Its all about the money

In January of last year (way before Garth was even a concept in my way of thinking and dance lessons seemed like a vaguely interesting idea), Daddy God told me He was going to pay for my wedding and I needed to ask for an amount.  In fact, I had to present Him with a budget. I laughed. That was crazy, right? WHO DOES THAT???

Me. I did that.

Because He told me to.

I created a rough draft and told him I could arrange a wedding for R50k. Yip, feel free to laugh – Holy Spirit did. Daddy God told me to trust Him for Bigger Things. I replied that I couldn’t bear the thought of spending more that R75k for my wedding. I wasn’t comfortable with it. (Please keep in mind that in 2018, the average wedding in Cape Town hovers between R150 – 200K mark). I was determined to do it for less and was prepared to make serious cuts from what I have often thought of as ‘unnecessary frills’ that only the bride (and photographer) really notice. Quick disclaimer: if you have spent that amount on a wedding and loved each detail in your wedding – awesome! I love that you got the wedding you wanted; I just wanted Another Way. And it was important for me to honour the convictions in my heart. I am so grateful for a groom who supported me, parents who allowed me to be unconventional and everybody else… well, their opinions honestly didn’t matter (although those that know and love me, were not even vaguely surprised).

So, the obvious question is did we stick to our budget and did Daddy God really pay??

Yes and YES!

Let’s look at the second answer first (because we’re embracing Unconventional):

When Daddy God asked me to draft my budget, I had a certain amount of money saved in my bank account. Garth and I did make an effort to begin saving and the account grew, but not remarkably.  My work situation changed and I was suddenly earning 1/3 less of my previous take home salary (it was converted into benefits – which wouldn’t really pay for my wedding). Saving and making our own plan suddenly became Impossible. Then God did what He does: He stepped into our financial situation. Out of the blue, I was paid an amount almost twice my usual salary (minus hefty tax reductions, I was left with R20k).  Nobody can explain why the Education Department paid me this money, other than it had to be ‘back pay’ – no other job conversion colleagues received back pay.  This just happened to coincide with a month I needed to pay several deposits. And then, a savings investment I had started in 2009 matured and R35k appeared in my bank account – the same month I needed to pay off the balances. The following month I received R5k as my yearly incentive bonus, Garth received R5k through his work and I received another R15k through a wedding booking and inheritance money from my gran (which I hadn’t even dreamed of receiving). In the space of 4 months, we had received R75k – just as Daddy God has promised. Tell me God is not faithful to His promises??

And that amount in the savings account? Its still there. Just saying.

 

So – Question 2: did we manage to arrange a wedding for that amount?

Before I give you the breakdown, I want to point out how blessed we were and how we acknowledge each of these blessings to also contribute to our low expenses and not only how grateful we are for each, but how humbled and in awe we are that people love us that much, that they would bless us so abundantly… we pray they will receive 1000-fold in blessings from God.

Item                                                       Budget           Actual Expense

  • Photos                                                22k                  22k
  • Venue                                                 12k                  12k
  • Catering                                               8k                  4765
  • Dessert                                                  1k                GIFTED (free)
  • Cake                                                       2k                GIFTED (free)
  • Sparkling wine                                 1500                1137
  • Welcome Drinks                                   1k                 300
  • Dress                                                       3k               GIFTED (free)
  • Rings                                                    1500               1200
  • MUAH                                                      2k               2750
  • Flowers                                               7500               7500
  • Decor                                                   1500               1425
  • Ante-nuptials                                         2k               1890
  • Suit (groom)                                           3k                2950
  • Cash Bar                                                  2k               1382
  • Sound                                                     550                 650
  • Haybales                                               1700              1700
  • Stationery                                               300                187
  • Legal fees                                                  1k                 1k

TOTAL                                                          R73 550         R61 836

As I said, this would only have been possible with incredible blessings and ‘gifts’ from dear friends – people like Sylvie who gave us decor and flower service worth twice the amount that we paid; Lynn & Margaret making my dress as a gift; Sarah baking the most incredible (and delicious) cake as a gift… we are truly grateful and humbled.

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So what did we do to cut costs?

  • We stuck to our budget.
  • We cut costs by not having a formal sit down meal, instead we embraced the unconventional (but totally us) and had canapes and pizza buffet. Our overall catering ‘per head’ cost was around R120 all inclusive. Unheard of in wedding worlds.
  • We didn’t get caught up in the details – we didn’t have assigned seating which meant we didn’t need name cards, table numbers, seating plan etc.
  • We chose not to have ‘favours’ – opinions may vary and feel free to disagree with me, but after waitressing and photographing weddings for 7 years, the one thing that gets left behind are the favours. Sad, but true.

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Where I was not prepared to cut costs:

  • Lizelle. I honestly was prepared to plan my wedding date around her availability and we were not disappointed. Her photographs (even just the few we have seen) have left us speechless.  We see our hearts and Holy Spirit’s fingerprints in each of them – she has truly managed to capture our Love Story.  And being able to share this journey with her, has been priceless.  Yes, my photography budget was 1/3 of my total cost – for what I received: I would pay more. Future brides – cut costs anywhere BUT your photographer. Seriously. Your photos are the only lasting ‘thing’ from your day (and it goes by in such a blur, the photos really do help…)
  • The venue. Although we had originally budgeted between 10-15k for a venue, having seen Anna Beulah, we fell in love immediately and knew this was the place we would get married.  In terms of venue hire fees, it is incredibly reasonable for Cape Town standards, especially since they allow you to bring in your own caterer. Not many venues extend that courtesy.
  • MUAH (make up and hair). To be honest, I was tempted to try do this myself but am SO GRATEFUL that I didn’t – it may sound silly, but the difference in confidence that I felt (and saw in my bridesmaids) was worth every cent. We not only looked beautiful, but felt gorgeous – thank you to Lindsay and Alicia from BLUSH Hair and Make Up. There are no words to express our gratitude.

 

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When wedding planning sucks…

I am so very tired of people telling me to enjoy my engagement and wedding planning, like its meant to be the best time of my life. It isnt. There,I said it: I have not enjoyed this season. In fact, I have reached the point of no longer trying to hold back the tears. They just pitch up at the most random and inconvenient of times and I have learnt to be okay with that.

Everybody describes one’s wedding as “your big day” but to be honest, it hasn’t felt like my day in quite a while and its not nearly as glamorous as the movies make it out to be; I haven’t drunk copious amounts of bubbly or gone for cake tastings or any of that stuff. In fact, all it has really been is one big spreadsheet with budgets and schedules and vendor details… how much fun can admin really be?? And just when I finally thought I had this planning thing nailed, I was suddenly made aware that there are Others who have opinions and “concerns” (aka requests) that feel need to be taken into account. I tried to embrace the concept of compromise and respect… but walking the painfully thin line between accommodating and revoking their invite has left me an anxious mess. I love Jesus, but am really struggling to love people… and have a whole new level of respect for girls who go full on bridezilla (way to go girl!) Wedding planning has not been fun…

So in the middle of it, Garth and I climbed Table Mountain. To the top. There’s a reason they built a cable car… what was meant to be a 3 hour hike turned into 6+ hours, with 1km being a vertical climb of steps too high for my little legs. I struggled. And yet, throughout, I had a hand extended in my direction, literally pulling me up the side of the mountain and then being a support on the way down when my balance was wobbly. He was consistently supportive, never once complaining or speaking a word of negativity. It was only when he got me safely down, that he admitted how tough the experience had been for him. It was in that moment that everything shifted for me (once again): I was once again in awe of the man God has chosen for me to do Life with… that no matter whether he walks before-beside-behind me, his hand is always there and no matter how steep the ups (or downs), I know I can make it through anything when we face them together.

One of the things I have appreciated in this season is how my relationship with my mom has shifted. She has not only opened her heart to Garth, but has begun sharing her own experiences of being a young wife and has been sharing insights and wisdom. I have learnt so much and value each lesson. The most precious is this: always keep Garth number 1; especially when there is interference and manipulation. There are so many trivial things that can be compromised (and bigger battles that require standing your ground), but at the end of the day, when you’re facing a mountainous challenge, the only thing that matters is the hand you’re holding.

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When Holy Spirit plans a wedding…

Shortly before we got engaged (as in the Saturday before…), I was sitting with Holy Spirit and felt challenged about the wedding details.  Yes, I am going to get very personal and real here for a moment: I am one of ‘those girls’ who has a secret wedding board on Pinterest. There. Confession made. It’s out in the open. Label me if you like, even dare to judge me, but let’s be honest – I am not alone. That morning, I felt Holy Spirit say we need to review all the images I had pinned and He began to question my choices – what was significant about each image.  Slowly but surely I started deleting pins, admitting how much significance I had placed on trendy concepts. Eventually I paused and simply asked Holy Spirit how He would style a wedding; I felt Him smile and pull in closer…

He showed me all the images I had kept of the flowers/ decor and kept using the word ‘Garden’.  I asked for a Scripture about a garden (no, my mind did not even think about the Garden of Eden) and He reminded me of a verse in Song of Solomons 4, where the Lover describes the Beloved as a ‘enclosed garden, a sealed fountain’ and then proceeds to describe several fruit and spices found in its midst.  This isn’t the first time Holy Spirit has led me to this scripture and He used the phrase ‘garden of intimacy (with Jesus)’ – that a Kingdom-marriage can only be built on the foundation of one’s First Love in Jesus; that we need to walk daily in that refreshing presence and intimacy with Him first… giving us strength and capacity to love our spouse. I knew instantly that this would form the foundation for our wedding… I just didn’t know how. Yet.

Cue Sylvia; my wedding floral decor creative genius (and amazing friend who has walked a path not only similar to mine, but has encouraged me and inspired me for a good 15+ years).  I had already felt I needed to ask her to create my bouquet prophetically, allowing Holy Spirit to guide her, so when Holy Spirit extended the idea to approach the whole wedding design from the prophetic, I was all in.  And so was she. I simply shared my heart (Pinterest Board), scripture and several key symbols Holy Spirit had said to include (totally another blog post all in itself), and left the decor aspects of the wedding in their (more than capable) hands. How very unlike me to give over creative control for a day I have spent years play-planning. I cannot begin to explain the freedom and joy it has given me – I know my wedding will be beautiful, but I don’t need to worry about a single flower colour or availability as I lift my eyes beyond the wedding to Forever with my (future) husband.  I get to become Marriage Minded, while Enjoying the Engagement.

I took Sylvia to visit the venue yesterday and we spent the afternoon/ evening sharing our Heart Journeys and allowing creative ideas to flow.  She had had a Holy Spirit revelation about a ‘Covenant Carpet’ – a literal mat upon which you pledge your vows that is custom created to tell your Love Story.  This then becomes a daily reminder of that day when we stood before God and friends and promised to give the best (and worst) of ourselves to eachother. I loved it. We spoke through various elements and symbols and colours that Holy Spirit has instructed to include in the wedding, while also including special details that tell our unique Love Story.  This morning we played.  And by that I mean, I moved furniture about and watched Sylvia do her thing: create floral magic. And then it was my turn to take the photo and play a little too…

Nope, I am not going to share the final product (yet). G gets the first preview… but I am so excited to stand upon our Love Story – in the Garden of Intimacy with Jesus – filled with Promises and Hope for our Forever Future.

And this is just the beginning of the wedding planning – I can’t wait to see what Holy Spirit has planned.

God of the details: The Venue

I had my heart set on a venue I had never actually been to… I had seen photos, heard about it, seen their menu (foodtrucks included) and just loved its unconventional quirkiness. Apparently, God had a better plan.

I was chatting to a friend at school a few weeks ago about the idea of the wedding and we were discussing venues and costs etc. She suggested I visit a venue just up the road from my house. I smiled and said I would make a plan; having a Plan B seemed like a good idea.

The Sunday before we got engaged, G and I had some spare time in the afternoon, so we decided to go visit Plan B. What harm could it do? We could enjoy a hot chocolate (and I would have something to compare my venue to when I finally visited it on Thursday). From the moment we arrived, there was something different about Plan B… initially I couldn’t quite define it. We had hot chocolate in the deli and casually asked if we could go look at the venue. Immediately the owner grinned, pulled up a chair and asked if a wedding was being planned. And so we spent the next half hour chatting to him and another couple about weddings and ideas etc. He wouldn’t hear of us paying and gave us directions to the venue, warned us about the cranky donkey and said he would see us in December.

We took the shortcut through the back garden, warily kept an eye out for cranky donkey and found our way to the venue. We peered through the windows and stood in the parking lot, so aware of the silence and sense of space… and the earthy farm smells of chicken poop. In that moment, saying absolutely nothing, but knowing beyond a doubt that God had brought us here to see His choice… I turned to look at G, who simply looked down at me, took my hand and said what I was already thinking: “this is it. This feels like home.”

 

And like that, Plan B became Best.

 

Oh, and the farm has llamas. And a sheep that thinks he is a dog. God knows how to make my heart flutter with happiness.

(When we returned the next week to speak to the event manager, we walked in to hear Christian worship music playing and realised it was Holy Spirit’s presence we had felt on our first visit. “Beulah” is Hebrew for “married; or to claim as a wife.” It seems doubly appropriate that G asked me to be his wife there, and we will get married in the same place.)