Vanesse and Roger

Let’s face it, most girls top venue choice is not their childhood home, but rather some amazing villa under Italian skies, but when you see just how beautiful Vanesse and Roger’s intimate celebration turned out, you might just be looking at it with new eyes.

Vanesse and Rodger went into their wedding planning with a non-negotiable of NOT getting married at her parent’s home, but I do not think I need to tell you why that non-negotiable had to be negotiated.

After changing their venue three times, they finally settled on saying “I do” in her parent’s backyard, and Vanesse is here today to share all about their magical day. 

Hey guys! Please introduce yourselves to the Hooray Readers.
Hi 🙂 My name is Vanesse Flanagan and my husband’s name is Roger Flanagan. We both come from the same small town, we always knew of each other but never really got to know each other until one night at my sister’s house, they were having a party and Roger being great friends with my brother-in-law was invited. This is where we truly got to know each other, the laughter was endless and the sparks were flying. The best friendship was formed and then the romance came in shortly after. We have been together for four years but had been dating for 3 years when we got engaged.

Hooray: Tell us more about your proposal.
Vanesse: The proposal was such a surprise. I was working late, so Roger had offered to make dinner so it would be ready when I was home, he made my favourite dish of his – prawn linguine. When I came home there were candles on the kitchen counter, the dinner table was set, and the best aromas of wine and garlic filled the house. We sat down to a lovely meal on our patio, just us, and just enjoyed each others company. He then told me he got my favourite dessert, chocolate brownies. I was completely oblivious to the thought of him maybe proposing (I really didn’t think he would propose on a weeknight). While I was indulging in my brownie, he asked to be excused when he got back, he called my name and when I turned around he was on one knee and popped the question. After a massive YES, he then brought out the champagne that he had also hidden in the fridge. We decided to take in the moment, and just enjoy it together before making any phone calls and before posting it. It was the most intimate, personal and romantic proposal.

Hooray: What was the one non-negotiable of your wedding
Vanesse: This is a tough one, starting off we had a few non-negotiables, one being not getting married at my parent’s house, and the second one definitely keeping the wedding local. Both of which we ended up having to change… When we postponed for the second time we moved the wedding to Crystal Barn in the Midlands, when we saw things still weren’t coming right with Covid we finally decided to have an intimate wedding at my parent’s house. You can’t have non-negotiables when planning a wedding in Covid times, you end up being left disappointed and feeling really helpless. You just have to accept the cards you are dealt and choose the best one at the end of the day.

Hooray: The biggest hurdle you faced planning your wedding?
Vanesse: Oh this is short and simple. A five-letter word… C O V I D.

Hooray: Okay, so how badly did COVID affect your wedding plans?
Vanesse: I can honestly say that COVID really messed up our wedding plans big time, I think especially because we went into the first hard lockdown just two weeks before our first wedding date. We were left feeling really confused and uncertain, COVID had also just been announced so it was still very much early stages and new to us all. We had no idea what to do, or how long this thing would last, at first we decided to be ever hopeful and only postpone by three months but that was short-lived, to say the least. After the three months passed we realized this thing was going to take a lot longer than we first thought, so we postponed it by a year. We were constantly watching the news, checking the stats and the stress just got overwhelming. We were concerned at that time; what if things were still not even back to normal by then? (which they weren’t). My husband and I just wanted to get married, and that’s what a wedding is all about at the end of the day. So we made the big jump, we brought the wedding sooner, made the guest list smaller and changed the wedding venue one last time. Everyone was so happy and agreed with our final decision, I was so relieved about that because I really felt like I had messed my guests around so much. I sent four different wedding invites to three different wedding venues (where they all booked accommodation so I had to help get deposits back and move their bookings to the next wedding venues accommodation and I had to repeat this process three times)

Hooray: How did you deal with the emotions of postponements and uncertainty of what would be?
Vanesse: When I look back I don’t even know how I dealt with all the disappointment, stress and anxiety with having to postpone as well as the uncertainty. I had to just take one day at a time and just do the best that I could. I really had an amazing support system – my family and my husband, I also had friends going through the exact same situation so it was great being able to confide in people who knew exactly what I was going through.

Hooray: Any advice for brides that are on the fence about having a smaller wedding?
Vanesse: If you are considering a smaller wedding, I would highly recommend it. From not originally planning on having a smaller wedding I couldn’t be more grateful that I did end up having one. I got to spend time and have a conversation with each and every guest at my wedding. It was our absolute closest friends and family that attended. Each guest was there because we truly wanted them there and ended up staying right till the very end to celebrate with us.

Hooray: How difficult was it to plan an at-home wedding? 
Vanesse: Planning a wedding at home definitely had its challenges. I would say the biggest for us was the weather. We wanted to get a Plan B in place in case the weather wasn’t working in our favour, this proved to be extremely difficult because trying to find a marquee that wouldn’t in the size of the area we had available for the ceremony wasn’t easy, and then to find another marquee for over the pool area was even more difficult because the centre pole always ended up working out to be in the pool. We also really didn’t want to put a marquee up because my parents had the most stunning view of the mountains and it would completely block it. In the end, we had a look at the weather closer to the wedding day (which didn’t look the greatest) and decided to take a chance, if we could get through all the challenges we already had to face this would just be another that we could get through. There were also quite a few nitty-gritty details that we had to think of, that you normally wouldn’t have to when going to a venue, like bathrooms, ice and storage, storage to keep the drinks chilled, waiters, waitresses and bartenders, seating and a lot more, but it can be done with MANY checklists and a strict timeline. I made files for everyone who was involved in our wedding planning process so everyone knew what they had to do and by when.

Hooray: I love how you describe all your memories in your family home. Does this make you somewhat happy that your wedding ended up being an at-home event?
Vanesse: Yes, having so many memories at home definitely made it oh so worth it. I couldn’t have been happier that we ended up having our wedding at home where I grew up. Your home is already a place where you feel most at ease and most comfortable, I know home for me was always my happy place. I felt so blessed and privileged to be able to spend the best day of my life at home and make yet another memory that I will cherish for a lifetime and will never forget. My sister also got married at home so this just added so much to our special day as well. Like my parents like to say, “Both kids got hitched at home” which I think is beyond special for them too.

Hooray: How did you choose your photographer?
Vanesse: I thought choosing a photographer was going to be quite difficult considering I studied professional photography myself, but when I came across Little Things Pics Instagram and Facebook page, I knew I wanted Tammy to take my wedding photos one day. Tammy was the first person I contacted (the very next day in fact) and we booked our engagement shoot right away! Once we saw those photos and once we got to meet Tammy in person it solidified us wanting her to do our wedding photos. Tammy is an absolute gem, she always tried accommodating us with all our new dates when we had to postpone due to Covid. When the wedding day did come and when we got our photos we couldn’t believe just how perfectly Tammy captured our day and all our special moments.

Hooray: Tell us about your bridesmaids and groomsmen?
Vanesse: Roger and I decided on just having our absolute closest friends by our side. Roger had four groomsmen and I had three bridesmaids. I also started off with four but unfortunately had the very difficult task of asking one to no longer be part of the bridal party, this was definitely the worst part of the experience. I think a lot of people these days jump at the opportunity of being a bridesmaid/groomsman without considering the work that goes into it. I didn’t feel it was fair to my bridesmaids who put in SO much effort to have someone else by my side that didn’t contribute. When I did speak to this bridesmaid, she did agree and understood totally where I was coming from and we ended up leaving things still on good terms. The best part of the experience was getting to have my best friends by my side, they went all out for my kitchen tea, my bachelorette and the build-up to and on my wedding day. I also really don’t know how I would have gotten through the tough task of postponing three times without them, they were such a huge support.

Hooray: Okay, hold on, I need to know more. I think so many brides go through similar situations, but don’t realise that they can actually do this.
Vanesse: I couldn’t agree more with you, this topic doesn’t get spoken about enough. I know I tried finding anything online to read up about it to help make my decision but it’s so scarce. So in the end I just went with my gut feel and what would make me feel less stressed at the end of the day. Hooray: Be honest, how many hours did you spend on Pinterest?
Vanesse: In all honesty, I wouldn’t be able to count. I had so many Boards with so many Pins in for EVERYTHING. I ended up having so many different Boards for all the different weddings I ended up having to plan, it looked something like this: DREAM WEDDING APRIL 2020, WINTER WEDDING JULY 2020, WEDDING 2021, HOME WEDDING. Pinterest really helped so much, especially if you don’t have a wedding planner, there are so many great ideas at your fingertips and all you have to do is scroll down.

Hooray: What did you enjoy most about having an at-home wedding?
Vanesse: It is hard to name just one thing I enjoyed most about having an intimate wedding at home, but to try to sum it up, I loved feeling all the love from the guests that were there. I didn’t feel so overwhelmed with having a huge guest list. I was really able to sit back and take it all in.

Hooray: What safety precautions did you have in place? 
Vanesse: Yes we had safety precautions in place, we had bigger tables and seated fewer people per table than we could have, we also obviously had a smaller guest list and the whole wedding took place outdoors in the open, there were no confined rooms/spaces. Upon arrival, we gave each guest a mini hand sanitiser with a sticker that said “Spread love, not germs”. I would highly recommend the hand sanitisers, this was a huge hit, it was so great because it was the perfect size for the ladies to put it in their handbags to use again.

Hooray: I have to ask… were there any near slip-ups near the pool?
Vanesse: Having any slip-ups around the pool was a slight concern for us, but thankfully there were none. We made sure the tables were closer to the walls so it left enough walking space around the pool, the formal reception was around the pool so people would mainly be seated during this time. We also made sure that the bar where people often stand around was also away from the pool, we made lots of comfortable seating available on the grass next to the bar. The dance floor was also not too close to the pool, it was on the patio, higher up and with a glass half wall. We tried to draw the more active events away from the pool, so people would only be seated or would have to walk past.
I think the only slip up you could say was that the pool started to look more and more inviting to the guests, but nobody was brave enough to take a dive 😉

Hooray: Your cake looks absolutely delicious! Who made it, what flavour was it?
Vanesse: We absolutely loved the cake. It was DELICIOUS. We had someone local make it for us, the super talented Bianca from Pop’s Cakes. The top tier was salted caramel flavour and the bottom tier was black velvet. Everyone raved about the cake and none of it went to waste.

Hooray: LOOOOOVE your wifey jacket! Where did you get it?
Vanesse: I always knew I wanted one of these super cool jackets the first time I saw them. I ordered mine from Champagne Occasions. They really have some gorgeous goodies for brides and anything wedding related.

Hooray: What role did your parents play in your wedding? 
Vanesse: Our parents played a huge role in the wedding planning process. They were our absolute rocks. My mom really helped with all the planning, she was there every step of the way by my side, and my parents helped me through my many breakdowns of having to postpone and all the stress and anxiety that it caused.

Hooray: The one thing you would change about your wedding if you could travel back in time
Vanesse: The one thing I would change on my wedding day would be to just take it slow, enjoy every moment, take more deep breaths and not worry so much about how everything is going to happen and if it’s all going to go according to plan. Rather sit back, relax and enjoy every moment. Everyone told me how fast it goes by but you don’t realise until it’s your own special day.

Hooray: And finally, the best moment of your wedding day?
Vanesse: Besides getting to say I do to my best friend, the best part of my wedding day was walking into the reception with the people we care most about cheering us on. The love I felt at that moment was indescribable. I think this moment was extra special to me because the wedding was at home, I walked down those same steps from my baby years, right up until my adult years, and I got to walk down them once again for the first time as a married woman. All the memories of growing up in the house came flooding back to me at that moment, and right away I felt the happiest I have ever been.

Vanesse and Roger, thank you so much for sharing your absolutely beautiful day with us today.
I would be lying if I said I was not jealous of your venue, even if it was not your first choice, I do think it was the best choice! Amazing memories to add to your ever-growing pile of beautiful moments in your childhood home!
Wishing you many more wonderful years ahead!

Photographer: Little Things Pics
Videographer: Bespoke Creations
Wedding Dress: Jeannelle l’Amour
Hair and Makeup: The Durban Make-Up Artist
Head Piece: Magpie Calls
Earrings, Garter and Intimates: Jeanne and Co
Bridesmaid Dresses: Hoiden Dresses
Getting Ready Jumpsuits: May May Attire
Wedding Decor: The Wedding Table
Live Music: Dave Starke
DJ: Sound Mechanix
Wedding Stationery: The Bride!
Catering and Florals: Pieter Bester

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