About the Bride
I am 30 years old and currently reside in Brisbane, Australia. I work in construction. Hubby and I got married in the registries office here in Brisbane in September 2012 (after a 3.5 year long distant relationship – me in Australia and Andre in South Africa) and we wanted to renew our vows in front of our friends and families. We both absolutely love the African bush, Andre proposed to me in Kruger and my mom lives in Marloth. Naturally, Marloth was the place for us to renew our vows.
About the Groom
Andre is 26 years old and is also in Brisbane. He is the General Manager for engraving company.
How did you meet?
We met at New Years in Salt Rock (KZN) at the end of 2008. We had both been invited to a mutual friend’s New Years Eve party. I lived in Durban at the time and Andre was in Joburg. We decided a few weeks after meeting that we were going to give the long distance relationship a go even though Andre knew I was moving to Australia at the beginning of May 2009.
How long were you together before the wedding proposal?
About the Proposal
I was home on holiday from Australia and we went to visit my mom in Marloth Park. We went on a day trip into Kruger and whilst driving between Skukuza and Lower Sabie, we stopped off at one of the look-out points along the river.
Andre told me he needed to get out of the car to answer natures call but we had just seen lion a few hundred meters up the road so I refused to let him. This ended up in an argument, I turned away from him and when I turned back to face him, he had pulled the ring box out of his pocket and asked me to marry him.
I was in such shock that I couldn’t answer him for a few seconds but obviously the answer was YES!!! He’d wanted to get out of the car, walk around to my side, open the door and get down on one knee but unfortunately my stubbornness ruined it for him.
How far in advance did you choose to have your wedding after the proposal? And, why?
The first thing we had to do was figure out how to get Andre into Australia as this was where we had already decided we were going to live. The visa he came over on stipulated that we had to be married with 9 months of him being granted his visa, hence the initial registries office ceremony in September 2012.
Shortly after the initial wedding, we decided to have the “main” wedding/vow renewal in September 2014 as it was my dad’s 60th so, by us having the wedding in September, we knew everyone would also be home from overseas for dad’s celebration.
The Wedding Planning Process
Planning a wedding from the other side of the world isn’t the easiest thing I have ever had to do however, with the help of Mom, my bridesmaids and of course, Anneke, the process wasn’t as painful as I thought it was going to be.
We had originally enquired as to having our wedding at Grand Kruger 3 years prior to the big day but had to put it off due to financial constraints. When we decided we were definitely a go ahead for September 2014, I got in contact with Anneke again and the planning started (roughly November 2013).
I can say in all honesty that I really had nothing to stress about. The lodge has hosted many weddings prior to ours and the whole planning process was seamless. Anneke would send me lists and dates of items she needed to know about, ideas for table settings, day timings etc so all we really needed to do was make our selection and she took care of the rest!
Mom and my brother in Marloth looked after the centrepieces, my chariot for the day and other aspects as they live in the vicinity and have the contacts. Our photographer was a school friend of mine who I have known for 23 years so that was never a concern.
In hind sight, I thoroughly enjoyed the planning of our wedding! I actually went into withdrawals for a few weeks after we returned to Australia as I had nothing to occupy my time on the weekends!
The Hen Party / Bachelorette & Stag Night
Andre and I had 2 hens and bulls parties, one for both of us in Australia with friends who weren’t travelling home and one in South Africa. My Aussie hens had an African theme so we all dressed up as some form of African animal.
We started the party at my bridesmaid, Mel’s house, followed by pole dancing at the local gym ( what fun!!!) and then dinner and drinks which went on well into the night.
Andre’s Aussie bulls started with clay pellet shooting early in the arvo and then drinks at the local pub followed by a pub crawl around Brisbane. I woke up the next morning with bodies all over the house so the boys must have had a good night!
For my Saffa hens, the theme was Moulin Rouge. We went to a lovely restaurant on Florida Road in Durban and then club hopping thereafter.
Andre and the boys played 9 holes of golf, then headed to a shebeen in Soweto to watch the international rugby and then on to more pub hopping.
The Wedding Details
I woke up the morning of our wedding/vow renewal absolutely exhausted as I had about 2 hours sleep the night before. The nerves had kept me up so some advice to future brides – pop a sleeping tablet if need be!
The girls were getting ready at my mom’s house and the boys at the lodge directly across the road. Andre dropped me off at 8am and the pampering began soon after. There were no hitches from the girls side, in fact, our hair, make-up, nails etc. ran so smoothly, we were ready 2 hours before we needed to be! This left us plenty of time to relax under the lapa and sip away at some champers.
The boys, on the other hand, seemed to have some issues across the road. We kept hearing cries of “where is my tie? I’m sure I left it here! I can’t find my shoes! Where the hell did I leave my jacket?” It was rather amusing to us.
Our photographer, Kate, arrived roughly an hour before we headed off to the lodge to take our portrait, group and family shots and then my dad, my brother (our chauffer) and I climbed into our game viewing vehicle and went from a relaxing drive along the crocodile river while heading toward Grand Kruger.
Just before climbing in the vehicle I managed to break one of my nails so, upon arrival at the lodge, my Maid of Honour and sister-in-law stuck me back together with cellotape (quick fix as we couldn’t find any super glue).
The ceremony took about 20 minutes and it was very special for both Andre and me to say our vows in front of those nearest and dearest to us. Following the formalities, we headed off with our bridal party to have our photo shoot in the bush.
My brother had managed to find some really secluded and beautiful spots for us and oh but did we have a laugh! From the second the 10 of us climber into the viewer, to the second we arrived back at the lodge, we were all in absolute hysterics!
When we entered the reception area, my breath was literally taken away at how beautiful the venue looked, it was everything I had imagined and hoped it would be… and then some! The attention to detail was absolutely superb! The food was delicious and we had many of our guests showering praise on the lodge in terms of the food and service quality. Following a few more formalities (speeches – which again left us in hysterics) the party was started with our first dance.
Thereafter, it was a free for all on the dance floor. We partied until the wee hours of the morning with some of our guests not getting to bed until the Sunday evening. Saturday 13th September 2014 goes down as the best day of our lives!
Andre and I had the most amazing day and having so many of our guests compliment us on “having the best wedding ever” was just the cherry on top!
Tips and / or advice for future bridal couples?
Choose your colour scheme/theme first! Once that is done, everything else will just fall into place! Once you know your colours/theme, choosing your décor etc. becomes SO much easier!
Also, just enjoy it, all of it! The planning may become stressful at times but it will all come together perfectly on the day! I almost had a panic attack the day prior to our ceremony because I was absolutely terrified something was going to go wrong or the décor wouldn’t look as nice as I’d imagined and you know what? EVERYTHING WAS PERFECT! Not a single hitch (that we know of anyway which is the way it should be).
Also on the day, take some time out for you and hubby, even if it is just a 10 minute breather. The day goes by so quickly and before you know it, you’re waking up the morning after. I would also strongly suggest that, if you can, you have a get-together the evening prior to the wedding for all guests. That way, everyone one can meet and there won’t be any awkward moments when the reception starts and people at tables don’t know each other. It’ll also give you a chance to have a chat with everyone because as much as you might say you will make time to talk to everyone on the day, it just doesn’t happen!
What was the most memorable part of your wedding day?
It is really difficult to pin point just one part of the day. All of it was absolutely surreal! Honestly, September 13th 2014 was the best day of both Andre and my lives! Being able to spend time with friends who we hadn’t seen in over 8 years was definitely one of the highlights.
Did you go on honeymoon? If so, where? And, why there?
We didn’t go on honeymoon straight away as we had quite a few guests fly out from all over the world and we wanted to spend time with them and our families. We are planning a trip to Fiji at the though!
- Venue: Grand Kruger Lodge
- Wedding Cake & Cupcakes: Shelley’s Cakes, Marloth Park
- Florist: Classic Flowers, Nelspruit
- DJ / Entertainment: Benson Mabaso, Marloth Park
- Photographer: Kate van Onselen Photography
- Décor / Vases & Candles: Classic Flowers, Nelspruit
- Reception Décor: Self Sourced by family of the bride by making use of natural resources in the bush habitat location
- Additional décor items i.e. Chair Tie-Backs / Underplates / Chair Covers etc: Grand Kruger Lodge
- Wedding Stationery: Self-made by family of the Bride
- Coordinator: Anneke Barr of “I Do Me Too Weddings”