Bianca and Thomas have been together for more than a decade, and although they live in London now, their relationship began in a very different setting. Rewind ten years to a university club in South Africa, and that’s where their story starts.
“Thomas and I met in a club whilst at university,” explains Bianca, “We know what they say about couples who get together at university, but look at us now! Ten years later, we have an adopted dog, we’re married, living in a completely different country and have plans to start a family. Pretty good going, right?”
The Proposal: Two Important Questions
We agree! Clearly things were meant to be between these two, and it only took Thomas a few years to realise Bianca was the one for him. Three years into their relationship, he popped the question. Actually, correction, he popped *two* questions, “Will you marry me?” and, “Will you move 6,000 miles across the world with me?”
That’s right, Tom wanted Bianca to move to London with him, and Bianca said yes without hesitation, explaining, “We decided to elope a few months later and started planning our big move abroad. We wanted to jet back to Cape Town for a big wedding celebration as soon as we were settled in our new home in London.”
But wedding planning had a few obstacles for the couple to overcome.
Planning the Big Day
Planning didn’t start immediately, as the couple had plenty on their plates at the time. Bianca says, “Living in London and planning a Cape Town wedding from abroad had it’s challenges, but we had a lovely wedding planner on the ground there who we trusted implicitly to pull it all off.
“We took a few trips to Cape Town during the planning process, and it was on those trips that we secured our gorgeous Italian-style hotel wedding venue.”
However, like many couples, their wedding plans went into meltdown when the pandemic started slowly shutting things down, country by country. But for these two, it wasn’t just their home country they had to worry about. It was London, Cape Town and everywhere that their international guests were travelling from.
“To cut a long story short, we decided to postpone our wedding just before everything went into lockdown. As our new wedding date approached, things went from bad to worse with our wedding photographer cancelling three months before the new date.
"South Africa remained in lockdown meaning more than half of our guests couldn’t make the wedding, and three days before it was all set to take place, our venue folded and cancelled!”
But after everything they’d already overcome, Bianca and Thomas didn’t let this stop them. “Through a few tears, and together with my husband, family and wedding planner, we made the wedding work, finding a venue down the road who saved the day.
“This was actually our first choice to begin with, but was out of budget at the time of booking. We made sure everyone knew where to be, including the guests and suppliers, and celebrated together with our family and friends.
“In the end, our day couldn’t have been more special. Everything looked so beautiful and there was so much love in the room, the stress of planning was well behind us.”
The Bride’s Gorgeous Look
Bianca was a vision on the day of her wedding. She wanted natural wedding makeup with a rosy glow, and that’s exactly what her wedding makeup artist created. She opted for a half up half down wedding hairstyle which was styled with loose waves, showcasing the multitude of tones in her hair.
For her wedding dress, Bianca wanted something slightly sparkly with a timeless feel, “I wanted something elegant, (with a sparkle, of course!), and nothing too crisp white. I’m always looking for clothes with a bit of character and I feel like my wedding dress had exactly that.
“It was designed by Australian wedding dress designer Martina Liana, bought from Angelica Bridal Boutique in London. The dress had beautiful lace detail throughout, a unique low back and a pink undertone. It was my dream dress and I’m so happy I went with it. When shopping, I only tried on four dresses because I instantly knew this was the one.”
The Groom’s Smart Attire
Groom Thomas understood the assignment and looked every bit as handsome as Bianca looked beautiful. With a unique style, Thomas always knew he wanted to get married in a unique wedding suit that offered something a little different. He wanted to find the perfect balance between something really smart that was also a bit funky, too.
But smart suits and Cape Town heat aren’t exactly a match made in heaven, as Bianca explains, “Shopping for a lightweight summer wedding suit in the middle of winter in London was a little bit more stressful than we’d anticipated.
“We needed something light to suit the summer heat in Cape Town, and eventually found the most perfect three-piece suit from Harry Brown. Tom chose a red and blue checked wedding suit which he then paired with a gorgeous Egyptian cotton white shirt and silk tie.”
Special Wedding Rings
Of course you can buy amazing wedding rings for your big day, but Bianca and Thomas wanted to go one step further and make their own.
“When we decided to elope, we knew we wanted to have our rings made for the big day and it was a pretty special experience working on this together.
“My mum has always held onto a diamond for me that belonged to my late grandmother. My other late grandmother also gifted me a gold bracelet in her final days, so I always knew I wanted to incorporate both of these special pieces into my ‘forever’ ring.
“We worked with a local jeweller to bring our vision to life. My ring is mix of family history and heirlooms, as well as something new (namely a Namibian morganite stone and a diamond from Thomas), and my husband wears my grandmother’s gold in his own ring, too.”
And as the icing on the cake of a pair of truly personalised wedding rings, the couple have also had the word ‘always’ engraved on both of their rings to symbolise their commitment to each other. So sweet!
Bespoke Decor & Little Details
Luckily for Bianca and Thomas, all of the suppliers they’d hired were external, so they were able to use all of their initial vendors at their new venue, and it was here that the smaller details and sentimental elements of their wedding really shone.
“We really wanted to honour our family and friends who are no longer with us,” explains Bianca. “To do this, we set aside a candlelit table to the side of our reception with pictures and mementos to remember them by. It made it feel like they were there with us which meant the world.
“For our favours, my mum handmade clay pots and dipped them in our wedding colours. She then planted and potted shrubs in each one, as well as planting South African succulent which can live up to 200 years for the guests to grow.”
And it wasn’t just Bianca’s mum who got stuck in with creating things for the wedding.
“I created all of our signage, wedding invitations, menus and place cards myself. As a designer, I’m my own toughest critic, but I genuinely loved the end result. I went for a mixture of blush printed card, burgundy leather and gold clasps.”
Proving that wedding décor isn’t just good for on-the-day use, Bianca decided to do something different with her flowers, explaining, “Flowers were a key part of our décor, and getting the colours, styling and combinations right was really important to us.
“Our flowers were so exquisite, I wanted to keep them forever, so after the wedding, I pressed and dried some of our favourite blooms from the day and had them framed for our bedroom.”
The Romantic Ceremony
In South Africa, traditional wedding ceremony layouts consist of a short ceremony at the wedding venue, followed by drinks and tapas outdoors, and a reception and dance - a structure that Bianca and Thomas decided to follow as well.
“We had a gorgeous outdoor setting and our wedding took place right at the start of South Africa’s summer, so the weather was just perfect - not too hot which was an initial worry of ours.
“As we’d already eloped six years prior, we decided to keep the actual ceremony itself short and asked Tom’s uncle to be our officiant. Although neither of us are Jewish, Tom comes from a Jewish family, many of whom were there on the day. Because of this, we decided to add a Jewish wedding tradition to the end of the ceremony.
“We added the breaking of the glass, but this proved a little tricky as Tom can’t step on the glass. We improvised and used his late father’s traditional knobkerrie (a wooden club used in the 20th century) to break the glass instead. This actually worked out really well and proved a nice way to pay homage to his dad who sadly couldn’t be there with us.”
Wedding ceremonies should be personal, your vows should be bespoke and your personalities should shine through, and that’s exactly what happened when Bianca married Thomas.
Remembering the moment they said ‘I do’, Bianca says, “We were so in tune with each other during our wedding ceremony. We laughed, cried, whispered things to each other and checked in with each other throughout. Even though we were surrounded by so many people, we were in such a special little bubble up there at the altar.
"After the ceremony, Tom and I went to get some couple shots, while a local Marimba band played live music for our guests tapas hour."
When the Party Started
After the tapas hour and pictures, it was time for the real fun to begin at Bianca and Tom’s reception. Instead of formal seating and dining, the couple spent their reception sitting amongst friends and family at banquet style tables.
Honing in on their priorities, Bianca says, “We kept wedding speeches to a minimum and dancing to a maximum as that’s what was important to us. We had a live DJ and saxophonist throughout the night and even had a dance."
“Tom and I have never had a dance before, we’ve always just felt a little awkward and not sure of what to do. We wanted one at our wedding, so in the leadup to the wedding, we spent a few nights a week practising a choreographed dance at our local church.
“We also realised that my wedding dress would get totally caught under Tom’s wheels, so I changed into a second dress which was short and sparkly. In all honesty, Tom and I absolutely nailed the dance.
“Our practising paid off because even when Tom had a leg spasm, which is common with his injury, we just improvised - I distracted everyone with a few spins and we carried on. It was such a magic moment and since then, we’ve had quite a few more dances, now we know what to do!”
Our Wedding Advice
Speaking to other couples, Bianca says, “It sounds so cliché but it really is true - step away for 10 minutes and have a moment to breathe and take it all in. That is the only bit of advice I really remembered on the day and it was the only thing I needed after the speeches and ceremony were over.
"I went to stand outside and breathe in the fresh air. I got a chance to reset, watch our wedding from the side and re-join the group less overwhelmed and more ready to party than ever before."
Bianca and Thomas’ Wedding Suppliers:
- Wedding Planner – Boutique Styling
- Wedding Venue – The Forum Embassy Hill
- Photographer – Catherine Mac Photography
- Videographer – Forbes Visuals
- Hair and Make Up – Cecilia Fourie
- Wedding Dress – Angelica Bridal
- Suit – Harry Brown
- Flowers and Décor – Botanica Flowers
- Lighting and furniture – Happinest Hire
- Stationery – DIY by Bianca, the bride.
- Cake – Fairy Cakes
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