When a billionaire says ‘I do…’

Written by Gavin Rajah on . Posted in Blog

IT WAS SIMPLY THE WEDDING OF THE YEAR
gum_c8af42be393d6a0b745c011d897554aeLocal colour and designer glitz combine in fabulous nuptials. It was simply the wedding of the year. Billionaire businessman Robert Gumede arrived for his nuptials in a World Cup-branded minibus taxi, vuvuzelas blaring.
  Designer Gavin Rajah’s brief was to ‘go quite big’ – because ‘Robert Gumede doesn’t think in small measures’ quote. IT billionaire Robert Gumede with Portia Mkhize at his 46th birthday bash last year, during which President Jacob Zuma sent a live satellite congratulatory message His beautiful bride, Dr Portia Mkhize, pulled up in a silver Rolls-Royce to the sound of Ave Maria, delivered by the 100-strong KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, which had been flown in for the occasion. About 2500 wealthy guests, some from overseas, were on hand in the Mpumalanga town of Nelspruit, where Gumede started his working life as a golf caddie when he was seven. The two-day affair began at lunchtime yesterday, when the two said their “I do’s” in a romantic setting at the Nelspruit Golf Club. An elegant Mkhize, dressed in a fitted silk-duchess gown by Gavin Rajah, was walked down the aisle by dad Selby Mkhize. Her dress was made of fabric imported from Paris and had a 6m train decorated with hand-beaded roses, Mkhize’s favourite flower. Seated on the 10th and 18th fairways, on the Robert Gumede (back) nine, guests beat the blistering heat during the two-hour ceremony under the shade of pretty little white umbrellas. They were treated to lunch served in over a dozen marquees, which was followed by a gala dinner last night. Entertainment included an orchestra conducted by Grammy Award-winning Chinese artist Muhai Tang – a gift to the pair from a guest. Bongani Tembe, a graduate of New York’s Juilliard School and the artistic director of the orchestra, and his wife, Bukhosini, both performed. Pastor Mxolisi Luphoko, who conducted the ceremony, told the couple that they are “not in the marriage to sabotage each other. Marriage must be a win-win situation.” To pull off the “cream, gold and vermillion” themed wedding, the couple had hired Rajah as their creative director. His brief was “to go quite big”. Rajah, who spent a year planning the wedding, said: “Robert is a man of largesse. He doesn’t think in small measures.” The eight-tier wedding cake by Cake Bread, a boutique bakery, was a delight to the eye. For this, Rajah worked with a team whose brief was to be inspired by the bride’s “love of roses and interesting filigree detail”. One of the guests, businesswoman Johanna Mukoki, said: “The wedding is spectacular, Robert Gumede-style: go big or go home.” National Police Commissioner Bheki Cele, dressed in dark-brown suit and cream hat “from (Galeries) Lafayette in Paris”, said: “The wedding has exceeded all my expectations.” TV personality Gerry Rantseli was spotted, along with businesswoman Basetsana Kumalo and her husband, Romeo. Among the friends who flew in from abroad was US R&B singer Kenny Lattimore. “They are a beautiful couple. I have known Robert for three years and couldn’t miss his wedding for anything,” Lattimore said. Other guests included ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa, minister in the presidency Collins Chabane, South Africa’s UK high commissioner Zola Skweyiya, captains of industry such as Sandile Zungu, Vivian and Sirisha Reddy and Gloria Serobe, and singing star and businesswoman Yvonne Chaka Chaka. ANC Youth League president Julius Malema arrived after 3pm yesterday afternoon. Guests who did not have the best vantage point could watch the event on giant screens. Gumede spared no expense, and although there is no indication of the cost of this weekend’s wedding bash, guests speculated “that it must have cost millions” – or, as one said, “at least R50-million”. Upon arrival at the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport, guests who flew into town were met by a bevy of young models chosen as hostesses for the weekend. The young women were on hand to welcome guests at all of the venues for the duration of the weekend bash. They had several wardrobe changes that included Zulu and Swati dresses for the couple’s traditional wedding at Kabokweni, Gumede’s family home, and “bling couture” for tonight’s bash. Today the couple will celebrate with the local community at the village of Ngodini outside Nelspruit, where a traditional affair will be laid on, followed by a birthday bash for the new Mrs Gumede tonight. Mkhize worked at a state-subsidised Aids hospice in Pinetown, KwaZulu-Natal, until last year. Her new husband, who has a penchant for flashy parties, splashed out on a pre-wedding bash in July last year at the couple’s home in New Germany, outside Durban. He bought Mkhize a BMW X6 worth about R1-million, and after the party the couple headed off to Beijing. The Menu Inspired by 18th-century French chef Antonin Careme, who catered to Napoleon and King George IV, wedding planner Gavin Rajah asked catering teams for a fusion of modern food with a local twist. Upon arrival at last night’s banquet to celebrate the nuptials of billionaire Robert Gumede and his bride, Portia Mkhize, guests were served gourmet mini wraps of beef kofta and smoked ostrich satay. This was followed by a bejewelled skewer bedecked with plump prawns, nestled on a seafood timbale and luscious salmon roulade. A main course of elegant beef fillet and butternut drizzled with a delicate merlot sauce was finished off with a decadent pud of honey nougatine mousse with a Ferrero Rocher centre, served with a berry coulis topped with a 24-carat gold-leaf sprinkled quill.

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