Aileen Long and Japie Sauerman spotted each other for the first time at a friend’s house. Both of them were working as expats in Dar Es Salaam at the time ... “That first face to face meeting was amazing. We have been together ever since!”
On 27 October 2006, Japie took Aileen away on a surprise weekend to Makalali Private Game Reserve in Limpopo, as he knew how much she adored the bushveld … a year to the day before their wedding was to take place. They went on an evening game drive excursion and enjoyed the sunset with a bottle of champagne for company. Arriving back at the lodge, they were told that the bath in their room was leaking and the staff was seeing to the problem. (“Strange, I thought at the time, seeing as we hadn't even used the bath yet!”). After some wine in the tree house bar, Japie lead Aileen back to their room and quickly ushered her inside to get ready for dinner. A noise outside their room triggered Aileen’s curiosity, but Japie stopped her and said: “Maybe it is animals or something?!”
After a while, there was a knock on the door from their hostess. They walked outside onto their “stoep” and there was a trail of atmospheric candles and rustic lanterns leading to a private game viewing deck which was covered in candlelight, roses and an intimate dinner table that was beautifully decorated. They were served a delectable meal and the waiting staff disappeared after dessert. Believe it or not, the lions started roaring in the distance, and that was when Japie got down on one knee and asked Aileen to marry him … “It was beautiful and we both cried and cried!”
The wedding was a reflection of both their cultures … Afrikaans and Irish. Plenty of food, drink, music and fun! Aileen and Japie had a traditional Irish harpist to play during the ceremony to reflect Aileen’s passion for her Irish heritage.
A gazebo overlooking the Helshoogte Mountains was the ideal setting at Clouds Estate for their ceremony. Walking down the isle to Aileen’s favourite piece of music, “Pachelbel’s Canon in D”, arm-in-arm with her dad, was Aileen’s favourite moment. Aileen and Japie both agreed that another highlight was saying their vows to each other, “Saying our vows was amazing, the whole world seemed to disappear and it was just the two of us!” During their union, they incorporated a special tribute to their mothers, where they joined the couple at the gazebo and each lit a candle to represent Japie and Aileen as individuals. The couple then took the two individual candles, lit by the Mums, and lit a single candle together to represent their marriage and unity. (This is an Irish Catholic wedding tradition)
Once Aileen and Japie were declared husband and wife, they walked down the aisle where they were joined by a jazz duo who lead them through the vineyards to the piazza where a drinks reception awaited them all. The vineyard’s lines were used to attach random photographs of the couple, their family and friends, en route to the piazza. After mingling with the guests and sipping some champagne, they were whisked away to take their photographs.
The guests were then ushered downstairs to the reception area under the piazza. The tables were elegantly set with white linen, and complimented by long vases filled with St. Joseph’s Lilies. The green of the flowers was picked up by the green wine glasses on the table. As Aileen and Japie entered the reception to the old classic "Love is in the Air", all their friends and family were on their feet, clapping and cheering! “It was definitely the best gooseflesh moment of the evening!”
After dinner was served, the speeches began, which was another fun event for the couple. All the guests were then ushered upstairs to the living room of the main house to share in the couple cutting the cake and to indulge in the beautiful dessert platters and mini Irish coffees. Then it was back onto the roof of the piazza for the fire dancer display which went down very well with all present - unique entertainment!
During this time, Aleit and his team created a fantastic look change: a black and white checkerboard dance floor was put down, and the white linen was changed to burgundy, transforming the reception area completely! Aileen and Japie opened the dance floor to their favourite song, "I'll Be" by Edwin McCain, and so the party lasted until the early hours of the morning. “We had the most wow day of our lives! It was truly incredible!”
“From the very beginning, Aleit and his team treated Japie and I like a prince and princess. It almost felt like ours was the only wedding they were organizing! We felt so important! The team is a great bunch of people … very professional and bubbly. Aleit and the team immediately made us feel like everything was under control, down to the finest detail. And their taste was impeccable.
Our wedding day, on 27 October 2007, was just perfect from start to finish … all of our dreams came true! The day ran like clockwork, the décor and special requests were perfectly executed. All our guests commented on how well the day flowed and how beautiful everything was. The coordinator created such a beautiful atmosphere and was a wonderful friend to us during the process. It was truly the best day of our lives, thanks to this competent and dynamic team of people.”
Advice to future Brides and Grooms:
- Every married couple gives this advice and you can't imagine what they are talking about until your wedding day comes around … it FLIES by like a hazy dream. Do make a conscious decision to try and take in as much of the day as possible. Try and remember that beautiful moment when you walk down the aisle, the moment when you first kiss as husband and wife, your first dance … these are memories which you will cherish forever!
- Don't forget to spend time with each other during the evening! Remember that everyone is there to see the two of you, and they will want to chat and catch up with you as much as possible. It is easy to get separated for long periods of time without even realising that it's been an hour or two! Japie and I spent lots of time with our family and friends, but we also took each other aside every now and again to take in a few minutes on our own and reflect on our gorgeous and special day!
- Enjoy it! Many bridal couples get caught up in the hype of the day and tend to forget that it is in fact a celebration of your love for each other! Just relax, get completely caught up in all the beautiful moments of the day and smile through it all!
- Relax the day before your wedding, and spend some quality time with your family. It is time to wind down at that stage … all the hard work should already be done. (Well, with Aleit and his amazing team on board, you will have nothing to do but chill!). Spoil yourself with a massage, laugh a lot with your family and friends and start enjoying the whole experience the day before!
- Ask Aleit and his team to create your perfect day!! These people are so talented and experienced … whatever your heart desires, they WILL create it for you, beautifully!