Guest Story

It was fun, turning 21

A 1953 birthday and wedding celebration

By Sheila McTaggart

On 8th August 1953 I turned 21 and married John Maxwell Ford at St Christopher’s Church, followed by a lunch reception at Hotel Canberra.

The date was no coincidence, as my father had asked that I wait until the age of 21 before I marry. Not wanting to delay a day longer than necessary, the date was set for my birthday.

We invited 150 guests, many of whom were my father’s business associates, he owned Kingston Plumbing Company for more than 40 years. We enjoyed a three-course lunch with drinks and canapes to start in what is now The Tea Lounge and was then the dining room. The room was as elegant then as it is now.

L-R: Donald Ford, Margaret Kelly, John Ford, Sheila McTaggart formerly Ford nee Kelly, Jack Kelly (father-of-the-bride) and front, Judy Bourke.

My dress was handmade in Canberra: a white broderie anglaise over faille, with a tight-fitting bodice, long sleeves coming to a point on the hands, and a very full skirt. A tulle veil was finger-tip length, held in place by a Juliet cap studded with rhinestones and pearls. I was attended by my sister, Margaret, who wore blue broderie anglasie as did the flower girl, Judy Bourke.

Margaret also held her wedding reception with Brian Tankey at Hotel Canberra three years after me.

John and I honeymooned in Brisbane, driving his family’s taxi (Ford Taxis - Canberra's first fleet) up the East Coast. My travelling costume was of cherry red gaberdine with navy accessories.

For 100 years Hostel No 1, Hotel Canberra and Hyatt Hotel Canberra has been the wedding destination for many couples. We'd love see your wedding photos. Please submit photos to:

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