From Miss to Mrs…the Journey to Forever

Weddings are fun. Beautiful. Life changing. But it’s a whole different ballgame when you’re the bride. Follow me on my journey from girlfriend, to fiancé…and now wife!

He was late. But then, he always was. (And still is. Woe betide me.) There are many things I find excruciatingly attractive about this man…but his tardiness was right at the bottom of the totem pole. Possibly under the totem pole. In the ground. The deep, dark sod of the earth.

That day – February 10, 2015 – he was bordering on being late enough to risk his life. I was waiting, foot tapping (it’s never good to make me wait until the foot tapping stage) and…he wasn’t answering his phone. When he finally hurtled down my driveway nearly thirty minutes after he was supposed to, I had sprouted pincers and was more than ready to pinch. Hard. “I’m sorry. I had to pick something up,” He said to me, those huge brown eyes widening and sucking my soul (and my well-rehearsed ‘I am going to kill you if you’re ever late again’ speech) in. Though, in typical Jodi fashion I chose not to forgive, to engage or even look in his sordid direction. On he drove, chattering away about something to do with engineering. Me? I plastered myself to the window, my chin moodily clamped onto my fist.

“Peace offering?” I felt a little nudge at my elbow and turned to see him holding out a bag of chocolate covered raisins. The bag was already open, I noticed, and he was munching on his own bag of chocolate covered peanuts. The words catapulted out before I could even stop them; a tirade about how he dared to be late and open my sweeties?! I mean, did he want me to tear his eyelashes out? (I’d never. His eyelashes are positively beautiful.) But it was chocolate covered raisins. I would never refuse those. And he knew that. So, on I munched. And munched. Until my fingers grazed something cold and hard. “Yuck, there’s something in the packet,” I wailed, ready to hurl it at him. I looked down and my heart literally turned over in my chest. There, nestled in a crowd of fast melting sweets, was an exquisite hand-crafted, customised baby halo diamond ring. The ring he had showed me in the window of Brown’s Jewellers a month before. “Ask me,” I demanded. He laughed. That little boy laugh that makes his eyes crinkle up at the corners. He slowed the car down to a crawl and took his eyes briefly off the road to say: “Jodi Natalie. Would you do me the honour of marrying me?” I took the ring out, licked the chocolate off (do not judge me) and placed it in his hand. He slid it on and we both smiled. A stupid, silly ‘do-you-know-what-just-happened’ grin.

My stunning engagement ring...nestled in melting sweeties!

My stunning engagement ring…nestled in melting sweeties!

Once I got over the initial SWEET-PEPPERS-WRAPPED-IN-BACON-I’M-ENGAGED moment, reality started eking in. You know…like that slow, persistent drip of a leaking tap. You can’t ignore it.And you can’t make it stop. Unless you pay attention to it. And the thing about my LJ is, he’s a practical somebody. It’s black or it’s white. I’m the one who flits by with shades of gray, off-white and the like. So honestly…the initial months of planning were slightly
rough. To begin with…I had no idea where to begin. Nada. Zip. A wedding planner was out of the question, because I’m too much of a control freak and the poor woman would have been in a psych ward by the time I got down the aisle. So it was me against a mountain of arrangements waiting to be made.

Our parents came together in March to discuss broad logistics. We emerged from that meeting with a wedding date:
December 19. (Sidebar: from then on, that date belonged to me. I actually found myself getting mortally offended if I heard of someone else hosting something on that day.) We also decided to host a relatively small wedding, of 150 guests. After throwing around ideas for wedding venues and cringing at some of the prices we heard (bear in mind that LJ and I had decided to foot as much of the bill as we could on our own, with our parents covering the larger
costs) we decided to get married at our church – Bethel Baptist Church in Stanger. It’s a breath-taking building, with a pipe organ, wooden pews, lush gardens and a bright, airy hall.

Our ethereal home church: Bethel Baptist Church

Our ethereal home church: Bethel Baptist Church

A second titbit about LJ: his work (I just say he’s an electronic engineer; it’s infinitely easier than trying to understand what he actually does) takes him away quite often – at least one or two weeks in a month, him travelling throughout the country and continent. Ergo, I ended up shopping around and researching possible vendors on my
own. I attended some meetings alone, coming back to him with quotes when he was home and then arranging a second meeting with the vendor if he liked what he saw. This was tough, especially since I was maniacally stressed and he could not figure why I needed to book caterers and the like a whole year before the wedding.

Around June, we had ticked off the major concerns: caterers, photographers, venue, wedding cake, décor set up and flowers, we had to face a major obstacle. LJ breaks out in hives whenever anyone pulls a camera out within a hundred metres of him. Enter the engagement shoot, and that had to be the week LJ was away from Monday to Friday. Ai ai ai. We arrived at our alma mater, Stanger Manor Secondary, on a warm Saturday morning for a concept shoot with Samantha and Andries Basson from Precision Photography Ballito. Why were we at school, you ask? That’s where we met. Oh, yes. The first time I laid eyes on my now-husband was when he bounded into my geography class on the second day of school…and then parked himself next to me in physics the next day. (He actually told me he’d marry me when we finished matric, and I laughed until my sides hurt. Well. I’m not laughing now.) The heavens must have smiled on us that day – he actually ended up enjoying the shoot more than I did!

Our VERY fun engagement shoot!

Our VERY fun engagement shoot!

July, August and September melted into each other, in a sense. Those months were a blur of handcrafting my wedding invitations (the image of LJ tying delicate bows with those engineering hands will stay with me forever)
delivering them (and drinking copious amounts of tea with our relatives) then chasing RSVPs which, I can assure you, is far more difficult than chasing up content for an edition! In October, the pressure vamped up at work. I mean, vamped. I was about three or four titles deep, and I started to feel the pressure. On the one hand, I had content
meetings coming out of my ears, deadlines steaming from my head and aching fingers from churning out stories. On the other, I had vendors waiting for deposits, well-meaning friends and family waiting for me to tell them what they could do to help and a fiancé whose travel schedule was starting to fill up faster than my glass when I see ice cold Coke. Added to this immense pressure was trying to find an apartment that suited us both: my work in Ballito, Umhlanga and Durban and his in Westville and our modest budget. Finishing a harried day at work then scurrying to view countless places, then leaving deflated when they didn’t work out took its toll on us, I will admit.

The keys to our first home!

The keys to our first home!

But the sun peeked out at the end of October: the editions were slowly coming together and wedding loose ends were being tightened. That, and we found our own little flat – we call it The Box. I was just starting to put my beach umbrella up when the clouds rolled in, in November: the woman I had booked to alter my wedding dress decided to drop me six weeks before the wedding. I fell to pieces, quite literally. My regular contributors decided to all be late for their deadlines. My pieces fell to pieces. And…LJ had to go to The Netherlands for a week. The blooming
NETHERLANDS. I was now a pile of dust on the floor. A surprise pep talk from Justin, The Boss Man one particularly stressed afternoon perked my spirits up and I felt like I could face the world again.

Psalm 139 - reminded us continually of our purpose and how much Jesus loves us

Psalm 139 – reminded us continually of our purpose and how much Jesus loves us

 

And then, there we were. We had survived and it was wedding week. I still remember how I felt that Monday: frighteningly calm with a side of slight frenzy – kind of like before my driver’s test a few years ago. The days were agonisingly long as we picked up flower arrangements, I had my final dress fittings with a lovely lady who stepped in at the last minute to make my dream dress, rehearsed the wedding ceremony and met for a final counselling session with our minister. The day before our wedding was spent setting our décor up – yep, we did it ourselves. That night we decorated our tables and put all the special touches to our reception space, and said goodbye to each other quite
awkwardly: the church was buzzing with final preparations so we hugged and said: ‘see you tomorrow’.

And tomorrow came, with a heat wave that must have been an answer to my fervent “Lord, PLEASE don’t let it rain on my wedding day” prayers the whole week. I felt strange that morning; I didn’t quite know what to do with myself. I sat around with a flip-flopping stomach, eventually resorting to rolling on my bed to pass the time. When 11am did roll around and I started doing my hair and makeup with Taryn Ruis and Michelle Haywood, the house was still very calm and quiet. I heard some of my family arrive a little later, before I got into my exquisite dress. Even with the dress on, the taffeta scratching me, and my cathedral veil digging into my scalp, I didn’t feel…anything. (On the drive to church, I remember telling my father I was going to throw up, though!) I got to the church early – half of the guests were still outside when I arrived. I had to drive around the block to give everyone a chance to get to their
seats (I would later hear that LJ was in the bathroom frantically cutting his fingernails when he heard the hooting. Hum). A moment that stood out for me during the ceremony was when I heard the words ‘what God has joined together, let no man put asunder’ and I knew it was coming: ‘Introducing Mr and Mrs Lester Jared (that’s what LJ stands for, ha!) and Jodi Natalie Chetty.’

MARRIED AT LAST!

MARRIED AT LAST!

And we were done. It was finished. A year of stressing, fighting, panicking and – most importantly, praying, culminated in a beautiful celebration with our nearest and dearest. Our reception ended way too quickly and we soon found ourselves alone for the first time: me with smudged make-up and a collapsing bun and he with a rumpled shirt and a tired smile. Now that is the moment I will always treasure; that first look, real look, at the person who was
now bound to me for life. When I wrote this, we’d been married for a grand total of three weeks (HA!) and I’m still getting used to it. Having him around when I wake up. Having his car keys hang next to mine. Phoning him to ask what he wants for supper. Late night conversations about the strangest things, like whether ice cream really is better with a scoop of Nutella or without.

LJ's 26th birthday. My first as his wife.

LJ’s 26th birthday. My first as his wife.

And I can tell you. Everything they say is true. You will bicker over stupid things – who’s washing dishes, who left towels on the floor, who forgot to close the windows…but you will realise this: there is nobody else you would rather do it with.

The FAB Team

The FAB Team

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