We believe our love story began even before we were born, when God came up withe the brilliant idea of bringing us together, initiated when Jochemus saw me dancing on stage at The University of Stellenbosch in October 2010. We both studied theatre and although he was at the end of his honours year and I was only at the end of my first year, he noticed me and came to ask me if I had choreographed my performance since it was so beautiful to him.
A few weeks later, he invited me to watch his acting performance and very quickly we fell in love and spent every waking minute together. Funny thing is, he was contracted to move to Johannesburg in January to act in a year-
long production (so in the beginning we took things lightly) when it was suddenly cancelled and he had to stay in Cape Town. Luckily for us, he still had a bursary to continue studying at Stellies the next year, he still had his room in res in place, and - best of all - our residences were matched as RAG partners for the following year. Is that destiny or what?
Oh my goodness, where do we begin! We lived abroad for almost 3 years and in March 2017 when we finished our contracts and before moving back to SA, we set out on a one-month European adventure! I grew up spending a lot of time in Europe, where one of my all-time favourite places to visit was the original Disney Castle - Neuschwanstein Castle - in Bavaria, Germany - where coincidentally I often spent my birthdays as a child. So when we set out on our
European adventure, I suggested that we spend my birthday in the ancient town Füssen near the Castle so that I could give him a glimpse into my childhood. Little did I know, he had spent a year planning our proposal at Neuschwanstein Castle.
Six months prior, when we attended a friend’s wedding in South Africa, Jochemus was on a proposal mission - he asked my mom for her blessing and set out to find the perfect yellow diamond (which he chose and then designed the ring himself) and had it made (so thoughtfully, from a lady who's shop I visited often in Bloubergstrand where I grew up!) Fast forward to our travels in Europe, my parents brought the ring along when we met up with them for a skiing trip in Italy, where they handed over the ring! (I had no idea so much was happening in the background!)
Then, the day after my 26th birthday, March 23rd, we found ourselves walking in a forest overlooking Neuschwanstein Castle when he got down on one knee, spoke the most beautiful words, and asked me to marry him.
We loved it! We found that I struggled to work with the finer details, so very quickly into the planning process Jochemus insisted that we get a wedding planner. Our wedding planner was Andrea Nortje from Weddings by Andrea - the most soulful wedding planner you will ever meet. She understood and ran with all our wildest ideas and made them all a reality on our big day.
Of course we also sourced information from Real Weddings on the SA Weddings website. Interestingly though, along the journey a lot of people asked us how stressed out we were from wedding planning and we would always say it wasn’t stressful at all - planning the best day of your life with your future husband or wife is really such a sacred honour.
We drew inspiration from our beliefs, values and life experiences. No Pinterest board here! We had travelled the world together and over time collected various beliefs, values and experiences that resonated with us from all the historical, cultural and spiritual rituals we curiously fostered from our journey. Every little thing in our wedding had a
deeper meaning and purpose to it. For example, our wedding feast was a mindful 7-course food-and-wine pairing
experience inspired by the 7 chakras. The chakras are the seven spiritual energy centres of the body and each chakra resembles a colour from the rainbow.
We worked closely with my step-sister - a chef - to create a healing and healthy menu where all the colours of the rainbow (chakras) were emphasised in the food. We also had a Sommelier who guided our guests through the understanding of the chakras and mindful eating, while simultaneously teaching us about how the wine paired with the food. It was a rich experience that we were so happy to share with all our loved ones, which reflects our love for mindfulness, fine dining and health. Also, during our ceremony we had 100 tea-light candles set up in a way to reflect the votive candles in ancient Catholic churches which were traditionally lighted when praying for a loved one. We incorporated this ritual and invited our guests to light a candle and say a prayer for us. There are so many elements we are excited to share, but we’ll have to write a book to describe all the intricate details!
Wow, what a diffcult question to answer; every split second was the most memorable! It’s no wonder that Bosjes Chapel recently won the 2019 Architizer A+ Popular Choice Award within the Religious Buildings & Memorials category - the chapel’s totality speaks of tranquillity, peace and quiet – a meditative space no matter your spiritual afliation. The majority of our day (2 hours) was spent in the chapel, where we had the most heavenly experience of our lives.
Carmia loved walking down the long aisle - first with her brother by her side, then her mom. (She was - and is - the most beautiful woman in the world.) I remember when she walked down the bridge I saw her reach out her hand in excitement towards me, something I will never forget. We were overcome with emotion and gratitude. When she entered the chapel, she paused for a moment before walking further down the aisle and as a surprise for me, her speech (which she recorded) came up over the speakers. It was the most poetic and surprising speech I could have imagined!
We left out the typical bouquet and garter toss and chose to have the speeches in the chapel, following the ceremony. Carmia’s twin brother was our MC and my father was our minister, which made it extremely sentimental. They guided the afternoon via the ceremony, scriptures, the speeches and the candle-lighting ritual. Our musicians were a crystal Tibetan bowl player and a harpist, which gave us a proper sound bath experience. One of Carmia’s bridesmaids sang Avé Maria and another family friend read Kahlil Gibran’s On Marriage. There were so many prayers. We remember seeing all the joy on everyone’s faces during the wedding recessional. All our loved ones were contemplative, excited and present with us! This was just one of the one million unforgettable moments!
We never had a wedding theme until we went for marriage counselling with Jochemus’ dad and we told him that we want our marriage to be like heaven on earth. He adored that metaphor and very quickly it became the theme of our wedding (and marriage-to-be). We noticed that all our little choices already reflected heaven on earth...Our spiritual
wedding that had purpose and meaning...
We imagined what dinner in heaven would look like and tried to reflect that during the reception - with thousands of single-stemmed white flowers hanging upside down from the roof accompanied by hundreds of naked bulbs and white candles strewn throughout the space. Complemented by our wedding feast, it was pure magic! We also incorporated a lot of Buddhist elements such a lotus flowers, Tibetan prayer flags in the pre-drinks area, a Tibetan bowl player in the chapel, a chakra cake (...a rainbow cake!), raw handmade crystals in Carmia’s tiara, the bridal party’s earrings and cufflinks, and a mindful eating experience.
One of my unforgettable memories was my veil. My mom surprised me with a personalised veil - on the bottom of the veil she hand-beaded the words ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN - an item I will someday be able to gift my daughter, God-willing!
Side note: we loved that all of Bosjes Estate’s plantation was only plants from the Bible. Each plant found on the estate has a description of where in the Bible you can find that particular plant. The Estate also boats a yin-yang fountain and a labyrinth on top of a little mountain in the gardens. It truly is the Garden of Eden...heaven on earth!
To be honest, I never had a specific idea in mind for my wedding dress. I always wanted to get married in gold, until I saw my wedding dress standing slap-bang in the center in Bride & Co. at Canal Walk! When I tried it on I began to cry and knew it was the one! That this-is-the-one feeling you hear about on all the wedding shows is really real!
Although I loved it, I didn’t buy it, but got it remade. The beautiful Elizabeth Stockenström (who became like a spiritual mom to me) made my gown. She helped me find the richest oyster coloured fabric and changed some elements of my dress to make it more unique to me. The “wings” (straps) of the dress were made to resemble the shape of Bosjes Chapel and there were less buttons to make it lighter yet the bottom was a lot bigger - just the way I dreamed of! I was also able to remove the “wings” of the dress to create a strapless dress for dancing the night away! The most special part of my wedding gown was my petticoat. I bought a golden fabric and - together with a letter - I sent it to every woman in my family and Jochemus’ family asking them to bless me with an embroidery artwork, which my mom then sewed onto the petticoat. I will always hold onto this because it is decorated with the most incredible words and pictures from all the women closest to me.
Then, since I didn’t have my golden wedding dress, I had my bridesmaids wear gold. I am a dancer and will always be in love with tulle - hence their light, airy skirts reminding me of my ballerina days! Lastly, my party dress was a short, lace golden dress, sentimentally made by the seamstresses who works in my mom’s clothing factory. They made clothes for me growing up so it was a very special gift!
All our decor was either white, wood or glass, with lots of elements of light, simplicity and elegance. We wanted a wedding that would be gorgeous for many moons to come. “Non-wasting” is a yoga principle we follow closely in our personal lives, so we set out to make sure we do not over-indulge nor get excessive with décor and flowers (especially flowers) just for the sake of a wedding, which is why we had simplistic flowers in the ceremony - nothing dramatic and over-the top. (Side note: Carmia and her mom have always surprised each other by hanging hand-written letters or photos from the ceiling - hence the single stemmed flowers hanging from the roof).
The ceremony space was totally undecorated and at the pre-drinks we hung colourful Tibetan flags and for some fun, we asked our guests to “rock our world” and stack peace towers with pebbles. We had three main wedding flowers - a white orchid, resembling the architectural shape of the chapel, a white rose, which signified new beginnings and a white lotus which is the flower of Buddhism and purity.
Yes! We had plenty of sentimental DIY items. Our wedding favours were individually hand-written letters (which also doubled as name cards at their seats) and hand-picked rose quartz crystals for each guest. Our favourite DIY item is the family crest Jochemus and I created. For the longest time, Jochemus wanted a signet ring of his Botha family crest, but there are so many different ones that we made our own! We sat together and drew it out and filled it with lots of significant symbols of our legacy together. This family crest was then featured everywhere: on the invitations, programs, menu, seating chart, thank-yous etc. Jochemus and I collected hundreds of big pebbles from our garden and the beach, which we placed at our pre-drinks for a bit of entertainment. We asked our guests to “rock our
world” by stacking the pebbles into peace towers and saying a prayer for us - something we often did in our travels throughout Asia.
My wedding gift to Jochemus was also DIY with a twist - a dance that I performed at the
end of the evening to one of our favourite songs. I asked my dance teacher (from when I was growing up) to help me choreograph my dance - one of my favourite wedding-planning memories!
Jochemus: We were engaged for two years (to the day!) and on our one-year engagement anniversary (also one year before our wedding) Carmia gifted me with a letter box filled with 12 letters - one for each month before we got married! What a big gift! She planned and prepped a year worth of letters for me so long in advance - even the letter I opened on our wedding day! She got my brother - a carpenter - to make the box with special words engraved on it - and a family friend to help with the white and gold stationery on which she wrote the letters.
Our opening dance was magical! Our song was “At Last” by Etta James. As old souls and jazz music lovers it was the obvious choice. We were engaged for two years and for one and a half of those 2 years we had a long-distance engagement (Jochemus worked in Dubai and I stayed in Cape Town). I visited him often in Dubai, and during one of my last visits, he surprised me with a PowerPoint presentation of wedding songs for me to choose from...The presentation had a very long list of wedding song options he researched. Every slide included a different picture from our engagement photoshoot in Germany, the song title, the song lyrics that spoke to him, and a link to listen to the songs. I was so touched and spent the evening in tears out of total admiration for my fiancé. When At Last came
up on the list, we both knew it was the one...since at last, after all the time apart, we would be together.
Argh, so many! A unique experience we had was our First Look. We were quite criticised by some friends
and family for breaking the tradition of seeing each other in the chapel for the first time, but in the end we were so happy we did it! It gave Jochemus the honour of seeing me first before everyone else and it gave us the chance to breathe and get present before the big celebration.
During our First Look, we met beneath Bosjes’ oldest tree, washed each others’ hands and Jochemus prepared the most beautiful scriptures which he read to me. Some other will-never-forget memories is my father-daughter dance to the song Into My Arms with my dad, having lots of friends and family all the way from overseas there, the speeches everyone prepared so lovingly and getting ready with our bridal party in the morning. My mom handing me over to Jochemus and standing with me under my veil as she hugged and kissed me, dancing the night away with our closest friends, my brother’s words “Ek is lief vir jou, Sussie” as he walked me down the aisle, my father-in-law’s 1974 Peugeot 404 which could hardly start and brought a great comical relief to the day. We will never forget the taste of the gin and the smell of the flowers and the sound of everyone’s loving words.
Also, we were blessed with perfect weather in an area that is almost always windy!
1. Take your time. We see so many couples rushing to the destination, but what is so impactful is making the journey the priority. We took time to contemplate the “best decision of our lives”. We took our time because we knew that being engaged is an honour and you only experience it once! See your engagement and planning process as the ultimate preparation for marriage. Our wedding day wasn't our wedding, the entire two years - and all the details in between - was the wedding.
2. Also, consider leaving out traditional things such as bouquet and garter toss - get curious about why those traditions are in place.
3. Meditate or take quiet time the night before the wedding. You can easily get caught up with the stress of the event but take a moment to be calm and reflect on what’s important. Our wedding photographer did this when we went for the couple shoot. He made us get still and breathe and focus on each other. We recommend asking someone before the time to take you out of the wedding and get you to refocus on what’s important!
4. Don’t invite anyone you don’t sincerely love. Only the people who you are willing to commit to and care for forever (and vice versa) deserve a place at your table.
Yes, we did. We went to the Maldives! It was heaven on earth! Jochemus insisted on planning a surprise honeymoon. I do want to confess though that I saw a note he had made where it said Maldives: ek is MAL oor jou, Carmia! (how sweet?!)...there were plenty notes he made of many different destinations but when I saw that I had an inkling because we are so meaning-orientated, and I knew that if he found meaning in the name “MALdives’, we would go there.
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