WEDDING DAY: Eddie and Irene Vella were married on December 21, 1968.
WEDDING DAY: Eddie and Irene Vella were married on December 21, 1968. Contributed

Finding love at the beach

EDDIE and Irene Vella agree they've had a wonderful life together.

The couple celebrated 50 years of marriage yesterday.

Their journey started at Town Beach when a 15-year-old Irene Benson started talking to a 17-year-old Eddie Vella.

Mrs Vella was with her family and Mr Vella was with a friend.

"I was walking along the beach with my sister Elva when I saw Eddie," Mrs Vella said.

She said she had known of him beforehand but that Sunday at the beach was the catalyst for their relationship.

Four years later they became man and wife.

They were married on December 21, 1968, in St Brigids Catholic Church by Father John Barry.

But the groom almost didn't make it.

"That morning he was in Clermont and only made it back to town by 1pm, the wedding was at 2pm," Mrs Vella said.

Mr Vella had been pig hunting and had promised his bride he would be back on the Friday before the wedding.

Mrs Vella said she hadn't been angry because that was what her Eddie was like.

"And still is" she laughed.

Attending them on the day was Joe (dec.) and Sally Borg, Reno Vella, Stephanie Galea, John Borg, Elva Mansfield (dec.) and Connie Borg.

A cake was made by Beris Bowman (dec.), a replica of a church.

"She had seen it in a book and said she wanted to make it for us-- she would only make it once," Mrs Vella said.

The cake which was used as a display cake only was admired by visiting clergy members when they visited Mrs Vella's home.

"It had 600 sugar cubes on the side," she said.

Mrs Vella laughed when she admitted who finally ate the cake.

"It was the dogs, they got in and ate it," she said.

A spare cake had been baked for the reception.

A reception for 180 people was held at the former Odd Fellows Hall.

The newlyweds drove to Brisbane for a honeymoon where they spent a couple of weeks before returning home.

They have four children - Donna Vella, Jodie McNeilly, Jason Vella and Ricky Vella.

Their family also includes eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Mrs Vella said the highlight of their marriage had been their children and watching them grow with their partners.

Mr Vella's hobbies include canefarming, cows and fishing.

Mrs Vella likes to keep busy with the grandchildren and great-grandson, Hudson Long.

The couple celebrated their marriage milestone with a dinner and will celebrate again at a later date when more of their family arrives in Mackay.