By Rebecca Fraser
A TOUCH of romance is on the cards this Valentine’s Day for Hallam couple Ann and Mark Benning as they prepare to celebrate 25 years of marriage.
The lovey-dovey pair married at a Pakenham church in searing temperatures but Mrs Benning said they had many fond memories of their nuptials and even more from the many years they had spent together.
“It was a stinking hot day and we stood at the altar and the sweat was just dripping off us.
“We wanted a small garden wedding but our parents would not have it and wanted us married in a church and to have the full thing,” she said.
Mrs Benning said the decision to get married had been a “spontaneous” one, and they had not set out to marry on Valentine’s Day.
The low-key bride even borrowed her sister’s wedding dress and her sister-in-law’s veil for the big day, when they enjoyed a reception at Pakenham Racecourse.
“It was more a spontaneous thought for us to get married than something we had been planning for a long time. We were sitting in the driveway of my mum and dad’s and we just thought, ‘bugger the rest of the world, let’s get married’ and we did it within a couple of months of making the decision.
“We were trying to be logical and thought now we cannot get married around Christmas because everyone is going away on holidays and busy so we thought maybe February.
“Then we thought the second week in February and it just turned out that we arrived on Valentine’s Day.
“At least my husband can’t forget, there is no excuses,” she said.
The pair have two adult children, Leah and Mark, and Mrs Benning said the couple were looking forward to jetting off to Queensland the day after Valentine’s Day to celebrate their long and happy marriage.
Mrs Benning said when the two first met they had been quite an odd couple, as she had grown up in the Gippsland town of Thorpdale and Mark had spent his younger years in the affluent suburb of Brighton.
“We met through friends and on our second date I said, ‘this is not going to work’, as we lived far away from each other. But it did and we are still together,” she said.
Mrs Benning said the key to a good marriage was good communication and being able to tell one another the truth.
“It (the secret) is pretty boring.
“Having someone to be honest with you and tell you things you don’t necessarily want to hear is important and, while I cannot speak for anyone else to me, marriage is a privilege not a possession.
“We have taken vows to love, honour, respect and care for each other and we have kept that promise and it only gets better each day.
“When it is good it is great, you do have your bad times but it is all part of the commitment,” she said.
By Rebecca Fraser