Real Wedding Series

Intimate Vow Renewal in New Hanover

Janel and Liam were meant to celebrate their wedding in 2020 but well, Covid. So, they opted to go ahead with a simple court wedding in June 2020, just to make things official, and delayed their big celebration until June 2021, when they hosted an intimate but amazing celebration at Janel’s parents’ home in New Hanover.

Here’s a little behind-the-scenes look at their love story…

Marriage Meander: Please tell our readers who you are and how your love story began?

Hi there! We are Janel and Liam Malloch Brown. We first met one another in 2009. For our first date, Liam took me to the movies in Pietermaritzburg, but with me starting as a border in Grade 8 at Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High School and Liam at St Charles College, the romance died away as we couldn’t really see each other. In 2016 I spotted Liam on Facebook and sent him a friend request.  Liam eagerly replied, “Don’t I know you from somewhere?”  The next day Liam asked me to join him for coffee at Coffeeberry. After three hours of chatting, we decided we should probably order lunch! 😉

Marriage Meander: Tell us about your exciting music festival proposal?

Liam proposed to me at Splashy Fen music festival in 2019. I had no idea it was coming and I had even instructed my family to specifically tell Liam, if he asked, that he should not propose to me at Splashy! Unbeknownst to me, my family planned an exciting weekend at Splashy Fen and of course, my sister made sure the week before that all the girls in the family went to get our nails done. Even then, I still had no clue! In true family spirit, my whole family (my mom, dad, both of my sisters, Lisa and Mia – and all the “spare wheels” (my sisters’ partners) were there when Liam went down on one knee, on a hilltop overlooking the river and incredible Splashy Fen vistas. By the end of the weekend the wedding planning was already in motion and my older sister, Lisa, was appointed as the unofficial wedding planner!

Marriage Meander: Did you opt for a DIY wedding or did you hire a wedding planner?

We were lucky enough to have my older sister, Lisa, previously a wedding planner in Johannesburg, take care of most of the arrangements. With Lisa at the wheel, we could relax and leave her to make our vision a reality!

Marriage Meander: Tell us about your colour palette!

Talking about our colour palette always makes us laugh. Lisa put together a bunch of urban, boho and romantic mood boards with different colour combinations for us to consider: black, grey, nude, white, turmeric, ochre, rust and sage. As a Maths Teacher, I don’t really speak “colour palette” and likened the shades Lisa had chosen to “stewed fruit colours”.  Not the most elegant comparison but it’s something us sisters still laugh about today! Our colour palette was woven into all our details and even pulled through to the dress code as guests received colour swatches with their printed invitation to offer guidance on what colours to wear to the wedding.

Marriage Meander: What were your main priorities when planning your wedding?

Choosing our photographer was our first and primary investment as memories are forever. I loved the style and feel of Laura Jean Photography and booked her shortly after we got engaged. We also had our hearts set on a relaxed, comfortable and intimate wedding as often people get lost in bigger weddings. For us, intimate connection and one on one time with family and friends was at the top of our priority list.

Marriage Meander: Tell us all about your outfits from top to toe!

My bridesmaids, Lisa and Mia, got their dresses from Jessica Anne Collection (Matthew Mole’s wife) with Doc Martin look-alike black boots and faux fur jackets. The groomsmen wore crisp white linen shirts, black shoes and black pants. I wore a long-sleeved satin dress with satin button detailing and lace-up detailing at the back. I purchased my dress when we were still living in Johannesburg and because of Covid, it sat in my cupboard for a whole year. Liam, by comparison, bought his whole outfit just three days before the wedding!

Marriage Meander: Tell us about all the special, personal details that made your wedding so unique.

As each guest arrived, they were gifted with a little stitched bag housing a hand sanitizer in a custom fragrance, personalised water bottle, mask to match the colour scheme of the wedding and dried scented flowers (kept from special bunches of flowers from my family’s garden).

For our ceremony, we shared personal vows in my parents’ garden in front of our nearest and dearest. We kept the ceremony short and sweet and then went straight into cutting the cake, sipping cocktails and mingling with guests.

For the reception we opted for a single 8-metre long table, which accommodated all our guests and symbolised the union of our two families. We lit 50 candles, scented with our own customised fragrance, in the windows of my parents’ home representing how many weeks (49 and a bit) we had been legally married.  Lisa arranged a gorgeous linen menu for that we can use in our home as a wall hanging or tablecloth on our wedding anniversary – just an extra dash of special. Our meal was served by our caterer on hot trays down the middle of the table so guests could remain seated and not have to walk to a serving station to get food. This created a lovely, relaxed family meal vibe, like Christmas lunch but with everyone dressed up to the nines!

Marriage Meander: Did any funny or unexpected things happen on the day?

When we were driving back from our creative couple’s shoot with Laura, we passed a big, black Land Rover. It’s the sort of vehicle that stands out in a little farm town like New Hanover.  This particular one was not being driven by a government official but by friends of ours, who had got lost! So we escorted them back to my folks’ house in time to join us for the festivities. A little small town chuckle…

Marriage Meander: What was the most meaningful part of your wedding?

Exchanging our vows in front of those closest to us and finally having our wedding celebration day finally after so long, with the delays due to Covid!

Marriage Meander: What pearls of wisdom would you share with other couples planning their wedding?

To invest more in the people than the event.

Janel and Liam, thank you for sharing this chapter of your story with us! Your wedding celebration radiated intimacy and warmth and I couldn’t agree more with your value of placing people, rather than things, at the very centre of your special day. May you and your families be blessed out of your Doc Martin boots, in all your future married adventures! #herecomethebrowns


Wedding Venue & Vendors

Venue: Janel’s parents’ home in New Hanover, KwaZulu Natal
Photographer: Laura Jean Photography 
Caterer: The Farm Kitchen
Cake: Vanilla Bean Bakery
Music: Curated playlist which the couple put together
Wedding dress: Sourced in Johannesburg
Bridesmaids’ outfits: Jessica Anne Collection
Suits: Linen shirts purchased from Woolworths, but the rest including the groom’s outfit were shopped at various outlets.
Hair: Bianca from Craik Speirs in Hilton
Make-Up: Pretty Please SA
Florals & Décor: Janel’s sister, Lisa, coordinated all the wedding decor with set-up support from Mia, Janel’s other sister, and both Janel and Liam’s moms
Stationery: Chrystalace
Custom scented hand sanitizers and candles: Bed Bath Body
Marriage officer: None, the couple exchanged vows on the day but they were already legally married at Home Affairs.