A wedding at White Water Farm
Who Got Married?: Chris Metcalfe and Philip Langley
Where did they get married?: White Water Farm, South Africa
When did they get married?: December 2016
Deciding where to get married can be a strain on any newly engaged couple. There’s bound to be external factors shaping that decision; family, friends, budget, emotional attachments… For same sex couples it’s also about finding somewhere that respects and recognises their union.
In the midst of all of that, it’s also about finding somewhere truly beautiful which provides the opportunity to bring everyone together in one, amazing setting to celebrate your wedding. We chatted with Chris and Philip who found just that when they got married at White Water Farm, in South Africa’s beautiful Stanford, just outside of Cape Town.
Chris and Philip had known each other for over seven years before their relationship changed tack. For Philip his “Chris crush” had seen them navigate the years, never single at the same time. Drawn to what he describes as Chris’ “outgoing, giving and loving” nature, finally they were and he took his opportunity. Over dinner Chris began to realise his friend had feelings for him, asking “Is this a date?” It clearly was! And seven years on they’re going strong, including working in the same office for the same department of Deloitte – something not without its challenges!
With backgrounds in user experience these guys share a logical and pragmatic approach to life. They need to be able to rationalise expectations for a living and that plays out into their “real” lives too. Having spoken about the possibility of getting married as they planned a trip to Italy Chris planned his proposal, but once there Philip said “You know what, I’m ready to get married. So if you are, you best get down on one knee”… job done!
South Africa was an early adopter of same sex unions, with a law passed in 2006 recognising civil partnerships and under South Africa law they hold the same legal standing as marriage. But talking to Chris and Philip it’s not as simple as it sounds for same sex couples to head out and get married.
“There is unquestionably an open mindedness toward same sex couples in South Africa” says Chris, “but that is also undeniably less evident away from the big cities”. The guys wanted to get married at a venue which accepted and welcomed them and their guests in the same way an opposite sex couple would expect. “It wasn’t that easy” says Phil and they did come across some venues which made it clear they were less than comfortable.
Aware of Alex and Rob through mutual friends, Chris contacted them, and the couple headed out to visit White Water Farm. It’s just two hours from Cape Town, but surrounded by beautiful countryside and offers its own chapel barn on the site too.
“For us the venue, the hosts and the service they provided meant we’d found our venue” says Phil. With friends and family coming from around the world Christmas was a great time to hold the ceremony, so December 18, 2016 went in the diary.
The wedding weekend
The guys were clear they wanted a non-fussy, intimate but stylish day and they set about planning that with Alex and Rob’s help. White Water Farm, with its range of accommodation on site and nearby additional options leant itself perfectly to the relaxed weekend of celebrations for a guest list of over 80. “We wanted to enjoy everyone being here over a longer period of time, not just a ceremony and a party” said Chris.
Philip recalls, “we started with a picnic under the oak tree on the first day, which stretched through the afternoon followed the next morning by a pool party,” Queue some sore heads over breakfast the next day.
The actual wedding
The ceremony that afternoon began under the oak tree in the magical landscape surrounding White Water Farm, where the couple had traditional Xhosa blessings before heading up the aisle for the humanist ceremony.
The whole experience was, for them, as much about their commitment to each other as it was about that commitment being shared. Being able to refer to each other as “husband”, to stand in front of their amassed friends and family was incredibly important to them both. “South Africa has made huge moves forward but it’s still important to stand up and represent same sex equality and during the service we made a point of thanking those who had gone before us, blazing the trail for us to follow” say the couple.
Champagne, canapes, sharing platters (a speciality of the White Water Farm restaurant) and Rob’s amazing carrot cake followed. “Much of the food was farm to plate and super fresh” remembers Chris. Not that they remember a huge amount from that afternoon as it passed in what they describe as a “haze of excitement”.
Now, 14 months later, the guys have settled into married life and with changes happening at work for them both life is hectic, however, the White Water Farm wedding is something they cherish. Chris recalls “during the service, surrounded by our friends and family, including our great hosts, we knew we couldn’t have got married anywhere else”. Happy days.