They might be celebrating 50 years of marriage, but Libby and Alan Lauder very nearly didn’t get their dream day.
The happy couple had been due to tie the knot on Saturday, October 28, 1961 but an administrative error forced them to postpone for four days.
The excited bride was having her hair done when the vicar broke the news to her – just four hours before she was due to walk down the aisle.
With guests already flocking to Portsmouth for the big event, it was a glitch they could have done without.
‘My husband was in the navy and had been away at sea for three months,’ explains Libby. ‘I was organising the wedding on my own and he only turned up a couple of days before.
‘He thought everything had been done but he hadn’t put his wedding banns in to be read by the navy chaplain on the ship and, because of that, the vicar said we couldn’t get married.
‘It was four hours before the wedding, everyone was on their way. Of course we can laugh about it now but at the time it was heart-wrenching.’
She adds: ‘I was quite upset and Alan turned up at my mother’s and stood at the bottom of the stairs. All I could say was “Oh you!”’
Luckily, the vicar had a back-up plan and told Libby and Alan that he would be able to marry them on November 1 instead.
So the couple decided to go ahead with their reception as planned – but that meant postponing their wedding night.
‘We had the reception at the Trade Union Club in Cosham,’ remembers Libby, 68. ‘Everybody came, I wore my dress and we all had a lovely time. It was a wedding without the wedding.
‘At the end of the night I went home to my mum’s in Cosham and Alan went back to our new flat in Festing Road, Southsea. That’s how it was done in those days.’
Four days later, Libby pulled on her wedding gown again and she and Alan, now 73, tied the knot at St Peter and St Paul’s Church, in Wymering, followed by a small reception at her mum’s.
The News covered the couple’s story at the time and they were also interviewed by a BBC camera crew.
After the false start of their wedding day, the couple went on to have two sons, Stuart and Andrew.
Now settled in Purbrook, they also have six grandsons, two great-grandsons and one great-granddaughter.
They celebrate their anniversary today and marked the occasion with a party for family and friends at the weekend.
‘We’ve had our ups and downs like everyone,’ adds Libby. ‘You’ve got to work through your problems, not just pack your suitcase.’