The rest of the Royal Hotel did not disappoint. From the expansive veranda you enter a wooden-floored, modern interpretation of colonial splendour with magical proportions of vintage and minimalism. A cosy, cool wooden bar with old-school portraits of national hero’s and a clean and simple dining area with crisp white linen. From here French doors open onto a split-level terrace with generous wooden tables made for feasting. Beyond the terrace lies the vast lawn, gently sloping down to a stone amphitheatre looking over the Riebeek Valley. Not to mention that there is also a tiny chapel, should the big church right next door not be your cup of tea. Simply put, it was perfect and we were sold.
Upon enquiring we found that the hotel only had a couple of Saturdays booked out for weddings in the next year, so we could choose our date. This might be wonderful news for most brides-to-be, but in me it caused bewilderment!
How does one pick a wedding date?
BB sat me down and patiently guided me until we sussed out my priorities. He couldn’t give a damn when we married, as long as I didn’t make him wait too long.
So, my first consideration was season: I live for hot summer weather, a day without sun is a great sadness to me. So it would have to be summer in the Cape, therefore November – March.
Second was the length of time we wanted to be engaged. We had only really known each other for eight months and I felt it would be wise to give us another couple of months to make sure our compatibility was not just the result of infatuation + distance. (Yes, you see, the cynic in me alive and kicking!) It was around February at this time so the next summer seemed reasonable, the following one way too far. Summer 08/09 it would be then.
Third issue for me was close friends who live overseas. You see, South Africans travel / work / migrate internationally at the drop of a hat. So at least a couple of really close friends (and a couple of bridesmaids) would have to come from the US and UK. Most of the émigrés usually return for holidays in the summer sun over Christmas, so I thought it would be polite to have our wedding around that time. We checked a calendar and picked a Saturday: 20 December 2008.
We were pencilled in at the hotel, I started sending e-mails. I wanted to do save-the-dates and started working on something I’d seen in my first wedding magazine, but my serious lack of design skills and software sabotaged the effort early on. So e-mails would have to suffice. Just as I was starting to spread the word, some of the initial responses made me doubt the date. As the doubt grew, other details also entered the fray. I realise now that I opened myself up to way too many opinions at this stage. But then that’s me, the original people-pleaser.
Some friends liked that the date was close to Christmas, some did not. The florist/decorator I really wanted (because they did our friends’ wedding and it was lovely and they were the only florist/decorators I knew!) was not available. A friend of my sister’s got engaged and instantly informed everyone that her date was 20 December. BB actually piped up and said he’d feel weird being away from his family on honeymoon over Christmas. (Excuse me? I’m your family now, buddy! But we worked that out…) Some family members (who will not be named right now, you know who you are) mentioned how uncomfortably hot it could get it December. Others discreetly informed me that their Christmas holidays had already been booked and would make their attendance impossible.
After hours of deliberation, the practical drawing up of a pros and cons list and serious soul-searching angst on my side, we came up with a new date.
Saturday 22 November 2008.
I like the way it looks, 22/11. I love November. I like that the 22nd sits nicely spaced between BB’s birthday in October, my birthday in November and then Christmas. It will certainly make for an exciting end-of-year every year! Another volley of mixed responses made me realise what BB told me from the start: You can’t please everyone all the time. We’d found our date and we were sticking to it.