In some ways, I think this might be one of my favourite weeks on the blog so far – I just love everything I’ve featured so much! And the hits just keep on coming with Julie and Matthew’s picnic-style wedding. How much are we loving picnic weddings right now? (Clue: A LOT.) And this one takes it to a whole new level, with the most personal and sweet favour I’ve seen yet – each guest at the country nuptials at Schoone Oordt in Swellendam received their own quilt, handmade by the bride’s mother! Wow. Now there’s something I’d like to find in my picnic basket! In fact, when you see the champagne-flowing-friends-laughing-kicked-off-shoes kinda vibe, you’re going to wish you were on the guest list too. The superb Jules Morgan has perfectly captured all the joy of the moment in her dreamy, sunkissed pictures, and the looks on Julie and Matthew’s faces during the ceremony really say it all.
Julie, the bride, was lovely enough to send me the inside info on the Big Day:
Matthew and I met when we were working at the same advertising agency. We became friends, and eventually it blossomed into something more! We were on a weekend trip to Paris, when Matt proposed. It was the ultimate romantic spot, alongside the river, in the shadow of Notre Dame Cathedral. My first engagement ring was a gorgeous diamante Mickey Mouse ring from Disneyland Paris! I was quite sad when the time came to replace it with a proper diamond!
Right from the beginning, we knew we wanted our wedding to be very relaxed, just the people closest to us, lots of laughter and love. So we decided to have a picnic, because who could ever be formal and uptight sitting on picnic blankets in the sun?! We knew South Africa was going to be the best option, with more reliable weather, and a more relaxed feel.
Our theme was a country picnic, and all the flowers, décor, music and food followed from there. We were organising everything from Switzerland and London where we were living at the time, so we found our venue, Schoone Oordt in Swellendam, on the internet, and picked it because it was just perfect for what we were looking for, and the owner, Alison, inspired me with confidence. Alison became a close friend over the six months’ planning, and organized so much for me, including all the suppliers, from hair & make-up, florist, guitarist, photographer, right down to the minister! Without her it wouldn’t have been half as special as it was. Schoone Oordt is the quintessential country house, and they had a beautiful lawn to get married on, and have our picnic on afterwards.
We did away with all formality, we had no bridesmaids or groomsmen, seating plans or set times. The music was just as relaxed, we had an amazing musician who sang and played the guitar as we walked down the aisle, and then continued with laid back music throughout the picnic. I loved sitting on the grass in the sun with my new husband, surrounded by all the people we love from all over the world, and being able to talk and laugh with all of them.
As we wanted everything relaxed and natural, the flowers were all grown locally, in season, and after giving the florist some ideas, I left it to her creative talent, and her interpretation of ‘country flowers’ was just perfect. The same with the food. Although Alison and I discussed many details over the months, I discovered that it’s less stressful, and more enjoyable for everyone, for you to brief the suppliers with your idea, and then let them use their talent and creativity to make your idea shine. And it worked brilliantly.
As a surprise for us, my mom spent six months making handmade quilts for every couple to sit on at the picnic. Each one was different, and a work of art. We had them tied up with ribbon, and included a poem about ‘their quilt’. We got The Institute for the Blind in Worcester to weave a heart-shaped picnic basket, and the quilts were given out from that. They looked amazing, and everyone was so touched to receive one. Seeing the joy and amazement on people’s faces when they received their personal handmade quilt was one of my favourite moments of the day.
The atmosphere was something we thought about a lot, which seems a bit of a contradiction since we wanted it relaxed. In the end we had a fire poi (thrower) for entertainment, fairy lights and candles in little brown paper bags with heart shapes cut out for lighting. None of this was intrusive, it all just added to the atmosphere.
I’d advise future brides to try to brief your suppliers with an idea of what you want, and then allow them to be creative, and give you the solutions. They are talented at what they do, and it also means that if you do not have an exact idea of what to expect, you can’t get stressed when it turns out slightly different. This takes a lot of the stress out of the day, as you don’t mind that something looks different to what you specified. All the people involved in our wedding had such involvement in what they made that they made sure it was perfect. Also, make sure you get the right photographer, it is not the thing to economise on. Our photographer, Jules, was integral to our enjoyment of the day as we had such faith that she would capture it perfectly. And in the end, all you have are your memories and your photos.
Julie and Matt – thank you sooooo much for sharing your wedding, and your story with us! Wishing you endless sunny afternoons together! Also, thanks to Jules Morgan for her (always) awesome photos – you can see more of this wedding over on her blog.
Venue, catering & decor: Schoone Oordt Country House
Photography: Jules Morgan
Co-ordination: Alison Walker from Schoone Oordt
Flowers: Erica Moodie (028 722 1823)
Stationery: Alessandro Mattarelli, Basel, Switzerland
Dress: Sarah Arnett
Hair & makeup: Melanie Rigby (082 7833640)
Music: Jeremy Olivier (084 6751215)