Wednesday, 30 April 2008

South Africa 2008: Wedding Day

April 4th 2008 - I awoke just as it was getting light. For a while I lay snuggled under the duvet contemplating the day ahead... my wedding day! Was I nervous? Yes, but only in a school play / pre-exam sort of way. I was happy and excited and had butterflies, and I expect something would be wrong if a bride didn't have those!

I quietly left my room and padded to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee, which I took back to bed. Mom, Sis and BestGirl were staying in the same apartment and I didn't want to wake anyone just because I couldn't sleep (I found out later they were all awake too but were keeping quiet so as not to disturb me!). At about the time I emerged for my second cup of coffee BestGirl came out and joined me. She produced a tiara left over from the hen night, and cooling eye compresses which we played with for a while, getting into the spirit of the day. When the others joined us a glass of champagne helped too!

After a late breakfast Mom dropped BestGirl and me at the wedding venue - the 12 Apostles Hotel (it is named for the range of mountains behind it). We had massages and manicures booked in the Hotel spa, which delves into the mountainside in a maze of warm, dark and scented caves and tunnels. Apparently most of the spa facilities such as jacuzzi and sauna are free for hotel guests to use, but I didn't have a chance to try them out. BestGirl and I had a back and shoulder massage which was amazing! I knew I was tense, but when the masseur first pressed between my shoulder blades I actually jumped in pain! After an hour's massage I had no knots left and felt gloriously relaxed, fabulous, just what I needed. Then we both had manicures in the same room, lying on heated beds with scented eye pillows, gossiping with the girls... aaah.

I checked into my room at about 1pm and ordered a bottle of champagne from room service (of course). The 12 Apostles is a very posh hotel about 5 minutes drive away from anything, set up on the mountainside overlooking the sea. It is very luxurious, and I recommend it for a pampering getaway. It is very expensive in South African Rands, but quite reasonable if you are spending Aussie dollars - we would not have been able to afford a venue vaguely similar back in Australia. Their wedding venue is in a garden overlooking the sea, and the reception dinner takes place in a tented courtyard with the sunset over the sea happening behind the bridal table.

The hair and makeup girl, Ivana, arrived at about 1:30pm. The poor thing had been dumped by her fella the night before, and it was quite surreal to be getting ready for my wedding with a girl in the throes of man-hate... luckily it didn't affect her skills and she made BestGirl and me look like movie stars! She even gave us long false eyelashes which were stunning. My Dad arrived at the room at 3:30pm, the minister and planner and photographer popped by, and we were all ready to roll just before the ceremony time of 4pm.

At this point the hotel's own wedding planner took charge of me. I'm sure she's lovely, but I found her very odd... she got me to lift my skirt in one hand, and hanging onto every railing and banister with the other we slooowly walked to the gardens. Apparently most brides rush, and trip. I'm emphasizing this because after the ceremony I needed a wee and she made me run to do it! At what point does it not matter that the bride trips, hmm?

To the sound of a string trio playing the wedding march BestGirl preceded us into the garden, and then Dad and I walked across the grass to the red carpet, paused, and then walked to the front to where my beloved Milord was waiting.

The ceremony was lovely. Our minister is Christian, but as neither Milord or I are believers he left out all mention of God while still retaining a lot of the traditional elements. He also had a wicked sense of humour... having met with us earlier in the week he had picked up that we are not shy and enjoy a laugh, so he teased us and threw in a few memorable moments. Such as without warning asking BestMan and BestGirl to convince him to marry us, and making Milord go down on one knee when putting the ring on my finger!

I'm going to be soppy and put our vows here (we picked them from a large selection the minister gave us).

"I Saffa take you Milord to be my husband. All that I am I give to you and all that I have I share with you. I promise to be kind, trusting and understanding, to share in the good times as well as the bad and to bring happiness and laughter into this marriage. I promise to love you for the person you are, today and forever."

"You are my beloved and you are my friend. With this ring I marry you and join my life with yours."

They made me well up when I first read them, and they still do. Aaaah.

Then the blessing, and the kiss, and the greeting of friends and family, and champagne and nibbles and photographs... The weather was all over the place, sunshine in our eyes during the ceremony, then blustery with a touch of rain, then the wind dropped and the rain stopped and the clouds broke up to give us an amazing sunset.

We had a superb reception overlooking the sea. The food was excellent and the service perfect. Our soloist Jenie Oliver was amazing - her latest work sounds very Norah Jonesy, but she does covers like Annie Lennox or Beyonce, and half the time I didn't realise it was her singing because she was so good I thought it was a cd!

Dad, BestMan and Milord gave speeches. Dad's was awesome - he must have spent hours on it. He took the premise of a story in 6 words a la Hemingway ("For sale: baby shoes, never worn.") and managed to talk about love, family, politics, rugby ("Milord understands rugby. He's a keeper."), and me ("Tiny baby. Phenomenal progress. Proud Dad.") while throwing in jokes and innuendo, and ended with "We wish them luck and happiness". BestMan's speech was short and sweet to Milord's relief, and Milord ad libbed his which was brilliant. Some of the girls told me they'd never heard such a soppy groom's speech before and it made them cry... that's my fella! That's why I followed him around the globe!

Then cutting the cake and the first dance. Neither Milord or I are into cake, so we had a tower of cheese instead! Most of it came travelling with us on honeymoon... too many jokes about "wedding cheese"! Our first dance was to Jack Johnson's "Better Together", which Milord sent to me as an mp3 over email when we first started getting intimate. We hadn't really discussed the first dance, as I felt there was enough stress without trying to learn a routine, but after a bit of swaying and shuffling Milord took us into a few jive steps and turns and we had a lot of fun. He's fab on the dance floor!

The rest of the night we danced, and table-hopped, and chatted to people. The music stopped at 11pm and the minibus arrived to take folk back to Camps Bay, and everyone had left by midnight. Milord and I went to our room, tired and happy and sober, and that's quite enough information!

It was a wonderful day. Nothing went wrong, everything was perfect, and the venue was even better than I was expecting. My wedding planner Kirsty was absolutely fantastic - if you want to get married in Cape Town then I strongly recommend her. Nothing including accommodation and transport was too much trouble, she got back to me within a day every time I emailed, and her suggestions were always great. Don't be put off by the website (I was), they've used pictures of real weddings instead of glamorous models, so some outfits and weather conditions are not great!

Update 20/10/2008: Kirsty has left the outfit she was with when I used her and set up on her own. The new website for Weddings Out of Africa is superb - no longer offputting! I still strongly recommend her - it was her personal touch that really made my wedding experience so perfect. Well worth the fee (trust me - not being stressed is worth that much!).


Grumpy Chair said...

Thank you for sharing all your wonderful moments up to, during and after the wedding.

What a gorgeous skyline in the last picture you posted!

Saffa Chick you look beautiful and slender.

jo said...

Congratulations, it looks like you really had an amazing day!

Carol said...

What a cute story Saffagirl!!

Suzanne said...

Thanks for sharing the pictures and story of your wedding day.

You looked fabulous, the locale looks amazing, too. Best of all, you had loved ones there with you for your vows.