ACT News

Des and Noreen Bird and Bill and Lee Mahoney were married on the same day 50 years ago

Two blind dates hundreds of kilometres apart more than 50 years ago have led to a combined centenary of marriage celebrations to enjoy in the capital on Valentine's Day.

Des and Noreen Bird and Bill and Lee Mahoney were each set up by friends in Melbourne and Dubbo respectively in 1964.

Des and Noreen Bird with Bill and Lee Mahoney. The two couples have been friends for over 45 years and are celebrating ...
Des and Noreen Bird with Bill and Lee Mahoney. The two couples have been friends for over 45 years and are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversaries on the same day. Photo: Matt Bedford

The Mahoneys were wed in Bill's hometown of Canberra at St Christopher's Cathedral at 3pm on February 13, and the Birds were married in Ballarat at 3.30pm on the same day the following year.

Three years later, the two couples met through Manuka football club when they moved to Canberra.

Their combined children have grown up together, and their lives have been entwined ever since.

Recalling their wedding day all those years ago, the Mahoneys said theirs was a pretty basic celebration.

"Nobody got drunk and fell on the wedding cake or anything like that, nothing really outstanding," Bill said.

Lee recalled the day in more detail. She said the reception was held at Hotel Canberra, now the Hyatt, with 90 guests. Her dress, which she still has, was made from French ribbon lace with a satin skirt and a long train and veil.

Noreen said her handmade dress featured plenty of lace, buttons at the back and a fitted skirt.

She recalled the proposal, which happened after the two were "going together" for about a year.

"We were sitting in the little Volkswagen underneath where I was living ... Des said, 'well, I suppose we could get engaged about here' – he drew a calendar – 'and married about here' and I said yes," she said.

"That seemed to be all right and that was the proposal."

The couples had to factor in Lent and, most importantly, the football season for the timing of their weddings.

The Mahoneys were married within three months of the proposal, and the Birds spent just six weeks organising their big day.

Looking back on 50 years of marriage, the couples said it wasn't all smooth sailing.

They agreed it took hard work, shared interests and, most of all, compatibility.

"Today, I think young people walk out too quickly," Bill said.

"They have a bit of a blow up and go, bugger this. Whereas if you sit down and sort things out you get over it quickly and move on.

"As long as you marry the right person," he added. "That's the key to it."