When I met Simon 16 years ago through work, he didn’t strike me as a possible suitor, even if I had been 'available', which I was not at the time.
We were at different stages of life, I was raising two kids singlehandedly, Simon a newly graduated bachelor with no encumbrances starting to carve out his career in the corporate space. I was planning to pursue an entrepreneurial venture. On top of that, we are from vastly different cultures and backgrounds, but we spent many hours in each other's company, our conversations centred around work, family, relationships and ironically, our mutual stance on marriage being an outdated and archaic concept. Jokes on us!
He was super easy to talk to, very personable with an offbeat sense of humour. Perhaps a little shy and awkward, but with a very appealing boyish charm; and yep, I thought he was a 'catch', so much so, that I orchestrated a love match between him and a good friend and colleague, and it took! For a while. We all remained friends and in touch, albeit sporadically, even after we had moved on from that period in our lives and their break-up a couple of years later.
Fast forward 10 years, and that same (now happily married to someone else) friend, was the catalyst in Simon and I getting together. The three of us were out having coffee one morning to catch up, Simon and I both newly single and lamenting about navigating the perilous dating scene, and SHE nudged us to hang out, as a way to fill in those pesky dating gaps. Seemed like a good idea! That was just over 5 years ago.
We may have taken the scenic route to find each other, but once I let go of my preconceived notions and self imposed restrictions on who to let into my life, it didn't take too long to realize that Simon was The One. I've learned two important things during our journey - love doesn't always look like you think it should and timing is EVERYTHING.
Simon proposed just shy of 3 years after we started dating with a very romantic and grand gesture. As he does. And the rest as they say is history.
He gate-crashed a weekend away that I organised at Aquila Private Game Reserve☺, so I had no idea it was going to happen that weekend. I didn’t think it was strange that he upgraded our accommodation from the standard room that I booked to a premier luxury cottage, as we rarely get away without the kids, and that’s reason enough to splurge. He was acting a little weirder than usual but I thought he was winding down from a hectic week at work. I didn’t have a clue that he had pre-arranged with the Resort Management to set the stage for the proposal in our cabin, while we were out having dinner.
Music, champagne on ice, candles and red roses everywhere, petals in the bath, was the scene that greeted me when we stepped into our cabin after dinner. I was speechless as he went down on one knee, whipped out a beautiful custom-made solitaire diamond ring and proposed. It was an emotional and special moment but I honestly can’t remember what he said; my mind was whirling with so many unanswered questions, especially how he managed to have such an incredible ring made without my input or size☺.
And of course, I said YES.
It was so much fun. We are lucky to be living in the age of easy access to information. SA Weddings and a couple of other SA wedding blogs made it easy to assess potential service providers. I started planning in earnest 7 months prior to the wedding, and found that it was more than enough time. And I didn’t turn into a bridezilla.
I was guided by our personal tastes for clean lines and minimalist elegance. The real weddings featured on SA Weddings provided a huge amount of inspiration, as did other SA and international blogs, as well as bridal magazines. I used Pinterest until the cows came home.
We had a few highlights… exchanging vows was surreal; the readings we did during the ceremony were handpicked and very special; My 8 year olds beautiful and flawless speech at the reception as well as the many friends and family who travelled thousands of kms to join us on the day.
Behind the scenes drama, included discovering my wedding dress didn't fit the night before the wedding! The panel that I insisted on fitting a few days before the wedding wasn’t the right size. I didn’t bother to have another “last” fitting when I collected the dress, because it was such a simple thing to change. I was in a state of panic at the Bridal Boutique on the day, literally 4 hours before the wedding trying to sort it out.
Also worth mentioning is my almost tumble as I walked down the aisle, the Groom rushing to my side to catch me, just in time before I went headlong into the marina... I still recall the collective sighs, as a crisis was averted. It had us all giggling with giddy relief. In hindsight it broke the ice and set the tone for the ceremony. There was so much laughter from beginning to end mainly due to the jokes after about me being an almost You-tube sensation!
If I had to label it in terms of a theme, I would say it was a “City Chic Urban Wedding”
The only vision we had for our day was for it be an elegant, intimate celebration of our love and reflective of our personalities. We are both city folk and consummate foodies, so that led us to explore inner city venues that could take our guests on a culinary adventure in plush, elegant surroundings. Reuben's and Nobu needs no introduction and has made an indelible stamp on the Cape Town foodscape, and we passed over other magnificent venues in favour of the One & Only Resort Cape Town, as they offered the ideal mix for us in terms of world-class dining in a vibrant and modern setting.
For us, the venue set the tone. Even the style of dress was guided by the setting. Once we decided on the venue, everything flowed from there organically. The ceremony was outdoors on the wooden Vista Deck, overlooking the marina with Table Mountain as the backdrop. The "altar" was created with two large mass flower displays made with tall exploding white gladiola in large white urns on white plinths, which framed us while we were saying our "I Do's". The long staircase down to the deck and the "aisle" created with a cream carpet, our friends and family on either side seated in ramp style, to the strains of “Ave Maria”, made for a very dramatic entrance.
The stately One & Only ballroom with its rich neutral tones and strategically placed crystal chandeliers was the ideal canvas for our vision of elegant family style dining, long trestles placed in a U-shape all around the white dance floor, decorated with all-white floral arrangements and crystal candelabra to go with our white/silver/gold inspired colour scheme. It was a spectacle, and our vision brought to life.
o Wedding favours were millionaire’s chocolate squares, lovingly baked by my amazing mum-in-law, which my girl squad and I packed in mini “cake boxes” tied with pretty ribbon the night before the wedding.
o Our place cards were hand-written in calligraphy by a very good friend
o I designed all our printing: wedding monogram, order of ceremony, menus, seating plan
The way you looked tonight – it was one of my late dad’s all time favourite songs; appropriate message for the occasion and it made me think of my dad
I LOVED my husband’s speech, he is not usually emotional or lean toward flowery declarations of love, so it was quite something to hear him say the things he said. I will treasure the memory forever.
o I recommend the use of a wedding website - we used Wedding Window, which was particularly user friendly. Especially if you have out of town and/or a large number of guests; I managed to keep track of every minute detail via the website, including sending “save our dates” and wedding invites as well as managing responses/RSVP’s, I set email reminders to prompt me to do various wedding related activities, I posted directions to the venue, a list of the usual FAQ was pre-empted via the website, our on-line registry (donations to our favourite charity) was linked to the wedding website, we had an on-line guest book, posted engagement and wedding pictures, etc. It was an invaluable timesaver in the run-up to the wedding day and beyond.
o On the day… you’ve done all the planning, now just surrender and take in and enjoy every conceivable moment of your special day. None of your guests will know if anything doesn’t go exactly according to your plan, so just let it be. It goes by SO quickly. Have fun.
o Hire a professional videographer if you can fit it into your budget, the day goes by so quickly and it’s awesome to have a keepsake. Videography is very different from stills.
o Get the best photographer you can afford; you will not regret it.
o DIY items is a fun activity that you and the bridal party can enjoy together, and may save some much needed funds.
o It helps so much if the ceremony, canapés and drinks (if you’re having it) and the reception is in close proximity. Our wedding day events were all under one roof so there was absolutely no travelling on the day at all, even the photos were done around the One&Only landscaped gardens and CT Harbour. It contributed to reduced stress levels all around.
I joined Simon for his staff party in Canada in December, a month before the wedding, and we managed to squeeze in a few days in New York City the week before Christmas, it was amazing!! So in effect we had a pre-wedding honeymoon, if there is such a thing. We knew we would have friends and family visiting for the wedding from all over the world, and decided upfront to spend as much time with them post the wedding, and honeymoon at a later stage. It’s very likely that we will do Bali