Freedom day, Wedding day

Yesterday was Freedom day but from now on this day will always be associated with Jaco and Liesje. I went to their medieval fantasy wedding and what an amazing event, one of the best (if not the best) I have ever been to. What made this phenomenal was that it was a family affair in every sense of the word; it was 100% reflective of the couple and the things that are important to them, of their loving, caring and considerate nature, of their love of fantasy and above all, their love of each other. They were not bound by tradition but did everything in a style true to themselves, unpretentious and real.

The wedding took place at the family farm to the south of Joburg which made this extra special as it is rich in family history, Liesje’s dad being the fourth generation owner. Everything at the wedding had a special meaning and was specially bought, designed or made, from the table cloths, crockery, the goblets, herb plants, name places written on wood to Liesje’s fabulous couture medieval dress, inspired by the character Catelyn Stark from the TV series, Game of thrones.

The ceremony started at 16:30 with everyone meeting under the giant, century old, oak trees for drinks and then preceded to an open field where guests were seated on chairs and benches in a half moon against the backdrop of a vast and beautiful landscape. It was the first time that I saw a groom that looked genuinely happy and relaxed. The Wits Choir accompanied the groom, the best men (Jaco’s two brothers) and mom down the path to where the ceremony was taking place. This was followed by Liesje who was led by her mom and dad and her entourage consisting of her brothers and sisters, cousins, friend and even the dogs. The bridesmaids all had deep purple capes with flowers in a simple bouquet. They all walked down the stone path while the choir sang beautifully.

The ceremony was performed by Liesje’s dad and it was emotional and heartfelt. Liesje used a quote from the movie, Frida, in her wedding vows that encapsulate their marriage:

“I don’t believe in marriage. – No, I really don’t. Let me be clear about that. I think at worst it’s a hostile political act, a way for small-minded men to keep women in the house and out of the way, wrapped up in the guise of tradition and conservative religious nonsense. At best, it’s a happy delusion…these two people who truly love each other and have no idea how truly miserable they’re about to make each other. But… But… when two people know that, and they decide with eyes wide open to face each other and get married anyway, then I don’t think it’s conservative or delusional. I think it’s radical and courageous and very romantic.”

After the ceremony, as the sun set, all the guests had a chance to write a special wish for the couple on Chinese paper lanterns while enjoying some hot glühwein. The lanterns were then sent into the sky while the choir was singing. The reception was on the lawn under a Bedouin tent which had a medieval feel with wooden chairs, big wooden candelabras and herb plants in terracotta pots at each place setting with medieval beliefs written on them – a thank you gift along with a wooden box filled with biscuits. The name places were calligraphically written on wooden pieces.

The couple entered and was greeted by the music performed by former Duke of Cornwell singers after which starters were served. This was followed by Jaco’s best friend and mother’s speeches and then later Liesje’s dance with her dad together with all the grandparents while serenaded by Liesje’s sister and fellow choir members singing Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water which was a personal highlight for me as it was sung so beautifully. Liesje’s younger sister did an impromptu speech which was too cute – she was just too glad that they were married at last.

The dance floor was later formally opened by Liesje and Jaco’s dance before main meal was served and after that the party was on which carried on till the morning with the few diehards who made it till sunrise. In between cake was cut and dessert served but one thing was for sure – this was now party time and time to let the hair down. No one had to worry about drinking and driving as provision was made for people to sleep over. If anyone felt cold there were fires everywhere and you could go sit around it to warm up if you were not hot enough by dancing to the music from the 80s and 90s which was managed by Liesje’s brother who also played a tribute to the couple of a piece of jazz music he composed while at the Red Bull Music Academy in Madrid last year and did the accompanying drums when Tebs was entertaining the guests with his singing.

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It was a beautiful day where everything exceeded expectations. Everything was sincere and familiar. It was also nice to meet up with old friends and see people from Cape Town and London.

Today everyone met up for brunch before leaving the venue and some 15 of us ended the last of the festivities at Liesje’s mom’s house with a braai on the grass outside reminiscing of the wedding and previous events at the house before ending it with some coffee, tea and some more wedding cake while the rain came down – grateful that the rain only came today. This was a very memorable wedding that will be thought of and talked about for a long time to come still. As Liesje’s cousin said, maybe we must have a monthly anniversary party to all get together. These are the moments that make life so special.

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