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Planning a Wedding during a Natural Disaster: Brides of April 2022 Share


Planning a wedding in the face of a natural disaster can be devastating and heartbreaking. But what I discovered while re-planning my own wedding during the KZN floods in April, is that it can also be a great teacher, it can pull families together and can prove to be extremely rewarding. Sharing my story and being so open and vulnerable with you all was nerve-racking at first but what I found was that my story rung true for so many other couples who got married during the week of, and even after the floods. I reached out to a few Sanskara Brides to see if they would be interested in sharing their stories and finding some healing through writing and reflecting, just as I did. So, whether you are currently planning a wedding and are looking to learn from other’s experiences or you just find yourself drawn to these inspirational stories, you don’t want to miss out on reading about the crazy obstacles these brave brides faced and how true love won in the end.

Our first bride got married on the long weekend after the floods, just when the rain started up again: “My initial wedding date was set for April 2020, so, as if having to postpone due to the pandemic wasn’t enough, we would never have expected to deal with a natural disaster as well just a week ahead of our new wedding date. We were so excited for the revised plan and on track until the floods wreaked havoc on Durban. We had planned for an outdoor garden ceremony with an indoor reception for a limited guestlist. When the rain did not seem to let up, we had to resort to alternate plans, yet again, hoping that there wouldn’t be reason to postpone after having to wait 2 years longer than expected already. We decided to move the entire wedding indoors into the bigger hall, at a higher price of course. Luckily, there was no damage to the venue.

Most roadways to get anywhere in Durban affected almost everyone and caused a lot of rushing around right up until the wedding. Suppliers could not deliver certain items on time, and some had to be cancelled altogether. Water shortages and power outages made things even worse, delaying plans even further. A lot of our suppliers were very open and transparent about being unable to deliver to the same standard, which we understood and revised orders for a later date. Sadly, some suppliers were more defensive when given feedback and used the floods as an excuse. What I learned is that even professional vendors with good reviews can let you down and you’ll never really know how trustworthy someone is until you use them for yourself.

The floods also caused some damage to our decorator’s warehouse but, despite the challenges he came through for us for the Nalengu and Wedding day, even after having revised plans just 3 days before. A day ahead, my stylists requested we meet at a new location for bridal prep, which we accepted given the circumstances. We were assured of being given the utmost attention, and that mum and I would have hair and makeup done simultaneously between us to ensure we would be done on time. We didn’t realise the chaos and drama that would take place in the much busier studio, shared with other stylists. The other stylists lacked professionalism and seemed to be more interested in gossiping in our presence, about clients who had just left. Very awkward and uncomfortable. There were brides booked back-to-back. The stylists were delayed, and it felt like we were in a production line at this stage, waiting our turns to get done. When it was my turn, I felt I was rushed through and despite using professionals and having done a trial before, I felt short- changed on the day.

Word of advice, get a stylist that can come home, only then will you receive the attention that you deserve.”

Our 2nd brave bride that we interviewed also got married on the chaotic long-weekend when damage had already been done by the floods and heavy rains continued to wreak havoc: “After 2 years of planning and changing our date about 6 times, our wedding was finally about to happen on 17th April 2021. On the first few days of the rains, it didn't bother me because I was so consumed with last minute plans and I actually became slightly oblivious to what was happening around me. One afternoon, I finally sat down to have a look at my social media pages, then only I had realized what was actually going on around me and the reality hit that the biggest day of my life was approaching during this disaster. I’m not a superstitious person but I even did some research on a small prayer to “tie the rain”, I gathered a few of my aunties and attempted to do a rain prayer. This gave the rest of my family a good laugh but that’s how much I wanted the rain to stop.

My wedding and reception were held in Durban but my Mendhi and Hurdee ceremonies where both in my home town - Estcourt. Meaning I had to drive there and back (two hours per trip) in the rain. Getting around Durban was a nightmare, it actually took my family an entire day to drive to the North Coast to fetch my thali.

We kept getting calls from guests to cancel as they weren’t able to leave their rooms due to the damaged roads and not having water in a lot of Durban areas. This was very disappointing as many people who are extremely close to us were not able to attend.

However, the stress and anxiety took away so much. Luckily, by Thursday we had some sunshine and I was able to drive to Estcourt. Friday was the first day of events and everything cleared but by the afternoon the rain was back and here to stay. It actually made my Mendhi day very uncomfortable as the rain was getting into the marquee and it was cold. Luckily, I had guests who didn’t let the rain dampen their spirits and danced all night long.

Thankfully, our Durban venues were still standing. The morning of the wedding I had the most anxious drive back to Durban, not knowing what the roads will be like and wondering if I was going to miss my own wedding - thankfully I was able to arrive safely with no hurdles.

My advice to future brides - embrace every moment of it, don’t let a single thing get you down and you’re faced with issues such as I did - keep calm and keep going, because despite what happens around you, you get to marry the love of your life and that’s what matters.”

Our 3rd inspirational bride that also got married in the midst of the rains in April: “When I started planning my wedding my biggest challenge at first was living in Cape town and planning a wedding in Durban and not forgetting Covid! But in the week of my wedding that was the least of my problems…The day I landed in Durban was the day it started raining! My home was without water and electricity for over 4 days. Every night I would sit around the table with rechargeable lights and continuing to work in the dark- I cried many times!

By Thursday my husband knew we had to get a generator. The service provider,bless his soul, took him 4 hours to get to me but he did! By God’s grace the power came back on for my Nelungu night and everything went on well. However, the wedding day was always on my mind because we planned an outdoor ceremony. My service provider Young forest and Lighting was amazing; we met earlier that week and came up with plan B! My dream of having that outdoor wedding was crushed and I cried but I knew that I wanted to marry my husband regardless and was blessed that our homes and families were safe.

The day of the wedding we managed to hold the rain off for a few hours to get pictures! I wore my pumps so I could walk in mud! There’s a few pictures where you can see and I love it, it reminds me of my struggles and happiness because regardless of all the problems you can still get through it and have the most perfect day!

To the Brides to be: My advice is to meet every single service provider months before your wedding. I unfortunately couldn’t meet everyone and regretted one. Who made me feel like just another person on their list! Your service providers are your biggest saviors. And most importantly remember to make the most of whatever happens! It’s the happiest day of your life; it certainly was mine even when 3 ladies carried me across a muddy car park with my outfit to get to my reception door safely!”

Our lovely last bride that we spoke to got married 3 weeks after the flood. Unfortunately, this was still not enough time for the floods not to have impacted their wedding day: “My wedding was not in the heart of the flooding, for which I am so grateful, but it was 3 weeks later while many were still picking up pieces of their livelihoods and looking for loved ones.

We started planning our wedding a year ago and made the difficult decision of making it VERY intimate because of covid and some big losses in my family. With this decision I thought planning would be a breeze, and for the most part it was!

All my service providers were sorted and paid ahead of time and we were smooth sailing! 😊 Until the floods...The wedding continued as planned but the weeks before were crazy. My event planner outsourced quite a few things and most of the service providers in the greater Durban area were impacted. The company that did our vinyl printing and laser cutting of signs lost all their equipment and the pieces they did for us. The initial florist had prepared frames and stands to hold flower arrangements and those had been damaged along with driftwood that was being collected over time for our wreath. These providers only came forward a week later after taking stock of what they had. So, the search was on for new people to help. Party Themes, where we planned to get all the last minute things was also badly damaged and we had to substitute and change decor plans for a few items.

Our little wedding was in Salt Rock and we had built in travel time but after the floods we had to replan timing because of traffic and roadworks. We had decor people coming in at 5am on a public holiday to our venue because they were juggling other functions that had been pushed out. It may seem so petty because my circumstances were not as bad as so many others and our wedding went on, but the one thing that really stood out for me was the resilience of people in KZN. The people that I had planned my wedding with also had flooded homes, no water or electricity for their families but they pushed on when they could have so easily canceled. I will never take for granted the kindness and dedication I saw during that weekend.

My advice is that: Not everything is going to be in your control, so never lose sight of the real reason for the wedding - The love you and your partner share.”

These brides are so resilient and have definitely helped me feel less alone in my experiences and I hope that reading this makes you feel the same way, whether your wedding was affected by floods, bad weather or Covid. These couples faced so many obstacles but made sure to go ahead and get married in the face of it all- if that doesn’t tell you that they are meant to be together no matter what, then what will?

If you haven’t already followed the #JaseyLeRoo Wedding Documentaries, you can watch them on our Instagram @sanskara_ig or my TikTok account @talya_not_tayla