Don, this wedding card really brought a smile to my face!
Just in case you're not friends with Chris on Facebook and missed his announcement, we secretly made our union official on Thursday,
28 April 2016!
When people ask me and / or Chris how long we've been together - we tend to usually answer by however many Christmas's we've spent together - this year's upcoming one will be our seventh. It's not because we starting dating around that particular festive period, it's just easier to remember the years like that - the first Christmas was spent road-tripping from Durban to Oudtshoorn; the second was spent in the UK; the third was hosting Chris' folks and some friends of ours for a lunch; the fourth we moved to Johannesburg; the fifth one we brought Mom out from the UK and the sixth was our first one back in Durban. Simple, logical reasoning behind our train of thought. After about the second year of dating, we started having to dodge the 'are you two thinking of getting married yet?' question. We managed to dodge that particular question for a whole fours years and that's where Cape Town and it's surrounds comes into play.
Cape Town holds a special place in both our hearts, We spent our first (of a few) holiday there, a very dear friend to the both of us - Shaun - calls it home, we've seen if from the sky in a helicopter and Chris proposed to me in Muizenberg.
It was late September 2014 when Chris had to attend a conference that lasted a few days in Cape Town, ending on a Friday - the company he used to work for was sponsoring some tickets to a SA vs Australia rugby match at Newlands Stadium that following Saturday - so he had planned to return the Monday following. I wasn't too fussed, he often goes away for a day or two maybe three for work - but just before he was meant to leave he invited me down, from the Friday for the weekend. To put this into perspective, I am not the greatest flyer and if a destination can't be driven to in a day, then I very reluctantly board a plane. As it was only for the weekend, it made no sense to drive the Johannesburg - Cape Town route, so I thought about it and agreed. I'm so glad that I did! Chris used the excuse of us both being able to watch the SA vs Australia rugby game in person - he seemed really keen, so I thought why not? I could watch a rugby game at Newlands Stadium, right?
I still remember the day clearly in my mind - I left a sunny, Spring Johannesburg Friday morning only to arrive in a windy, miserable Cape Town afternoon - Chris collected me from the airport and we set off for lunch in Muizenberg (I love that little hamlet or is it a suburb?). We hadn't booked anywhere, we just arrived and had a look-see. It was grey and overcast and windy as can only be expected along that part of the coast. We stumbled into the cutest looking place we could find, Knead Bakery - Chris would later go on to tell people that he started off his asking me by saying he 'kneaded' me in his life... how sweet! - just to set the scene: owing to the weather all the stacking, folding doors were closed and the restaurant was packed, the noise of a busy feeding trough surrounded us and to top it all off, we were seated at a table right in the centre of things - safe to say I didn't suspect a thing. By that stage we had already been together for almost four years, so marriage, let alone an engagement was the last thing on my mind.
Chris looked at me and started off by saying how much he needed me in his life, how good I had been for him as a person and that he never wanted to lose me - I was now thinking, hmmm where's this going - and then he looked me in the eyes and and asked quietly, 'will you marry me?'. I said yes without hesitation, in retrospect I should've made him sweat it out for a minute or two longer but oh well! I then looked around and through all the chaos that comes with a busy seaside restaurant on a chilly day - we quietly had a life changing moment occur - in and amongst all the noise around us. It was very precious and I shall always remember it.
Chris has never been one to wear jewellery - apart from his watch and on the odd occasion the earrings for both his ears - but when he asked if we could go buy him a ring to wear, to show everyone that he was taken, my heart melted. Little did I know I would have to wait another 15 months for my engagement ring but in the end, all things good come to those who wait.
It was a very busy 19 month engagement, we bought two houses - in two very different cities - we bought a business and relocated to another city. I repeat, it has been very, very busy.
So when we decided to draw up our will a short while back - we took a long, hard look at everything - at this stage in our lives, we have three adorable godchildren (plus one adopted godchild) and a nephew that we wanted to include as beneficiaries of our estate - not to mention nominating a caregiver to the hounds, should something happen to the both of us but the one thing that kept holding us back on completing it was whether or not we should get married first, as opposed to having the will drawn up only to have to amend it again once we were married. We tossed and turned between both ideas but being ever the pragmatists that we are, logic won out at the end of the day.
I'm not saying that we didn't want to have a big ceremony and celebrate with friends and family afterwards but we've been so focused on the business and making a life for ourselves that when we did indeed decide to tie the knot it just didn't make sense for us to go the traditional route, in a way we're fiercely private individuals - says I as I type a blog that chronicles mine and by default Chris' life too! - and this may come as a surprise but we both don't like being the centre of attention. So it was a win-win situation for us.
We decided to elope instead - the only arrangements we needed to make was booking accommodation for us and Margot (our best woman) and sorting out flight arrangements to get her to and from Bloemfontein to Johannesburg. Donovan (our best man) lives there and Iain, another good friend (who also happens to be a Marriage Officer) did the honours - under a tree in his garden, with two of our dearest friends as witnesses - on a gorgeous, sunny, autumn Johannesburg late-afternoon. The rest of our time in Johannesburg was spent largely unplanned. We took in a lot of sights and kept everything super casual - eliminating any stress that is normally associated with weddings.
Selfie at The Wilds Nature Reserve mere hours before tying the knot!
At the end of the day getting married, or should I say how you want to get married, is entirely up to you as a couple - there is no right or wrong way to do it - no opinion other than yours and your partner counts in this regard. Did we cop out and go the easy route? No, not at all. Did we do what we wanted to do on our day, for sure. Did we keep it a secret after the fact, no we did not. Would we do it all over again exactly the same, no doubt in my mind.
April is now forever cemented as the most important month on our calendar - we celebrate not only our marriage but also both our birthdays - but from now on as Hurford-Douglas.
Until next time,