Two weddings but one long marriage

Lydia and Carl Boekhout made doubly sure their marriage would last, having weddings in two different countries, six months apart. The photograph of their teenage selves was one of the gifts at their recent 60th wedding anniversary celebration. Photo by Lynda van Kempen.
Lydia and Carl Boekhout made doubly sure their marriage would last, having weddings in two different countries, six months apart. The photograph of their teenage selves was one of the gifts at their recent 60th wedding anniversary celebration. Photo by Lynda van Kempen.
The groom was absent the first time Lydia and Carl Boekhout were married, but their union has lasted 60 years so far. The Alexandra couple have the choice of two wedding dates to celebrate - six months apart - but generally observe the first one, on January 3. Mr Boekhout (84) and Mrs Boekhout (82) gathered with family and friends at the weekend to mark their diamond wedding anniversary.

Born and raised in the Netherlands, the couple were married twice, once in their home country and then in New Zealand. They decided to emigrate to New Zealand and Mr Boekhout gained employment on the railways, as part of a Government-assisted scheme. He went to New Zealand early, to make sure it was suitable for his bride-to-be.

''We wanted to immigrate together. Having Carl go first wasn't our idea, but my parents insisted and when you are 22, you obey your parents,'' Mrs Boekhout said.

The couple were married by proxy at a registry office in Holland on January 3, 1953, when Mr Boekhout was in New Zealand, with his brother standing in as ''proxy''. Their wedding photo features Mrs Boekhout in her wedding gown next to a photo of her husband. Six months later, she arrived in New Zealand and the couple tied the knot again, this time in a church wedding on June 12, in Christchurch. They met as children, ''playing in the street'' with a group of others, and had no regrets about their decision to leave their home country.

''We could see there was no future for us in Holland, so we went to the [immigration] sessions and the South Island of New Zealand appealed the most,'' he said.

They have spent their married life in Southland and Otago, the longest stints being 45 years in Balclutha and the past 12 years in Alexandra. Mr Boekhout worked at the Finegand freezing works for 31 years, before the couple retired to Alexandra. The Boekhouts raised a family of four - three girls and a boy - and the family has expanded to include 10 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Tolerance and patience were the secret to a long and happy marriage, the couple agreed.

''In all those years, there's only been one big argument between us, when I didn't speak to him for two days afterwards,'' Mrs Boekhout said.

''I can't even remember that,'' Mr Boekhout said, with a smile.

lynda.van.kempen@odt.co.nz