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