The day started out raining, which was something I was very grateful for - the good luck omen I have always wanted. We chose to get married on St Paddy's day to have a day that would always be memorable for our guests, without taking away one of their public holidays- a day filled with celebration and fun.
It is difficult to pinpoint one moment or one memory - there was so many could have gone very wrongs, that just turned out very right. I remember our magnificent the bridal party looked, the look on my dad's face when he saw me (which reveal also flopped slightly as he appeared too soon). And I loved the dancing! I could definitely dance the night away all over again. But throughout the day, there were little moments where I was just thinking "THIS is great": watching the girls having their make-up done, showing off the bridal suite to the bestman (or one of the two), listening to the singer sing some jazzy swing tunes while we went off for our photoshoot... Our MC was kind enough to do a sabrage for us (opening a champagne bottle with a saber) to entertain the guests, and to this day, it is puzzling them and they are trying to recreate it. We also had a "Wedding Speech" Bingo, which was such a hit, and exceeded our expectations.
Looking back, it is so ingratiating that everyone keeps saying it was a good wedding, that they had fun, that the food was great. That was all that we wanted, for everyone to share the time of their/our lives with us. And no one picked up on the little things that did go wrong, or could have.
We came as close to our possible fairytale as we could, and was it perfect, no, was it perfect for us, yes. In the imperfection lies the memories.
We had a complicating honeymoon. I always say our wedding day went so smoothly, that that is the reason we had a rocky honeymoon.
The venue was kind enough to grant us their villa in Leisure Bay to start off the trip. But on day two (day one being spent on an assignment as I had smartly decided to restart my postgrad studies this year), the weather turned for the worst and it followed us not only back to Johannesburg, but to stop two the Netherlands.
I had always wanted to see the tulips and Mark took me for that reason, but we were only a month early(!) with little to no tulips, and a lot of rain, mud, cold and sludge. From there, we went on to our annual Two Oceans pilgrimage- and this time luckily- the rain was pouring! That was the happiest and best weekend of the trip. Keep it local Peeps!
(Yes, there were a fair share of cancelled flights, having to re-book tickets, having to book last minute hotels and other similar disasters on the way, but we will not talk about that..)
I literally went to my limited childhood wedding dreams for inspiration: loose and wavy hair (as I always considered my hair one of my best features) with a flowy A-line dress.
I had my dress made to avoid any last-minute dress flusters and the wonderful Joss from Joss Bridal helped me create and give life to a unique, yet timeless piece with a bit of garnet crystals and pearls to make it stand out. I loved the long train. Joss also made me a veil to finish off the dress. She also added some lace to the gown to add a bit of detail- Joss is the only person I would trust to put me in lace. We had met five years ago when I was a bridesmaid as she made the dresses. The bridesmaid's dress she made was something I would normally never wear and that's when I learnt you have to try something new every now and again.
My hair was done by my talented friend Fabienne Jooste-Scott who was not only a bridesmaid, but did my hair, my mom's hair and all the bridesmaids' hair. My hair is something I was very grateful for on the day - I had a bad fall the previous year (almost to a day) leaving me with a hefty cut to my head and it had taken all the begging I could muster to avoid having the casualty staff shave off my locks.
I left the make-up entirely to Nicole Sydow from Nicole Amory Makeup Artistry. I luckily realized early on, that I have no idea what I should do and I trusted her implicitly, and the results were phenomenal. Very dramatic.
Jewelry was graciously lent to us by Charles Greig Jewellers - my engagement ring and our wedding bands came from there. I was so grateful as I could borrow the earrings which I had wanted for the day and could not afford. They made me feel like a queen while selecting my jewelry. That experience was probably my favourite for the entire wedding experience.
My clutch and bolero was from Bride & Co (gifts from my dad for my big day).
The whole look was rounded off with a crystal tiara, finished off with bits of garnet crystals, from Kathleen Bespoke Accessories. It was honestly a treat working with Kathleen and I am so happy that I could get to wear such a unique piece which tide our whole wedding theme together while making me feel like royalty. This single tiara was almost the most important element of the wedding- little did I realise that when we set to making it.
We got married at the amazing Jozi Secret Garden of Shepstone Gardens.
When we started planning, we had briefly considered having a destination venue, but soon realized we rather wanted friends and family with us on the day- fun as an "away-wedding" could be, you don't want to regret not having certain people with you on your magical day.
We then set off to find a venue that is lush and green and vivacious- and where we thought we were wanting a forest, we actual wanted a beautiful garden, with a princess tower.
Shepstone Gardens is already such a beautiful wedding venue that we didn't want to add too much décor and take away from the natural beautiful surroundings.
We wanted to keep everything natural and simple for our wedding. This meant no flowers. Instead we used lush foliage table runners with white candles of different heights. To make the greenery stand out, we used simple white table cloths and glass underplates. The main table was decorated in a similar fashion, with the exception of a blue table cloth to make the table stand out (because of course the bride and groom needs to feel even more special, right?). Cara Luiters from Shepstone gardens designed and made the foliage table runners for us.
To compliment this look, we added some green touches here and there for the ceremony.
As we had our reception in the Shepstone glass marquis and rain was predicted, we had to add some draping last minute for some additional protection for our guests.
I am a treehugger by heart, so some of our other décor elements included reused glass bottles. This included bottles with different colour lights for our dance area, candle holders and our one cake stand. The company that makes these items is called Bottleful.
For the name placements we used rented geodes from Afflon Events - just to add a unique touch that matched both the colour scheme and the overall feel of the event.
Shepstone provided the rest- dance floor, sofas, cocktail furnture, fairylights... anything we could want.
Basically we decided on a gemstone'ish theme - garnets and sapphires (see linking to the geodes again...). But only bride, groom and the parents were allowed to incorporate the garnet burgundy, which meant the bridal party was blue. It was a bit tricky to get everyone to seamlessly fit together, but we got it to work.
The other part of the inspiration was classic English - which meant cravat. And no, not scrunched tie, not ascot: proper cravat.
We ended with the groomsmen in beautiful tuxedos, with pewter waistcoats and blue cravats and pocket-chiefs.
All of the above items were rented from Bride & Co.
The dads provided their own tuxes, with apple red waist-coat and cravat from Bride & Co.
The groom wore a combination of what the rest of the groomsparty wore - red cravat with pewter waistcoat. This was to ensure that all the colours tied together nicely.
We also got the entire groomsparty tuxedo shirts from Bride & Co - it does make a difference to have the right shirt for the outfit.
For dads and groomsmen, we secured cufflinks from Unbreakable Man. They have a great variety with efficient delivery.
Grooms shoes were Greencross- to keep him dancing the night away, with belt and socks from Polo. I got Mark cuff-links from Charles Greig as a wedding gift.
I had four beautiful bridesmaids and one hunky bridesman. I was a bit prescriptive in respect of forcing the colour scheme, long dresses and updo's (not for my bridesman though.)
The girls got elegant gowns from Bride & Co in a lovely blue to match the groomsmen. They each provided their own silver shoes and had their nails done. Nicole Sydow from Nicole Amory Make-up Artistry did their flawless makeup (as well as the moms' make-up too). The bridesmaids' hair was done by one of the bridesmaids - who is extremely talented if you ever need a recommendation. Their look was finished off with necklaces from Silvery (with little sapphire and garnet swarovski element crystals) and a bouquet of each lady's favourite flowers. The bridesmaids' hair pins were made by Kathleen Bespoke Accessories and coordinated to the ladies' preference for precious metals, i.e. silver, rosegold etc.
My bridesman had the same tux as the groomsmen, but his cravat and waist-coat was the inverse -more blue to match the girls. His cuff-links were also procured from Unbreakable Man. As I didn't give him a bouquet of flowers, he received flowery socks.
George van der Riet - so many people asked us for his contact details afterwards. We wanted to have an informal, bilingual, non-denominational ceremony and we got what we wanted :) "All-inclusive" is what we strove for.
The supplier we had initially wanted for our day was already booked by the time we set the date: an unfortunate event that worked in our favour.
Alexander Smith was an amazing photographer- and he and I clicked from the moment we started corresponding via email. He was incredibly relaxed and kept the photo sessions short and sweet.
For videography, we utilised Vlakvark Productions for a cinematic feel to our video. Wow. I would really recommend that if possible, all brides should hire a videographer - it is the best way by far to remember your day.
We had a photobooth for the guests' entertainment which was provided by the Magic Photo Booth.
Nadia Mangels from Shepstone assisted us with all the on the ground coordination - especially on the day. We realised early one that you can't do everything yourself!
We didn't really need transport. It was funny though, no-one thought to take the bride to the venue, so she ended up driving herself. Day after the wedding, both bride and groom had to drive their own cars home separately.
Our canopés and plated starters and mains were prepared by Onside Events. The fruit sushi was by far and wide the favourite of the day. We also opted for a dual mains to ensure that all tastes were met. Onside also prepared fruit for us for the chocolate fountain that Shepstone provided.
Our cake was themed to match the gemstone theme and was a three-tired garnet geode cake. We tried to have a flavour for everyone - red velvet (to cut for dramatic flair), chocolate and a fruity layer (passion fruit). The cake was prepared by Cake Genie.
For those that didn't like the sweeter things in life or who were sweet enough already, Sugar n Ice prepared us a marvelous "cheese" cake with indulgent cheeses and biscuits, rounding off with some grapes.
We tried to ensure that our guests never went hungry during the whole day.
To the embarrassment of one of my bridesmaids, most of the design work was done by me. That being said, our gorgeous name cards were geodes from Afflon Events - we tried to keep a gemstone/natural feel through-out the wedding and hence we used agates to do the seating.
Ballroom and Latin dancing is one of my hobbies, so poor Mark was forced to take lessons with me. We actually started lessons for his brother's wedding as we could not dance together to save our lives. And then we ironically choose a smooth foxtrot for our wedding dance- not one of the easiest things to do! Luckily it went off successfully. My dad and I also sneaked in some lessons for our father-daughter dance.
Entertainment wise, we used Henk Kotze from Zoom DJs who is the "in-house" DJ and lighting expert at Shepstone. He was phenomenal. We gave him a list of artists we liked and disliked and he ran with it to the extent that the dance floor was never (to my knowledge) empty.
For cocktail hour, we had Ella (whom I found on Gigster) to provide some jazzy vocals to suit the feel of the day - relaxed sophistication. We sadly never got to meet her, but her crooning voice was beautiful. She ensured that everyone was suitably occupied while we went gallivanting for photos.