“How difficult can it be?”
A Wild statement. Confident. A story of bricks, cement, work boots and a wheelbarrow. We want to tell you a story of how determined a couple can be, especially if there is a reward at the end. And it all started with a braai.
Introducing Reder van der Merwe, good with his hands. Practical. He likes to design things and research the best way of approaching just about anything – in this case, how to build his own built-in braai.
Lisa Jansen van Rensburg; girlfriend, confidant, partner, adventurer, and explorer. Lisa is the creative, the inquisitive free soul. She is also good with her hands, good with deadlines and being organised. Reder and Lisa together - the power of freedom, the rebels of creativity and the force of diving headfirst into something new.
We want to take you back to May 2020, right in the heat of the pandemic. Working from home was a reality for many, out of routine and stuck not seeing friends or family. This was the case for Reder and Lisa as well, at home 24/7. They bought their 1000 Deluxe Built-in Braai during the Rugby World Cup in 2019 through our Kick-off Sale. The Bokke beat Canada with 66-7, which meant 66% off our normal price. Go Bokke! Anyway, since then the braai has just been gathering dust at home.
All this extra time at home needed to be put to good use. Project build-our-built-in-braai commencing, well, only after Lisa officially broke the first small wall in the backyard to get things going. Their days quickly transformed from work till 5pm and watching series until bedtime, to creating their backyard into a construction site.
Imagine this, winter in South Africa. In May. Still dark outside at 6am, an icy chill through the air. Frost hiding the green on the grass and the steam of your coffee standing out like a rose between thorns. The smell of freshly mixed concrete. A good hour or two of hard labour before your actual 9-5. After hitting the numbers all day, back in the overalls for another good five hours of building. Imagine.
Well, that is exactly what Reder and Lisa got up to. They started with the excavating of the foundation. For those of us without a background in construction, they dug a hole shaped like the base of their braai. Lisa was in charge of making all the mortar that held everything together, a top concrete mixer in tights and pink tekkies. Mixing the correct consistency slump of river sand, cement and stone is not a job for the fainthearted, especially at night in the cold.
And so, the days went by. Heading up all the builders-lines, bubble levels, and instruments to build straight and efficiently. Laying bricks and mixing more mortar than one can keep track of. That was their own little production line, Reder laying the bricks and Lisa doing all the buttering up with the mortar mix.
The days got long. Even with a beer in hand and fire going to keep them warm, all Lisa wanted to do is finish this braai project of theirs. As her motivation started to drop, Reder’s got more. Like a seesaw, as the one was feeling motivated, they kept the other going. Little did Lisa know, Reder had another plan up his sleeve.
All the while during this project, Reder secretly met up with a ring designer. A smokescreen if you will. Remember this was still in the middle of the pandemic, with loads of unessential products not available to buy – like alcohol. He went out one day to find a supplier “to buy more drinks” but went to the ring designer to choose a stone and finalise the cut.
The last stretch started to get difficult. Paint the picture of a couple working with headlamps at night, in overalls, jackets and scarves. Lisa soaking wet of the bricks dripping on her. Her motivation was lower than ever! But Reder kicked into second gear to get things done. Carrying them to the finish line because he knew what Lisa didn’t. That first braai would change their lives forever. He made a few more stops at the hardware store, on one of which he met the ring designer in the parking lot for final collection.
It was a D-day. 8 July 2020. Dressed for a night on the town, at home. They took out all the stops for their first braai. Cheesy braai broodjies with fresh red onion, apricot jam, and tomato. Marinated beef fillet and chicken sosaties. S’mores ingredients ready for dessert around the fire!
Each a glass of wine in hand, basking in celebration of their finished project. A bottle from their special wines collection we might add. Flashback in time to when they just bought their house a few years ago, Reder said that they will drink this 1996 Cabernet Sauvignon when they get engaged one day. A joke then. But Reder knew, this, was the plan. So, when Lisa suggested that they drink one of their fancy wines with their first braai, Reder immediately agreed.
The fire lit. Wine open. Glasses full. Standing close, arms around each other. Getting lost in the bright red and orange of the flames. Reder told Lisa to put her wine down, as if it’s heating up this expensive wine. You know, wine etiquette and all. In that moment, time stood still. Everything went silent. Vivid light of the flames on his face, Reder got down on one knee. With the perfect, personal custom-made ring that he designed himself. And asked Lisa to marry him.
Today, in 2022, Reder and Lisa is Mr and Mrs van der Merwe. They celebrated their wedding on the 15th of October 2021. To this day, Lisa had no idea throughout the whole process of what Reder was planning. Our main reason to say, that braai, is the most romantic date ever. It might even lead to a proposal.