The Cape’s a beautiful place, but if there was one part of it that would have to be my favourite, it’s Elgin. My cousins have a farm there, and I remember going to visit them when I was growing up, and thinking it was just the most beautiful place on earth. It’s all green valleys and apple orchards and farm stalls and now vineyards… pure heaven. So I was stoked when Marina James of Elgin Weddings & Events got in touch to submit some of their gorgeous floral and design work. Then I realised which wedding it was, and did a little happy dance, because I’ve been wanting to feature this one for aaaaages. Not only is it at Rockhaven Farm, one of my favourite venues, and not only was it photographed by the legend that is Christine Meintjes, but it’s rustic, Mediterranean farm wedding goodness in its purest form, and I could just eat it up with a spoon. Everything is just so perfectly shabby chic and at the same time – especially with Sofia’s beautiful dress and birdcage veil – insanely sophisticated. I LOVE it. Some of my favourite stealable ideas: the herbs, the terracotta pots, the frames, the washing line ‘guest book’, and of course the fabulous cheese cake. Everything just works together so coherently, and Marina’s team did a seriously awesome job on the decor. Add in a dollop of Greek hospitality (and food!) and you have the kind of warmth and festivity that the gods themselves would be proud of. Yiamas!
First of all, Marina sent over some background:
When Sophia & Graeme asked us to be involved in the decor and floral design for their special day, Tina and I felt privileged. Every wedding is a huge pleasure and privilege, but with Sofia’s gentle nature and sparkling eyes we could only be excited for their big day with her…this one was going to be special for us too!
Sofia gave us such great guidelines of what she was looking for and painted the picture of the day in mood boards and words like…”it smells of herbs and Lavender”, “Amidst orchards, groves of olive trees and lavender in Elgin at Rockhaven farm”… We were especially happy to hear Sofia is of Greek descent. Our grandfather, also Greek, instilled the traditional sense of family feasts and sharing and the love of olives and all things associated with Greek ancestry and hospitality. A warm picture we believe should be shared at every wedding. And the couple’s choice of a beautiful local venue like Rockhaven, was home ground for us. “A Greek Farmhouse feel” – country elegance, bringing in olives and earthy greens, with touches of yellow hues and fresh lemon. Our job was easy – with the perfect venue, the natural choice of olive, creams and lavender touches throughout the venue and potted herbs as table names infusing the guest’s tables and bringing the natural beauty of the farm environment into the venue without even trying. We love detail work. Small eclectic bunches of posey-style flowers in buckets, pots and bottles graced the tables in an uncomplicated but elegant way. Sofia could have dethroned Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty and love, and made the most exquisite and sophisticated bride, with Graeme complimenting her natural class and elegance with a beaming face in his grey suit. You can only feel inspired by a naturally beautiful union and festivity of this kind!
From the lovely Sofia:
Graeme and I met at university in the small, remote town of Grahamstown which is tucked away amongst the valleys of the Eastern Cape, South Africa. We both studied Journalism, except he was the year ahead of me. I had a small crush on Graeme.
He was definitely one of the cool kids. I was a bit shy.
Our encounters at university were brief, and somewhat awkward – like that time he walked me home, spent a few minutes talking to me on the porch (I was hoping he’d kiss me!), knocked on the front door, and kindly asked my flat mate to put me to bed (I was still discovering the strength of alcohol).
We also worked together on a festival newspaper for a couple of weeks. He was the boss. I spent most of my time trying to impress him but it went unnoticed.
After Graeme graduated we didn’t see each other again until four years later when we randomly bumped into each other at a house party in London. Initially I was very nervous to talk to him but managed to pluck up the courage. My first words were “do you remember me?” When he said “yes” I was relieved.
We spent that evening catching up and laughing a lot… so much so that we missed the last train – not a good thing when you’re in North London and you need to get South. We decided to get the night buses home – I think it took us two night buses. As we were miles away from home – he was further South – I offered him my couch. The next day a friend of mine had invited me to a picnic on Wimbledon Common. Out of courtesy I thought I’d ask Graeme to join but never thought he’d say yes, since he was still wearing the same clothes from the night before (and we’d had a kebab on the way home – nice). But he said yes…and the rest is history.
Graeme and I had planned a quick trip to Hong Kong to check it out before moving here. I work as a brand consultant and Graeme is an advertising creative director. On one of our free days we took a ferry to Lantau Island. It was a beautiful day. Sunny, hot with a beautiful blue sky. We had a lovely day exploring the island and by chance ended up at a lovely South African restaurant on the beach for lunch. I popped into the change room to put on my costume and when I got back to the table Graeme was acting a bit strange. He asked me to sit down and then said, “do you love me?” to which I answered, “duh, yes, of course!” He then put a box on the table. I remember my heart racing ….and then I was crying …and then I was saying “Graeme, you have to get on one knee don’t you!?” And he did.
Our overall concept for the day was rustic, Mediterranean – warm and very relaxed. We wanted the colours to reflect the environment so the highlights include olive, lavender, yellow. White roses and hydrangeas with green foliage interspersed with hints of lavender and olive branches to reflect the olive groves and lavender fields around the farm where we got married.
The ceremony took place in a boat house that overlooks a lake on the farm. This opens onto the lake so there are bullrushes between the boat house and the water. We had two natural bouquets of locally sourced flowers on top of wooden barrels at the front of the boat house. The decor was simple, but again echoed the surrounding nature.
We didn’t write our own vows but the minister read a passage from “The Time Traveler’s Wife” which was really poignant. We also chose “The Owl and the Pussy Cat” for our reading which was just so warm and lovely – especially the part that says “And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand they danced by the light of the moon, the moon. They danced by the light of the moon.”
The setting lent itself to the theme, so we focused on personal touches to make the evening more memorable. We created a photo booth with a dress up box and a camera on a tripod. We both love dress up and this gave the guests something fun and different to do throughout the night. The photographs from the photo booth are great – you get a sense of how much fun the night was.
My father is Greek so our food had a Mediterranean/Greek theme – it was all locally sourced, fresh and sensational! We kicked off with canapes and champagne alongside the lake as the sun set. These included feta-cheese pies, gazpacho shots, bruschetta and dolmades. Starters were served as meze platters – humous, tzaziki, taramousalata alongside some more olives, fresh tomatoes and feta cheese. The main meal was roast lamb. This was served at the table on wooden chopping boards. We had chosen some of our friends to be carvers and gave them fun aprons with photographs of us printed on them. We also printed instructions on “how to carve a lamb with love” – it was a lot of fun and made the meal interactive. We also kicked off the dance floor with the Zorba the Greek theme music. This was followed by traditional Greek plate smashing! Lots of madness, laughter and fun!
Neither one of us like wedding cake. But we love cheese. So we had rounds of cheese piled on top of one another and then decorated with fruit and preserves. My friend had given me two little ducks for my hen party – we decided to include them in the cake decor at the last minute making the cake even quirkier.
I’d advise anyone planning their wedding now to try to save money on the things that usually get thrown away! We designed our own invitation and created a PDF that we sent out to guests. We also created a blog updating guests on details for the wedding such as accommodation, directions, guest list, etc. The money we saved on wedding invitations we donated to the St. Luke’s Hospice in Cape Town. We also made our own name cards using manila tags tied with rafia and lavender. We got guests to write a personal message at the back of the tags and then tie these up onto a piece of string we had strung across the dance floor. We now have a lovely “message” book that smells beautiful too!
All in all, our favourite things about our wedding day were the personal touches, the coming together of two families, and so much love!
Congratulations again, Sofia and Graeme, and thank you for sharing your gorgeous wedding and sweet as anything love story with us! As always, a great big curtsey to the fab Christine Meintjes for allowing me to feature her work, and check out her blog for more.
Venue & catering: Rockhaven Farm
Co-ordination: Liz at Rockhaven
Photography: Christine Meintjes
Florist & decor: Elgin Weddings
Bride’s dress: Lusan Mandongus
Bridesmaids’ dresses: Wallis
DJ: John Oosthuizen of Capricorn Music