You know how there are those women who have a rare luminescent quality, so that when they walk into a room, all the light seems to be drawn toward them? Today’s gorgeous (and thoroughly lovely) bride, Brinley, is one of those women (and I can say that because I know her). Rupert must have felt like all his Christmases had come at once when she said “I do”, and you just have to look at her face to see that the feeling is completely mutual. When I heard that Brin was working with the Wedding Concepts team to organise her wedding from her home in London, I knew it would be beautiful, and with a venue like Vrede en Lust, even more so. But what I really love is how the joy just jumps off the screen at you (captured faultlessly, as always, by the wonderful Joe Dreyer). This is the perfect mix of British charm and South African sunshine (including Zulu dancers leading the couple from the ceremony to cocktail hour), and I’m beyond excited to share it with you!
Rupert and I met at work. We had seen each other around the building and what started as a tiny smile eventually became an introduction although it took him quite a while to come over and say hello. It has been such a fairytale since I met this lovely English gentleman and I couldn’t be happier knowing we’ll be together forever. I think we both felt something quite special in the relationship – that something that just feels so comfortable, easy and permanent. The subject of marriage was never a difficult thing to talk about and so after a fabulous trip to the Maldives and a snorkel in the lagoon, he summoned me over, goggles an’ all, and asked me to marry him! He was actually kneeling under the water but I hadn’t registered at the time. That’s the other thing I absolutely adore about him – he is full of surprises! He even arranged the entire honeymoon as a surprise and never told a soul. We do everything together – he even helps me cook – and we’re both a bit OCD about some things too, but to have him by my side to plan every single detail and make every decision about the wedding with me was just wonderful. Our wedding was exactly what we as a couple wanted and Christina Holt from Wedding Concepts was brilliant at putting it all together for us.
I think our description of what we wanted began as “classical boutique with an African twist”. With Rupert being from England and me from South Africa, we wanted to combine the elements of a traditional English wedding set in one of the most magnificent settings in South Africa – the Cape winelands. The style: chic, sophisticated, elegant, classic and fun.
Rupert and I fell in love with Franschhoek when we toured it on his first trip to SA. We are both foodies and love wine and Franschhoek, being surrounded by mountains and vineyards, could hardly be beaten. Christina from Wedding Concepts sent us a list of venues and from there we shortlisted five. We had to see them, so we booked our tickets and jetted out to Cape Town for a quick three-night stay in search of the perfect venue. We landed in Cape Town and drove straight out to Franschhoek to meet Christina for the first time at Cotage Fromage on the Vrede en Lust wine estate. After an outstanding lunch we went on a tour of the grounds, manor house and marquee terrace. Of course we fell in love with the place, the accommodation and with the amazing translucent marquee that looks out onto the Cabernet Sauvignon vines and the mountains beyond. We were sold! I have to say that every venue we saw was amazing, but Vrede en Lust met 100% of our needs. It was closest to Franschhoek where we wanted all our guests to stay, a blank canvas with which to create our own unique wedding, fantastic accommodation, but most importantly, a venue we could use for everything – the ceremony, the pre-drinks, the reception and the BBQ we had the following day – and with the added bonus of a back up area (the tasting rooms) for pre-drinks if the weather turned nasty. We also interviewed photographers on our last day at the Wedding Concepts offices in Cape Town. As we boarded our plane that evening it was such a great feeling knowing the venue and photographer were booked and we could begin putting all the little pieces together for the big day.
With the wedding being in spring, we wanted very bright and colourful flowers, and we loved how the dance floor turned out in that shade of blue. The table settings were an elegant and classic white and silver with a lovely spray of colours in tall vases in the middle. The colours were all very bold because I love strong colours and I’m not much of a pink and pastel person. The main colours in terms of décor were blue, red and white. These are lovely fresh colours and incorporate both the colours of the Union Jack flag and the French theme of Franschhoek. Just before all the guests were ushered into the marquee Christina got us to quickly go and have a peak without anyone in there – we were absolutely blown away – it was exactly what we had wanted it to be! A huge thank you also to the guys at Fiori di Sorrento who did such an amazing job.
I also loved the translucent marquee – we were so lucky that the weather was good otherwise the double cover would have been put over it, but to have the view of the mountains and vineyards from the inside before it got dark, and then to stand outside and watch all our friends having a great time on the dance floor later in the evening, was just too amazing!
I wasn’t really bothered about the bridesmaids’ dresses matching the décor – I just wanted to bring in all the strong colours – and so when Rupert spotted the purple dress in a shop one day (yes, it was actually my husband that found it), it was just perfect. I got my talented mom to sew the red sashes to just finish off the dress.
We had very traditional plain English invitations and I wanted to have the name of each guest in calligraphy at the top – I think the quote per invitation was somewhere around £2, and with 100 invites going out it would have been a minimum of £200, so I got on to Amazon and ordered myself a beginner’s calligraphy set. With a very shaky hand I got the nib down onto the first invitation (after a week of practising on plain paper) and they came out okay. Nowhere near proper calligraphy, but it was a nice extra touch, albeit a very time-consuming extra touch. I also managed to write all the escort cards for the seating arrangements.
Our top favourite thing about the wedding had to be the organisation of it all. We never had to worry one little bit about a thing and could completely relax in the hands of such a wonderful wedding planner. Christina, you and all the staff at Wedding Concepts did an incredible job. You came highly recommended to us when we were starting out and now I know why!
Brin has some great advice for couples planning their wedding now:
- I highly recommend a wedding planner, particularly if you do not live in the area. It was a huge weight off our shoulders and we could really enjoy the day without any hassles at all.
- Get wedding insurance – nowadays with ash clouds, snow and airline strikes, it just gives you that extra little piece of mind and certainly doesn’t break the bank.
- Set your bar up close to the dance floor – we had been to quite a few weddings where the bar was quite a way from the dance floor and as a result people tend to crowd around the bar and not dance. At Vrede en Lust the dance floor is right next to the bar and our guests didn’t stop dancing all night long.
- Flowers – either go very high or very low with the arrangements so that guests across the table have a clear view of each other.
- Everyone seems to dread doing the table plan, but I read this tip in a bridal magazine and it made it so easy. Once you have your guest list finalised, write the name of every guest on a Post-it note. Get paper plates (if your tables are going to be round) or use cardboard (if they are square/rectangular) and create a visual of the seating plan by placing the sticky Post-its where you think you’d like each person to sit. Having it all set out visually really helps and of course the Post-its are easy to move around too. We also weren’t sure where our parents wanted all their friends to sit, so when they came round for lunch one day we got them to play around with these settings too.
- Take someone to your dress fittings who knows they have to be extremely honest. Try on as many as possible, it’s so much fun!
- Finally, just take lots of time out to relax in the run up to the wedding. It didn’t go too quickly for me because from the moment I woke up until the end of the day I just soaked up every moment – it was such a fun day! I would highly recommend Aromatherapy Associates De-stress Mind Bath and Shower Oil. It literally relaxes every muscle in your body, so as well as using it in the run up to the day, disappear early the night before the wedding for some time on your own and a nice long soak in the bath with this oil (plus candles!) – I had absolutely no problem sleeping!
Brinley & Rupert: CONGRATULATIONS again, wishing you guys a life of love. And also, thank you for sharing! And another big thank you to Wedding Concepts and to Joe Dreyer. You can find out more about Wedding Concepts by following their blog.
Read more about Vrede en Lust in our feature here.
Venue: Vrede en Lust | Catering: Outcook Express (+27 21 8762857) | Co-ordinator: Christina Holt for Wedding Concepts | Photography: Joe Dreyer | Flowers & decor: Fiori di Sorrento | Lighting & dancefloor: Something Different | Hair: Linnea Moumtzis | Makeup: Ivana Bertoni | Music: DJ Preston (he was brilliant and we hadn’t even met him prior to the wedding!) | Guests’ travel & accommodation: Travel Concepts