MAKHO and CARL HLAZO de­vel­oped their friend­ship into a life­long con­nec­tion.

True Love Bride - - Bride | Real Weddings - By Katleho Khoaele Pho­to­graphs Chi-Chi Ag­bim

My hus­band and I met in In­di­anapo­lis, In­di­ana. He was vis­it­ing from Texas and I had just grad­u­ated from univer­sity and was liv­ing at home with my mom. We met at a mu­tual friend’s house and we hit it off. Carl was like a breath of fresh air, and I just knew there was some­thing dif­fer­ent about him. We started out as friends, and over time our re­la­tion­ship blos­somed into a life­long con­nec­tion.

My favourite mo­ment of my wed­ding was see­ing all of our loved ones to­gether in one room – par­tic­u­larly at the cer­e­mony. Our friends and fam­ily flew in from ev­ery­where to celebrate our love, which was re­ally spe­cial for both of us. I re­mem­ber walk­ing down the aisle, just try­ing to take it all in. It felt sur­real. The day I had been plan­ning for the past year had fi­nally ar­rived, and I did my best to revel in the mo­ment fully.

My big­gest chal­lenge putting to­gether the wed­ding was plan­ning it re­motely from New York. In an ideal world, I would have had face- to- face meet­ings with all my ven­dors, but be­cause of the dis­tance I had to or­gan­ise a lot of Skype ses­sions and meet­ings over the phone to get all my tasks done.

Lead­ing up to the wed­ding, I felt sur­pris­ingly calm. I im­mersed my­self in wed­ding plan­ning; it be­came my full- time job. I have ex­pe­ri­ence plan­ning large- scale events in the past, so I ap­proached my spe­cial day with the same type of think­ing. I tried to be as or­gan­ised as pos­si­ble, so each day I chipped away at the var­i­ous tasks, and that helped to ease any last­minute but­ter­flies I might have had.

My big day was ab­so­lutely per­fect. It was prob­a­bly one of the best days of both our lives. As I look back on the photos and videos, it takes me right back to our wed­ding day and I feel that rush of ex­cite­ment all over again. Carl and I agreed very early on dur­ing the plan­ning process that we wouldn’t al­low any­thing to de­rail our big day. Of course, some things didn’t go as planned, but we rolled with the punches. We laughed, cried, drank, ate and danced our hearts out. It was so awe­some!

The most ful­fill­ing part of my wed­ding was know­ing that once this day was over, I was go­ing home with my best friend. I am so ex­cited about spend­ing the rest of my life with him. He is my lover, con­fi­dant and all- around awe­some per­son. I con­sider my­self very blessed to have found my soul­mate.

Find­ing my wed­ding dress was rel­a­tively easy. I wasn’t spe­cific about the type of cut; I just wanted some­thing that was flat­ter­ing to my fig­ure and made me feel like a mil­lion bucks. I went all over New York City look­ing for that spe­cial gown, but noth­ing re­ally spoke to me. It wasn’t un­til I came home to my mom’s house in In­di­anapo­lis over the hol­i­days that I found my dress. The gown I fi­nally se­lected is by Au­gusta Jones. I loved it from the mo­ment I tried it on. For hair and make- up, I col­lab­o­rated with my friend Mar­shana. We de­cided that a dra­matic head­piece would add a bit of flair to my dress. I loved my whole look and truly felt like a queen.

If I had to change one thing about my big day, it would be the time our party ended. Be­cause of the venue’s re­stric­tions, we had to end our fun at 11pm. If I could do it again, I’d want the soirée to rage all night.

The song that sums up my wed­ding is Wed­ding Day by Brenda Fassie. It’s what played when we en­tered the re­cep­tion, and it was the first time that our master of cer­e­monies an­nounced us as “Mr and Mrs Hlazo”. Our friends and fam­ily were danc­ing all around us.

The most touch­ing speech was by my younger sis­ter, Erica, at the re­cep­tion. She spoke from the heart and had the whole room in tears – all 160 of our guests. We are ex­tremely close. As my maid of hon­our, her speech was poignant, sweet and light­hearted. In be­tween tears, she made us all laugh when she proudly an­nounced that as soon as we had chil­dren, she would move in next door to us to help us babysit.

We didn’t im­me­di­ately go on hon­ey­moon af­ter the wed­ding. In fact, we spent the fol­low­ing month at home in In­di­ana with my 82- year- old grand­fa­ther, who had come to the wed­ding all the way from Zim­babwe. Our plan is to come to South Africa in De­cem­ber and split our time be­tween Johannesburg and Cape Town for a month- long va­ca­tion that will dou­ble as our hon­ey­moon.

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