If you read a lot of (or even a few) wedding blogs, there are certain words you’ll hear us use again and again (and I don’t mean “breathtaking” or “amazeballs”). Certain things we generally agree on, as a tribe. And one of these is ‘details’. We’re kinda obsessed with them, and I want to tell you why. Because on paper, weddings are pretty much the same. White dress, aisle, rings, kiss, confetti, party. Just like on paper, every love story is the same. Boy meets girl (or boy, or girl meets girl, whatever), spark, kiss, courtship, proposal. But you know and I know that every love story is unique, like a fingerprint, or a flake of snow. And if your wedding is the celebration of that uniqueness, the details tell the story. They’re the little things that your guests remember, and for an outsider looking in, they’re what inspires them to tell their own story. So you can guess why I fell in LOVE with today’s wedding at Chamonix the moment I saw it. It is detail-palooza. Seriously, it’s the grand daddy of detailed weddings. Heartfelt, personal, handmade details. I adore it, and I know you all are going to go gaga over it too. Also, I should say that the pictures were shot by the super talented Adene Photography, and that the bride, Libby, is one of the sweetest I’ve ever dealt with. There are so many highlights, but I’ll let the bride tell you in her own words…
From the lovely Libby:
Grant and I met at school, under an oak tree in the schoolyard. We started going out when we were 16 and emigrated to the UK in 2009. Grant loves boats and is in his final year of an engineering degree in yacht design, so we went to Valencia for the America’s Cup last year and after dinner he took me for a moonlit walk and got down on one knee – definitely my knight in shining armour! We’d been together for eleven years and as I am the organiser (some say bossy, I say organised!) I didn’t think he could surprise me, but he did! I was blown away and really didn’t suspect it.
Grant and I planned EVERY last detail of our wedding together; it was a very special time in our lives and we cherished the process (well, most of the time, except when I asked Grant for about the hundredth time to proof things!). We thought long and hard about the look and feel we wanted for the day and decided that we wanted a very informal, relaxed wedding but with tradition and plenty of sentiment. We referred to our day as a celebration of love, as it truly was after twelve and a half years together when we finally met at the altar. The first venue we went to together was The One – we knew it instantly. We wanted mountains, as we had both grown up looking at mountains; we wanted forest because we love trees and magical places; we wanted a beautiful natural setting, and we wanted water, as we both adore it and need to be near it all the time. The last necessity was a helipad, as I knew that a helicopter flight was the surprise gift I wanted to give Grant for our wedding.
We decided pretty early on that we wanted our colours to be navy blue, white and silver with a touch of red. We wanted a sort of retro nautical theme and we carried this through from the Save the Dates (small seed packets filled with forget-me-knots) to the invites (which were printed on tea towels) to the RSVPs and details on the day.
Our friend Bonnie (who is my business partner) did all the design with our input, apart from a yacht logo which Grant created and which was embroidered on to hankies for each guest’s happy tears and also painted on to our cake. We incorporated small hand sketches of all our special places and memories as well as birds we love because my father, who passed away eight years ago, used to say that you give your children roots and wings (the birds represented our new journey together). Once Bonnie had done all the sketches, she made the most amazing logo with our initials in a striped nautical/retro font. Our logo was on everything; from salt and pepper shakers to tags for the slip slops (for tired feet), to a personalised number plate on my uncle’s Bentley. We placed ‘little life savers’ in the bathroom – silver dishes filed with deodorant, sewing kits, Rennies, paracetamol, hairspray, etc. so that guests could freshen up. We even had stickers in our design for the toilet rolls!
We wanted to try to be as eco-friendly as possible, so, for example, we used small white feathers instead of confetti. We also had our guests get involved in the food – all the ladies were asked to bring a homemade family dessert (they each wrote a label to say why they chose it) and Grant’s stepmum made homemade ginger beer which we served in glass bottles with colour changing straws. Grant’s mum made her famous tomato chilli jam, which we put in glass jars with a doily on top and a teaspoon tied to it . My mum made Dad’s favourite bread and butter pudding. My older sister put together the most amazing sweet station and we found blue and white striped sweetie bags so people could take some home for a nibble along the way. We had stickers with our logo, as well as magnets we had made as extra gifts.
Our ceremony was held in the forest. Our guests were each given a white parasol to keep cool in the sunshine, and walked through the trees to get there, along a path bordered with Little Bo Peep stands with proteas tied to them and photos of loved ones and family members and friends who weren’t able to be there with us – it was a lovely way of including all of them. My mum walked me down the aisle, through a curtain of flowers created by our friend Alison (who did all the flowers). I wear glasses, but was determined not to on the day, so when my mum handed me over to Grant the looks on our faces were unforgettable. We had our two toy poodles with us – so special being surrounded by special loved ones and friends in such amazing nature. After a beautiful ceremony conducted by our pastor – an old family friend – we released butterflies to represent our new beginning. We even had a special wedding pen to sign the register!
Instead of bouquets, we gave my bridesmaids wrist corsages using fake orchids tied with petersham ribbon. I carried a simple bunch of gypsophila, and my flower girl carried a mini version. The groomsmen didn’t wear buttonholes, but Grant’s Dad wore a sailor’s knot one designed by me.
After the ceremony, we cut the cake and guests enjoyed the ginger beer, cake and sandwiches. We hired a coffee station with baristas and guests could order whichever coffee, tea or hot chocolate (with a dash of Jack Daniels of course!) they liked. We also had Mitchells on tap as a gift from our dear friends Lauren and James. Grant and I went off for our heli flip and after photos it was time for cocktails and canapes. We served our two favourite cocktails (mojitos and strawberry daiquiris) and guests were entertained by Colin, our amazing magician.
The tables at the reception were decorated very simply, with a square mirror uplighter box and a single orchid. We wanted old school cutlery so opted for kings pattern and the napkins in white and ivory (made by my sister – we’re going to have them made into a quilt to keep forever). Instead of formal charger plates, we went for patterned paper placemats. Tables were named after J-Class yachts and escort cards were written on to vintage travel tags and tied to a life ring which said “welcome aboard!”. Each table had a history of the yacht it was named after (designed by our friend Jochem), a jar of the jam, a single menu giving ‘the history of the burger’ since that was what we were serving (a recipe perfected by Grant served in retro red plastic burger baskets – we even made signs for the burgers saying ‘yum’, ‘lekker’, etc.!), and a bottle of shooters and plastic shot glasses which were a big hit. Each table had a captain and first mate (with rosettes made by Grant’s aunt) who were responsible for ensuring everyone had drinks and was happy! As well as Chamonix wine, we served wine made by my Mum and Heather with customised wine labels. Guests were asked to write us messages on small pieces of paper and put them into mini glass ‘message in a bottle’ bottles and pop them in a wine barrel from the farm I grew up on.
After the speeches we did our first dance to ‘Time of My Life’ from ‘Dirty Dancing’ (we are children of the ’80s after all!) – all our guests had sparklers and it was so loved up and magical. Dinner was accompanied by singing from Duo Amore – amazing Italian singers – guests loved it and everyone got involved! (We typed song sheets for each table, so they could sing along.) After dinner guests could help themselves to the dessert buffet – cheesecakes, chocolate torte, a chocolate fountain, petit fours, fresh fruit and more – and then as Jack Parow would say it was DANS DANS DANS!! We danced the night away to a playlist we had compiled ourselves and were some of the last to leave (having enjoyed a midnight snack of pies and Coca Cola). What a day, what a night, what a life! Our happy ever after…
My advice to brides is that it’s your day so make it the way you want: dress the way you want, eat what you want, and have who you want there. It’s about you and the love of your life making a promise for the rest of your lives, a continuation of all the good that has come before. Whatever decisions you make, big or small, make them together as it’s your day to share and enjoy. Go to bridal and wedding shows to get ideas, buy as many mags as you can, and buy The Smart Couple’s Guide to the Wedding of your Dreams. Enjoy every moment – it passes in a flash and when you wake up as Mr and Mrs it’s the best feeling in the world!
THANK YOU Grant and Libby – it’s been such a pleasure sharing your day with my readers, it was absolutely beautiful. And a big shout out to you both for your six month anniversary on the weekend! And of course, thanks to the lovely Adene – you can see more of this wedding on her blog.
Venue: Lacq de Chamonix, Chamonix Wine Estate
Catering & bar: Klein Marie
Photography: Adene Photography
Videographer: Peter Mann of Just Shoot Me
Flowers & decor: Alison Prest of Soanesbury Flower School, Cape Town
Bunting/cushions/lampshades:Twine Fabric Design (my talented sister, Cara’s company)
Cake: Nelle Cakes
Coffee station: Coffee Booth
Stationery: Us and our friend Bonnie – we’re just about to launch our own stationery company, so watch out for us!
Bride’s dress: Calm Amongst the Chaos (bespoke design by Frances Farmer of Ringwood, UK)
Bridesmaid’s dresses: The ‘Libby’ (named after me! awesome!) by Calm Amongst the Chaos
Rosettes: Hills Rosettes (021 865 2939)
Hair & makeup: Anna Pepper
Entertainment: Colin Underwood, magician; Duo Amore; Jochem Boschloo, guitar; Roelin from MS Entertainment, harp
Helicopter: Base 4
Postbox: Our amazing friends Shan and Jo in the Netherlands