Leap years and love at first sight

Gareth Fraser with his two-year-old son, Logan and wife, Jeniene.

When Sun Valley couple Gareth and Jeniene Fraser tried their hand at online dating in 2010, neither of them thought they would ever find “the one”.

While they saw online dating as no different to meeting a stranger in a queue at a store, Jeniene says they received a lot of “raised eyebrows” from family and friends.

Their first face-to-face meeting was on August 18, 2010 at a coffee shop in Cavendish Square.

“We both remember it so clearly as Gareth still swears to this day that I stole his parking bay. This is a fact we discovered after meeting and finding out what car we each drove. It was pretty much love at first sight,” she says.

At the time, Jeniene lived in Sun Valley and Gareth in Pinelands.

Their relationship grew from strength to strength and a few months later the couple added two dogs to the family.

In February 2012, their female dog, Phoebe, needed hip surgery, and then on February 29, 2012, a leap year, Gareth insisted they take the dogs to the beach as part of Phoebe’s rehabilitation post surgery.

“I didn’t want to go as it had been a long day at work and I was hungry, but he insisted. While walking along the beach, I was walking ahead of Gareth as I wasn’t impressed to be out and about when I could have been home having dinner. He then called me and as I turned I found him on one knee holding an engagement ring.

“I said yes of course and my hunger was immediately forgotten.”

The couple married on November 3, 2012 and have a two-year-old son, Logan.

“We always joke now and say be careful on the internet as you never know what you might find,” Jeniene says.

When Tammy Grove met her fiancé, Chris Watson, in November 2015 she immediately knew he was the one.

He had just moved to Edgemead from Johannesburg.

The couple soon became inseparable and in January 2016 Tammy and her mom, Elly Grove, were talking and realised it was a leap year. She immediately decided to propose to Chris.

Tammy’s late dad, Tenoha Grove, went with her to choose the ring.

“The setting was on Chapman’s Peak, and I presented him with a penguin teddy with a ring around its neck. I did not go down on one knee or anything like that. I just asked him to be mine forever and he said yes.”

However, Chris wanted to propose to Tammy too and in 2018, on the birthday of their now three-year-old daughter, Madison, he went down on one knee and asked her to marry him.

“When we look back at everything fate was definitely at play as I was living in Fish Hoek and he in Edgemead and just by chance I went to Edgemead that night and he went out with his brother-in-law at the last minute,” she says.

Tammy says Chris had been in Cape Town for holiday in the beginning of November 2015 and while he was here something told him to move to Cape Town and that is when he went back, packed up and moved here.

Tammy says her parents also knew from the get go that Chris was the one.

“It is very special that my dad who has since passed away chose the ring for him. We are as in love now as the first day we met,” she says.

When Fish Hoek resident Johan Steyn met his wife, Mariette, of 53 years at a church in Johannesburg he had to work hard to win her hand and heart.

His brother, Hugh, had invited Johan to attend a church meeting with him and his girlfriend, Valerie (now his wife).

During the service, a young man sang the song Will the Circle Be Unbroken, in the Sweet By and By.

The song brought Mariette to tears and she got up and walked out of the church. Hugh prompted Johan to follow her to see what was the matter.

When asked what was the matter, she put her head on Johan’s shoulder and cried bitterly, telling him that the song was her and her boyfriend of two years’ song and that they had broken up earlier that day.

“I fell in love with her there and then, but I had to work hard for a few months to win her hand and her heart. In the end, my love for her won,” he says.

The couple have three children, Desiree, Vera and Ian and five grandchildren.

They will be celebrating their 54th anniversary on Tuesday February 25.

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