Organic Opulence: Toni & Mark’s Wedding

Our featured post today is a very special one. Toni Fawzy, the beautiful bride, happens to be part of The Pretty Blog family – she is our editor! This means that today we get to share a little piece of her story with all our readers. She claims to love all things dramatic, striking and romantic, where she describes her husband, Mark, as being more grounded, yet unconventional. Their wedding is breathtaking – a true combination of their personalities.

Their Story

Mark and I knew each other through a mutual friend, but it wasn’t until we bumped into each other at a friend’s lunch party that we became a couple. Neither of us knew anyone at the party and we were happy to see each other and hang out. When he grabbed a guitar and strummed a few tunes, I was hooked. We started dating, and quickly discovered how compatible we were – we share a love of silly humour, delicious food, outdoor Cape Town, family time, travel and tequila!

We were on a Mediterranean cruise with my family when Mark proposed. He’d asked my dad’s permission before we left, so he and my parents were in cahoots to coordinate the perfect proposal. He planned to propose at the beginning of the holiday, but I was just not cooperating, which meant the proposal was delayed by a few days. We spent a sunny day in Marseille, France, exploring the old town in the morning. I didn’t suspect anything, even though my mother was taking hundreds of photos of us and Mark and my dad were calming their nerves with an early morning beer. In the afternoon, we took a tram up the hill to visit the Catholic basilica – Notre-Dame de la Garde. The church was spectacular. I was fixated on exploring the crypts and the impressive interior, not knowing that Mark was desperately trying to isolate me from the family to give him a chance to pop the question. 

He eventually managed to get me to an outside viewing point, only to be interrupted by my sister’s boyfriend, wanting to take a photo of us. As I smiled for the photo, Mark dropped to his knee and presented me with a beautiful ring. I was completely overwhelmed and so was my sister’s boyfriend, who – lucky for us – captured it all on video. I eventually regained my ability to speak, said a happy “yes”, and put the ring on my finger. We spent the afternoon drinking French champagne, letting the news sink in, and lapping up the love and the evening dancing to John Meyer in the piano lounge.

Did anything unexpected happen?

The journey to the church was unexpectedly eventful. We had a vintage car to take my dad and I to the ceremony… it wasn’t until halfway to the church, when we had a long queue of cars behind us on a steep pass, that we realised the maximum speed of the car was around 40km/hour! The trip to the church took a lot longer than anticipated. To add to the nerves, there was a big fire in Woodstock which my dad and I thought was the church, filled with hundreds of candles – burning down. When we eventually arrived at the church, we were so relieved to see it was safe and standing – we had to calm our nerves before heading down the aisle.

How did the wedding reflect your style as a couple?

We both really value our strong family ties, so it was important for everyone to get a real feel for the influence our families have had on us. Mark’s family are Egyptian and Coptic Orthodox, so having the ceremony in the Orthodox church, officiated by Bishop Markos (Mark’s namesake) was very meaningful. We had the reception at my parents’ home in Noordhoek. It was wonderful to see their lawn transform into the beautiful venue for our special day – it makes their home a very sentimental spot for us now. The marquee went up a few days before the wedding and we enjoyed spending time together there in the lead up to the day. Our families put months of work into preparing for the day, and Mark and I felt so appreciative of it on the day. Mark is very grounded, but also unconventional – he has a great sense of style. I love all things dramatic, striking and romantic. We wanted to combine these elements into the style of our day.

Tips & Advice

Don’t focus on the stressful bits of planning a wedding. Realise that this is a unique and special time that you only experience once. Lap up the excitement, love and generosity of those around you. Don’t put all the focus on the wedding day alone, rather start enjoying the entire process from the moment you are engaged. Also, it is a great opportunity to pour a lot of creative energy into something special – embrace the creative process as a couple.

Most Memorable Moments for Her

There was a moment during the night – I was sitting at the main table looking out at this magical glass tent filled with incredible floral creations, our favourite friends, my new husband and family. I was completely mesmerised, and filled with an intense sense of joy. 

Other great moments included: waking up on the day to early gifts with my mom, gran and sister, my dad’s emotion throughout the day, our unique Orthodox ceremony, donning robes and crowns on the altar, strutting into the reception as man and wife, mind-blowing canapés, not quite nailing our first dance, raiding the dessert table with my dad, dancing with my grandfather, rigging the bouquet toss to make sure my sister caught it, drinking from Mark’s bottomless bottle of Moet, and requesting song after song until he and I were the last two standing on the dance floor.

Planning & Organising

I was lucky to have a really creative and organised “wedding planning crew” on my side. My mom, gran and sisters got involved in different aspects of the planning – each person taking on tasks that they would naturally enjoy.  I am a to-do-list girl, so they all received personalised notebooks and we met too often to drink tea, brainstorm and check in on progress. Also, we all became addicted to Pinterest – I would suggest creating a secret Pinterest board and to share it with your fiancé and planning crew. This ensures that everybody involved is on the same page and has a common vision. My advice on managing all the planning milestones would be to tackle one big task at a time. Start by booking the suppliers you want most on the day. I found the photographer first, then focused on the caterer and florist – get them booked early.

Most Memorable Moments for Him

The highlight of the day for me was our grand entrance – walking into the reception to a booming Kanye West track with my gorgeous wife, being welcomed with cheers from all of our friends and family. The adrenaline was pumping and it was epic!

Toni & Mark’s Wedding Video

Toni & Mark from MvR Weddings on Vimeo.