This article previously appeared in the print edition of YOU Magazine.
You have to do a double take to make sure you aren’t hallucinating. But yes, there are indeed two grooms waiting at the pulpit – and apart from variations in their beards, they look remarkably alike: hair in neat man-buns, dark grey suits, pale pink ties, same slightly nervous smiles.
Forget Seven Brides for Seven Brothers – this is a case of two brothers for two sisters. Clement and Clint Petersen (32) are waiting for the loves of their lives: Olivia and Rhoshé Persent, the sisters they fell for more than a decade ago. Dad Owen Persent is going to be one busy guy today.
When the doors of the Holy Trinity Church in Paarl swing open and the wedding march booms joyously from the organ, he walks Rhoshé (29) down the aisle and hands her to her groom, Clement. Then he turns back to fetch his older daughter, Olivia (35), who’s waiting in the doorway.
This time the wedding march wafts from a violin as Owen walks Olivia to her husband-to-be and their double dose of happiness begins – on Leap Day, no less. Olivia and Rhoshé, who hail from nearby Wellington, and Clement and Clint, from Paarl, have been inseparable since they met.
They do everything together, so it made sense they’d tie the knot on the same day too. After they’ve said their vows, the newlyweds-squared wait patiently for Pastor Denver Heugh to say the magic words: “You may kiss the brides.” And when he does the church erupts in cheers from the 100-strong congregation – a double kiss for a double celebration of love.
“It was simply meant to be,” Rhoshé says. “It was absolutely magical.” Olivia is over the moon to be sharing her big day with her sister and her new husband’s twin. “Clement is my best friend and now he’s also my brother-in-law. Rhoshé is my sister and also my sister-in-law. Can you think of any other family who’s this close?”
It can be challenging enough planning your big day, let alone a double wedding that has to fulfill the dreams of four individuals. But these four are quick to point out it wasn’t hard for them because they have similar tastes and needs.
“We approach decision-making democratically and, when not everyone agrees, we follow the principle of majority rule,” explains Rhoshé, who works for the body corporate at the Pearl Valley golf estate.
They distributed the tasks equally: Olivia, who works for an optometrist, and Clint, a chef, were in charge of food and décor, while Rhoshé and Clement, a photographer, organised the photography and music. Before the wedding, the couples decided the sisters would toss a coin to see who’d enter the church first – and Rhoshé won.
Olivia and Clint met in 2009 on the now-defunct chat platform MXit and soon afterwards, Rhoshé met Clement at the brothers’ home. Olivia and Clint, who have a daughter, Zita (10), got engaged nearly two years ago in Bloubergstrand in Cape Town. “I’d been trying to propose for nearly three years,” Clint says.
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“But every time I planned something, she’d say she was too tired to go out.” Finally, on 15 August 2018, he decided enough was enough – today was the day. He drove her to Blouberg with the ring stashed under the seat. “When we got there, I said we should take a walk on the beach.
And when I opened the car door for her, I went down on one knee.” Two months later, Rhoshé and Clement decided they were getting engaged too. They’d been talking about marriage for a while but they aren’t the romantic type, Rhoshé says. “In the nearly 11 years we’ve been together, we’ve had a candlelight dinner only once – and that was because of loadshedding!” she says, chuckling.
But they get on really well, she adds. “I can count the number of arguments we’ve had on one hand – and then it was about stupid stuff like that the Stormers aren’t a good team.” Clement is definitely the guy for her, she adds. “If I need to break free and run, he’ll let me.
But when I fall, he’s there.” Olivia is equally passionate about Clint. “I like who I am when I’m with him. I’m comfortable and I don’t have to pretend – he accepts me just the way I am.” The twins feel the same about their brides. “She gets me,” Clint says about Olivia.
“She has a big heart and that attracts me to her.” Clement, the quiet one in the group, becomes uncomfortable when he has to share his feelings but puts his arm protectively around Rhoshé. “What do you always say?” she prompts. “Your crazy agrees with my crazy,” he says.
It was the sisters’ idea to have a double wedding. “We have the same friends and parents so the same guests would’ve been at both weddings if we’d had them separately,” Rhoshé says. The only one who wasn’t immediately convinced of the idea was Clement. “I thought, ‘[Clint and I] already share a birthday, now we have to get married together too?’” he says with a chuckle.
“But we can be persuasive,” Rhoshé quips. And now here they are, vows said about to enjoy their reception at La Ferme Derik wedding venue near Paarl. Fairy lights twinkle on the tables, friends and family chat and laugh, and two beautiful wedding cakes are ready to be sliced into. The creations have layers of chocolate fudge, carrot, red velvet and vanilla so there’s something for everyone.
Dinner is a scrumptious affair too – the buffet table groans under platters of roast beef, chicken in phyllo pastry pockets, pumpkin fritters, baby potatoes and all kinds of salad. After the speeches and toasts are done, all that remains is for everyone to dance the night away. Against the backdrop of the majestic Boland mountains, two families become one and the fairytale is complete.