A spontaneous celebration on a secluded peninsula of Southern Mozambique made for the perfect intimate and laid back sunrise wedding for love birds, Gabrielle and Douglas.
The two studied medicine together and were close friends for nearly 6 years before they started dating. One warm summer’s evening in 2019, Gabrielle joined a friend for sundowners to a beautiful spot on the side of Table Mountain in the City of Cape Town. Doug appeared as they made their way around the mountain, dropped to one knee, and popped the question! They celebrated over a bottle of champagne and watched together, as the sun set. On their way down they were surprised by a candlelit dinner with close friends and family, on the the old tennis court on the Table Mountain Reserve.
The couple’s wedding day was deeply rooted in being together and connected with both nature and to each other,
“When we planned our week in Mozambique, we didn’t know which day we would get married on. We just got everyone to pack in their dresses and suits and we watched the weather and the tides once we got there. When the weather looked clear and the tide was just right, we threw a wedding!”
Exclaimed the bride. The ceremony took place on the 20th of March this year, with 18 of their closest loved ones at Sussurro, a beautiful boutique hotel in Mozambique.
MARRIAGE TO US MEANS
We have never believed in getting married because it is the “obvious next step”. We wanted to be intentional about entering into marriage. We spent a lot of time speaking about what marriage means to us, what kind of partnership we hoped to form, what type of home we wanted to create for our family and what values we wanted to uphold. For us, marriage represents a sense of foundation. It is a place of safety where we always feel held and seen. Marriage is a commitment to hold each other accountable, to support each other and encourage each other. Marriage is a place of feeling entirely accepted and loved, in your most raw and vulnerable state. I think that’s one of the most powerful things about marriage actually – feeling that you can be completely yourself and it won’t change how your partner feels about you. That’s a very special feeling.
We got married at sunrise which has always been a dream of ours. We woke up at 4:30am and I got ready with a few lanterns and a headlamp. We had a coffee and rusk station setup with beautiful handmade clay mugs, made by my sister. Our ceremony was at the end of a wooden deck, suspended over the water with our guests sitting on beautiful Malawian chairs. The sky was a soft pink and it was warm and peaceful. I will never forget my mom walking me down the aisle, with the gentle sound of the water beneath us and the clouds starting to turning the most beautiful shades of pink and orange. It felt heavenly.
We drank champagne at 6:30am and then all put on our costumes and spent the day swimming and snorkeling. Later that afternoon, we got ready for our reception dinner under the stars.
Ayeh Khalatbari was our photographer and we couldn’t have asked for anyone better. She traveled with us all the way to Mozambique and spent 5 days with us there. Besides her amazing photographic talent, she is truly one of the kindest and most gentle humans I have ever met. She has the most beautiful energy about her. She is a true light-worker in this world and we feel so lucky to have used her because we also made a wonderful friend.
FLOWERS & BOUQUETS
We didn’t have any flowers on our table (only a few foraged pods and seeds). My bouquet was made by Lush in Cape town, and traveled all the way to Mozambique with my in a box between my clothes!
Sarah and her chef, Bianca, made us such a wonderful cake. It was a carrot cake with local cashew nut butter icing and topped with a simple foraged pod. It was delicious!
FOOD & DRINKS
The Sussurro team set up big outside cooking fires where they cooked the most incredible freshly caught seafood including crab from a local fishing village and amazing crayfish! We feasted on seafood platters with sauteed capers and a tomato and basil side dish. Our desert was Tamarind and Chilli Pineapple with coconut Ice cream (homemade with local coconuts) which was so refreshing on a warm summer night.
Our original plan was to have a big wedding in Mozambique (not at Sussurro at this point). With the roller-coaster that is Covid, however, our plans twisted and changed many times. We eventually settled on having a smaller wedding and had locked in a venue in Barrydale for March 18th.
Six weeks before we were set to get married (and after we had already done the majority of the planning and booking, etc) we got a phone call letting us know that our venue had tragically burnt to the ground in the Barrydale fires!
I was in floods of tears when my friend, Sarah Birkett (who is one of the owners of Sussurro) happened to send me a message suggesting Doug and I come to stay at Sussurro for our honeymoon or with some friends as the hotel was very quiet for March. I phoned Sarah straight away and she immediately suggested we have our wedding at Sussurro. It all worked out completely serendipitously – coming full circle at the last minute, and getting married in Mozambique liked we had originally planned to. I will never be able to thank Sarah and her partner Adam enough for creating such an amazing wedding in 6 short weeks!
Thanks to Adam and Sarah who own Sussurro, we arranged a sunset Dhow experience the night before the wedding. This was a surprise for our guests. Kraak and the Sussurro team setup a Gin & Tonic station and we all piled into Sussurro’s beautiful, big Dhow. We played Ismael Lo and drank G&Ts while the sun was setting. We got each guest a cotton sarong and a disposable camera (which I made little linen pouches for), each wrapped up in a piece of linen and with a personalized letter to each guest. The guests used their cameras all week to capture it from their perspective and we recently got these photos developed which was such a joy!
Doug gave each of his groomsmen pure linen shirts which come from our own clothing brand and I gave my bridesmaids lovely pajama sets from Linalina. I had linen gowns made for my mom and Doug’s mom as well as gold pendants which I had engraved for both moms.
Gabrielle wore Bo and Luca’s graceful GRETA gown after being introduced to us by one of her bridesmaids.
“I have dreamt of wearing a Bo & Luca gown for many years..” she said, and her first stop to try on dresses was at Bo and Luca. The first dress she fitted on was the GRETA gown and she fell in love instantly. The bride wore our gown to her evening wedding reception on the beach,
“It’s such a simple and elegant dress which I love about it but the real draw to this dress for me, is the fabric. It is made from the most beautiful silk which looks like liquid when it moves and is draped perfectly."
She paired this wedding look with elegant baroque pearls from Coast and wore Wanderlust by Michael Kors as her wedding scent.
I had the bridesmaid dresses made and had so much fun doing this. I designed each dress with each specific bridesmaid in mind – thinking about a dress that reminded me of each girl and a style that suited them individually. I spent many hours searching for beautiful fabrics around Cape Town. I used a mix of textures and tones, including heavy linen, rich velvet and pure, raw silks – all in a neutral, earth-toned colour palette.
Doug’s band is from Dear Rae and my band is a custom made ring by Famke.
I did my own hair and makeup and the girls all did their own. I watched a YouTube hair tutorial two days before we left for Mozambique which I saved and used on my wedding day to help me do my hair. My makeup was very minimal.
Both Douglas and Gabrielle wanted their wedding to be earthy and simple, with loads of candles and were thrilled to be in the hands of Kraak who drew inspiration from nature in its purest form, “I obviously also spent many, many long nights looking through Pinterest, as I am sure every bride does!” said Gabrielle.
She walked down the aisle to Holocene by Bon Iver and Not About Angels by Birdy, exclaiming, “It was a long aisle!” and their first dance was to Can’t Help Falling In Love (the cover version by Roo Panes) followed by Buona Sera by Louis Prima.
Time stood still for the bride as she walked down the aisle with her mom, towards her husband-to-be. It was a quiet, calm, and warm morning, and the sky began to blush, “…it felt as though the whole world was on pause…”ADVICE FOR BRIDES-TO-BE, FROM GABRIELLE
Someone said to me, right in the beginning of our planning process, to write down 2 or 3 things that are non-negotiables for your wedding. 2 or 3 things that are entirely authentic to you as a couple. And no matter how many twists and turns your planning takes over the months that follow, hold onto those 2 or 3 things. My biggest wish for every bride is not to over-think it and to continue to come back to what it’s all really about – marrying your soulmate. I completely agree that a wedding is also a way of celebrating your community and the people who got you to this point, but I promise you that nobody remembers the colour of a napkin or the font on your menu. People remember how they felt and so will you. Decide from the very beginning how you want your wedding day to feel, not what you want it to look like. Because that is what is really about.