Article by Pam Black, owner of Celebration House. First appeared in Die Beeld/Die Burger newspaper.
This handy list of hints and tips provides the answers to some of the most commonly asked last-minute questions.
Buttonholes and corsages
Probably the most often asked last-minute question is: ‘Which way do I pin on the buttonhole and corsage?’. The answer is simply that the buttonhole is worn with the stem down, and corsages with the stems up.
Don’t forget the ribbon…
Another item that is often forgotten about until the last minute is the ribbon for the car. Traditionally, white ribbon is used, but sometimes couples prefer to choose ribbons that match the colour scheme of their wedding. For an average-sized car you will require approximately 6metres of 25mm wide ribbon. The ribbon is attached to the bonnet of the car and then tied inside, around the sun visor. (Incidentally, remember to pack a golf umbrella in the boot of the car, in case of unexpected showers.)
The all-important garter
Something that is easy to forget whilst dressing is the garter. If you are following the age-old tradition of wearing ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue’, the garter could be your ‘blue’ item. It is worn on the right leg, above the knee.
Avoiding aching feet
If you are wearing new shoes on your wedding day, try to wear them in a bit around the house beforehand. In the case of leather soles, a good tip is to run some sandpaper over the soles, to ensure that they are not slippery on the day.
Taking the veil…
When fixing the veil it to your hair, you should always ensure that the shorter piece is uppermost. It might seem like common sense, but brides who are planning to cover their faces for the ceremony have been known to panic on arrival at the church, when they find that their veil is firmly fixed onto their head with the longer piece on top.
The importance of ushers
Even a small wedding will require at least 2 people performing this important function. (The general rule of thumb is one usher per 50 guests.) Although traditionally ushers were male, this rule does not apply today and I think it is a nice touch to have a member of each sex represented.
It is also part of their role to inform the musicians and the Marriage Officer when the wedding party is ready to enter. In addition, they need to ensure that front row seats are reserved for close family members (the groom and his family sits on the right and the bride’s family is seated on the left-hand side).
Remind your ushers ahead of the day that it is their job to escort the bride’s mother to her seat, in the second pew on the left. She should be the last person to be seated before the arrival of the bride.
‘Who should sign the wedding register?’
Any person who is present at the ceremony may sign the register as a witness, providing he or she is 16 years old or over. However, it is also necessary for your witnesses to produce either their South African Identity Documents, or – in the case of folk not resident in South Africa – their passports, as this information is required for the Marriage Register. Couples usually ask either their best man and bridesmaid or one of each set of parents to sign the register as witnesses.
The antenuptial contract
As the wife of an attorney, I am alarmed by the fact that many couples fail to realize that they have to enter into an antenuptial contract before their wedding. To change your marital property regime once you are legally married is a very costly and time-consuming affair, involving an application to the High Court. Unlike the ruling in many other countries (such as the UK), marriages in South Africa are automatically ‘in community of property’, and I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for any couple contemplating marriage (and especially if they own their own business), to contact an attorney well before their wedding. It is not unheard of (but definitely not advisable) to have an attorney drawing up an ANC hours before a wedding!