Having met as teenagers in college, Charlene and Simba spent the duration of their academic years creating an unshakable foundation of friendship in which to build their love upon. Their beautiful "classic-chic" New Year's Eve wedding in Zimbabwe included traditional elements of both western and Shona culture ceremony. Surrounded by the love of family and friends they were united as husband and wife before celebrating their union and ringing in the new year with a reception party that included sparklers, live musical performances and champagne toasts.
Read all about Charlene & Simba's love story and wedding experiences!
Bride & Groom: Charlene & Simba
Wedding Date: December 31, 2016
Wedding Location: Wild Geese Lodge, Harare, Zimbabwe
Tell us how you met. A mutual friend introduced us during our freshman year in college and it was definitely "like" at first sight.
Her take: He was probably the most confident guy I had ever met. I was 17 years old and I thought he was cute and very charismatic but I wanted to build a friendship with him first before dating. Over the course of our college years he became my best friend and quite honestly my rock. There wasn't a part of my life that Simba didn't touch, whether it was providing feedback on class projects or helping me make the best workout playlist. I think my favorite part of our journey is that we built the foundation of our relationship on a true friendship. We've grown together since we were teenagers and now I get to spend the rest of my life with this man!
His take: Hip Hop! It all started with our love for music; countless and long phone conversations about our favorite songs and lyrics. It allowed us to be at our most vulnerable state, free to connect about the one thing we both truly loved. Discovering that our passion for music converged around the same musicians and genres, we had embarked on a journey of a lifetime without even knowing it. We've been best friends from the first time we said hello to each other. Over the years, through life's trials and tribulations, our bond has only grown. Insert Method Man and Mary J Blige - I fell in love with the fact she has a mind of her own...
Wedding Style: Classic-Chic. Our wedding was over New Year's Eve, so we made sure to throw in a few extra touches like sparklers, live musical performances and champagne toasts.
Describe your wedding dress. I wanted to wear something modern, couture and classic. My dress was an asymmetric bodice, fit and flare gown with hand stitched French alencon lace. I loved the asymmetric bodice and the silhouette was absolutely figure flattering.
What was wedding shopping like for you? My sister-in-law, Yvonne , who passed away shortly before our wedding played a huge role in the dress shopping experience. After buying my dress, I still needed a few minor alterations. I researched the best seamstresses in Utah and found Betsy of Betsy Couture. Betsy isn't just a seamstress, she is also a wedding dress designer and she specializes in heirloom and custom wedding dresses for brides across the globe. My experience with Betsy was simply amazing! At my final dress fitting, I asked Betsy to sew a piece of lace from my sister-in-law's veil to the lining of my dress as a way of remembering her on our wedding day. It was during the same dress fitting that Betsy also noticed the excitement I had for my dress had faded quite a bit. I started rethinking my dress. I loved it but it lacked a certain "je ne sais quoi." After asking her to add the veil fabric to the lining, she immediately came up with the idea of adding heavy corded French alencon lace to the dress. This applique process took her an additional 21 hours to cut each individual piece of lace and hand stitch it to stretch silk mikado. At my final dress fitting, I was just speechless and all smiles! In short she recreated the gown into a new and original creation.
Bridesmaids/Groomsmen gifts: In addition to their bridesmaid dress, each bridesmaid received a Longchamp tote filled with L'occitane goodies and monogrammed button-down shirts. The groomsmen received their tuxedos, favorite sports team cufflinks and customized whiskey favors.
Favorite item on the menu: Dessert! We are both foodies, but most especially love dessert. We served white chocolate and raspberry creme brulee and dark chocolate mouse with minted creme chantilly. There was also a coffee service after dinner that included chocolate, red velvet and carrot cake.
First dance song: "More Than You Will Ever Know" - Boys II Men
Did you incorporate any culture into your wedding? It wouldn't be a Zimbabwean wedding without incorporating some Shona culture. Starting with the walk down the aisle, we played Shona music and Simba's aunts lined my path to the aisle with their zambia's (traditional wraps/sarongs) so my feet would not touch the uncovered ground. As a sign of humility and respect, Simba and his groomsmen were on bended knee and clapped their hands when my dad and I reached the alter.
During the cocktail hour we had traditional Shona dancers and marimba players to entertain our guests. As a gift to our families, the dancers performed the Jerusarema dance at the reception. The Jerusarema dance which is accompanied by ngoma (Shona drums) is usually played at celebrations and is one of the most important and distinctive dances in Zimbabwe.
What is your best memory from your wedding? Our vows. We wrote our own wedding vows and that moment when we recited them to each other was like there was no one else there but us and God. We both definitely teared up a bit and it was such a blessed moment.
What is the best wedding advice you can give to engaged couples? Don't lose sight of what is truly important. The wedding is just a day, but your marriage should last a lifetime. Honestly it was over in the blink of an eye!
Contact - Belrie Botha of Mighty Fine Productions
Photography - Lourens Maritz of Mighty Fine Productions
Wedding dress designer - Betsy Couture
Bridesmaids dresses - Badgley Mischka
Makeup - Makeup by Gamu
Hair - Revai Nyeve
Shoes - Jimmy Choo
Wedding planner - Aretha Maparura of Villa Shelby Events
Stationary - Minted / Vistaprint
Entertainment - Ammara Brown
Cake - Tsungai Nyatsanza Vilika from Cake Deevah