On my 25th birthday, I was given the most memorable gift; marriage. I never purposely picked this date, but when we decided to look into October, my birthday, which fell on a Saturday, 18 October made the most sense, especially to me because I love my birthday so much that I hate it. Again, like my first wedding post, I’ve left out quite a few candid moments and hardly shared family pictures because they’re more personal, and I get a bit weird about that!
We took photographs at the venue itself, hidden further back in the grounds where the guests couldn’t see us. Once they had finished their pre-drinks and were seated in the big glass house that held our reception, we descended from the hills from an area where everyone could see us arrive as a group. The flowergirls and pageboys led the way, and Malick walked ahead with my mum on his arm. I followed, hooking in my Dad’s arm and with my brother sort of nearby, while my five bridesmaids held my dress, and the sounds of Yuna’s “Butterflies” echoed throughout the little valley. As we entered the reception itself, the little ones tossed petals on the white carpet, while the bridesmaids formed a guard of honour at the door, and we entered to the sound of Etta James’ At Last.
Inspired by the black and white diamonds in my white gold ring, my theme was, kind of, black and white. Although it somehow ended up being white and silver, which worked out way better in the end.
I was super happy to have my five best girlfriends by my side. I wanted bridesmaids but not the traditional kind. They had no male counterparts, didn’t walk down the aisle with bouquets, and I never chose their outfits. Their only brief was to wear something next-level fabulous, reflecting their personality and it had to be black in colour, while the ever-logistical La’eeqah organised white rose corsages for everyone. These girls did everything for me, from arranging the best bachelorette to fluffing out and carrying my train every step of the way. What made the day extra special was having Inge and Leonor fly down from Joburg and Doha respectively just for the occasion, with Leonor, Aisha and Zorah making speeches that left us all teary. They’ve all been in my life for years, and at some point we have all been apart for long periods of time yet maintained the bond, which taught me that real friendship and love knows no distance.
My four cuties, two flowergirls and two pageboys, were the most adorable little gems and the ultimate entertainment. We bought the flowergirl’s dresses while on umrah(pilgrimage in Mecca) at the end of last year, and their leather ballet shoes were measured and made by the folks at the Fairy Shop in Kenilworth Main Road. The boys wore elasticated arc trousers made by my aunt and were paired with sourced department store basics, while they each had to be bribed with a PSP to participate.
Everyone thought I was ridiculous for setting a date a mere four months in advance and told me I would “never pull it off”, and “all the great venues will already be taken”. They were partially right; most of the venues I loved were booked out or offered a price tag we could only dream of affording. What made things more difficult was I wanted a reception where catering and basic decor was provided by the venue. I wanted a venue that was simple and chic, but not too flashy, summery but not under a marquee. I wanted a drive out so people wouldn’t just eat and leave. I wanted a view and grass for the children to run freely on. After hunting for two weeks, my cousin mentioned a wedding venue her friend had recently been to. “It’s in Paarl and called Belair or something. My friend can’t stop talking about it, see if you can Google it”. I did, and it was love at first sight. I was initially disappointed that the venue was only for dry hire (ie: completely empty, without catering or decor except chairs and tables), but I couldn’t resist the elegance in its simplicity. We drove out to have a look, and we couldn’t flaw the Pavilion at Belair on anything. It was perfect.
Janet Plumbly, the owner of Belair (which also holds a fantastic B&B), was incredibly helpful, kind and enthusiastic in every way. She lives on the property, and took the responsibility of accepting all my deliveries for the week leading up to the wedding. She made sure that in four months, she had built additional bathrooms which considered Islamic ablution facilities, and arranged a prayer area. Initially I had planned to hire Tiffany chairs, but then Janet showed me one of 190 metal Tiffany-like chairs which she had bought and was going to have refurbished, and she assured me it would be ready by the wedding. It saved me a good R5000 – R6000 on hiring chairs externally. She owns a metal workshop too, and after being “sick and tired of those Tiffany chairs” as she said, she had a change of heart with the chair’s refurbishment, and had them re-welded to a design she calls “Alice in Wonderland chairs”. I was lucky enough to be the first bride to get to use them. She also reminded me constantly on the day, “Every year only one bride gets the jasmine in the venue to be in full-bloom, and this year you’re that bride!” All this time I thought it was just ivy, and even that made excited.
Furthermore, as we took photographs on the grounds at Belair, Janet opened up the honeymoon suite house for the retinue to relax, freshen up and take photographs in. Set against the backdrop of the mountains in Paarl, with a glass structure accommodating the most breathtaking view and sunset overlooking the Winelands, our venue was more than anything we could have hoped for.
My long-time friend, Khaalid, acted as my fantastic MC for the night with his charming energy, he was wonderful; only deviating from the program to have everyone dim the lights to sing happy birthday to me while I blew out a candle. Finally, Malick and I cut and fed each other our cake that my lovely Zorah had made as our gift, boasting a three differently-flavoured tiers of vanilla, red velvet and chocolate ganache.
THE CATERING AND DECOR
Muslims in Cape Town, like myself, generally have two main caterers as options; Barons and La Elegante, and we are super lucky because rates are always pretty low as we don’t drink alcohol. I opted for La Elegante after seeing the impeccable job they did for a friend’s wedding which hosted a whopping 800 guests. At my own wedding, everybody, myself included, couldn’t stop raving about the food and the excellent service from the waiters. Where they fell short was their inability to follow my decor instructions that were discussed in two separate meetings, some of which I had paid extra for. Despite me taking the time to draw up an easy-to-use, comprehensive guide for dummies (which included photographs and diagrams) on how to setup my candy buffet and pre-drinks, they somehow managed to mess up the arrangement. It should have been up all night for guests to enjoy and empty out, even after the pre-drinks, yet it was dismantled before I even arrived at the venue, although guests mentioned there were still so many sweets left when it was packed up (what happened to the rest of my sweets?!). They never brought my silver underplates to the venue at all, and brought white embossed napkins instead of black (although I will admit, the white looked better). I barely noticed anything on the day, I was just excited and happy, but looking back on the photographs I couldn’t understand how a company so established could mess up those simple things, when they are used to catering functions that are far larger. Futhermore, I had sourced everything else separately, from tables to table cloths and chairs, without using the majority of their decor services which come with the catering package. In other words, there was a lot less for them to worry about, and with 160 guests compared to my friends’ perfectly-run 800, their execution was quite a let-down.
My flower arrangements were all done by my aunt, with decor finishings hired from Rosy’s, Rent-A-Candle and La Elegante. If you’d like to book her for any events, you can email me directly and I’ll put you in touch.
A massive thank you to everyone who played their part in our special day, and that includes all of you who sent me countless comments, messages and emails to wish us well. So many hands somehow contributed to make this day extra amazing, and we were truly overwhelmed with kindness, generosity and love. Despite the odd mishap, it really was a dream, and by far the happiest day of my life. I’m usually a stressball, and always thought I would be a crazy bridezilla, but I have never been more calm or more present in my life!
Photographs & Photo Booth by Flash Box Studio