On Sunday, February 14, thousands of couples across the globe will celebrate their love on Valentine’s Day.
For some, love comes easy while others need a little help. According to the Oxford dictionary, the definition of love is a strong feeling of affection. YOLANDE DU PREEZ spoke to three Hout Bay couples who found that “strong feeling of affection” in unconventional ways – with a little help from fate and technology of course.
When Greg Cleaver, 43, teased his sister’s best friend when they were little, he could never have imagined that she would one day be the love of his life.
Growing up in Hout Bay, Kirsten, 42, spent almost every day at their house after school. Greg was like a brother to her and even their mothers were close friends.
“He would tease me constantly and when I would go home and tell my mother, she would always have the same reply, ‘You only tease the ones you love’,” she said.
The couple remained friends throughout high school and lost contact after that. They then went their separate ways, got married, had children and got divorced.
Then in August 2014, fate stepped in and Kirsten got a call from Greg inviting her for a cup of coffee as he was in Hout Bay for the day.
“The moment we set eyes on each other that Sunday morning, we both realised that what we had been missing in our adult lives was each other. I did not want him to leave that day,” she said.
The message was clear: They were soulmates and the obvious next step was to get married.
They decided not to have a traditional wedding. They also decided that their wedding would be a surprise and arranged a huge braai for December 28, 2014, inviting only their closest friends and family.
“Nobody questioned the braai, it made sense as our families had been very close over the years,” Kirsten said.
The wedding took 10 days to arrange and Kirsten’s daughter, Tyla Todd, helped her shop for a dress. The couple bought rings and found a pastor on Gumtree to perform the ceremony.
“My sister, Danae Engelbrecht, knew about the wedding as she was going to be away that weekend so I had to tell her as I wanted her to be there,” she said.
On the day of the braai – a bring and braai – no one suspected anything and arrived in shorts and T-shirts. The fire was going and the kids were swimming in the pool.
The pastor arrived at 2pm. The couple had given him strict instruction not to ring the doorbell and he phoned Greg to announce his arrival. “We snuck off while everyone was socialising and put on our wedding outfits.
In the meantime, my brother-in-law was making a speech saying that it was a braai with a difference.
It was then that Kirsten stepped out onto the balcony, walked through all of their family and friends and asked her father, Steve Maas, if he would give her away.
“I led him onto the top lawn where Greg and the pastor were waiting for us. I wish you could have seen everyone’s faces, it was priceless.
“Everyone slowly followed us onto the lawn, and we got married. It was just the way we wanted it, different, fun, relaxed, and in true Greg and Kirsten fashion, a bit of a shock,” she said.
* For Candice King, 19, and Daniel Bechus, 20, slaying zombies in an online gaming system was the driving factor behind their 13-month successful relationship. The couple met through Xbox Live in August 2014. Candice was in Grade 12 and Daniel was a first year university student. There was only one problem – Candice lived in Johannesburg and Daniel in Hout Bay.
“We just got along really well and chatted every day.
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We would text each other all day and go online to speak to one another every chance we got,” she said.
As their feeling grew for each other they tried to make multiple plans to meet each other but, unfortunately, the plans always failed. In Candice’s final week of matric exams, she became so depressed that she decided to sell her Rage – matric vacation – ticket as she wanted to stay home.
This is where fate stepped in and her parents told her they were going overseas and she couldn’t stay home alone but needed to make a plan to stay with someone.
She asked her parents if she could visit Cape Town to see the University Of Cape Town (UCT) as she had already applied there and they said yes. She arranged with Daniel and the couple’s parents agreed and the rest is history.
“Meeting him was the best thing that happened to me,” she said.
Fortunately she was accepted at UCT and moved to Hout Bay.
“We stay five minutes away from each other, carpool to university together and spend almost all our time together,” she said.
Candice is currently a second year student at UCTs studying a Bachelor of Business Science in Marketings while Daniel is studying the same but is in his third year.
BLOB: After 32 years of on and off communication, Hout Bay businessman, Tony Pannack, 51, and his wife Mandy, 49, finally realised fate wanted them to be together and there was nothing they could do about it.
The couple were childhood sweethearts and met at an ice rink in Durban back in 1982.
They dated for a while and as Mandy put it: “Life happened and we went our separate ways but remained friends.”
They married, started families and then lost contact with each other. But in 2004, the couple bumped into each other at a shopping centre in Durban.
“It was great to see each other again but, unfortunately, the timing was all wrong as we were both in relationships and so we lost contact with each other again,” she said.
Then fate tried a new trick and pulled technology in for assistance in 2008 and Mandy found Tony on Facebook.
They made contact again and chatted on and off.
By then, Tony had relocated to Cape Town while Mandy was still in Durban.
Tony’s wife passed away in 2010 and the couple met again during his wife’s memorial service.
“There was definitely still that invisible string holding us together,” Mandy said.
Mandy divorced in 2004 and in 2010 she was in a very rocky relationship with her then partner, until 2012 and Tony was her rock whenever she needed support.
“Whenever I needed someone to cheer me up, Tony would pop up. Sadly, I was too blind to make the connection but we were still in regular contact,” she said.
Then of course there was the distance barrier between Cape Town and Durban and Mandy’s daughter, NAME, was still young and she was hesitant of getting too attached to Tony.
Then at the end of 2012, Tony popped up again and Mandy took a leap of faith and visited him on his birthday weekend. “We never looked back. We got engaged on February 9 2013. But I remained in Durban as my daughter wanted to stay at the school she was at because of her friends. I commuted to Cape Town to visit just about every weekend and at the end of 2013, I moved to Cape Town,” she said.
They married over the Easter weekend of 2014 and are about to celebrate their second wedding anniversary.
“I truly believe that some people are just meant to be together. Eventually after 32 years we found our way back to each other and are ecstatically happy,” Mandy said.