A touch of the last century was imparted to the smart military wedding solemnised at Luton Parish Church on Saturday afternoon [April 21st, 1917] when Miss Helena Agnes Merchant, daughter of Councillor and Mrs Walter William Merchant, of 55 Brook Street, was wedded to Lieut Robert Henry Johnston, who is well known in the military element now so busily engaged in this district.
Lieut Johnston is a practical engineer of marked ability, and prior to the war was in South Africa holding a good position in his profession.
In the autumn of 1914 he saw active service in German South-West Africa, and came to England in 1915. His valuable services rendered in connection with the war have earned for the lieutenant the encomiums of his Majesty.
The bride's family - an old Luton one - are well known and much respected in the town, and a large and interested congregation assembled to witness the happy event, including officers and men of the groom's unit.
The brother officers of the bridegroom imparted into the accompanying amenities a unique touch of the old days by the introduction on the scene of a brougham, to which were harnessed half-a-dozen fine artillery horses, driven down in style from Biscot.
The postilions were fellow officers, with a senior officer acting as outrider, and at the back of the brougham were two soldiers of the regiment acting as trumpeters. The harness of the smart equipage was interwoven with white trappings, and it created very lively interest.
The bride arrived at the church with her father by motor. Capt A. St J. Thorpe (C.F.), assisted by the Vicar of Luton (Rev A. E. Chapman) performed the ceremony, and the bride, who was given away by her father, looked charming in a light-grey costume, a white hat and white furs, and wore a bunch of violets.
Miss Madge Hart (friend of the bride) was in attendance as bridesmaid, and Capt Hawkes-Reed (a fellow officer) carried out the duties of best man.
Mr Fred Gostelow played appropriate bridal music, the inspiriting strains of Mendelssohn's Wedding March pealing forth joyously as the newly married couple left the vestry. Outside the church door a guard of honour of officers lined up and crossed swords as the happy pair left the church.
Among the numerous handsome and useful wedding gifts was a silver salver, whereon were stamped all the officers' signatures, that of Col Alexander included.
[The Luton News: Thursday, April 26th, 1917]