Alistair had planned the proposal for some months, even roping in one of Amanda’s best friends to give advice on the choice of ring.
Choosing the correct time was easy. We were at our favourite weekend getaway spot, Paternoster, about 160km from Cape Town up the west coast. Get it done on the Friday night and spend the rest of the (long holiday) weekend celebrating…
It was just us and our dogs. It was perfect. Wine, pizza and a diamond ring from Amanda’s favourite jewellery designer, Shimansky. Nothing elaborate, but a time and a place that was special to us. Happily, Alistair caught Amanda completely by surprise. She had no idea it was coming, and for once she was speechless (well, except to say yes).
That said, it almost didn’t happen as planned. A flat car battery late in the day meant Alistair was late in getting to the jewellers to pick up the ring and then had to wrestle with the insurers before he could leave the shop to get home, pack and make haste to Paternoster! That part was more stressful than going down on bended knee.
Amanda was very much in the driving seat when it came to the planning process. It was quite stressful as she was working full time and running a small business however she did have the best Maid of Honour, Kylie Quinn.
Together with boyfriend Gustaaf Boshoff (at the helm of Stir Food), they made the day an unforgettable experience. They really are the dream team.
Kylie was such a blessing and planned 90% of the wedding. She knew the best suppliers and always tried to haggle a good deal for us.
We did look at SA Weddings for inspiration when we started the planning process.
We drew inspiration from our love of good food, our family and friends and the things in life we treasure most.
To this end we knew we wanted our guest to be well fed and watered so we turned to our friends at Stir Food to create a striking menu that would leave everyone satisfied but wanting more! The food was inspired by our culture, Alistair being from the UK and Amanda South African.
We wanted an unrivalled culinary experience from canapés through to dessert, all washed down with great champagne and Lothian’s incredible wine.
Dogs are an important part of our lives. For many years we have worked with various charities in the Western Cape to rescue and foster. It is perhaps the one thing above all else that binds us so strongly. All of the table names were named after the dogs that have been part of our lives at one time or another.
Importantly our own unruly pack had to feature in the day, and much to Alistair’s surprise all 5 of them walked down the aisle and were at our side during the ceremony. Coordinating it all took some effort as they had to be transported to the venue by friends in secrecy, and then returned home after the ceremony – a round trip of 2 hours!
Amanda was in charge of colours – she loves gold and royal blue. There were splashes of these colours for the table décor, as well and bold royal blue for the bridesmaid dresses, grooms and groomsmen suits, and subtler gold for the mothers’ dresses.
The most special part of the day was being surrounded by family and friends, many of whom had travelled great distances to be with us. For us to be able to host them in such a beautiful venue and to give them (hopefully) a day to remember was as important to us as the vows we made.
We didn’t have a wedding theme per se. Amanda had a very good idea of the aesthetic she was aiming for, and we both had a firm view of the quality of the food and drink we wanted to serve. It was then a case of integrating into the day and putting our own stamp on things, and having one almighty party!
I went to London in December 2014 and tried on a Galia Lahav dress on Bond Street. It was the first dress I tried on and I knew this was the one. Sadly Alistair wouldn’t let me spend £7,500 (R150,000!) so I knew I had to try replicate it.
Rene had made a friend’s dress and I consulted with her to try and make this Galia dress with her own take. The dress has over 150 hours of hand stitching on it. Rene did an incredible job as you can see from the photos.
If making the bride's dress was not enough she also made the bridesmaid's dresses, and dresses for the mothers of the bride and groom. She worked down to the wire and delivered all the dresses to the venue the Friday before the wedding.
Melissa from Flourish is a good friend. I knew if I had given her a brief and left her to her own devices that I would have the most amazing flower display. That is exactly what transpired.
She had her work cut out setting up on the morning of the wedding. She asked her husband, Carl, for some help on the day to fill up the vases with water for the table settings. Needless to say Carl was fired very quickly from that job as he proceeded to get water from the pool!
Amanda created a lot of the items for the day, including table name settings, candle holders, confetti cups and bridesmaid gift trinket boxes.
She’s become quite the crafter as a result!
Our first dance was ‘If I knew then’ by Lady Antebellum. It wasn’t a song that had any particular meaning, but one that we liked when our dance teacher, Neil Coulson, suggested it.
The song was played live on the day by our band, Sound Image Band. We should probably have stuck to the recorded version as we were unable to practice to the live rendition and it did throw us off a little on the night. Not a disaster, but not as good as we had been practicing!
Alistair – my abiding memory is of the ceremony and my surprise to see our dogs walking down the aisle with the bridesmaids, followed by Amanda who looked incredible. To have our furry family (all rescue dogs) in attendance for our big day made the occasion all that more special. The day passed in the blink of an eye but I can recall every minute's detail of the ceremony.
Amanda – my favourite memory is seeing Alistair at the end of aisle with tears in his eyes. I had to stay strong for makeup not to smudge. I also thoroughly enjoyed getting ready with my 6 bridesmaids. We have all been friends for over 20 years and I love those girls to bits.
Consider what is really important to you and focus on that. At the end of the day everyone is there for you. They’ll not necessarily remember or care for every little detail that you will have sweated over… so don’t lose your head in the planning process. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Enjoy the process, and don’t lose sight of the goal.
We were warned that the day passes very quickly, and it’s true – it flies by! Step back, take it all in, and then party hard. It’ll be over before you know it.
Remember, it’s your moment. Do what you want and most importantly have fun.
We spent the days after the wedding catching-up with family and friends, we (finally) left for honeymoon on the Friday following our wedding. We were absolutely exhausted by the time we arrived at our destination!
We spent the first week of our vacation at Blue Footprints eco lodge in Mozambique. Sitting atop the dunes between Barra and Tofo, we stayed in peaceful relaxation in one of their five cottages with the soundtrack of the Indian Ocean, and their three dogs, to keep us company.
We then left for 5 days at Hamilton’s Tent Camp in the Kruger National Park. Once again we were treated to luxurious, attentive, first-class service, and some of the best game viewing we’ve experienced.
Finally, we headed back to Cape Town and spent the last few days of our honeymoon at the location of the proposal, Paternoster, staying in the Strandloper Villas with our faithful furry companions.
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