Myrtleford's Susie and David Draper marry after 44 years together

JUST MARRIED: Susie, 84, and David Draper, 85, have made their long-term commitment to each other official. Picture: DANNYJ PHOTOGRAPHY
JUST MARRIED: Susie, 84, and David Draper, 85, have made their long-term commitment to each other official. Picture: DANNYJ PHOTOGRAPHY

A love story 44 years in the making reached a much-anticipated conclusion when Ma and Pa finally got married.

Myrtleford's David Draper, 85, wed his longtime partner Susie, 84, on Saturday to the delight of family and friends.

Mrs Draper's daughter Margot Bowden-Johnson said the pair met in Adelaide in the mid-1970s through a mutual love of country music and used to sing together.

Mr Draper proved a good friend when Mrs Draper's first husband died suddenly of a heart attack in 1975, leaving her with five children and at that time no job and unable to drive.

Gradually friendship developed into love.

The couple moved to Myrtleford in 2001 to be near family and took an active part in community life.

Although known as Mr and Mrs Draper for many years, there hadn't been any ceremony until now.

"She just stole his name years ago, she never officially had it changed, everything has Draper on it," Mrs Bowden-Johnson said with a laugh.

"We call them Ma and Pa because that's what my daughter calls them."

Mrs Bowden-Johnson said her mother had a serious stroke in November, requiring treatment in Melbourne, then Wangaratta.

On Valentine's Day Mr Draper asked a special question, a surprise to his partner who had requested only a home cooked meal and a single red rose for the occasion.

"He brought in the red rose - we brought in the other 11 to make a dozen later - and, yeah, he proposed, and of course she said yes," Mrs Bowden-Johnson said.

Saturday's garden wedding saw the Drapers' granddaughters serving as bridesmaids and great-granddaughters as flower girls.

After extensive physiotherapy, Mrs Draper was able to walk down the aisle, aided by a walker and accompanied by her five children.

"That was her dream, to be able to walk for the wedding," her daughter said.

"I think that was really nice for Pa to see as well."

About 80 guests witnessed what family dubbed "the wedding of the century".

"It was just an amazing day," Mrs Bowden-Johnson said. "It was the most romantic thing I'd ever seen."