Romantic Recollections: Irene van Dyk

Silver Fern Irene van Dyk recalls her greatest win yet, marrying her husband Christie.

  • Story by As told to Caroline Botting

Silver Fern Irene van Dyk recalls her greatest win yet, marrying her husband Christie.

Christie was popular and quite a hunk. He was my first boyfriend, my one and only true love. I was just very fortunate that he was the first man I fell in love with. 

We met in 1992 studying at Transval’s Potchefstroom Teachers Training College. He was a senior and as a junior, you always have to call the seniors sir. Every time I walked past him, he’d say “First year what’s my name?” I’d say, “I don’t know?” He probably asked about four times, and I’m useless with names and I kept on forgetting it. 

It was during exams when my friend and I went to a barbecue and Christie and his friends were there. We buddied up, a girl and a boy, to do different sports and Christie and I smashed everything we did. We started to enjoy one another’s company as we were so incredibly competitive, and things grew from there. 

When Christie proposed, he took Mum and me to restaurant in Heidelberg, around 30kms from where we lived in Meyerton [South Africa]. He asked mum for my hand in marriage first - my father had passed away that year - then he asked me. Christie knew that if Mum said yes, I would too. We were engaged for a year and married on December 10, 1994 in front of 150 friends and family. The ceremony was at a Dutch Reform Church. We had our reception at Voorwaarts Primary School hall - my old primary school. I was 22 and Christie was 24.  

I didn’t have a lot to do with the wedding planning. Apartheid [a system of racial segregation] had ended in 1994, and it was the first year South Africa was allowed to tour internationally. We had an eight-week netball trip in October and November to England, Wales and Scotland, so Christie and Mum organised everything. They didn’t really get along until Christie asked me to marry him, but they’re inseparable now. The wedding was their baby and they knew exactly what I wanted. 

My sister-in-law, Bonita, who is an amazing seamstress, made my dress. It was princess cut, off the shoulder with quite a tight bodice. There was no train, but I had a veil. There was no theme for our wedding, but my favourite colour is turquoise, so Christie’s waistcoat and a bow tie were in this colour, as was the packaging for our wedding favours. 

I was nervous the morning of our wedding. When Mum woke me, I remember asking her, “Should I do this?” Mum said, “Now is not a good time to question what you’re about to do.” My parents were married for 32 years before dad passed away and it was the realisation that marriage is forever and there wasn’t going to be anyway I would ever back out. 

I was feeling quite emotional entering the church, without my dad being there and I cried. My father’s youngest brother, Nick, walked me up the aisle.The most memorable moment of the day was our declarations of love and I said, “I do.” I remember thinking, “Yay, I am now Mrs van Dyk.”

Our first dance was You’re My First Love by Roxanne, played by our DJ, one of the guys who studied with us. He was amazing. We got married at 4pm and by 4am we were still dancing!

We couldn’t afford a hotel for our honeymoon, so we camped in Kroonstad for three days. It was absolutely fantastic. Campers could see ‘just married’ was written on our car and the next morning they’d organised a massive champagne breakfast for us. 

Everything about our wedding day was perfect, and Christie and I have a very happy marriage. I believe it’s a success as we both have our freedom. He can do things that he wants to do and I can do things that I want to do. This is important. Christie’s also my best friend and whenever I doubt anything, he’s the one that I ask. I trust his judgment and whatever he says will be the best for me. However, marriage is a massive thing to do. It’s going to be forever and it’s something that you work at day in and day out. But if you choose the right person, getting married is the beginning of the rest of your life.

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