ANYTIME TAKE A A LOOK AT THE MULTIMILLION RAND INDUSTRY OF WEDDINGS FROM VENUE SELECTION TO THE DRESS TO THE HONEYMOON. OVER THE NEXT FEW MONTHS WE FOLLOW MOTHER OF THE BRIDE TO BE GENIENE PRESTON ON HER JOURNEY FROM THE MOMENT HER DAUGHTER SAID ‘I WILL” TO “I DO”
It was a sunny Christmas in Umhlanga and the children were all together. Our blended family decided to spend a few days on the coast and my daughter and her fiancé were out from London to enjoy a few days of sunshine out of the cold snow. Having left South Africa only a few years ago meant that days like this in Durban, were memorable.
It was Christmas morning and opening presents brought the same excitement that it did when they were little. My daughter gave her fiancé a Go Pro and couldn’t wait for him to look surprised and wasn’t it a surprise when she opened her gift and it was two really cheap champagne glasses. She couldn’t hide her disappointment but then he dropped to his knee, popped the champagne and the ring made a ringing sound as it landed on the bottom of the glass! She said “yes”, I think, before he had a chance to ask and her only concern was that the photos and video would show her in pyjamas and not in her usual stylish outfit.
Soon the excitement gave way to basic planning before they returned to the UK. The wedding would be in South Africa where she was raised, and as mother of the bride, I was elected to find the venue. Mozambique seemed like a natural choice as we could spend an entire weekend together with family and friends at a reasonable cost. Within a few months of the engagement, off we went to venue hunt. The border controls were horrendous and we thought that we might need a coach from OR Tambo with a guide to take us through the border post. The roads were not bad and Beline was our destination as many of the wedding venues were based in that area. Although 150km north of Maputo, the roads took us around 4-5 hours to traverse as it’s 60km per hour in villages and there are over 80 villages in that short distance. Maputo was challenging to enter and exit.
LESSON 1 • Logistics are key to the success of any wedding. • Check on how difficult it is to get there and what the passport requirements are • Are there daily flights and what mountains will there be to climb for international visitors.
This was one of the first times we realised that marriages are not legal in Mozambique. Couples who married there need to get legally married in South Africa or in their country of origin. You have to be a Mozambique citizen to qualify for a marriage in that country. Venues promising glorious beaches and sweeping views on the internet proved otherwise in reality. It also meant that most of the décor and food had to be brought in from South Africa in order to have a proper menu. We selected a beautiful venue which promised us the world and after 6 months of trying to communicate and secure a contract after paying the deposit, we moved the wedding to South Africa.
LESSON 2 • Confirm that your marriage will be legal in the country in which you choose to get married.
Venues promising glorious beaches and sweeping views on the internet proved otherwise in reality. It also meant that most of the décor and food had to be brought in from South Africa in order to have a proper menu. We selected a beautiful venue who promised us the world and after 6 months of trying to communicate and secure a contract after paying the deposit, we moved the wedding to South Africa.
LESSON 3 • Secure the contract upon the visit and sign at the venue. • Don’t wait for the venue to get back to you as it may never happen. Our venue changed the price per person to R780 just to include seafood for the dinner buffet.
Now, with time running out to the date of October 2018, it was a rush to move the wedding to South Africa and find a venue. This brought an entirely new batch of problems to be overcome. It was decided to make the wedding in the KZN area as the weather was likely to be hot and clear. I researched the internet before driving down to Durban for a weekend. Weekends, we found, were not good times to visit venues as the wedding coordinators do not work on the weekend. I would have thought this would have been an ideal time because surely couples who are working during the week would use weekends to search?
WHEN SELECTING A VENUE, THERE IS MERIT TO CHOOSING ONE THAT HAS ITS OWN WEDDING CO ORDINATOR AND HAS A REPUTATION FOR GREAT WEDDINGS. YOU ARE GUARANTEED A FABULOUS DAY.
LESSON 4 • What you see on the internet is not what you are going to find when you get there. • Find someone who will visit the venue and take a video or photos to ensure that it is indeed what you will see when you get there.
It was clear from the beginning that although venues promised beach weddings, it was not going to happen. Beach weddings meant the ceremony, not the entire wedding. It was a ploy to encourage you to come to the venue and they would talk you into having the wedding at the venue. From the South Coast to the North Coast, we searched golf estates, little river front venues, as well as gorgeous places on the beach.
LESSON 5 • Converted conference rooms do not make great wedding venues, no matter how much draping you use! • The views are not spectacular at conference venues as conferences are designed to keep people focused. It’s a case of mutton dressed as lamb!
We kept the best for last. On our final visit we found the right venue. When I walked into the reception, and the Indian Ocean stretched before us, I knew we had found the dream venue for which my daughter was looking. Although the wedding co-ordinator wasn’t available, as we hadn’t made an appointment, the receptionist was very helpful. From a professional point of view, the wedding co-ordinator, décor, photographer, onsite spa, villas for guests, it was perfect. And the best was that they had a reputation for amazing weddings and had to uphold that reputation. They were organised and just incredible from the beginning. She could have a beach ceremony, and then move to her wedding venue behind the beach where the sounds of the waves could still be heard, and the setting of the sun would paint a perfect picture for the cutting of the cake. The journey to “I do” had finally begun.
LESSON 6 • Choose a venue where they won’t lose their reputation if things go wrong.