SA Weddings

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Umayya Theba

Umayya Theba

Married on Feb 27, 2016

Unlike the usual big, fat Indian weddings I’ve attended, my husband and I wanted our special day to represent who we are; He, an English gentleman with an eye for beautiful composition and I, a petite Indian lady with a passion for all things Italian, but it was our common love for tea – masala chai to be precise – which led us to ditch the predictable Biryani lunch or dinner date for an intimate High Tea reception instead.

The Divine Hand became apparent during the months prior and the stars aligned perfectly on the day. Luckily, Bridezilla was not given reason to emerge because the strain of intense planning that went into pulling off a hitch-free event was eased by my fiancé; my super-mum; Nadia, the best wedding planner on earth whose calm demeanour is infectious; Arwen, a talented dress designer, my hairstylist and makeup artist, and of course my amazing brothers, sisters-in-law, girlfriends and cousins. Even the weather played its part perfectly adding just a dollop of dramatic cloud cover to the perfect summer sky.

I discovered a rare gem, The Munro Boutique Hotel in Houghton, thanks to a close friend who had been researching “Things to do in Joburg”. Perched high up with a breath-taking view of the world’s largest urban forest, this five-bedroom Victorian-style mansion transported me back to Tuscany’s rolling hills and the rooftop-dotted panorama of Florence. A mix of small “coffee shop” tables and large round tables were arranged on the outside balcony under the transparent awnings and crystal chandeliers while an assortment of bite-sized savouries, pretty pastries and decadent desserts were laid out for feasting in adjoining rooms. As per my request, dazzling crystal - and all the rainbow hues that reflect off it - picked up the natural light while blooming roses in shades of pink and peach adorned every table top. At 3pm, I made my grand entrance down the spiral staircase to Elvis Castello’s “She”. Our closest friends and family lined the hallway while my groom got teary-eyed at the end of the passage (as expected) and well, it was at that first sight when he coined the term of endearment “Mayyarani”, meaning “Love Queen”.

To buy or not to buy? That was the question… but my petite figure made the answer pretty simple. If I bought a readymade dress, there would be the added hassle of having to alter it here, pull it in there and cut the length. Then there was the risk that the entire beauty of the dress would be trimmed away by some faceless seamstress in the USA only to arrive back in South Africa a week before my big day. A BIG no no.

My reflexologist insisted that I visit Arwen, a young designer friend of hers based in Parkhurst who specialises in corsetry, and this skill made her the clear winner. What more could a bride ask for? Here was my opportunity to flaunt a bespoke dress that would contour every curve!

Bi-monthly visits for almost eight months meant that I got to choose every detail of my dream dress and give my approval as it progressed. To avoid confusing my brain, Arwen quickly established the perfect design to suit my hour-glass shape and forced me to choose an exquisite imported lace from only three samples. I knew that a long-sleeved, figure-flattering lace gown would be the only way to achieve “sultry” and “modesty”, and besides I wanted to be enveloped in as much bright, beautiful, angelic whiteness as possible…

They say every bride has a funny (but not-so-funny on the day) story to tell, and mine involves the dress, a needle and dental floss. Yup, I had to be sewn up with floss – a life-saving piece of pre-wedding advice from Arwen which I didn’t think I’d need. The dress has two zips; a heavy-duty one which closes up the inner corset and an outer zip which gathers the lace overlay. My friend (and talented make-up artist), Sharona, was helping me slip into my gown so I could capture a few incredible photos before my groom and guests arrived. That’s when disaster struck. The inner zip went up without a hitch but a damaged tooth on the outer zip prevented it from inching beyond a certain point.

Sharona attempted a candle wax trick which she reckoned would help the zip slide shut but with no success. I whipped out the needle and dental floss as per Arwen’s instruction and Sharona stitched me up. During the brief photoshoot downstairs, I kept tripping over my gown’s scalloped lace edge so I had no other choice but to summon Arwen to the venue.

Arwen arrived at the door of my luxury Baobab Suite at The Munro Boutique Hotel quicker than emergency services respond to a crime scene. She was down on her knees snipping away and then quickly twisted the countless round crystal buttons down my spine through their loops when after all this effort, I realised that I needed to wee… And relieving myself meant undoing all the buttons, cutting the floss stitches and doing it all over again… Eek!

That 2:30pm toilet break would be last for the entire day! Luckily, adrenaline kicked in and a single cup of masala tea was my only sustenance for the next seven hours. I survived until midnight when my new hubby jokingly tore through the dental floss stitches with his teeth!

These photos of my show-stopping wedding gown exhibit all it’s lovely ‘falling petal’ detail and illuminating aurora borealis crystals.


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