Prior to arranging my trip, my cousin Calvin had announced his engagement and planned to have his wedding in South Africa. I was contemplating going via SA in my world trip but it did not appear feasible in flights and I was hoping to be settled in Australia by the time it came around. I grew up with Calv and his sisters, Tamaryn and Taniele during my childhood in South Africa and it was nothing but happy memories. Calv is the definition of a gentle giant, I remember meeting him as a seventeen year old after a long absence from Durban and all I saw was a muscled man towering over me but he had a big grin on his face and welcomed me with a monster hug. Due to trouble with the venue, the family decided to move the wedding to the fiancee’s hometown, Gold Coast, Australia. An hour train journey from Brisbane!
Having spent the night in Surfer’s Paradise, I arrived at the venue rather early hoping I made it to the right place. The venue seemed deserted so I was wondering if I actually wrote down the address correctly. I wandered around to the pool and saw rows of chairs set up with white ceremonial decorations and a carpet rolled out, a runway for the bride. There stood a lone man who looked of importance. I went up to him and asked “are you the wedding organiser?” He gave me a stern look while replying, “No, I’m Bret. The father of the bride”. “Oh” I started sheepishly, “I’m Ryan, Calvin’s cousin”. He pondered for a moment and pointed me in the direction of the house where I could find Tam and Tin helping the bride into wedding dress in their role of bridesmaids.
I crossed the garden that was to be used as the reception and stepped into a quaint vintage living room. Out from one of the rooms appeared a flustered young lady who seemed to be the one in charge. “Are you with the music people?” she challenged me. That’s karma for you. “No, I’m looking for Tamaryn. I’m her cousin”. She disappeared back into the room of mayhem. A few moments later out came the mother of the bride and quickly dismissed me saying Tam was far too busy. Back to the pool I went.
As I was waiting, the masses started to arrive. It was not long before Patrice and Ingrid appeared (Calvin’s parents) and it was so nice to catch up with them after not seeing them for so long. Then out stepped the groom, dressed all in black. “Hey! Ryan my cuzzie!” he exclaimed as we swapped manly hugs with pats on the back. He seemed a tad on the nervous side but mostly cool as a cucumber. Soon everyone started getting into position as the ceremony was about to start. There was not enough chairs so I took a standing position at the side on the groom half. Team Calvin!
The music started playing and first walked down the two little, sweet flower girls, one being Rayah, Tam’s daughter. It was the first time I had ever seen her. Next followed Tin and then Tam who both looked beautiful in their bridesmaid dresses. After the rest of the bridesmaids did their slow step to the alter, the bride and good ol’ Bret appeared. Danah is a model by trade so it was an easy feat for her to look like a Disney princess in a wedding gown. Calvin could not stop smiling as his future wife stopped in front of him grabbing one of his hands with both of hers, never letting it go until the end of the ceremony. As the minister announced all the wonders of marriage there were very few dry eyes left in attendance. Even big Calv was doing his best to keep his composure. The couple exchanged personalised vows and rings, the line that stood out for me was when Calv said in mid-stride “I freaking love you”. Rehearsed or not it was heart felt and made everyone laugh. The rings were exchanged and Calv was allowed to kiss his new bride but did one better by picking up Danah and spinning her around in a cradle embrace.
Afterwards, when everyone was congratulating the brand new husband and wife, I snuck off to see the bridesmaids. No, not like that! Just wanted to see my cousins. “Tam!” I exclaimed. Tam turned around with first a look of confusion that turned into pleasant surprise. Tin appeared soon after, “hey stranger” I smiled. We caught up briefly before they had to run off for photographs. This was the perfect opportunity to help myself to the snacks table as all I had for breakfast was a Kit-Kat chunky. Whilst gorging myself, Calv called me for photos. I was confused. “Who, me?” I mumbled with a mouth full of cupcake. In the photo was the bride, Calv, his immediate family and me. It felt a bit random standing there with Calv and his nearest and dearest but at the same time it was humbling that I could be there with them.
The couple then cut their wedding cake, which I admit, was way better than I imagined a wedding cake to taste. I chatted with Jordan and Gardner while the rest of the crowd mingled. Jordan was the boyfriend of one of Danah’s friends and shared the common circumstance of not knowing many people there. Gardner was a great laugh. Originally from Zimbabwe he had made it in Australia, fell in love with a local girl, planning to get married by the end of the year and was currently working to save up to put himself through medical school. He told me he knew since he was five years old that being a doctor was the only thing he ever wanted to be. He was quite inspiring as I have never had a certain field I wanted to pursue. I will not be short of gumption when I figure out what that is.
The reception was located in a sizable garden under the protection of a white marquee that contained rows of immaculately decorated tables facing the bridal table. Unfortunately, Calv’s Grandpa was omitted to hospital a few days earlier. Calvin being the person he is, he and Danah went out of their way after the photo shoot to pay a surprise visit to see him. I can just imagine Danah in her floating wedding dress wandering the hospital wards and the look on Calvin’s Grandfather’s face when he turned around to the see the pair of them standing there. I was privileged to be promoted from the cool kid’s table to sit next to Patrice at the parents table. There was a banquet of an assorted buffet, I did my best to recreate a typical British Sunday roast of beef, potatoes and Yorkshire pudding.
The speeches were to follow. The siblings of each half of the couple got up to deliver their heart warming accounts of the Calv and Danah and humorous anecdotes. Then it was the turn of the fathers. What was most striking of the speeches was the use of the term power couple, which was a fitting label.
The back paved garden was the scene of the dance floor with the DJs (no, not me) set up in one corner with fairy lights shining off a warm glow on the ground. After the first dance and some partying it was time for the bride to throw the bouquet. All the single girls jostled for position. Danah threw the flowers over the head and it was her tallest friend, who to put it frankly, was a bit of a party animal. Guess it will be time for her to settle down now. All of a sudden it was Calv’s turn to throw the garter that he recently took off his wife’s leg. The single guys were beginning to gather. “Go on cuz,” Taniele said while pushing me in the back. My protests were of no avail as I ended up next to a bunch of boisterous Australians. Pity for them my position in cricket is only specialist fielder and I caught the garter with ease. Howzat?! I smiled with embarrassment while onlookers cheered.
After an amazing day it was time for the newlyweds to being their journey together. All of us got sparklers and matches to make a tunnel of fireworks for the couple to run underneath, off to their honeymoon destination of Fiji.