 2.30 in the afternoon. The total number of weddings over the holidays at the office is estimated at 70."
She said she had "also tried searching our printed books catalogue for any studies into marriage that might discuss this subject, but I am afraid we hold few books on marriage customs and I have not found any references to Christmas and Boxing Day marriages. This is a very interesting subject and I wish you the best of luck with your research."
Amazingly it seems there are no statistics available, even now, on what dates are most popular for conducting weddings or even which days are chosen to carry out the nuptials. Therefore it can only be conjecture that the practice of getting married at Christmas lost its appeal as workers rights became greater. When I started working in the 1970's I got the statutory bank holidays off work but anything extra had to come out of my 14 days holiday entitlement. Who would have thought that, 40 odd years on, quite a large number of individuals would now expect to have 10 days off work at Christmas as if it were a right ?