Cape Town bride gets surprise lockdown wedding from filmmaker fiancé, plus he made cardboard guests

Groom-to-be Dan Mace organised a lockdown wedding for his fiancé Gabrielle Esterhuizen after having to cancel their big day. Photo: frame from video
Groom-to-be Dan Mace organised a lockdown wedding for his fiancé Gabrielle Esterhuizen after having to cancel their big day. Photo: frame from video

Cape Town filmmaker Dan Mace surprised his fiancé, Gabrielle Esterhuizen, with a wedding hosted in their home garden.

Like many couples all over the world, the pair had to make the difficult decision to postpone their original wedding, which was set for 21 March 2020. 

“Everything was organised! Venue, bands, speeches, food… the works. We decided to cancel a week before when things with coronavirus were getting really serious,” Dan tells W24.

READ MORE: Quarantined Spanish couple gets married at apartment window after 200-guest wedding is cancelled 

He says this decision was especially hard for the bride, who had been heading up the preparations and planning the wedding for months.

“I was disappointed to not go through with it. But I could see that Gabi, while making and accepting the mature decision for right now without a second thought, really felt a different level of upset about it. It was something she had worked towards and pictured in her head for months and months, so it was a huge let down for her, I know,” says Dan.

“When I came up with the cardboard friends wedding idea, I knew I could do something to lift her spirits on the whole deal, so I did. It was my responsibility to her,” he adds.

READ MORE: It took 23 years for this prisoner to be allowed to get married: The tragic Robben Island love story you've probably never heard of 

Dan worked through the night to build an altar, organise a friend to 'officiate' the ceremony via video call and make the band, the guests and the rings. Yes, make.

Dan says his cardboard guests were a physical representation of his and Gabi’s families, parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts, as well as their close friends. 

READ MORE: Cape Town bride and British groom who met at a group wedding tie the knot at a mass wedding 

On the morning of their at-home wedding, Dan surprised Gabrielle and led her to their garden wedding ceremony while she was blind-folded. After all the preparations were done, Gabrielle walked down the aisle in a cream floral dress and met Dan at the alter. The ring bearer was the couple's dog, Joe, who looked adorable in a fluffy fleece.

How did he make the rings? Well, Dan made those out of guitar strings because both he and Gabrielle are lovers of music.

The groom thought out every detail, right down to the "Just Married" sign the couple left on the roof of their house. 

Dan says both their families and friends were happy they did something but, “Gabi’s dad said he was happy for us to do it as long as it wasn’t a legal marriage, because he would like everybody there for that. So we got our friend Jonah to be a pretend priest.”

The cardboard guests representing their loved ones filled the seats in the garden as the couple lived out their wedding ceremony.

READ MORE: Looking forward to your big day? Here's how to plan a memorable wedding according to events experts 

Although times are still uncertain, the couple looks forward to having the wedding that they planned. “We can’t tell when it will be, being in the same boat as everyone else information wise. We’ll do it later in the year once it’s totally okay for sure. No rush,” Dan says.

Looking back, Dan hopes his at-home wedding with Gabi leaves everyone in good spirits and knowing that “even stuck at home, positivity and creativity is possible.”

“I’ve had so many days within the lockdown where I have woken up feeling low, concerned and unknowing of what the future holds for our country, for the world really, and I know that most people are having those kinds of days. This video was a way for me to remind myself that I can get up differently, put on a good face and pull the positives out of a scary time for us all,” says Dan.

What interesting ideas have you come up with during lockdown? Tell us about them here.

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