After a whirlwind three-month engagement, Alexia and Jason tied the knot at Chez Charlene in Pretoria on the 22nd of October 2016. Her story is one which demonstrates how a little teamwork and little luck can go a long way in making your dream wedding come true.
Read on to see how she makes planning a wedding in three month’s sound like a walk in the park!
Q1. Please describe your wedding day, in as much detail as you can.
I am sure that someone pressed “fast-forward” on the universal clock on the day. My wedding day started bright and early with all the glamour and prep! I woke up with butterflies. All the girls were pampered and beautified. I loved having all my bridesmaids with me all day laughing and joking.
Our ceremony was at 3, followed by the canapes, cocktails and cake cutting. After photos, we walked into the reception to our favourite song and saw all our amazing guests. Speeches and dinner followed. And dancing – what an incredible day!
Q2. What was your most memorable moment of your wedding?
The feeling of pure joy and happiness I felt that day. It was so special having everyone I love together in one place to celebrate such a special day.
Q3. How long was your engagement?
Less than a year
Q4. Did you feel your engagement was too long or short and why?
Just right! Jason and I were engaged for only three months. By the time we booked and confirmed our venue we only had a little over two and a half months to plan the wedding. I was very fortunate to have both my parents and Jason’s support in planning in such a short time. I am a very indecisive person by nature – so the short engagement meant that we (meaning me) didn’t have time to second guess my decisions or spend too much time on Pinterest. Having very little down time to ponder and over-think and analise every decision suited my personality perfectly.
My uncle and aunt from Austraila were also visiting South Africa for the first time in about 20 years and I REALLY wanted them to be at my wedding. We were so fortunate to have them attend the wedding. It was “destiny” that Chez Charlene had a date available.
Q6. What made you end up choosing your venue?
Chez Charlene was the second venue we visited. We (my parents and Jason) immediately fell in love with the gorgeous gardens and paddocks on arrival. I have always been an avid horse-rider (show-jumping) and always dreamed of having horses at my wedding. Driving up the long driveway towards the venue gave me butterflies. It was perfect. After meeting the owner (Charlene), we all agreed that the venue was absolutely perfect. Chez Charlene is immaculately maintained. Charlene places so much emphasis on an extremely high-level of service and professionalism. The venue was absolutely stunning, elegant/timeless and the layout suited our “wedding style” perfectly. It could comfortably accommodate all our guests, approximately 70, and had multiple “staging” areas – including the chapel, gardens – for the cocktail time and cake cutting and main reception. Chez Charlene is also a full-service wedding venue – meaning they help plan every aspect of the wedding, including decor, flowers, food, stationary etc. They handled everything and more. Charlene also immediately sensed my nervousness and put my mind at ease. She guaranteed that our wedding arrangements would be completely effortless – and it was. Charlene and Tamzen (our dedicated wedding planner) made arranging all the logistics so seamless.
Q7. Please describe your venue in 3 words
Classic, elegant, timeless
Q8. What did you find the most challenging part of planning your wedding?
Finding a dress in such a short amount of time. Most dress shops laughed at me when I said that I needed my dress in less than two and a half months. Lady Marmalade were amazing and did not once make me feel like my dress would not be ready.
Q9. How involved was your husband in the planning?
I was very fortunate because Jason was very involved in the planning. He was also a calming factor when I started stressing or wanting to completely “Pinterest-out” our wedding.
Q10. If you could start your wedding planning process all over again, what would be the first thing you do and why?
Definitely, decide on your venue and wedding “theme/style/feel”. This way you can make sure that your wedding venue suits the style/theme of your wedding. In addition- chosing an established and acclaimed wedding venue (i.e. one that has planned and held numerous successful weddings) also set my mind at ease.
Q11. What did you find the most surprising about planning a wedding?
All the elements of a wedding! From the flowers to the stationary, gifts, food, decor, the number of candle holders, type and order of the ceremony, bridesmaids dresses – so many styles, groomman suits. There are so many little things! And of course the costs involved!
Q12. What’s the one thing you would change about your wedding or planning process and why?
Q13. What would be the one thing you would recommend that a couple spends good money on for their wedding?
I never understood the importance of this but I would definitely say a good Photographer and Videographer. The day of the wedding flies by and (although cliche, in this case, it’s true) the photos and video are the only thing that remains at the end of the day. All the glitz and glamour fades but you have the photos forever. So I truly believe that hiring a good wedding photographer, whose style and personality you like, is very important. The wedding photographer captures all the little moments which you might forget or not notice on the day because you are just SO busy and overwhelmed. A good photographer will also capture the decor and flowers which you spent hours stressing about. I also believe that having a videographer is great. Because the day goes by in the blink of an eye – it was so much fun “re-watching” our wedding. I also loved having our ceremony and speechs recorded because the moment is just so big that your brain cannot remember all the details and beautiful words said.
I also recommend spending good money on the venue because it ultimately sets the scene for the entire wedding. A beautiful venue will often save some money on the decor because you don’t have to try and “make it pretty/beautiful” with too much other “stuff”.
If dancing at the reception is important to you – then the DJ is also vital – they set the mood and vibe of the wedding. The DJ can make or break the wedding. Our DJ was incredible, from the sound during the ceremony through the canapes, to the first dance – he read the room and “built the mood” for the party at the end of the reception.
Q14. What did you learn about your husband during the planning?
Jason had an amazing ability to read and “pair” our guests. He was in charge of the seating plan at the wedding. He was incredible at grouping all the guests and placing them at the right tables to ensure that all our guests had people at their tables with similar interests and then the conversation seemed to flow.
Q15. What did you learn about yourself?
I am an extremely indecisive person but having set deadlines definitely helped. I knew that once I made a decision that I couldn’t go back and change it. It helped so much because there wasn’t time to doubt or second-guess myself as time was very limited. It was: “make the decision and move on”. Although Pinterest is an incredible resource, it is very easy to get completely absorbed and let things spiral out of control. Make your decisions and move on. Do not dwell too long. Having an incredible wedding planner (Tamzen at Chez Charlene) also helped because she would give me a deadline and I knew I had to stick with it.
Q16. Give us future brides one, none cliche piece of advice
Don’t spend a fortune on a wedding cake and not enjoy it. We cut our cake during the canapes and cocktails, this meant that all our guests saw and enjoyed our amazing cake. The cake also gave the guests something nice and sweet with the canapes.
Q17. Lastly, would you do it again if you could?
ABSOLUTELY – our wedding was the most incredible and joyful day ever. It was a day of pure celebration and I would love to have that feeling again.
It sounds, to me, that Alexia had a wedding planning process which suited her personality to perfection. I couldn’t imagine planning my wedding in just three months but Alexia’s story shows that it is 100% doable!