Heartfelt, unique, ineffable and special to the bone only begins to describe this very long awaited wonderful day. Both myself and Renier's family and friends had been pining for our wedding since the day we met.
During our engagement year, we had lost three very close and special family members (including my grandmother who was supposed to be a bridesmaid); this left our family in heartbroken pieces scattered over South Africa. We wanted the wedding weekend to be a way of helping our family pick up the pieces and mourn and celebrate together, reminding us that we need to keep moving forward and focus on who we have left to live for. To give the mothers in our lives something to look forward to after the terrible losses, we gave each of them a part of the wedding to plan as if it was their own. This meant that every single part of the wedding was an extraordinary function on its own, with very little to no stress on the bride!
Our wedding was a family weekend getaway. Every single guest checked in on Friday for a bonfire Dutch food braai, after collecting their unique wedding survival gift crates . The Saturday while the men all played poker and kept the kids entertained, all the women came together for hair, makeup, champaign, music and chatter. We ensured that every woman felt pampered and looked her best that day, not just the bridal party. Tractor ride game drives took all the guests to the outdoor wedding chapel for a one of a kind wedding ceremony with self written vows, surprise wedding rings and a very entertaining flower dude! The Dutch themed reception with canape's, games, and a very unique cheese layered wedding cake kept our guests fully entertained while the bride and groom enjoyed their smoke bomb sunset photo session. Our wedding hall was elegant, yet down to earth with a bushveld clash of pampass grass, orchids, glass and fairylights! The detail was so much that no amount of photographs would capture all of it. And our first dance....oh boy was it special. We remember every part of the wedding and took in every moment of it with no regrets.
The wedding had so much character, laughter, sentiment and uniqueness that could only be described when you put myself and Renier together. We are still glowing when we talk about it all.
Sunday Morning 20 March was my birthday, and we celebrated it over breakfast in the wedding hall with the guests before everyone greeted and went on their merry ways. Just after the bride jumped from the cliff into the river with her wedding dress of course ;) !
The best weekend of our lives!
Our Honeymoon was just as magical as the wedding weekend. We were blessed that the borders between South Africa and Mauritius opened so we spent 10 Days in heavenly bliss! We stayed in Veranda Tamarin Hotel on the West Coast of Mauritius Island and toured over the entire island with sight seeing, beach hopping, rum tasting, dolphin swimming, snorkeling and Catamaran Cruising. We enjoyed the romantic honeymoon all inclusive package and drank far too many cocktails on the beach during the majestic sunsets. We saw the seven coloured earth, hiked to several magnificent waterfalls, petted some pretty big tortoises, and swam in the most clear blue water we had ever seen. It was Renier's first International trip and our first holiday alone.
Due to another family member's wedding shortly after ours, we divided our honeymoon into two sections. We attended the wedding after Mauritius, and then continued our honeymoon to the quiet and prestine sand dune beaches of Mozambique! Here we enjoyed 4x4 drives over some tricky dunes, cooked our own prawn and crayfish right on the beach, and enjoyed the beautiful starry night sky over a fire pit in the evenings with the sound of the waves crashing in the background. Chicuanga Resort in Mozambique have beautiful private chalets on the beach and they decorated the room for a honeymoon experience so beautifully we felt guilty having to pack it up in order to sleep....
I must admit, I was quite an unconventional bride who never really imagined my wedding day in terms of how I would look, what I would wear, but rather the experience of it all with family and friends.
I went for a single dress fitting which the seamstress would describe as very bizarre and funny. It was important to me that the dress fit my plus size body comfortably, that I did not feel like I had to stop eating for a year in order to fit into it, and that it would be something I would be comfortable in wearing the entire wedding day through. I also very much enjoyed bending some of the traditional rules of wedding attire to make my experience different, unique, and sentimental.
Wedding Dress & Accessories:
Seamstress: Leonie Architto of Archityo Boutique
I bought an A-line lace up at the back white dress with soft netting, and a floral lace pattern over the top.
Alterations included: hand embroidered lace flowers down the one side of the dress in purple, blue and green by my mother; a soft white veil that hung down the back of my dress like two wings, two strings of pearls hanging down the back with the veil, and......an underdress that could light up / glow in the dark made by optic fibre fabric which I ordered from America- yeap my dress glowed in the dark hahaha! You should have seen the facial expressions of the seamstress when I tried explaining to her what had to be done!! Never the less she was well up for the challenge.
When I met Renier I was a barefoot waitress and it was something he liked about me. So for the wedding ceremony I was barefoot with hand embroidered lace over my toes and ankles.
I wore white leather sandles purchased from Shandre Jansen van Vuuren through Gia'Nezz, for the rest of the evening.
Lingerie was a challenge for plus size body types, but I was able to get the most gorgeous items for the wedding and honeymoon from Hush by Elegance that made me feel beautiful in my own skin. They also provided a very fun honeymoon box of goodies that traveled all the way with on honeymoon.
Jewelry was a combination of earrings bought at Lovisa (Something new), pearl necklace borrowed from my godmother (something borrowed), and a Pandora bracelet with a blue flower charm from my mother in law (something blue). My garter was made by the seamstress and I added small items to it that had belonged to my grandmother as something old.
Make up & Hair:
The make up artist and skin care routine professional Share Andrews of Classic Laser SA took great care of my very sensitive skin for months before the wedding as well as on the day. She did my make up a well as the rest of the bridal party focusing on a more natural approach and not covering all my freckles like most artists always try to do.
Stay Make Up and Beauty with Chantelle Meyer's team to do the hair for myself and the bridal party was provided by the venue as part of the all inclusive package. They did a wonderful job with soft curls in my hair tied to one side with a beautiful pearl clip. The flower girls had hand made flower clips for their hair and the bride's maids and mothers of the bride and groom received zirconia hair clips by Lovisa as a gift.
I felt like a princess!
We had little over a year of engagement time to decide on a venue and plan our wedding. Thankfully we knew exactly the type of wedding we wanted early on, which made choosing a venue so much easier.
Tholo Thabanyana in Swartruggens North West, 2 hours drive from Johannesburg, was a bit further than we planned, but we knew from the moment we met the team and saw the breathtakingly beautiful outside chapel; that we just could not get married anywhere else. Geraldine and Janco Swanepoel are down to earth, straight forward honest people who treat your wedding as if it were their own. Their accommodating packages and perfect wedding weekend options set the base for our dream wedding.
The venue and nearby (5 km away) bed and breakfast easily accommodated our 80 guests with comfortable rooms, delicious breakfasts delivered to your door, and kid friendly facilities. The perfect weekend wedding venue in Gauteng and North West combined!
The outside chapel includes game drive through the bushveld on a tractor to a stone chapel next to the river with a gorgeous cliff that just begs to be photographed....or jumped off from....lol I sure did.
They have an inside chapel or several umbrellas for the rainy days, but we were blessed with the most perfect weather on the day, after a week of very wet rainy storms.
The venue chalets and honeymoon suite are spacious, comfortable but also stunning inside. Their honeymoon suite has special lights for make up, hair and photographs!
Our guests enjoyed the outdoors and felt like the wedding weekend was a perfect breakaway from city life.
I am fortunate to have a wonderful maid of honor who loves beauty regimes and bossing me around as well as a close friend Share of Classic Laser SA who made sure I was at my best for my wedding day.
I started going for monthly skin treatments 6 months before the wedding which were specific to my skin type with products specific for me as prescribed by Classic laser SA.
My maid of honor ensured we had a few spa treatments to relax before the wedding.
Collagen in my daily coffee worked wonders for hair, skin and nail health as well as vitamins provided by Classic Laser SA.
I enjoyed the routine and results so much, I have continued with it after the wedding as well.
The wedding colors were jewel tones in the bushveld. A clash of elegance and bosveld all rolled into one. The decor and floral items were simple, yet detailed.
Flowers were mostly pampass grass, eucalyptus and potplant orchids that could be given as gifts to the guests after the wedding. I did not want to waste a bunch of cut flowers that would go bad after a few days. Some greenery and peacock feathers were added here and there to compliment the color scheme.
The chapel was planned and decorated by my mother and the Tholo Thabanyana team.
There were origami birds handmade by my mother with little bells hanging from the roof frame, and the isle was covered in soft sawdust for the barefooted bride. The sides of the isle were decorated with palm leaves, pampass grass and greenery. Guests rang little bells while my father walked me down the isle - I remember every second of it.
At the front of the isle my father had built a large wooden cross for us to get married in front of and the cord of three strands was worked into the ceremony and built into the cross for us to tie. It was very special.
The reception/canapes area was outside the main hall in the open air. My godmother decorated it in Dutch themed colors and ornaments to honor my family's Dutch heritage. Dutch snacks, foods and games entertained the guests and hand made cake toppers on top of a cheese layered wedding cake made for a lovely photo corner. My godmother hand painted small wood pieces for months before the wedding to look like Dutch delft paintings and scattered it all over the canapes area for the guests to enjoy.
My mother in-law and the Tholo Thabanyana team decorated the wedding hall- main reception. I was taken to see the hall as a surprise before the wedding and could not help but burst into tears of how beautifully perfect it looked.
The hall had large wooden doors, a big dance floor and a romantic fairy light ambiance to it.
The tables in the hall consisted of picnic like tables and benches with glass underplates, blue material serviettes, purple pot pant orchids in glass jars, and a lot of fairy lights. We wanted to create an atmosphere of comfort but class. The seat placement board had key chains with engraved guest names on it and our gift boxes at the table included drink vouchers to the cash bar for each guest.
The hall bathroom had a 'help yourself' basket which guests really appreciated and in the back of the hall we had a memorial wall with photos of those we had lost but miss dearly.
The bridal table had beautiful peacock chairs and a home made Van Wyk sign.
Our DJ Maverick was part of the Tholo Thabanyana team and was a fun energetic person who accommodated all our requests and kept the party going until the next morning.
The groom Renier decided that he and his groomsmen and the rest of the bridal party men were going to be comfortable in the bushveld and break away from the traditional wedding attire.
They all wore neat dark blue jeans, a buttoned shirt and a formal black jacket with tie purchased from Woolworths. Items that they could wear again in the future.
The men all wore boots and the groom received a new pair of boots from Western Boots SA as a gift from his bride to be.
The ring security boys, usher and flower dude wore jeans, vellies (provided as gifts and bought from Gia'Nezz) with a blue buttoned shirt and white suspenders with a bow tie.
Boutonnieres were steampunk themed with cuff links made by JD's Peculiar things out of polymer clay.
Gifts for the men were all made by Shandre Jansen van Vuuren of Gia'Nezz and included hangers, steampunk themed box with the following inside: engraved whiskey glass and lighter, cuff links, cigars and funny socks.
The fathers of the bride and groom also wore jeans, boots and a formal jacket. The father of the bride received a printed handkerchief in his jacket from his daughter.
The men all looked fetching and were comfortable.
The seamstress Leonie Architto of Archityo Boutique made each bride's maid and flower girl's unique styled dress in a color of their choosing so that not one of them looked the same. This way I knew they liked what they were wearing and would wear it again one day.
They each received a pair of vellies or leather sandals with flower print on matching the embroidered flowers on my wedding dress. Shandre Jansen van Vuuren of Gia'Nezz provided the beautiful shoes.
Their hair was done by Stay Make Up and Beauty and their make up done by Classic Laser SA.
Kyle Delport was our very young and energetic marriage officer.
He was part of the all inclusive package of Tholo Thabanyana and he provided an exceptional service.
One Beat Photography with Gert Bos and Seugnet Visser were our wonderful wedding photographers. The male and female team up worked well for the bride and groom to be comfortable with the photos and ensured a full coverage of the entire wedding day. They just have an eye for natural photos that are not posed and tell a story.
The photographers were included in the Tholo Thabanyana wedding package (they give you a list of photographers to choose from).
Our videographer was Pieter Swemmer of GPS Productions (also provided by Tholo Thabanyana). He is a very creative and likable person who has become a friend of the family.
Geraldine of Tholo Thabanyana with her team were the main planners and coordinators on the day.
They generously still allowed the mothers to be involved and made the feel important and in charge which was wonderful for everyone's sanity wink wink.
Due to it being a wedding weekend e did not have a wedding car.
The guests were transported to the river chapel via game drive tractors which was quite fun for them and a bit different than the average wedding proceedings. This service is provided by Tholo Thabanyana.
Food for the wedding day as well as breakfast and the cake was catered by Tholo Thabanyana's team.
It was delicious. The type of food people still cannot stop talking about. And it was catered based o our specific food requests/choices.
Stationary, gifts and all finer details were designed, made and printed by Shandre Jansen van Vuuren of Gia'Nezz.
We had unique wedding survival kit booklets with a doodle of each guest on the front page of their booklet- these booklets were designed and printed by Magie Moon Of Moonaleaux Designs at 0832844685.
The guests loved their unique booklets and doodles to take home.
The formalities were kept short and sweet at reception with very entertaining MC' (husband and wife). The bride did the thanks speech on behalf of the bridal couple as it felt more personal than asking someone to do it on our behalf.
A few games were played, and a rugby ball was tossed instead of the garter.
We started with dance lessons a few months before the wedding with The Beat dance studio in Centurion. We have enjoyed it so much we are continuing with classes even after the wedding.
Our first dance was on the song "Faithfully" by Journey.
The song I walked down the isle on was "If I ever Saw Heaven" by Roan Ash.
And the song we entered the hall into as Mr and Mrs van Wyk was on 'Here I am" by Bryan Adams.
Father Daughter dance was on "Butterfly" by Danyel Gerard whilst the guests surrounded the dance floor with sparklers.
Mother son dance was on "My blood" by Westlife.
The DJ was DJ Maverick of the Tholo Thabanyana team with their lighting, smoke machine and sound.