(Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on the Sue in the City blog. All photos by Susan Nel Photography. Click on photos to enlarge.)
Forgive me for gushing and gushing, but I just attended the best wedding of my life in February. And it was mine!
Yes, John and I finally managed to make it down the isle and this time round it was even more fabulous than the last. (Remember that? 15 June 2007, which means that we’ve been married for almost four years. And during some moments of this past experience, I was just about ready to call a halt to all the madness and go back to just being married already. But I digress.)
How do you get a PR-poppet such as myself to go mentally wonky? You tell her to plan her own perfect-princess wedding, of course! The brief? Seventy guests from around the world in a setting so perfect, so remote, and so beautiful that it will impress the socks off everyone and leave a lasting impression that is indicative of the interesting and (somewhat) quirky couple getting married in said setting. And all of it on a tight budget. Of course.
Months of planning, hours of Skype calls to my mother in Namibia and a couple of teary breakdowns later, our perfect wedding week arrived. We started on Tuesday the 15th of February 2011 with dinner at Joe’s Beerhouse in Windhoek, the best steakhouse in the world, according to me (and many others). The next morning at 9 am, a bus with 45 guests departed Windhoek for a two-day safari at the gorgeous Erindi Game Lodge. Suffice to say that we had two game drives a day, that all food and all booze were included and that we were staying at a fantastic 5-star lodge where afternoon tea outshines the buffet dinner, which outshines the buffet breakfast, which aims to be as good as the buffet lunch. To answer your question, yes, the dress did fit a little tighter than it did before safari!
On Friday the 18th—coincidentally also my birthday (so old, so old, so old)—the bus departed the game lodge and made its way to the coastal town of Swakopmund. A quaint German settlement in the middle of nowhere with the most breathtaking sand dunes you can imagine. We had a very small celebration that evening as I was beyond tired and feeling a little cranky about everything. (As brides do. Do they?)
Saturday the 19th was a frenzy of friends, rushing around for the last couple of plans and then a manicure, eyebrow wax (I know…) and then off to where we were getting dressed where my friend and the world’s-most-fabulous-designer, Kobus Dippenaar, worked his magic on my hair and make-up and slipped me into the most-fabulous-dress, designed by him too. Of course. The world’s-most-fabulous-photographer, Susan Nel, arrived at 3 pm to start capturing every moment and succeeded way beyond my wildest expectations!
My entourage and I, made up of best friends and sisters, left for the ceremony on the beach and as we got into the car, my mother called, saying, “Just wanted to let you know that the guests are all here and ready for you, and, darling, it’s windy.”
“No problem, Mom”, I quipped back. (Nothing was going to ruin my day.)
“No,” she said, “you don’t understand. It’s really, really windy.”
Upon arrival, I quickly got what she meant. My veil was blowing in the wind in a not-so-romantic way and chair covers (and chairs) had been blown into the air. The dune sand was quickly covering up the red carpet and my guests all looked a little, um , windswept. But in a way it was perfect. No one could be uptight after surviving that wind! And my hair had so much Elnett in it that no wind was going to move a lock!
After taking photos on the beach and on the jetty, we made our way into the dunes where we had another stop before starting to search for our secret spot amongst the dunes.
Now, in all the months of planning, in all the many e-mails and phone calls, in all my many “to do” lists and delegated tasks—in all those things, the only aspect of this wedding I didn’t plan was printing out the instructions to getting to our secret location, or making sure that someone knew exactly where we were going.
Picture the scene: the bride, her groom, and her maid of honour along with our “driver,” a dear friend of my mother’s who graciously offered his services and remained patient throughout, following the photographers in their small Toyota Yaris, heading into every possible turnoff amongst the dunes and back out again. We could not find this tent. My lip grew longer and longer as I pictured myself, all dressed up and newly “ringed,” having dinner at the local Brauhaus in Swakopmund. After all that planning, we were not going to get to celebrate our wedding day with our guests! Ugh.
From there on, the evening was a blur of perfection. The world’s-best-event-planners, Sharmine and Colin Livingstone of Desert Catering, had gone beyond our wildest expectations in putting together a party like no other.
For one night, I was a princess. And this, dear reader, is my happy ever after!
Just because I love them and would hugely recommend their services to anyone—here’s my Little Black Book for planning a wedding in Namibia:
* Dress, Hair, Make-up, Theme Concept, Table Cloths, Mental Support: Kobus Dippenaar Atelier
* Event Planning, Food and Mental Support: Colin and Sharmine at Desert Catering
* Photography and Mental Support: Susan Nel Photography
* Flowers (and Mental Support): Uwe at Der Blumenkorb
* Transport, Shuttle, Bus, Rental Cars: Anna at Sunshine Tours