Lyall proposed on New Years Eve in 2015, and from that moment I knew I wanted to have our wedding in South Africa. We figured three years is enough time to save up and try to get as many people as we could to come over from America. International weddings when one side is close and the other is not is hard honestly. The people you love might not be able to make it. This was gut wrenching to me, but I knew that we were living in America surrounded by my side all of the time. Lyall’s friends and family are so important to him that the moment I met them back in 2014, they all became highly important to me as well. Middle ground seemed to cut out more people, and with the exchange rate the way it was – the chances of getting more than Lyall’s immediate family overseas did not seem possible.
How did we plan?
I was so lucky that Lyall’s family wanted to help out with anything and everything that they could! I have always been into wedding planning so I had the vision in my head and I knew what we needed to have checked off. The issue was getting ahold of vendors overseas with the time difference and long distance phone calls being a struggle. I’ll get more into the theme next, but I mapped out my thoughts and everyone that side helped me put it into action. We had friends cut wood to make wooden names for each guest, Lyall picked the venue for us on the way to the airport (more on that as well), and different food options were tested out that side. Overall, lots and lots of hands on deck from Lyall’s family and friends and I couldn’t be more thankful.
Lyall picked the venue?!
Yes! So we did not know when we would be back and we already had it in our head we would want to get married there. I had to fly back to America but Lyall was able to stay longer so he went from venue to venue taking so many photos to send my way! We would go over things we like, things we didn’t like, etc over the phone. We weren’t in a rush to put a deposit or date down, but we wanted to make sure one of us saw the venue. Lyall had a late flight but he was able to visit the last venue on the list – the funny part is that he had no cell service so I had to wait until he was back in America to hear anything about it! He arrived quite late at night and he said “this is the one” and smiled. We went over all of the details and he knew that the venue I described to him was finally found! I never saw the venue until a year out! Craziness. The venue checked the boxes on many things but the icing on the cake was that after the reception, you can continue celebrating down by a fire pit with any leftover alcohol!
I love when events flow, and so our wedding was a simple travel theme. I wanted blues and greens with mainly white. These were colors we both loved so I thought it represented us so well. We both love nature as well, so lots of greenery was added. We wanted to put our love for travel into the wedding as well, so there were various cities around the world representing each table. Guests found their name on a giant guest map and that directed which city they sat at. We also had a big map that everyone signed as the guest book. This is amazing to have framed and to look back at for years to come. We met at Disney so our first dance song was “how does a moment last forever” by Celine Dion from Beauty and The Beast. Our cake topper was made by Roz Streak, and is a world map in the shape of a heart with the two of us standing on top and a plane connected. Every detail was something that had to do with our journey, or what we both love.
Hair and Makeup
My sister in law recommended Lara from Lara’s beauty spot www.larasbeautyspot.co.za and she was amazing! She had her team do all of our hair and makeup. I did a trial run with her for the bachelorette, and she did our engagement photos! She is so incredibly talented! I highly recommend her if you are in the Centurion area.
Did you have some of the food you picked?
If there’s one thing everyone knows about me, it’s that I love food. Add to that – I love love love food that is not American. Every country I go to, the food is better to an extensive degree. The moment I knew South Africa was the place, I made sure to have a feast that day. We did the cake differently, and had it straight after the ceremony so everyone actually had some – and could actually watch us cut the cake. This seemed strange at first but it makes so much sense! Everyone always misses that. After cake, there were hors d’oeuvres (appetizers) and these were the only things we did not get to taste. These were served while we took our photos which is pretty standard. Dinner time though was a plated – multiple course meal and trust me, we tried it all! That is the one bit of advice that we kept getting was to make sure to enjoy the moment and eat the food! I was so happy we did that because it was delicious! We did a trio for dessert to hopefully strike a “yum” from everyone with at least one choice. Best advice I can now pass forward is to try to enjoy the food!
Guests – international
We wanted to keep everything as organized as possible so we tried to keep majority of our friends and family on the same flights, and Lyall and I arrived before everyone else. We also used Zola because it was big at the time to keep everyone on the same page. Our website was https://www.zola.com/wedding/lyallandsamantha2018
but we sent other information via one big email that also had a spreadsheet with everyone’s flights. We also tried to list places to stay around the area and made sure that certain excursions there were just suggestions. We also wanted to make it easy for the day of the wedding knowing most of our international guests would not have a vehicle. Our venue had the ceremony, reception and resort rooms all on the same property. This made everything so much easier for everyone and kept them safe after the reception.
Things to do
If our guests were flying across the world, we wanted to give them ideas, but let them decide what they wanted to do! We also talked to each guest about roughly how much food/drinks cost etc. Majority of our guests stayed for about 2 weeks in total and this was all over Christmas – New Years time. We ended up having majority of our guests arrive on December 18th and 19th. My cousin‘s 21st birthday was the 20th so we had a big bash for him! There were fun specific dates such as Boxing Day cricket on the 26th, and the 27th we were leaving for Kruger until the 30th as one big group added, and some of our friends and family made time to explore Cape Town as well! We found a cricket match to go to as well with South Africa Vs Pakistan!
Big shout out to Tracy for being my biggest support system, and a burst of fun energy during this trip!
Did anything go wrong?
We had so many things go “wrong” that honestly we laugh about now! Our cake practically melted in the heat and we both just laughed about it. Our croquembouche that I so desperately wanted fell apart in the heat also onto our friends lap which I felt horrible for her for having to transport it! We also had guests show up that originally said they weren’t coming, and I honestly didn’t even notice because my sister in law quickly found them spots! We had multiple switch ups with our wedding party. We had one friend of Lyall’s not able to go because of a passing in the family, and another told us last minute because he’s a professional soccer player and so things can change quickly. We completely understood and rushed to get everything straightened out. Luckily, my cousin was a great step in! We couldn’t have asked for a better person. We certainly missed the friends and family that couldn’t join in though! These were pretty big things but to us they were SO small.
If our relationship is not filled with laughter enough, Lyall ended up smashing a cupcake in my face at the end of the reception since he couldn’t do it before photos with the cake! Jokes on him though, my mother in law handed me a cupcake that he didn’t know about – and I was able to get him back with extra love.
Once the day comes, you just have to enjoy it!! We look back and know we had the best time!
Stationery: Roz and Mike Streak
Flowers: ICT weddings
Hair & Makeup: @larasbeautyspot
Wedding Cake: Elevenses Bakery
Desserts: Melissas Bakery