By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Things were very different in 1970, when 450 guests feted Joe and Teresa Rechichi’s wedding.
Fifty years on, thanks to a certain pandemic, the Springvale couple’s golden anniversary was a more solitary affair.
Covid-19 has scuttled many plans in 2020, and the Rechichi’s international holiday was sadly one of them.
The dream of three weeks in Europe – including their Italian homeland, Germany, a cruise in the Baltic Sea – has turned to home isolation.
The couple were unable to invite friends on their special day on Saturday 25 July.
Nor even their children Grace and Domenic and grandchildren Christian, Nicholas, Marissa and Lucas.
“It was just me and Teresa cuddled up in the corner,” Mr Rechichi said.
“No one else is with us today, not even our own flesh and blood – it’s a bit sad but we’ll catch up later.
“The biggest celebration would be for Covid-19 to disappear.”
The couple is accustomed to celebrating their marriage in special ways.
In 2008, they renewed their vows at Cana in Galilee, Israel – the site of the first miracle.
“That was the highlight of our journey to the Holy Land,” Mrs Rechichi said.
Recently, Pope Francis sent them his apostolic blessing marking 50 years of their marriage.
Both Italian born, carpenter Giuseppe Rechichi and law clerk Teresa Arena were living in Springvale when they first met.
They wedded in an “impressive” ceremony at St Joseph’s Church in Springvale, reported the Dandenong Journal at the time.
“An elegant fur head dress and matching fur muff lent accessory charm to the bride’s simple white sheath frock, which was topped by a guipure lace bell-sleeved coat.”
Fifty years later, Mrs Rechichi reflects on her “soul mate”.
“We’ve got to a stage when we don’t have to say anything because we know what each other are thinking.
“The key is understanding each other.
“We all have our faults, and we all have to cope with them.
“Through the ups and downs for me, the children and grandchildren, he’s always there for me – like he’s done for the community.”
A former City of Springvale councillor, Mrs Rechichi has lived most of her life in Springvale.
While growing up, her parent ran a shop in Buckingham Avenue.
“We’ve seen all the migrants come through
“The changes we’ve seen in Springvale has really been beautiful.”
The Rechichis are renowned for their charitable deeds.
They’ve worked together as volunteers driving the Springvale Benevolent Society for more than 30 years.
Their deeds have extended to the Italian Club, school fetes and St Joseph’s parish council.
Mr Rechichi, still the long serving president of the benevolent society, tirelessly provides food to families who have no income support during Covid-19.
Hundreds of visa holders and asylum seekers out of work, who receive not a cent of Job Seeker or Job Keeper from the Federal Government, he says.
“It’s not an easy task. It takes a lot of time away from your family.
“But you can’t neglect your own family. I’ve done my best to fulfil my marriage.
“It doesn’t come from the sky. People have to work at it.”