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Marriage in the 1950s & 60s

Wedding dress and jacket
Wedding dress and jacket 1954, Maker unknown. Gift of Miss W Krebs, 1974. Te Papa

New Zealand's economic security in the 1950s and 60s made marriage more affordable. In the Great Depression, people had put off marriage: this trend now reversed.

Marriage was considered the route to adult happiness. Until the 1970s, women were expected to marry – and to honour and obey their husbands. In 1961, half of all women married before turning 22.

A bride usually wore a full-length, full-skirted white or cream wedding dress on what was considered one of the most important days of her life. Weddings brought families and communities together and were occasions for great celebration.

However, marriage usually meant that the bride gave up her family name and career aspirations. Her future was assumed to be as a mother in the home.

© Copyright Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, New Zealand.