The tears start even before the bride has made it to the altar and the groom meets her halfway up the aisle, wiping her face gently with a tissue.
Like most weddings, it’s an emotional affair – but for this couple, there’s way more water under the bridge than for most soon to-be newlyweds.
For one thing, their four children are among the guests. For another, they’ve been here before – and in the 23-plus years since they last met at the altar, they’ve endured a roller coaster that would stretch most families to breaking point.
Which is exactly what happened.
Morné and Celeste Nurse had a child, lost that child, broke up in the bitter years of blame and guilt, found her again, and then tried to adapt to a new reality fraught with complexity.
But they managed to find each other again – and now here they are in the Rocklands Baptist Church in Mitchells Plain, Cape Town, saying “I do” all over again. And this time it’s for keeps, they say.
Celeste (42) is elegant in a simple white satin dress, Morné (43) smart in an all-white outfit. Their long-lost daughter, Zephany (23), who was raised as Miché Solomon, beams alongside her siblings, Cassidy (19), Joshua (14), and Micah (13).
“Each of us has a past we can’t return to,” Peggy Diaries, a member of the congregation, says at the start of the service. “We can’t change the past and we can’t let the past rob us of the joy of the present.
“God gives everyone a second chance. Today is Morné and Celeste’s second chance.”
After saying their vows, the newlyweds kneel to pray for each other. Then they embrace, weeping openly.
“The love was always there,” Celeste tells YOU a few days before the wedding. “We found each other again and we’re taking back what was stolen from us.”
Miché, who the Nurses still call Zephany, tells us she’d always hoped Morné and Celeste would get back together.
“That had been one of my prayers,” she says. “I believe in second chances and I truly longed to see the Lord restore their marriage.
“I’m really happy they’ve grown and reached maturity in their compassion for each other.”
THE bride and groom have known each other since they were teens. “A friend had invited me to a party in Rugby, near Milnerton,” Celeste says.
“I was super skinny. I was wearing a brown belt because the jeans were too big and a large bomber jacket.”
Celeste, who now works in tourism, was about to turn 17. Morné, who now owns a construction company, was 18.
She didn’t pay him much attention at first. “I think he liked my friend,” Celeste recalls. “They danced and he later came over to talk to me. He asked if I wanted to go with him to get wood for the braai.
“I really didn’t want to – I didn’t know him from a bar of soap. Later, his uncle told me I could trust him and go with him.”
She recalls what a gentleman he was. “He parked the car and asked if he could kiss me on the cheek. I thought it was probably okay. The next moment he asked if he could kiss me on the other cheek. Then on my nose and eventually on the lips. That was our first kiss.
“There really was this incredible attraction between us.”
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