Stephen (my husband) despises shopping, especially in one of the bigger malls in Johannesburg which is close to our house. On the morning of our wedding day, he dragged his best 'woman' to this very mall so that she could help him find a special gift for me which she had to give to me before the ceremony. It was accompanied with a very emotional note and promise of our future together. Not that there were ever any doubts, but this certainly secured the feeling that we are meant to be together.
We shared our special day with our most special people, in our most special place and in a very special way. My best friend of 25 years was my 'man of honour' (he is a dude) and Stephen's best friend of 15 years was his best 'woman' (she is a lady). In 2013, I met Stephen in a hangar where I was learning to fly. It was a very easy decision that our wedding should be in the hangar where Stephen's plane is stored. (Flying is his passion and in his blood, he comes from a line of pilots. He worked extremely hard to finish his PPL and to be able to buy his dream plane. In fact, the wedding was postponed by a few months because he had to finish his PPL first.)
Everything about our special day was exactly us - our love for each other, our shared passion and interests and of course our wonderful friends and family. Oh - and we raised over R 6000 for the SPCA :-) Instead of gifts, we asked our guests to make a donation to the SPCA on behalf of the Sands Wedding.
Of course there were a few hiccups, for e.g. the howling wind that blew our tented church away during the ceremony and landed on a guest's head (she is fine), the caterers who over promised and under delivered (it looked like army rations) and the freezing cold which saw guests wearing tracksuit jackets over their lovely wedding attire.
Would we want to change it or do anything differently? Nope. Everything happens exactly as and when it should, and we face it together.
We flew to the beautiful Palala Boutique Game Lodge on the border of Botswana. Because the weather was so windy and rough, the flight there was less than romantic as I stared at my breakfast in a little white bag for most of the way... The amazing staff and beautiful lodge immediately made me feel better and we enjoyed the most relaxing and intimate honeymoon I could have ever asked for! Special messages written on our dessert plates by the chef, rose petals and champagne on our bed and one of the best spa's I have been to made our short honeymoon even more romantic. They even played our wedding song during dinner :-)
Let's start from the inside out. My lingerie was my special surprise present from my husband :-). My perfume was a gift from my company that I work for, Michael Kors. Jewelry was part of my 'something new', my mom & dad bought me a beautiful Swarofski Crystal bracelet with a heart and a moon on it to fit in to the theme "I love you to the moon and back". I didn't want a tiara, I am not a princessy type of girl. So I opted for the diamante hairclip which I found at Accessorize.
Hair was done by a lovely lady called Madelyn Louw Moller & makeup by a dear friend Nadine (it was also my wedding present from her).
I think I decided when I was at school that I want to wear ballet shoes on my wedding. I love dancing and being comfortable. So my little bridesmaid (also my niece) and I wore identical ballet shoes which I customised with leftover wedding dress lace.
My dress - I am not a fairy princess type so I wanted something timeless yet modern. I loved the lacy Italian designs and after visiting three bridal shops I found my dress at Eurobride. Its one of a kind in SA and I added extra imported lace around the edge of the dress. I also added a detachable wavy skirt just for the ceremony part.
My garter - I had it customised to read "remove before flight". Those in aviation will know that this is one of the most common pieces of flying.
Because we met in a hangar, we thought it fitting to get married in one! It was pretty much decided from the start that its what we want to do so in spite of many frowns and questioning faces, we never looked at any wedding venues!
The hangar is called The Toy Store and its at Rand Aiport. Many guests staid the night at the Dakota Lodge which is walking distance from the hangar. Others stayed in guest houses just outside the airport.
The 'church' was a stretchy tent which was set up just outside the hangar.
As I mentioned before, I am not a princessy type of girl. Besides eating healthy with my husband (who wanted to lose a bit of weight) I didn't change much about my usual regime.
The theme was "I love you to the moon and back" and the colour scheme was all white with a touch of black. The reason for the black is because my ring has a black diamond in it and its my second favourite colour.
I ADORE orchids and I have always said that I want orchids as my wedding flowers. Stephen and I are very plain and simple people so we didn't want tables cluttered with stuff. However, I am not a fan of killing hundreds of flowers for a party so I managed to find artificial orchids. My bouquet was also a bunch of artificial orchids which I now use as part of the decor in our house. My grandfather passed away many years ago so to honour him, I had his handkerchief as my 'something blue' which was stuffed in the orchids (for in case the emotions got too much).
The ring cushion was my 'something borrowed' from my aunt. It was her ring cushion when she got married. It will now be passed down to my kids.
All the tables were glass tops with LED lights in the white stretchy base. The chairs were also clear perspex. These were rented from SA Event Decor.
The table decor consisted of a rectangular mirror base with LED candle votives and orchid stems one each end. The napkins were black and wrapped around the glass under plates. The wedding favours were halfmoon shaped keyrings with each guest's name engraved on it. The guest seating chart was a large glass slab propped up in a white base with the names and table numbers engraved on it in white. All of it was done by Making Memories.
The backdrop in the church was a wall of orchid flowers, these we moved inside after the service and they were positioned behind the bridal couch.
We didnt want a bridal table. In stead we moved to each table throughout the night and spent time with our friends and family. For the purposes of walking in and speeches, we had a lovely white leather couch which we used in the beginning.
I am very lucky to know Mushroom Productions and there was no need to even look at other service providers for my sound & lighting. They kitted out the hangar with speakers and lighting in all the right places. The DJ, Martin, was absolutely amazing and kept everyone on the dance floor (www.bontempodjs.co.za).
The rest of the decor was stretchy wall panels draped all around the walls and across the top creating a lower ceiling. This was all white.
We had two gorgeous planes, a vintage Harvard and a spunky Sukhoi, which were purposefully left in the hangar and incorporated into the decor.
I had a large decal made with our initials on which decorated the dance floor. This was printed and installed by Lithotech.
Stephen thought he would keep it a surprise so I only saw his outfit as I walked down the isle. Likewise did he see my dress only when I walked down the isle.
He rented his and the ring bearer's suit from Eurosuit but had it tailor made to his liking. He opted for a dark charcoal grey suit whilst the ring bearer (also our nephew) wore a lovely black suit.
Stephen's best man was his best friend which happens to be a girl, aptly named best woman during the wedding preparations. She already had a lovely black and white striped dress which she wore to our wedding. We also gave her an angel necklace as this is the pet name for her.
For Stephen's wedding present, I bought him compass cuff links. The message was "may you always find your way back to me". I also bought him an original WWII compass as a present when he passed his PPL. He also had a pair of socks which read "I love you to the moon and back"
The ring bearer, fathers, my uncle and my man of honour each had customised socks which had their own unique message on. They all wore it on the day.
My little bridesmaid wore a white flowery dress which we eventually found at the Oriental Plaza. For some reason, that time of year there were none of those gorgeous little dresses in the shops. She had the same ballet shoes as mine which I dazzled a bit with left over wedding lace.
My maid of honour was my best friend and happens to be a guy... so he wore a lovely black suit for his job as 'man of honour". When I asked him to be my man of honour, he received a pair of cuff links shaped like ropes. it came with a little card asking "I cannot tie the knot without you".
An AMAZING lady called Sue Welman from True North Path. Just do yourself a favour and chat to her - she made our special day extra special and unique!
We didnt want an hour long service and there are many different denominations that we had to consider so we opted for a 15 min service. We are also quite private when it comes to matters of the heart so instead of writing long soppy vows, we opted for the Celtic tying of the hands. Each ribbon's colour represented a different element of what we wanted in our marriage for each other. We asked each set of parents, my gran, my aunt and Stephen's sister to bring a ribbon and tie it around our hands.
One thing that was extremely annoying about planning a wedding was the absorbent fees that wedding photographers charge! I knew that I didnt want a million photos because at the end of the day, you only choose about 3 or 4 which you frame/display.
I found a couple called Lime Light Photography. They only do 300 - 400 photos, include a photobooth with props and a special picture taken in the dark with sparks flying in the back ground. Their package also includes 2 photographers.
Because the venue and decor already represented many photo opportunities, we didnt opt for a photo booth but used one of the planes as a background for group photos.
The howling wind really didnt help and caused a lot of havoc for the photos. This is something, unfortunately, that is no ones fault and cannot be edited out of many of the photos...
I have over 15 years experience in the marketing and events management industry so I didn't need any help with regards to planning, etc. This did however cause some issues with the family as they felt left out because I did everything on my own...
So, a word of advice to all brides-to-be : it doesn't matter how much you know, think you know or how adamant you are about your choices, a wedding is NOT all about you. It includes your special friends and family and trust me, they want to be part of this special occasion too. Allow them to join you in your journey.
We got dressed and ready at the Dakota Lodge which is all on the same premises as the hangar. The church was set up right in front of the hangar so I really just needed a lift from the Lodge to the hangar. We decided to use my dad's car which my uncle drove for us. When my uncle and aunt got married (and I was the bridesmaid), they also used my dad's car then as their wedding car. So we kept it in the family :-)
Because it is a hangar, there are no facilities for catering, etc. So we had to be smart about it.
Stephen and I are known among our friends and family for always making tons of food. Our house is always full of people and always full of food that we keep making and eating together as our guests visit.
We wanted to recreate this idea at the wedding and decided that we definitely dont want a buffet but rather have a few courses throughout the evening served on platters on the tables. This way everyone eats together and its like a homely environment.
We opted for a spitbraai catering company called Nyama Spit Braai. Their cooking methods were exactly what was needed as there are no facilities at the hangar. They also claim to serve modern and professional food rather than the usual spitbraai menu...
We chose haloumi fingers and salsa bruschetta as starters, main course 1 had spitbraai ribs and veg skewers and main course 2 had roast spit beef with salad and corn on the cob. Dessert was a platter with 5 different little desserts on.
Very long story short (and a pending legal case) - they promised the world, that there will be too much food and plenty left over, etc.
Some guests secretly ordered pizza to be delivered to the hangar because they were so hungry. The portions were dismal, the haloumi fingers were the size of a toddler's pinkie.
The presentation was atrocious, it looked like the silver trays that soldiers eat out of. The cherry on top - the food was ice cold when it was served...
There are many other catering companies who could provide the same service and easily deliver on this idea. Unfortunately, this crowd wasn't one of them...
My wedding cake was a surprise! Its one of my mom's biggest concerns so I told her that she had carte blanche and I will only see it when I get to the venue. Needless to say, she did an outstanding job with organising this four tier cake which had layers of carrot cake and bar one chocolate cake. I cannot stand traditional wedding cake so we chose a more traditional route with this one.
I have some design skills so I worked with the printers when it came to designs and printing.
Our invites consisted of a half moon perspex with a poem about "i love you to the moon and back" engraved on it. This doubles up as a bookmark.
The other part was a round perspex circle with a moon and stars engraved on it. This doubles up as a coaster.
This was all tied together by a silky ribbon with the paper invite cut to the same circle size as the coaster.
We would have LOVED a live band but budget constraints didnt allow for it. But this didnt matter as we had an amazing DJ that kept everyone on the dancefloor!
From grand receptions to the intimacy of family affairs, Palala Boutique Game Lodge's attention to detail and precise planning will make this day stress-free and most enjoyable.
Family Winery | Franschhoek | South Africa