From the moment the ring is slipped onto your finger and your betrothal gleefully announced, a couple is advised to quickly find and secure two things that can become booked up over a year and a half in advance – the venue and the photographer. Indeed, not only are these some of the first tasks in the wedding planning process, but also some of the most important.
Being a tad wedding crazy (as mentioned in prior posts), I had already spent endless hours looking for venues online and had seen many a beautiful property, but nothing ‘us’. Staring at my computer screen, nothing had made me shout “THAT’S IT!” at an audibility common only to those of us with farm upbringings, or childhood operatic aspirations. Well… that’s not entirely true. We had found the perfect place months before the engagement. A place that would have effortlessly pulled off the theme in question and that we both loved. But it had only been able to seat 80 guests, which despite my initial fairly deep denial, I soon came to realise simply wasn’t realistic for us.
And so with the realisation that our wedding was only a year away, the euphoric “it’s my birthday everyday” engagement feelings began to be replaced by a rather palpable anxiety felt right in the centrepoint of my chest. Waste time and lose the perfect venue. We had to find a venue!
In my heart of hearts I wanted to get married in Natal where I grew up, and more specifically in the Drakensberg area, a place my family and friends had holidayed almost every year since I was little and the place with the forest that had first allowed me to really delve into the elven worlds I had read about on the pages of Tolkien. But we were looking anywhere – Cape Town, Joburg, Mpumalanga, you name it! The perfect venue had to be out there and we just had to find it, and find it quickly. But nothing. The internet was failing us. The venues we saw were really gorgeous – but for other couples, not us. We hadn’t found our fit. So we got into the car and went searching, starting optimistically in the Drakensberg, Natal. What we soon discovered was… that venues in Natal are really, REALLY far apart and that the accuracy of a GPS ought to be called into question when attempting to navigate on dirt roads… On Day Two of the search, now feeling rather hopeless and bothered by the heat and stuffy confines of the car, we ventured more into the Midlands area. Not too far from the Drakensberg – a wedding in the Midlands could still include a day after photo shoot in my favourite forest, I reassured myself. And so with a new address in the GPS we were on our way to look at another venue when we passed a nice looking gate and decided to venture through to steal a look. What we found? The land of Beatrix Potter, a cottage in the English countryside, old, green, lush, homely, a sanctuary. It was perhaps more England than France, but it made us stop, and we soon realised that the charming Rawdons Country Hotel was firmly on the table. With a lake, home brewed beer, and a grass tennis court, the small antique decorated hotel definitely had the potential to provide that ‘something special’ feeling we had hoped to find.
But it was the Sir Herbert Baker-designed chapel, a few minutes away that sold the combination to me. When I looked at the chapel in the Michaelhouse school grounds I saw the wedding. I saw it all, the guests, us, everyone dressed up, chatting, congratulating and laughing after the ceremony. This would be the place we would be married. Wow. We were getting married. Now isn’t that a thought :)
Hope you love it as much as we do!
All images taken by the bride and groom-to-be