Our Civil Ceremony

A year ago today, we were married for the first time. We arrived at that stage in wedding planning where every couple considers elopement at least one million times every day until they reach the altar. And though this urge passes for most bridal couples, getting married sooner, rather than later, made perfect sense for us. Three hundred and sixty-five days later, here’s a look at our civil ceremony at Home Affairs +  tips if you’re thinking of going that route too.

Image: Tanya Kinnear

To our wedding guests, who may feel like they’ve been duped – surprise! You were still part of the most special day. We chose to maintain the mystery for our privacy and your pleasure on the day of the wedding celebration. 😉

Image:  Tanya Kinnear

But first, why a civil ceremony?

We did not plan for a civil ceremony. Very late in our engagement (six months before the wedding in fact) we chose a civil ceremony and a civil ceremony chose us. Because this was not our predetermined wedding style, we had questions – some of which I’ll cover below. Our decision enabled us to ask our father (Shadley’s biological dad) to officiate our religious ceremony and plan the proceedings without any formal requirements.

l also wanted to complete my personal paperwork as soon as possible. I received my smart ID before our wedding celebration and changed most of my accounts over relatively easily since we received our marriage certificate on the day of our ceremony. Cutting out the middle man (private wedding officiant) was also our preference at the time due to limits in our budget. Besides that, choosing someone to marry us was a big deal. Essentially, whether you believe in God or not, you are allowing someone to speak a blessing over you and your household. I don’t take that kind of counsel very lightly. Since this is a legal ceremony, the DHA officiant does their part (only, no side comments) respectfully and to the point. You also have the opportunity to set the tone for your marriage by saying your own vows after the formalities.

Now, let’s get started shall we!

What will people think?

You can only control your own thoughts and actions. Your favourites will show up for you. Whether at a banquet hall in the Winelands or a back room in Belville.

Will it feel like my wedding day?

You will make funny faces, and belly laugh, and fight butterflies. You will stop worrying about your double-chin, or the shoes you hate but have to wear because there is no money for a new pair. You will develop a deep awareness of the commitment you are making to your companion and friend. Your union is big, but simple too. Whether you dress it up or down, this is the moment you’ve been waiting for.

So yes, this is your first wedding ceremony. You will promise to love, and cherish, and be irritated by the same person for the rest of your life.

Okay, so I don’t have to write vows?

There is love so wide and deep that words cannot wrap around it. Speak from your heart, but write that stuff down. Lest you be that wife eternally sorry for rambling!

And what about the other stuff I want?

You won’t miss the nail polish, and, to be honest, you don’t like it anyway. You will be so proud of your paper flower bouquet. Just keep it upright. No one needs to know about the polka dot straws. And about that, done is better than perfect, lol! You didn’t get that blue veil you wanted. But did you die? You wear your dress at least once a week. It fits even better now but your husband hates it. He says it looks like pajamas. Pajamas are nice!

I just want to do what’s best and right for us…

I feel you girl! And guess what? You are doing a pretty good job. Sometimes our humanness fights our deepest desires, and the most intricate parts of our stories, in search of things that are merely nice to have.

And when that’s over?

You’ll be rich in people! You’ve gained a partner and a family. <3 You will realise that the stress was only worth the wisdom accumulated over time.

The pictures need to look amaze-balls…

In that respect, you and l are still the same. Turns out that the solemnisation of a marriage at Home Affairs will not give you chic city hall vibes. For a cute courthouse wedding you will probably need to do some investigating, perhaps in a small town, where people would go the extra mile when they don’t have to. In a perfect world they’ll show you the space and you can see if you’d like to go ahead. In a busy place like Cape Town? Not going to happen boo. For you, the idea of another production (because let’s be honest, that’s what a wedding can become) was besides the point. Had you decided on this option sooner, maybe coordinating everything at your favourite café would have worked. But for right this moment, this is perfect, for you.


All photographs (unless otherwise stated) were captured by Lauren Pretorius Photography at Department of Home Affairs Belville and Majik Forest in Durbanville.

Author: ashleigh

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  • Beautifully written!
    I felt like i was walking next to you every step of the way! Filled with a cloud of emotions, deeply Inspirational and real. I love your work! I love your story and I love you both!

  • this post just made me go back to my idea of a home affairs wedding!
    at the end of the day, all that matters is that 2 individuals are joined in love and are happy, everything else is for everyone else!
    I love this!!
    Big Congratulations to you both,may the love keep growing

    • Ah, thanks El! It definitely is possible. Both our celebrations were small and we did quite fine. Lots of love and thanks for reading! xxx

  • This is beautiful Ash! I am so glad you sharing it with us and letting many others know that’s IT’S OKAY. At the end of the day LOOK AT YOU GUYS. You look in love and even without the white dress, you still shined like a bride.

    I feel honoured having to see these images and read your story!

    Keep sharing.