|Thanks to our dear friend, Trey, for taking this photo.|
What better day to post about our wedding than on Valentine's Day? By the way, Happy Valentine's Day to you all. May your day be filled with love and romance! Wow, so where do I even start with telling you guys about our wedding!? I guess the beginning would be the best. Grab yourself a cup of tea (or a beer... whatever floats your boat) because this is going to be a long one...
|An outside look of the courtyard and reception hall at Kleinplasie.|
We chose Kleinplasie as the venue for our ceremony and reception. It's only 14km from my hometown in South Africa, which I loved, as I knew we'd have family and friends come from abroad and I wanted them to see the area that I grew up in. The venue is beautiful, with nothing around it but rolling hills of farm land, which is mostly a golden color this time of the year.
The day before the wedding, the entire wedding party headed to the venue to rehearse in the chapel. Not until the pianist, my oldest brother, started playing the wedding march, did I feel that I was getting married the next day. It suddenly hit me and I felt a mixture of feelings; excitement, nervousness, happiness and relief.
|Kleinplasie County House|
The night before the wedding my mother, sister, bridesmaids, mother-in-law and I stayed at the lovely guest house at the venue. The Husband stayed with his dad and three brothers at the beach house about 40km away. I felt relaxed as we had champagne, a nice dinner and chatted about the big day that was to follow. I went to bed at around 11pm and slept like a baby.
|Kleinplasie Country House|
I woke up at around 8am to a perfect summer day. Literally, the birds were singing in the trees. My mom popped into my room to wish me a happy wedding day (and also proceeded to show me a picture that she had taken of me earlier while I was sleeping...) Creeper much?! I love you, Mamma!
One of my bridesmaids and I went to the reception hall to put the place cards on the tables, and for me to have my first look of the hall. I walked into the reception hall and I nearly cried. Of joy. It was magical and even better than I had pictured in my mind. We had decided on a pretty light neutral color palette, with shades of peach, cream, gray, white and blush pink. The flowers weren't even on the tables yet, but I already loved it! The gorgeous chandeliers, the checkered dance floor, the Tiffany chairs and fairy lights came together perfectly to create the look I was going for. I was so happy that we chose Antoinette Events to coordinate our special day. They were absolutely amazing! So helpful and so talented.
|My sister, Lynette, also the Maid of Honor, getting her hair done.|
|My bridesmaid, Inge, getting her makeup done.|
At 11am our hairstylist and makeup artist arrived. They got to work immediately to beautify everyone. My bridesmaids also got to work on opening a few bottles of champagne. (Hey, it is a celebration after all!) I felt very relaxed until about 2pm when I had to take my first "calm-down" meds. With only 4 hours to go until the "I do's", I was starting to feel the anticipation. I also knew that The Husband would be arriving at the venue to get ready with his groomsmen around this time, and that the photographer would be there soon. Yes, it was happening.
We chose Moira West Photography to capture our special day. I love her style, and I can't wait to receive all the photos. (Which I'll definitely share here on Pretty.Random.Things.) She took pictures of me and my bridesmaids while getting ready, and also took some snaps of the guys putting on their tuxes.
I think it was around 3pm when I finally got to put on The Dress. Oh, the dress. I fell in love with it the minute I saw it. It is simple, elegant, airy and so very romantic. Exactly what I had been looking for! I purchased the Reem Acra "Eternity" gown from the States and had it shipped to Taiwan. I had it altered in Taiwan and then it flew to South Africa with me. My shoes were from Badgley Mischka and my earring from Earrings Nation. I felt like a princess.
|The only photo we've gotten from our photographer so far. Lots more to come!|
Photo Credit: Moira West Photography
We took a lot of photos and had my two little flower girls join in as well. They were the cutest with their blonde curly hair and big blue eyes. It was so special to have one of my very good friend's little girls in our wedding.
During this time my dad, father-in-law and stepmother-in-law (is that a word!?) had also arrived at the guest house. I could hear them chatting excitedly from the master bedroom where we were having our photo shoot.
During this time I was thinking about my husband-to-be a lot. I was wondering how he was feeling and what he looked like in his tuxedo. I wanted to see him before the ceremony so badly, but it's our tradition for the couple to not see each other before the wedding.
It was 4:45pm when everyone left the guest house to go to the chapel. Only my dad, my mom and myself were left. I can tell you, that 15 minutes felt like 15 hours. The anticipation was killing me! Of course, I suddenly realized that I had to go to the bathroom, which was not the easiest thing, considering I had layers of tulle to hold up in the air.
Then, just before 5, it was time. After 7 months of planning our Big Day, it was finally here. I felt a rush of nervousness and excitement as my dad and I walked towards the chapel. The guests were seated inside and the bridal party was waiting outside. I didn't want The Husband to see me, so I waited to walk to the chapel until after he had taken our moms inside.
|Two of the groomsmen and father of the groom.|
Although it was a beautiful blue-sky day, the wind was crazy and my veil was blowing all over the place. I felt a little flustered and didn't even have time to really collect my thoughts and calm myself down before I had to enter the chapel. Our bridesmaids and groomsmen entered the chapel on a special rendition of I'll be there for you from The Rembrandts that my brother had come up with on the piano. I loved it, as that is the theme song from my favorite TV show, FRIENDS.
|The bridesmaids and groomsmen entering the chapel.|
|My beautiful bridesmaids.|
After they had all entered, the chapel was quiet and then my brother started playing a romantic piano version of the wedding march. (I have goosebumps now as I'm thinking about that moment.) It was so special to have my very talented brother play the piano for us. I remember him playing at other people's weddings when I was growing up. He used to practice on our piano at home, and as a little girl, I would fantasize about the day that he would play the wedding march at my wedding. My dream came true!
At this point, I was beyond nervous and could only pray that I wouldn't fall on my face. It's a weird feeling having so many people look at you. I had to remember to walk slowly, and I tried to take everything in. I was about halfway down the aisle when I took a deep breath and saw my husband-to-be for the first time that day. He was smiling at me, and I was so happy to see him. He looked so handsome! Tanned and tall in his classic black and white tuxedo. I couldn't wait to marry my prince.
|Here comes the bride.|
|Looking at that handsome fella at the end of the aisle.|
My dad gave me away and we stepped up to the little stage that had been set up for the officiant. One of our best friend's dad leaded the ceremony, which was so special to us. This was the time for me to hand over my bouquet to my maid of honor, my sister, and for my bridesmaids to fix my dress. My sister had to tell me three times to hand over the bouquet. I was so nervous that I was just holding on for dear life. She finally half-wrestled it out of my hand. (Did anyone notice that? I'm not sure..).
The sermon was beautiful and everything basically just came down to LOVE. As I was standing there, my legs were shaking under my dress (I hope no one noticed that!) and I was thinking; Don't faint! Don't cry! Listen to the sermon! But, in spite of this, I felt safe and happy next to my man. He was rubbing my hand gently as we were standing there, and I started to feel calm as I could feel him next to me.
We made our vows, exchanged rings and we kissed. Everyone applauded and proceeded out of the chapel. The ceremony was finished. As the last person left the chapel, my new husband and I sat down in the front row to have a quick chat. How was your morning? How do you feel? Basically just trying to catch up on the last 24 hours. After 5 minutes we got back in line and we followed our parents, the groomsmen and bridesmaids out of the chapel. Applause, white rose petals and happiness filled the air as we walked out and we got some time to mingle before heading off on our photo shoot. It was great having our entire family, friends (some of whom I haven't seen in 4 years!) and friends from abroad there.
|From left to right: My mother-in-law, my dad and my mom.|
Our guests proceeded to the courtyard next to the reception hall for appetizers and pre-drinks. We took family photos, photos with our groomsmen and bridesmaids, and then headed off for our couple shoot. The Husband and I were chatting non-stop, as we were trying to take everything in and enjoy the moment. We kissed a lot, too. And not just because we HAD TO for the photo shoot, but because we are very much in love, and we were so overjoyed that our big day was finally here and that so many of our loved ones were there to celebrate with us.
|Friends at the pre-drinks.|
|My brother, Morne, and my mom.|
As our guests were enjoying all the tasty treats that we had picked out for appetizers, and without a doubt, polishing the traditional Southern Sweet Tea vodka we had available, we had a lovely couple's photo shoot all over the beautiful farm. After about one and a half hours, we were ready to head back to the venue and start the celebration.
The guests were cheering and applauded as we entered the reception hall on The Cure's Just like heaven for the first time as Mr and Mrs Ray. We waved, kissed and went to sit down at the head table. We couldn't wait to pop that bottle of champagne! (hey, we've had a long day!). One of my cousins agreed to be our Master of Ceremonies, and did a great job in welcoming the guests and then it was time for the toasts.
|For the first time, Mr and Mrs Ray.|
My sister made the first toast and it was so funny and heartfelt. The Husband's oldest brother then made his Best Man speech, which we enjoyed so much. After lots of cheers! and champagne glasses clinking, it was time for the groom to take the stage. I know he was so nervous, but he totally pulled it off, and only cried a little... His speech was so sincere and made me feel like the luckiest lady in the world. After that, we could finally relax and just enjoy the evening.
|The Best Man's toast.|
|The groom's speech.|
We had our first dance on a cover version of Heaven, which is such a beautiful song. (I cried the first time I heard this version and knew that this would be our first dance song.) It was very romantic and I had to keep myself from kissing him throughout the entire song. (No matter how romantic of a setting, you just can't suck face in front of your grandmother!)
|Our first dance.|
After that, the evening was a blur of music, dancing, drinking, eating, laughing, taking pictures and catching up with everyone. I enjoyed every second and made a conscious effort to make enough time to join in all the fun. (The number one thing that all previous brides told me, was that the night goes by extremely fast, and that you have to enjoy yourself with your partner. They told me to not just try and make sure that everyone else was having a good time. It was OUR night.) We did just that, and we have no regrets of that evening.
|My bridesmaid, Inge, and my brother, Werner.|
We cut the majestic white four-tiered chocolate and caramel cake, and danced the night away, before The Husband threw the garter and I tossed the bouquet. There was more dancing and champagne after that, and then it was time for the celebration to come to an end. We didn't want it to end, we were having such a great time! Our guests said goodbye to us with a sparkler send-off, and we headed to our honeymoon suite, which is also situated on the property, for our first night together as a married couple.
|About to get the garter.|
|About to toss the bouquet.|
Yes, The Husband did carry his new bride over the threshold, and yes, it was a very romantic evening. You really don't think I'm going to tell you any more, do you!? Ha!
We have been married for almost two weeks now, and I couldn't be happier. We got to celebrate our special day with the ones we love. We got to have a beautiful wedding in South Africa. And now we also got each other, for the rest of our lives.