Golden anniversary revisits memories

CLICHED as it might sound, “it was love at first sight” for a Queenstown couple who celebrated their golden anniversary by renewing their vows at their original reception venue in Settler country last month.

Dirk Pretorius, then 19, met Muriel McLean, then 17, on a blind date set up by a mutual friend in March 1963 and the pair were married at the Assemblies of Christ Church in Grahamstown on March 28 the following year.

They remember picnicking on the family farm, Mount Pleasant farm – now Bezali Lodge – outside the city, and decided to hold the vow renewal ceremony here, with their original flower girl and pageboy in attendance.

“There was a waterfall on the farm. We used to go there for picnics, it was quite a long walk and climb, yet so beautiful and so peaceful,” said Muriel, who remembers their wedding day.

“Our wedding reception was held on the lawn, at my dad’s farm on March 28 1964.”

Muriel was only 18 and Dirk 20. When the couple’s family arranged for their vows renewal to be held at the same place they held their reception 50 years ago, the couple – now 68 and 70 – were overjoyed.

“We have wanted to do this for many years and our daughter Carol arranged it for us. We had so many memories of the farm, our son Mark was born while we still lived there.”

About 25 close family members were invited to the celebration.

“It was awesome, we can’t even explain how wonderful it was – a perfect day and perfect reception,” said Muriel.

“Our family helped with everything, a real family affair. Our family is everything to us.”

Dirk praised Muriel: “My wife is loving and caring, and I love her so much.”

Muriel said there is no shortage of laughter when her husband is around: “he makes me laugh, I enjoy being in his company. I love him more now than I did 50 years ago.”

Relative Eugene Basson conducted the ceremony.

Dirk thanked Bezali Lodge for its generosity in allowing them to celebrate their anniversary at their premises free of charge.

“For a second we even forgot we were on someone else’s property,” he said.

Muriel’s siblings were the only two people who had attended both the original wedding and the couples anniversary celebration.

“My sister, Ella, was our flower girl and Stephen was our page boy,” Muriel said.

They couple even work together: Dirk is a warranty clerk and Muriel a debtors clerk at the Jacksons Garage, a Queenstown based GM dealership, where they share the same office.

The couple’s children, Mark and Carol have made them proud grandparents to four grandchildren: Alicia, Caitlin, Jessica and Jarred.

Putting God first, said the couple, had sustained their marriage in the 50 years: “Without Him it would not have been possible.”

“Our anniversary celebration meant everything to us,” said Dirk and Muriel.