After 27 years of living and loving together and leading their blended families through all that life threw at them, Gilta and Jeff finally got around to getting hitched. They made up for lost time by having not one, but two weddings in two years.
‘At first glance, our “how did we meet” story is pretty ordinary. We met through friends. It’s so long ago, I forget the details,’ says Gilta. ‘I think what is more central to our relationship story though is how Jeff and I meet each other every day. In many ways, for the first 27 years of our life together, Jeff has consistently met me as himself, and has loved me for myself – warts and all – every day. But for so long it’s been all about the kids, business and working. Our whole relationship has been a rollercoaster of events, occasions, people and activities. We were just too busy to get married.’
Jeff surprised Gilta with a proposal on New Year’s Eve at their waterfront property with all the family in on the surprise. When she said ‘yes’, they raised signs saying ‘she said yes’ and celebrated the engagement.
‘By the time Jeff asked me to marry him, it just seemed right,’ says Gilta. ‘I now can see that I am – we are – in a great place of contentment, and I can survey the years in all their strengths. We have lived and loved with integrity, hard work, respect, trust and compromise. I know we’ve done things in reverse, but to me, it is only now that it makes sense to celebrate and honour that.
‘I think love and respect are inseparable, so I have a lot of respect for Jeff, which means I have a lot of love for him,’ says Gilta. ‘He is patient, adventurous, generous, inventive, accepting and sometimes, to my dismay, easy-going. He can be hard but fair, honest and fun.’
‘Gill is trustworthy, always committed and working (physically and emotionally) by my side achieving our goals together,’ says Jeff. ‘She is funny and there is never a dull moment. I love her artistic passion. One of her standout attributes and what I love about her – even if it is at times her downfall – is her kindness, sensitivity and compassion for others.’
Defying Covid’s blight on weddings, Gilta and Jeff had a cheeky, five-person wedding during the peak of the first Covid lockdowns in April 2020. They chose Staples Lookout – a favourite place – which offered them a panoramic view of Woy Woy Bay and their waterfront home. The ceremony, recorded for family, was full of love, laughs and a down to earth joy and simplicity.
A year later, dodging lockdowns again, Gilta and Jeff, now wedding veterans and a year into being married, went the full wedding shebang with an all-family celebration, reaffirming their marriage vows.
‘We had always envisaged being able to do the full wedding event, and the beautiful gardens, the chapel and bespoke venue at Kangy Gardens was a stand-out in our search for the perfect place,’ says Gilta. ‘Our celebrant, Sarah, returned to perform the second ceremony. She’s like one of the family. Actually, she married my daughter many years ago, and later this year, she will marry our granddaughter. She will then have been our celebrant for three generations of weddings in our family!’
It was an unusually cold day in May and the Kangy Gardens sandstone hall and open fire was a welcome gathering point at the end of the evening’s celebrations as the guests danced to a live band.
Gilta and Jeff have been surprised by the tenderness of calling each other husband and wife.
After almost 30 years, to the triumphant tune of ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ belted out by Jimmy Barnes, they proudly walked down the aisle – in front of parents, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren – as husband and wife, mum and dad, pop and granny, nonna and poppy.
|Ceremonies and receptions
|1. Staples Lookout Woy Woy 2. Kangy Gardens
|Indi Dawson Photography
|Sarah Tolmie Life & Love Celebrations
|Hair and make-up
|Aimless Missiles Band
WORDS SARAH TOLMIE