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Chase and Claire

How we got engaged:

Chase booked me in the middle of May for a dinner date at the end of May. He was actually very smooth about it all, I just know he doesn’t plan dinner dates 2 weeks in advance (usually). OK, the story. After a morning spent with Chase’s twin, we drove to my flat in Sun Valley for the afternoon. Chase hadn’t told me anything about the evening so I was just happy for some afternoon relaxing with him. He eventually told me we were meeting my sister, Sarah, and Calvin, her boyfriend, at five o’clock about 10 minutes away from my house but that he and Calvin had a meeting at church (not unlikely) between four and five. He was going to fetch me before five.

On our way to this restaurant, he told me Sarah and Calvin were running late so we could go walk on Noordhoek beach in the mean time. This was something we did quite often in summer but, being autumn, it had been a while since we last had. It was sunny, almost sunset and peaceful. As we got closer to the shore, Chase pointed out a blanket and basket to me. He said, acting oblivious, that we should sit down. We did. He gave me roses, followed by peanut-ty chocolate (he knows I love peanuts in chocolate), sparkling wine and another blanket.

Soon after, he took out a small box and asked me to stand. Words, my mind going crazy, words and I said yes! We spent a few minutes enjoying the surreal moment, before Sarah and Calvin popped out from behind a rock with his camera and their congratulations! I had been wanting an engagement shoot but had not wanted to spend wedding money on one. Calvin (Neopixel Media) was kind enough to offer ours as a gift. Before our fun photo shoot, my mom and brother ran out from behind another rock. That was another surprise (they live 4 hours away in Swellendam). Calvin took some amazing photos that I will love forever.

Chase told me we were still going for that “dinner” but as we drove, I knew we weren’t going to the place near the beach. We drove about 25 minutes to a small restaurant just off the main road. I was happy because I had been once before and loved it. We walked up the stairs into a candle and fairy-light lit deck and as I got to the last stair, I saw a full room of our family and friends. This was the final and definitely the most surprising surprise of the night! It was a night of just us two, but also a night celebrating with people who had been with us throughout our journey.

What inspired my wedding colours and theme?

Picking a theme was easy. I always wanted to get married outside, preferably in a garden environment. I got a few good pictures from Pinterest and worked from those. The colours were very difficult. I actually didn’t want to pick a colour. I didn’t want commit to one colour because every time I imagined what my wedding would look like, I just imagined a bright, corny over-coordinated wedding. I wanted our wedding to look romantic, floral and flowy. I eventually picked blue because it’s one of Chase’s and my favourite colours and I knew not picking a colour would mean my bridesmaids wearing nothing or black, neither of which I wanted. I added beige later when choosing bridesmaid’s dresses. We both love beige, too and Chase’s tie had beige in the floral pattern.

DIY:

Yes, I made my own bouquets, Chase’s boutonnière. My sister sprayed jars gold for some flowers and a bridesmaid made gold handwritten messages on white paper doilies for each plate setting. Most of my décor was made or put up by friends and family, including all flowers, a backdrop and balloons at the church. I also sprayed a wooden board gold, attached Bluegum leaves to the top and a bridesmaid wrote a verse: “Your love is better than life itself” on it. This was at the entrance of the church (ceremony).

How involved were my bridal party and family?

My bridesmaids helped a lot, especially my sister, with DIY and execution of plans. I was planning our wedding from White River, Mpumalanga, so my sister did a lot of communicating with suppliers, church staff, friends and other helpers. My parents were not very involved although I did give my mom and brother a few tasks to include them. Chase’s family helped, too. Being in Cape Town, they could organise things like drinks, my nail appointments and the flowers and they did. Family was more involved over the last month, other than my sister.

Favourite thing about planning:

I think my favourite thing about planning the wedding was planning décor, DIY and food! I love food and had a great chef to work with. I have also always loved décor.

What stressed me out most?

Organising and coordinating bridesmaid’s dresses, being away from Cape Town planning a CT wedding and finding a venue.

Would I go back and change anything?

No, I don’t think I’d change anything.

The dress:

This is a funny story, actually. So I moved to White River, Mpumalanga two weeks after we got engaged and managed to go for one dress fitting in CT before leaving. I then went to a few places in Nelspruit (city next to White River). The whole process was so stressful for me! I knew I wanted the princess / small ball gown style but every place I went, all they wanted me to try on was figure hugging or mermaid style! I do not like mermaid style, on myself!! I also only had one girl friend in White River who could come fitting with me so getting other close friends opinions was difficult. I wish there were wedding malls I could have just browsed for days and eventually just pick a dress. But, there are none. I felt like I got 20 dresses shoved in my face and then had to choose out of those. Stressful, as I said! So, the last place I fitted dresses, I tried on a princess style that didn’t particularly catch my eye and then an A-line, champagne, floral one and that was the one I chose! I went home, paid for it over the next few days to secure it but then a week later started freaking out because I decided I didn’t want to get married in that dress! I then went back to try on the princess style one again and exchanged mine for that one. I was happy, but I didn’t really have that feeling of “ah, it’s the one” until a few days to the wedding! I wanted it to have my own kind of signature on it, so the week before my wedding, I was belt, sash and accessory hunting! I removed the belt that was attached to the dress (I’d originally asked for it to come with but not be attached), and bought a large piece of lace to tie around my waist on the day. However, on the day, I forgot to wear it! So, maybe that’s what I’d go back and change about the day, lol! Anyway, I loved the dress and on the day, felt like it was the one!

Favourite memories of the day:

The morning getting ready with my bridesmaids is one of my favourite memories. I also liked the first time we properly looked at each other during the ceremony and he told me I looked beautiful as well as looking at at my bridesmaids and seeing, for the first time, how good they looked in their outfits! The photoshoot was another great memory. It was so relaxed and intimate. There were a few times we just got to talk quietly and a few kisses that made it great.

Honeymoon:

We went to a lodge in Hazeyview which is near a gate of Kruger Park. It’s only about an hour from where we stay, but because we are new to this area, it was like an out-of-town experience. We stayed in a 4-star wooden cabin. Chase planned it, but it wasn’t a surprise as neither of us are good at those!

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Photographer: Paige Wood and Sarah Joy

Food: Chef, Bernadette Shraader

Dress maker: Studio Brides

Makeup: Le’Chelle Taylor

Engagement shoot:  Calvin Munhuweyi