What was your greatest struggle while planning your wedding?
To be honest, not much. I was living abroad at the time, so Jonathan did most of the admin: booking our date at Home Affairs, arranging accommodation for his parents, and reserving a restaurant for the pre-wedding dinner. Before we decided on foregoing the traditional wedding ceremony, I did have a lot of FOMO when he would go look at wedding venues with my mom though! We ended up deciding against a ceremony as it was a massive expense for something that we felt did not represent us as a couple.
If you could do it all over again, is there anything you would change?
We would probably not wait until the night before, to tell our family that we’re getting married at Home Affairs the next morning! The reactions were… mixed – to put it mildly. Even though we were really excited and ready, sometimes you have to allow your family more time to process the surprise, and you can’t always anticipate their reactions. Thankfully when the morning rolled around, they all showed up and we feel so honoured that our mothers could sign as witnesses to our marriage.
What was your favourite moment of the day?
For me (Zanie) there was a bit of time before, where we were just standing around waiting for our turn with the officiator, and I felt like a magnet attached to Jonathan’s side. I could not stop smiling, and was so excited to, in a few minutes, be his wife. Some people would say that getting married in a Home Affairs office would be too impersonal, but it really wasn’t. Noma, the officiator, was so warm and friendly and appeared genuinely happy for us. She didn’t make a speech, as such, but said some kind words that gave the day the weight it deserved.
How did you decide on a specific theme/look & feel for your wedding? Where did you find your inspiration?
We decided that even though we’ll be getting married in Home Affairs, we still wanted to dress up a bit. It was the 7th of the 7th (7 July) so we decided to dress in all black, me in a dress and coat, and Jonathan in a suit. We wanted it to be dark, wintery and non-traditional. I love flowers and knew it was the one thing I could not forego, so I asked Lush Flowers to make us small, dramatic winter arrangements. It was cosy, classy, and comfortable – we felt really special (besides, Jonathan looks amazing in a suit; which is the only pair of long pants he owns). We tried looking through popular wedding blogs and Pinterest, but more often than not we ended up agreeing that what we saw there was just not for us.
Jonathan: I always wear black.
How did you go about finding vendors for your wedding?
We only used a florist, Lush Flowers, who I’ve obsessively been following on Instagram for ages. Our photographer, Ashiq Johnson, is a close friend of ours. The breakfast with our families afterwards was at my sister’s restaurant, The Raptor Room. We mostly relied on our own connections, but we chose to use vendors that were special to us.
If money was no object, what outrageous thing would you have insisted on having for your wedding?
I cannot think of a single thing. We didn’t want an over the top event in the first place, and I often think that we likely would not have had a ceremony anyway, even if money was no object. Maybe, I’d have splurged a bit on a dress and had my hair done, but even that seems like a waste now.
How long did it take you to plan the wedding / how long were you engaged?
Jonathan flew to Paris, where I was living at the time, to formally ask me to be his wife in April 2017 (but we’d been talking about it very early on in our relationship already). We knew what we wanted – a traditional, religious, white wedding not being it. I arrived back in South Africa and three days later, on a sunny July morning, we were married surrounded by our parents and my siblings. So we were only engaged for three months.
Do you have any advice for other couples planning a wedding?
Do not let anybody guilt trip you into doing something you don’t want to do. At the end of the day, it’s the “start” of your life with your partner. Don’t let it be tainted by an experience that serves people who are not in the marriage.
If you’re interested in getting married at Home Affairs like Zanie and Jonathan, check out our How-To: Getting Married at Home Affairs blog post for all the details you need!