Love blossomed late for Susanna Burton, pictured on her wedding day with Owen Thompson.
The median age for Kiwis marrying for the first time is 29 years for women and 30 for men.
In 1971, when marriage rates peaked, the median age was 20 years for women and 23 years for men. This makes this tale something of a rarity. Susanna Burton, of Snells Beach, tells it in her own words …
I wanted to move out of Auckland (as many do!) and loved this area. Friends and family live here so it seemed a natural choice, but it took several years before I found exactly the right house. I couldn’t have asked for better neighbours, especially Owen Thompson.
Owen was amazingly helpful as I renovated, painted and dug the garden. He was an older man and retired. I liked to think that he needed a project and my moving in provided one. I knew he was older than me but his strength and energy belied his age.
What I didn’t know was that he had prayed and asked if there was another woman for him, as his wife Janet had died two years earlier. He received a clear vision that I was petite and that I had never been married, which isn’t so common in people in their sixties.
When he saw me walk up the shared drive to the auction, he recalls that his heart fluttered and he thought I might be the one.
And so he did three months ‘hard labour’ to help me, and I got to see his kindness and youthful strength.
He never told me about his vision until I had said ‘yes’ to his marriage proposal, as he didn’t want me to be influenced. What’s amazing is that this all happened just three months after I had moved in and yet I knew clearly that it was right.
The proposal happened while my deaf mother sewed at my machine, fully unaware what was happening behind her back.
It was such a delight to be married before she passed away and she walked me down the aisle aged 96 and looked just wonderful.
As a wedding photographer of 23 years, nothing prepared me for the cheering and laughter as I walked into the church. I may be biased, but I have never seen such a response to a bride, which made me wonder if it was it because I was 69 or was it Etta James singing “At Last”?
We married last June, just in time before lockdown, and 200 family and friends came to celebrate with us.
Photos were taken by my niece Emily Raffills, who trained in my photography business and who is an excellent portrait and wedding photographer in her own right.
It is a delight to live close to her family at Scotts Landing and now Owen’s grown up family.
Mahurangi was definitely the right choice for me.