I never expected to meet someone I wanted to marry, let alone for anyone to want to marry me. Never dreamt of the big day, and (to be honest) thought it was kind of weird that so many girls did. I was nonplussed by the amazement and delight at the announcement that we had decided to get married. And then, throughout all the wedding planning, I was very dismissive of the whole Big Day idea. It all seemed a lot of fuss for one day within a very long life. Would it not make more sense to invest all this effort and time into the daily running of our lives, our relationships? I couldn’t picture it all happening. All I could realistically imagine, was a rushed day of feeling a whole lot of pressure (applied with a lot of expense) to Have the Best Day Ever. So it’s fair to say I was more than a little skeptical of everyone’s reassurances that “on the day, you’ll love it.”
Chartfield Guesthouse, which is so much lighter and prettier and more relaxed and welcoming than any guesthouse I’ve ever stayed at. We unfolded into the balconies for family breakfasts, took over the pool with friends and families lingering and swimming all morning and all afternoon, found corners where I could run through a speech with my brother, snuggled into couches and corners for quiet chats. And it all felt homely but also magical and luxurious and intimate at the same time. What an extraordinary place.
Gatesville Road, where the B&Bs are so close together that friends and family constantly drifted in and out from where they were staying, and which is close enough to the main precinct of Kalk Bay that we were just totally on holiday in a tiny seaside village for a couple of days.
The amazing pizzas at Satori the night before, and the feeling of being quiet and casual with so much delicious company.
Our icy early-morning swim at Dalebrook on the morning of the wedding, when the streets of Kalk Bay were still deserted and cool.
The surprise of a massage on the morning of the wedding, a godsend of a gift that simply dispelled all of my apprehensions and turned me into a gleaming, beaming, dreamy, floaty creature for the rest of the day.
The view from the massage table, which the delightful Vanessa popped open on one of the hotel’s side balconies, with an uninterrupted view of the sea. Blue ocean, tension knots popping away like little popped bluebottles. Bliss.
Hours of girly inanity with the hair and make-up ladies. I loved the way they told us we “scrubbed up nicely”. I loved seeing Dave’s mom getting glammed up in a way she never normally does. I loved having my mom and Nicole sewing their dresses right there, an hour or two before the party, because they could.
The tiny fragments of conversations and voices drifting in from the balcony and the pool all day. The delicious lunch that Olympia sent while we were getting all girlied up. The feeling of impatience while Carla meticulously finished my make-up, wanting to see what on earth was taking so long, and what it looked like.
The afternoon of chilled-out family pictures at the guesthouse. The way everyone looked and felt so glamorous and excited, but without any pressure to pose or be formal. The way the afternoon lingered on so slowly that I thought it might never be time for the ceremony.
The feeling of physical anticipation and nerves that suddenly washed over me at ten minutes to six, the pumping heart and dry mouth and tummy-flippingness, like no pre-show nerves I’d ever had ever.
The excruciating slowness of time when everyone else had gone to the venue already, and I was left with my parents at the guest house. We waited at the long, now-cleared table. It was so impossibly quiet, after a whole day of people and voices and coming and going. Every thirty seconds, one of us asked, ‘What time is it?’
The aerobatics display. We saw it from Gatesville Road. There were surfers gaping, and the penny dropped: Dave’s friend Hilton had arranged planes to do twirls and flips. For us. We all just watched and grinned like children.
The sheer force of awesomeness that hit me as I walked into a room full of people each beaming their light and happiness at us. Nothing could prepare me for that. It was the brightest, fullest room I have been in, something transforming and astonishing and powerful. And as the ceremony progressed, it seemed to fill magically and brim over and over.
The ring-warming ceremony. Just knowing that our little pair of rings was being passed from one hand to another, knowing that the guests were sending their own blessings and prayers into those rings, and warming them with their own physical warmth, was one of the most powerful bits of voodoo I’ve witnessed ever.
The words. I couldn’t have predicted how powerful those words would be on the day. But they were.
The tears. So many people cried. I’m not sure what it was: the mix of the elemental crashing ocean, or being crushed so tightly into such an intimate space, or the fact that we were very, very frank and honest in what we said. There was a LOT of crying. Something struck a chord in the people were there, and that’s the bit I appreciated the most: our guests didn’t just stand and witness what we had to say; they felt it. Which is pretty much what meant the most to me.
The dance. Robert talked about tango in his address; later Mark talked about tango before our first dance. I LOVED that we could dance our tango at my wedding.
The food. Yes, well, Harbour House. That was not a surprise, really. But it was still amazing.
The cake. My mom’s friend made an insanely wonderful chocolate cake. And people ate big, fat pieces of cake, at the wedding. The slices were not dainty. And they got eaten, and people went back for more. There are about three pieces left. Not for long.
The long, lazy family breakfast the next day, with kids swimming and yelling and playing, and building caves out of pool cushions as we blinked into the early morning sunlight and gently started making our way home. I’d been skeptical of a big production, and instead it was a long, lazy family weekend, with some crazily lovely promises in the middle of it. More than I could have wished for.