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A Colorful Wedding in South Africa Inspired by a Trip to the Yucatán Peninsula

By Shayna Seid | Photography by 

Shanna Jones Photography

Calli Dogon and Storm de Klerk are both doctors in residency specializing in internal medicine at Pennsylvania Hospital. They met in medical school at the University of Cape Town and were acquaintances for six years while in the same program. Only after graduation did their romance start. They both decided to spend their medical licensing years at a hospital in the rural and under-resourced province of KwaZulu-Natal, and while sharing a house with other young doctors, it wasn’t long before they were officially a couple. After four years of dating, he proposed on top of their favorite rock at Clifton Beach.

When it came to planning their wedding, they were inspired by a recent trip to Valladolid in the Yucatán Peninsula and all the vibrant colors of the city. While making their way back to Cape Town, they went to the vineyards in Franschhoek and found the boutique hotel La Residence. They immediately felt like it was the right place for their wedding—it even had orange walls like the ones in Mexico, perfect for their bougainvillea floral vision. To help with the planning and design, they hired Anne Mann, and for florals, they found Heike Hayward of The Fleur Le Cordeur Shop.

While flipping through a 2017 issue of Vogue, Calli saw a version of her Costarellos dress and immediately knew it was the one. “The gown was full Chantilly lace, hand-crafted in Athens, with an ethereal flare,” she explains. The bride-to-be flew to Greece for three fittings, and the designer was able to personalize the final look for her. For dancing at the after-party, local designer Eroll Arendz created a 1920s-inspired swing dress.

Her beauty look for the day was dubbed “bare beauty bride” by her makeup artist. All she used was La Mer’s The Concentrate, The Moisturizing Cool Gel Cream, The Reparative SkinTint, subtle eyeshadow, and Charlotte Tilbury’s Nude Matte Lipstick in Very Victoria.

The groom wore a Ralph Lauren shawl collar tuxedo with a Brioni bow-tie and Crockett & Jones shoes. His groomsmen were all in local custom tuxes, and bridesmaids put on Reformation’s Winslow dresses.

On March 21st 2019, right before the ceremony, the Bedekken, or veiling ceremony, took place in a private area on their friend’s farm, where the ceremony was being held. “This is the moment Storm and I saw each other for the first time in three weeks. He had been on a bachelor’s getaway in Sri Lanka, and I was in Cape Town touching on last minute wedding details. This was the most emotional moment of the day. Everyone was in tears,” Calli says.

Then, under a tree-lined lane in wine country, the bride was the last to walk down the aisle, and she did so alone. Her father was not in good health, but was lovingly waiting for her under the chuppah. With their immediate families by their side, their rabbi officiated the ceremony. And then after Storm stomped on the glass, cocktail hour began on the lawn.

Veuve Clicquot was poured and a four-piece jazz manouche band played, while the sun set over the Simonsberg mountain range. For the reception, everyone moved to the courtyard of the hotel. Guests found their seats at tables decorated with colorful roses, peonies, orchids, and bougainvillea on teal blue linen table cloths. 

After dinner, the 20-piece Ian Smith big band kicked off the night on the checkered dance floor. “We wanted to create a 1920s swing scene for the dancing and entertainment. My husband is a saxophonist and grew up listening and playing jazz,” Calli says. The lead vocalist, Thandi, had a voice like Ella Fitzgerald and sang classic jazz tracks and local South African favorites. Their first dance was to João Gilberto’s “’S Wonderful,” and then later in the night, they performed a choreographed swing dance to Benny Goodman’s “Sing Sing Sing.” “Storm and I have been taking Lindy Hop classes in Philly.”

Once the band had played its last song, the after-party began, and their well-known Belgian DJ, Nate, started a set. To keep everyone energized, whiskey, Cuban cigars, and pizza were served all night, as they danced to disco until sun up.