Real Wedding | Durban Inspired
When Dane and Abi first started looking at wedding venues, there was one non-negotiable. It had to be local. They are both proud Durbanites and wanted to honor this beautiful city that they live in.
The Waterfront Hotel, on Durban’s infamous Point Road was the perfect location for their event. On one side of the venue is the beach front and on the other side is the largest and busiest shipping terminal in sub-Saharan Africa. With big doors on the side of the venue open for fresh air, their wedding guests spilt onto the streets and continued to dance arm in arm until the wee hours of the morning.
Dane and Abi had a recurring African theme running through their wedding, from the beaded invitations right through to their decor, which included shwe shwe serviettes. We LOVE that these two incorporated local and traditional elements from their home town of Durban. And not just incorporated local elements, but did some out-reach in the process. Abi bought shwe shwe fabric from a local supplier in Durban’s city center and commissioned the Sewing for Africa Project at the Denis Hurley centre down town to sew serviettes. Their beaded invitations were created by the Hillcrest Aids Centre. What a fabulous idea, don’t you think?
If you have incorporated traditional elements into your wedding celebration, we would love to hear about it in the comments section below.
HOORAY: We just love your two piece gown. This is quite “on trend” right now – did you always envision getting married in a two piece?
ABI: No I never had any idea what type of wedding dress I would wear. I love fabric, and the feeling of that long skirt swooshing around my legs made me just want to twirl and skip and play! So I knew I wanted beautiful fabric. And I didn’t want a stiff dress with boning around my ribcage.
The dress was a process, from looking on Pinterest, to thinking about necklines that I feel comfortable wearing, and having an honest look at what I look good in. My mother-in-law suggested a dressmaker who sews beautifully – french-seams-beautifully, so I met with her and decided to have something made because there wasn’t anything online or in the shops that I wanted to buy. I eventually found a picture of a beautiful two piece and decided to go with it. My dressmaker, Liz, used this as reference and created something that fitted perfectly.
Liz wanted to get to know me during the dress making process in order to create a dress that fitted me in seam and that fitted me in spirit.
HOORAY: We love that your bridesmaids were not matchy matchy. Did you give the ladies some sort of guideline to follow?
ABI: I love that they chose their own dresses, because each of them wore their own style. I could never have chosen one style or colour dress that would suit all of them. I asked if I could give them R1000 each to buy an outfit and coordinate among themselves. The only limitation was no print or pattern, just a solid colour and we shared this picture with them as reference. Every fabric has a different texture, so it didn’t matter if some went for lace or others went for silk. I think they did so well! And I think it was amazing how they all complemented each other! Pascale was the first to find a dress at the Space before she went back to Italy. Jessica sent me a few pics of dresses she liked online. Katy sent me a selfie in a change room of a dress she liked in Hamburg. I happened to be at the shops when Ashleigh was deciding between two dresses. Julie-Anne just said she found a plum coloured dress, and that was that – they all looked beautiful and individual too.
HOORAY: What was the most memorable moment of your ceremony.
ABI: When Thuli and Anna sang “Go Light Your World” by Chris Rice, I could feel the emotions of the congregation. I looked behind me and around the church. It was so beautiful to see everyone’s smiles and tears and joy. I felt totally engulfed in the moment and am so happy that I was able to look around at all the people we could invite to our wedding and share their feelings.
DANE: For me it was Abi coming down the aisle. I had no idea what her dress was going to look like. All I knew was the song that played and it was very moving music. All of that together and I was in awe.
HOORAY: So Dane, you are in the wedding industry. How did you go about choosing your photographers.
DANE: Just by word of mouth and checking out his website. My cousin told me to have a look at Luca’s work and I thought it was good. I specifically liked the creative stuff he’d done with one couple when he staged a few dramatic scenes and superimposed some cool action shots.
ABI: Dane and I were open to suggestions about photographers. At first we didn’t want a creative shoot at all. We’re not good at posing and we didn’t want to be away from our guests for too long. We just wanted natural in-the-moment shots and if there were only 5 of those, I’d be fine with that. I think photographers feel more stressed out if that’s the case though. I left it up to Dane.
HOORAY: Abi did you have any say in this or did you just trust Dane with this decision?
ABI: I was happy to trust Dane’s decision
HOORAY: We love your creative shoot on the Durban beach front. Was this your idea or the photographer’s idea?
DANE: It was our idea to hire a rickshaw. We knew it would make for good photos though.
ABI: It was our idea to take a Rickshaw from Durban Spa on South beach to the reception venue, and Luca was keen to get some exercise, running ahead of us and walking along side us. Josh was clever to bring his skateboard along too. The best part of the promenade were the bathers and strangers, who turned heads, sang songs, took photos and cheered us on.
HOORAY: Was there special meaning behind this choice of location?
ABI: The Durban beach front is so special. It caters for everyone and is the most socially integrated public space in Durban – everyone and their grandma visits the beach front and they do so often.
DANE: Its also close to home for us. We interact with the beachfront in so many ways – it was cool to also be there on our wedding day.
HOORAY: Arrival at your reception on a RICKSHAW! How amazing! Who’s idea was this and please give us contact details for any other interested brides!
ABI: Ricksahws and bunny chows are two of Durban’s most popular icons. Thanks to support from the Durban Richkshaw Renovation Project in 2012 (see here and here) they’re continuing to parade along the promenade. We are very proud of these rickshaw operators; even if you’re slightly embarrassed by the colonial past times associated with the early form of rickshaws; we love their colours, designs and we hope that they can represent a present day reality that acknowledges our history and celebrates our new South Africa.
DANE: We just approached them on the beach front and asked for one guy’s number. In our experience, the rickshaw operator was prompt for our meeting, reliable and reasonable. We paid him R1000 to take us along the promenade and also leave his rickshaw at the venue over night. It was just there for show, but when our friends began posing in front of it for photos, we realised that it was creating quite a cool photo backdrop.
HOORAY: Ab’s you changed at the reception – was this the best idea ever? We know brides totally get over their gowns while trying to dance!
ABI: It certainly was a brilliant idea. As much as I loved the long skirt, and soft fabric around my legs, it would have been awkward to dance and get around without adopting an over exaggerated delicate walking style. My shorter skirt certainly made it a lot more fun to dance with our flashmob:)
HOORAY: In your decor we see lots of beading and some African inspired prints. What was your inspiration?
ABI: A lot of family and friends were coming home to Durban (from abroad) for the wedding and we wanted to celebrate all that’s wonderful about Durbs. Local styles and bright colours became a key theme of our wedding and we certainly achieved that by sourcing lots of different shwe shwe fabric down town on Victoria Street near the Emmanuel Cathedral. We bought meters and meters of different fabric, then washed it a few times and took it to the Sewing for Africa project at the Denis Hurley centre down town. Nosipho and Karen are two of the ladies in charge who teach people how to sew while making a range of things. They work with the SHWE clothing brand and they also made gowns for The Concierge. They cut and sewed all 200 of our serviettes.
DANE: I think our first step which set the stage for the theme, was having beaded pins made by the Hillcrest Aids Centre for our wedding invitations.
HOORAY: What was it like having your wedding at the Waterfront Hotel and Spa? Would you recommend them to future brides?
DANE: Food was great. Being local was also a key feature for us. It cuts out the cost of accommodation and makes it easily accessible for your guests if you’re in Durban.
HOORAY: Hands down your favourite moment of your entire wedding?
DANE: Having all sides of the family together in one moment.
ABI: And dancing in the street
HOORAY: Anything you guys would have done differently?
ABI: Not really. The hanging bunches of eucalyptus looked like blue feather dusters hanging over the tables, and the lighting was never turned down, but you can’t have everything.
HOORAY: Any special thank you’s you have?
Dane: My folks.
ABI: Yes, Nicole and Michiel made the day happen in more ways than imaginable.
HOORAY: Ummmm….it looks like a little dance-off happened? Please tell us more. You all look like you are having such fun!
ABI: When the song: “I wish I was a Punkrocker” came on, a flash mob hit the dancefloor! It was so exciting. Those that weren’t at the bachelorette were learning the moves in the bathroom beforehand and some were pretty serious about making sure that they took their shoes off.
I’ve watched the video over and over again. We, the mob, loved it the most! And possibly Dane too. He got up half way and wanted to join us. He was quickly put back in his seat in front and there was an all important lift at the end, when 4 of my friends lifted me in the air and walked me across the dance floor, to land gracefully on Dane’s lap.
All thanks must go to my friend (and bridesmaid), Ashleigh who arranged for Roslyn Hill Toerien to teach us the dance. Thanks to Ros and my willing friends too.
DANE: I thought the flashmob was great. It caught me by surprise even though I’d been asked to remix the song. I wanted to get up a join in, only to be denied by cousin, Amy. She wanted me to be seated for the finale. When my Abi was brought to me in the air, my wife.
HOORAY: If you had one piece of advice for a bestie getting married, what would it be?
DANE: Don’t use Tiffany chairs, they just weren’t worth all the fuss. Not but for me, my best man, Richard made a huge difference for me. He came down a week before the wedding and just helped me out, even with admin. He made it a lot easier to get everything done and enjoy it. I will be there for him when the time comes. And I would suggest that every groom has his best man around for that reason.
ABI: At a certain point, you just need to hand stuff over to people who offer. Some people will need you to make decisions right up until the end, but it’s really wonderful when people follow through and run with it. To see their efforts and appreciate what they’ve made happen, is very special on the day.
Venue: Waterfront Hotel and Spa
Photographer: Luca Barausse
Videographer: Josh Reid
DJ: DJ Fuego Heat
Flooring (Dance floor): Connecta-Floor Durban
Electrician: Sean Mullens – 0824493322
Lazy Susans: Bryan & Norma – email@example.com
Sewing of napkins: Africa Sewing Project
Make Up: Aldythia from Make Up your Mind
Dress Maker: Liz – 076 1033 290