Wanjiru & Ricky's mish-mash of color and fun wedding

January 20 |

I doubt any of us could forget Wanjiru's AMAZING red fairy wings and her "practical," floofy, pink reception dress. Now, for your drooling pleasure, is the full deal on this colorful, to-die-for wedding! -Becca

more smoochies
Photos by Dror Eyal Photography

The offbeat bride: Wanjiru, Doctor (and Tribe member)

Her offbeat partner: Ricky, Administration

Location & date of wedding: Emoyeni, Johannesburg, South Africa — October 10, 2010

What made our wedding offbeat: I refused to wear a veil let alone have hair on my head. I love to play with hair, grow it, straighten it, braid it, weave it, 'Fro it, but I always felt fresh and new and clean without hair. The first time I shaved my head it felt amazing, and I didn't see any reason why I would have it any other way on my wedding day.

getting dressed upI mish-mashed ideas from everywhere. From the enormous pool of great minds and spirits on OBB, I drew courage and inspiration. I also bought a library of local and imported wedding magazines and let go of my inhibitions. This meant my wedding was a bit crazy, but I loved every moment of the madness.

I refused to choose a color theme. I'm a terribly fickle person, so when I got to choose a second time (with our second venue) I decided to be true to myself and refused to let the vendor push me into a corner on the color choices. I'm glad I stuck to my guns. Despite all this, we both wore gold and red shoes as an ode to the traditional red and gold of Chinese weddings.

changed into a more practical dress

Gloomy Bear grabbing a hold of the scissorsI compiled my playlist. I ripped the thousands of CDs in my collection to a friend's laptop over a few weeks. The day before the wedding, I picked out a few hundred songs (overkill, I know) handed back the laptop and went with the flow.

We had an eight course cocktail dinner followed by a five course dessert. It was a cocktail dinner simply because the sit-down-and-eat hour or two of torture is just that to me — P A I N F U L and forced. I love it casual and light. Eat as much as you want of whatever you want wherever and however you want it with no need to waste what's on your plate.

ribbon, suncatchers and lanternsWe had a teensy decor budget and decided to bring in my small tribe of stuffed toys to help out on the day. Totoro was our doorman, Domo and Mogwai (The Gremlins) cheered on from the concrete pots on the balcony, and my black Gloomy Bear photobombed the dres-up and formal pictures. Various other toys rampaged about the building at random.

My mom also volunteered her suncatchers for the wedding (she sells them at fleamarkets and the like) and they were strung along the pathways bringing color and sound and helped direct people to the ceremony.

kisses

I can hear the marimba band… awesome!Roses were banned from the day. I wanted the florist to use his imagination.

The day before the wedding we all got a bunch of guys over to the house and started tying up the hundreds and hundreds of meters of fabric, ribbon and tulle that I had amassed over months and months to decorate the wedding ceremony site. All that tying, all that fabric, all the weight! It was epic! My mom-in-law was amazing and made sense of all my madness and got everything under control. It all would never have happened without her help.

color and windMy wings were custom-made, feather-free wings by etsy vendor Up from the Ashes at the last minute! Rebecca (also preparing for her nupitals at the time) rocked and was able to promise and deliver them in perfect time. The feedback and follow through on every emailed interaction we had was outstanding. I would recommend her without a question to anyone anywhere in the world. Awesome fun seeing them for the first time :) wohoo!

Johannesburg, a city renowned worldwide for its astronomical crime and violence rates. As a student, I learned to love this drab, crazy city with all its thorns and dangers. When I saw this refurbished Edwardian venue nestled on a ridge overlooking the city as if untouchable, I knew that this was it. It was amazing inside and out and the decor meant we barely needed to do anything to make the place sparkle. I wish I could live there forever!

Johannesburg

marimba band from SowetoTell us about the ceremony: The wedding began with a Marimba band from Soweto. They played our instrumental wedding march as both our parents walked us to meet each other at the front of the gathering out on an open field.

Our High Priest then cast a circle and began with a neat, heartfelt reading as the wind blew rows of ribbons and clouds of pollen through the warm spring air around us.

ceremony with the high priestThe reading was followed by our vows to each other followed by the High Priest cleansing our rings and performing the handfasting. After that we shared our first meal and kiss together.

When complete, we did a little jump over the broom. Then we knelt before our parents to serve them tea (as per Chinese custom) with them in turn giving us gifts.

the ceremony

Our biggest challenge: Our first venue had terrible service. I lost it eventually and sent them a furious email dismissing them. They didn't take it well. They were indescribably rude and pushed me so far I wasn't capable of functioning at work. I eventually asked to speak to the person running the show: the owner. She was fantastic and apologetic and offered us our *non-refundable deposit* as well as a post-wedding dinner to ameliorate the frustrating experience.

Johannesburg landmark in the background

the Men of the bridal partyIt was a similar story with the wedding dress and this time it was the contract that was the issue. The bridal saleswoman was very happy to verbally oblige (with a sale looming for them) and promised me the world, but I got a funny look when I asked for all that we had agreed on to be written down on the sale contract. The month after I bought the dress, I went back and the saleslady informed me that the store had supposedly changed its policy and all alterations were now at additional (exorbitant) cost. I brought out that piece of paper that my saleslady had clearly forgotten she had written and she landed up in a world of trouble with her manager. It was a very bitter experience.

Johannesburg by night as a storm rolls in

my Man of Honour, bridesladies and meMy favorite moment: On the wedding day, as we were about to walk out for the ceremony, I was told by one of my brideswomen that only half of the guests had arrived for the day.

I wanted to burst out in tears! My girlfriends being so matter-of-fact made me take a deep breath and ask myself what I was getting upset for — we all looked amazing and I was about to commit to the man of my dreams in a ceremony out of my imaginings, surrounded by all our family and best friends.

That moment woke me up to the day.

I made my mind up that it was going to be a beautiful and wonderful day, no matter what happened, and it was.

couple shots in the streets of Johannesburg

My funniest moment: Taking our couple shots in the streets of Johannesburg (the most dangerous city in the world?) and having friendly strangers stop by the roadside ask us what photo shoot we were modeling for, and me pointing at Ricky and saying out loud for the first time, "That's my husband!"

photos at sunset

Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? The venue coordinator was a bit of a disorganised disaster. A month before the wedding, she decided to invite, at my added expense, a guest coordinator to help. Without Joey, the guest coordinator, the wedding would never have run the way it did. Everyone was raving about her by the end of the evening. She was amazing!

i actually climbed on top of this tractor in that dress!! *gasp!*My advice for offbeat brides: Get everything in writing and countersigned no matter how sweet and convincing someone is. I learned the hard way. Take notes at all your vendor meetings and have them sign off on whatever you have agreed.

Don't be afraid to stand up for yourself, and at worst, don't be afraid to walk away from a bad situation with your vendors if it gets that bad (and don't forget to ask for that supposedly "non refundable" deposit if they are at fault)

Second best may actually be the best, and maybe sometimes NOT buying/paying straight away may be the best move. I ended up with bags on bags of decor I didn't even get to put up on the wedding day! A total waste of money.

Suited upGet a wedding planner. And get one who gets you. I don't know how I would have managed without the extra help! I needed someone who would not judge me or my decisions and would work on the tons and tons of things I had to sort out without me feeling guilty that I was invading their space and time. It's their job. They know people in the industry and their angle and experience can be invaluable and, despite the cost, there isn't a price I can put on the value of that feeling of having an enormous weight taken off your shoulders.

Get great photographers: then trust them to do their job as well as you know they can. If this is something you're particular about, gather the photos you absolutely love from wherever you've seen them and take them along to your pre-wedding consultation. They will be invaluable especially if you're not versed in some of the more fancy photographic styles.

awesomeness

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? I have family and friends whom I don't deserve. My thanks are heartfelt when I say that I'm so glad they were there with us, supporting and encouraging us on our wedding day.

and more kisses

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
wedding cake

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!



  1. I can't get over how beautiful your pictures are! They are so full of emotion and spirit. Your photographer did an amazing job capturing the two of you. Definitely one of the best photo sets I've seen so far! Congratulations on your love and marriage!!! <3

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  2. Oh my goodness… this is just such a lovely wedding. I feel so inspired and got all emotional just reading about it. You can really feel her love and joy through the whole thing. Absolutely beautiful- physically and emotionally.

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  3. Woo Eegee! You and your husband look awesome, all of the pictures are fabulous, and the story you tell and experiences you relate are informative and interesting. :) I hope you two have long and happy lives together. Enjoy – and know that you pulled off one hell of a wedding! Congrats and best wishes!

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  4. Yay a fellow south african!!!
    Congratulations you looked stunning beautiful. Congratulations to the both of you

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  5. Congratulations!
    I am so glad I had the time to read this without distractions. I really enjoyed reading about every detail of your wedding.
    How you handled the changes that happened while planning is something to be admired.
    Also, I've got to swoon one more time over your wings!

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    • thank you! with regard to the changes and frustrations, it took a team of friends and family just to keep me from giving up on everything.

      I'm so glad they believed in me and my dream (sometimes more than i could or wanted to believe).

      1 agrees
  6. I was just about in tears reading about it, it was so beautiful! Congrats, cuz even with the distractions and the problems, the end result is the same…happiness!

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  7. thanks for all the awesome support and love!

    every single comment brought a smile to my face and i'm thrilled y'all liked it! thank you, thank you, thank you for being the best part of our planning and for cheering us along into our marriage! x x x

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  8. Not many people can pull off a bare head well, but you sure can! You look amazing!

    Sorry to hear about all your vendor trouble, that sounds like a nightmare.

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    • the difficult vendors made me appreciate what it means to have a planner (someone to handle all the nonsense & fight on your behalf) and it made us rethink (and re-affirm) everything we were doing and why we were doing it. :)

      i grew up a whole lot through the tears and frustrations.

      In retrospect, they made the journey what it was. :D

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  9. Yay for Totoro!!! I want him to be my doorman now too haha.

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  10. fabulous. thank you for your comments about wedding planners, standing up for yourself, and going with the flow sometimes. just what i needed to hear!

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  11. Stunning, absolutely stunning! Scrolling down the page I'd come to a photo and say, 'oh this photo is *beautiful*' only to scroll a bit further and find another even more beautiful! I think the night shot with that tiny bit of light between you both *might* be my favourite. The black & white one of just you with wings comes a close second. Honestly, so, so beautiful.

    Congratulations on your happy day :)

    (PS WINGS! Awesome)

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    • Thanks! heehee! you sound as excited as i was to see them the first time!!!

      after these few months, i honestly still can't yet decide on a single favourite to blow up and put in a frame… – its soooooooo hard to point out just one!

      i love every one of the photos, and if i wasn't 100% sure before, I'm totally convinced now that when it comes to important events its a good idea to get an outstanding photog.

      these pictures were my brothers' gift to us and we'll always be thankful for them! :D yay!

      throughout our planning we were suprised at how much people gave in all sorts of ways – their time, support, advice, gifts, love,… wow wow wow!

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  12. I've been waiting and waiting for this wedding to be featured and now that it's finally here … it exceeds all my expectations! Eegee, wow, your wedding has blown me away! Your story is so beautifully written and the photos! The emotion and the happiness … it all makes this one of my favourite weddings ever.

    P.S. Jo'burg ROCKS! So glad you showcased the city's vibrancy.

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  13. Congratulations! Jozi FTW! Having gone through a lot of drama that was pretty similar, and abandoning all our plans at the 11th hour (really, 5 weeks to the wedding) – you are an inspiration! Your grace shines through in every word and photo. You guys are beautiful!

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  14. Your wedding was flawless! I have been obsessed with the wedding world for years and I think there is nothing more perfect than a wedding that is completely and totally the couple's. Congratulations to you both, and thank you, for keeping things uniquely you! :o)

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  15. Do you have more pictures of your fabulous dress? I want to see the back so badly.

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  16. I love, love, LOVE seeing someone else go crazy with colour! I refused to do a 2colour theme, and only accidentally ended up with one — but it was pink yellow orange and purple! And only that was accidental as they're my favourite colours. I love your photography, everything! Such a beautiful wedding. Congrats! xx

    1 agrees
  17. To see what happens when spirit, colour and expressiveness explodes in a celebration of love is a fab way to start my day! Ubuntu!

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