This has got to be one of the best highlights of our adventure so far, we were in a wedding together- what a fantastic affair!
Firstly, as a couple, Tatenda and I are invited to a fair number of weddings. Since Mambo’s birth, we have made it a family affair. Note to anyone who invites us, we purposefully, never ask if children are allowed because we never want to be told to leave our little one at home.
The very first wedding Mambo attended was alongside her mom, her dad was a groomsman at the very special gathering of one of the most amazing couples we know- Uncle Elvis and Aunty Keza. Since then she also accompanied her dad and I to her Gogo Dorothy’s son, Sean’s, wedding. Another time she was the youngest guest and daddy’s date at her very special Aunty Shami and Uncle Tare’s highly anticipated and emotional wedding, where mom was honored to be a bridesmaid.
This post is different because even though I got to get dolled up and honor my beautiful friends and accompany them to their happily ever after, this time, Mambo did too. Hey Amari Mambo, at 13 months, you were a flower girl for the very first time!
Mambo arrived at the most stunning venue we have seen as a family to date, at 1 o’clock to get ready for her debut on the cobblestone isle at 2:30. Shepstone Gardens, on the outskirts of Houghton in Johannesburg is a well kept secret. Quaint and intimate, it is definitely not a venue for high volumes of people. There is vegetation of all varieties and through the use of many small pathways, one can make their way to the top of the hill as the property looks over Houghton and Norwood. In addition, the venue has numerous, absolutely beautiful rooms in a variety of styles- even their bathrooms are noteworthy with the beautiful couches and space to make sure all the girls can touch up.
I had brought her dress earlier so that I could attend to the bride- who had literally taken care of everything and mostly needed us all there to share some champagne and get our hair and make up done alongside her and her ever graceful and beautiful Ma. Mambo’s dad brought her to the venue a little later, hair washed and freshly treated with some Shea butter- for the pictures. It was a very quick turnaround as we got into the pre-wedding pictures and almost in the same breath to the isle, and Mambo was all smiles through all of it, even posing for a picture or two, while eating her savory muffin for lunch. Big girl!
Mambo made very quick friends with a new face- Uncle Earl-Ray, who was her partner down the isle. I must say, I am very proud of you Mambo for not fussing- like you knew this was a love occasion, and your Aunty’s big day. Though you froze when you were supposed to walk, Earl- Ray dutifully picked you up and made sure you got down the isle in record time. Thanks Earl- Ray! You rock.
The ceremony was short and very sweet, and Mambo managed to keep her fussing to a minimum so we could hear Father Stubbs’ sermon, and equally important, the vows of the bride and groom. A tear. I love weddings, and it is pretty much my M.O. to cry at such occasions. The ceremony was done and off to pictures we went. I think by the time we got to the pictures, Mambo was getting quite tired because here, she began to fuss, so as the couple made their way around our fairytale venue, I took the opportunity to breast feed her a little. I must say that as a mom, being in control of what you wear as a bridesmaid was the best thing- ever! Also, allowing Mambo some room to roam after her breastfeed helped with her mood immensely. She was in absolute heaven!
I chose a body flattering design, with a low neckline so that I could feed Mambo on demand. I got hidden support sewn into the dress, so that I would not need to fight with bra straps, and it worked out perfectly. I am also very relieved that my plan worked for the bride who was completely accepting of all of Mambo and my needs- probably why we are friends… Mama’s, I was allowed to look beautiful and be a mom in the same event, with no costume change. Daddy’s, I could not have done it without my partner and super dad who would step in when needed to help with our baby. We also had back- up super-mama’s, Doreen and Ottilia, Mambo was WELL catered to!
Time to party, the reception is where a wedding comes together! Every baby is different, I know. By this time, Mambo D was very tired and it helped that my dress was designed by me, and that I am breast feeding, because she fell asleep through the speeches. She did wake up when there were applause and I had to take her to change during the Grooms ‘Thank you’ speech- but we didn’t disturb anyone. I took our queen to the bathroom and changed her into her pj’s. We did not prepare any food for her as Mambo is now at the stage where she eats whatever we eat, and so dinner was shared between the three of us. She did well, made her usual mess- but we always pack her bibs, and soon after, was ready for the dance floor.
We have never been to a wedding where we have no help. Everyone wants to try and babysit. We generally go with what Mambo wants at the time, and for this night I really have to send a special shout out to Carly, Matthew’s wife who had Amari Mambo for over an hour and made magic. T and I love to dance, and for that time we were completely able to let go. We are still responsible parents though, and around Amari’s bedtime, we bid farewell to the other guests and we made our way home- sufficiently exhausted from our unadulterated celebration, feet hurting from the dance moves our bodies had forgotten and our minds and spirits full of love from the night.
We never have to leave Mambo home when we go out to celebrate love and this wedding was yet another show of how we hope she will love in the future.
To the bride and groom, Olive and Mkhululi, I have no words. Our family is honored to have been part and parcel of your day. No doubt this is another chapter in a love story that is fit for telling over and over again. May your love grow and grow and change as you change and flourish as you flourish. This was the very first time Amari Mambo was a flower girl, and that in itself brings tears to my eyes- let alone that we witnessed your day. Thank you for your love and your friendship and the great relationship you have with the little elephant queen, and thank you for contributing to her memory bank in such a special way- that obviously Olive had a hand in. We are in awe of you, and we love you.