Some people have addictive personalities. They take one tentative drag on a cigarette and within a week or two they have a 40-a-day habit. Or they take up jogging to lose a little weight and a year later they are doing the Comrades Marathon. Or they routinely spend their kids' lunch money on their eBay habit. Some people have even said that I have an addictive personality – but only in one very specific way. Nope, it's not that I'm addicted to cigarettes, alcohol, narcotics, exercise (surely you jest!), food, television or even shopping.
I'm addicted to getting married.
My first time was in the very, umm… interesting surroundings of the Home Affairs office in Port Elizabeth, right next door to a queue of political asylum seekers, with me in a sun dress on an afternoon off from work and the groom in shorts and flip flops. My second time was in the coastal town of Knysna in the garden of the very beautiful Belvidere manor, in a long white frock with a veil. My third time was in Las Vegas, in a turquoise sequinned cocktail dress with only two guests and a poolside daiquiri celebration at the Flamingo Hotel later. In fact, the only constants throughout all this was the groom (who happened to be the same on all three occasions, you will no doubt be relieved to hear!) and one of the guests - my dear friend Bronwyn. Given my enthusiastic track record in the wedding department, it will come as no surprise that when our tenth anniversary rolled around this year, I could think of only one suitable way to celebrate it: by renewing our vows yet again.
At our reception in Knysna in 2001 I declared that in ten years time we would renew our vows on a beach in ten years time, in the same dress. So when 2011 arrived, I already knew who I was going to be marrying and what I was going to be wearing (provided it still fit me!) - the only decision to be made was which beach. In the end we settled on having our ceremony on the beach at the Cape St Francis resort, a place we have come to love since my brother bought a holiday home there – and we could not have made a better choice. Not only was the venue spectacular and the catering excellent, but from start to finish the staff arranged everything on my behalf and went out of their way to accommodate our every request. They made us feel like movie stars on the day.
We stayed at the largest of the three Beach Break villas, three luxury homes right on the dunes with direct access to the beach. With five double bedrooms and a huge open plan living area, deck and garden it was perfect for accommodating us and many of our guests, as well as providing a venue for drinks and canapés after the ceremony. Oh, and did I mention that there were 2 swimming pools? Not for the complex but for our villa, one heated and one not! My young nephews thought they'd arrived in heaven. Each of the (huge!) bedrooms was individually decorated and our master suite was in a "wing" of its own, with a private upstairs lounge, its own small balcony, and a gorgeous four-poster bed. The bedrooms under thatch, meaning that you go to sleep surrounded by the wonderful clean scent that only thatch can provide.
The day before the ceremony was near-perfect, with the sun lingering until the last moment and flooding all my pictures with golden, late-afternoon light; and the day of the renewal dawned much the same… until shortly after lunch, that is. The first hint that things were a-changing was a subtle change in the temperature of the breeze – a new chill that was not there an hour earlier. The next rather broader hint was a sonorous blast from the foghorn at the lighthouse on Seal Point. A quick scan of the horizon confirmed everybody's suspicions: the thick mist was rolling on across the peninsula and along the beach to where the resort had already set up our beautiful driftwood arch and deckchairs for the ceremony. My friends still marvel at the fact that I planned our late-Autumn wedding in Knysna to be poolside with no covering AND no Plan B if it rained. Every time somebody said: "But what if it rains?" I simply smiled and said: "It's not going to". And it didn't. Could it be that my celebrated luck with weather had run out this time? Undeterred, I simply shut the curtains, forgot about the fog, and threw myself into hair, beauty and dress preparations with two of my dearest friends and a bottle of bubbly. And would you believe, when I opened the curtains an hour later there was not a wisp of mist to be seen.
When I was ready, I simply walked to the end of the garden where my nephews were waiting for me, and then we made our way down the dune path to the beach where the guests (and Nick!) were waiting barefoot in the glorious sunshine(!). The service was conducted by a good friend whom I have known since I was about 13 years old; the sun shone; the kids played Star Wars in the dunes behind us during the service; and after we'd said I do, I got to kiss my husband and hug my dad. Perfect.
With Nick's mom, my dad, my brother, my sister-in-law and my 2 gorgeous nephews
With all our guests
After the ceremony and the many, many photos were was all over we simply walked hand in hand back up the dunes again to the house, where the fairies had paid us a visit, cleaned our room again and laid out fresh towels. And I'm sorry, but nothing says "you are a princess" better than fresh towels twice in one day. Through the resort restaurant I had ordered canapés and champagne to be served in the villa, so as soon as we got back to the house, waiters started circulating with glasses and trays. I had chosen four canapés from their menu, namely: tomato and basil bruschetta; smoked salmon and cream cheese blinis; fillet steak and wasabi mayonnaise phyllo baskets; and roasted vegetable and Brie tartlets. Although all were good, I have to say that the fillet steak phyllo baskets actually blew me away – not only gorgeous to look at but even better to eat, with perfectly pink meat and wonderful textural contrasts. Nick and I both made speeches, my brother Anton made a speech about us, and I got to celebrate with my two original bridesmaids Andréa and Bronwyn who have only grown more gorgeous and generally fabulous over the past ten years
And from there, we strolled into the warm night and over to the resort's restaurant, Joe Fish, where our beautifully-laid long table by the swimming pool awaited us. As we had already had copious canapés, I figured we could skip the starters and had ordered seafood platters for the whole table and large bowls of Greek salad to share. I had eaten the Joe Fish seafoof platters before, so I was prepared for their size and quality – but I think it is fair to say the guests were astonished, in a good way. Each platter consisted of generous portions of fish, mussels, calamari and prawns, as well as rice and fries. They are meant to serve 2 people each, but easily stretch to three and the quality of all the seafood was excellent – fresh and tasty. And once the plates had been cleared, we stayed on until late into the night, talking, laughing and enjoying each other's company. It was everything I had hoped for.
To all my married readers – I urge you to renew your marriage vows, even just once. It truly is the most fun you can have with your clothes on And if anybody reading this is remotely considering a beach wedding in South Africa (or a renewal of their vows!) I cannot recommend the Cape St Francis resort highly enough - it is a beautiful setting, good value for money, and has professional staff who will go out of their way to help you and accommodate your wishes (Danni in particular was a total star!). I also have to thank our friends good Kate, Richard and Cara who did a spectacular job (on very short notice) of photographing the day and putting up with my frustrated photographer suggestions
The only questions that remain now are how soon can I persuade Nick to renew our vows again… and whether I will STILL fit into my wedding dress the next time we do this!
Cape St Francis Resort
Da Gama Way
Cape St Francis
Tel. +27 (0)42 298 0054
Fax +27 (0)42 298 0157