South African Wedding Style #1: Cape Country Vintage

Happy Monday friends! Are you excited it’s Christmas Eve? I know I am! But if you need a break from the festivities, I have some lovely year-end surprises up for you all week. I’ll be rounding up my favourites from our 2012 real weddings each afternoon, and in the mornings I am sharing with you five classic contemporary South African wedding styles as epitomised by five of our couples this year, and giving you tips to steal their style and recreate the look for your own wedding. Of course, you’ll want to make the look your own, but this shows you how to get started!

We’re starting off today with what I have come to think of as Cape Country Vintage – our very own take on the Victorian vintage trend that has been so popular for the last couple of years. Think: proteas, lace, doilies, bunting, vintage items especially books and sheet music, soft florals, and muted palettes of ice cream colours (usually including dusky pink). We’ve had quite a few of these weddings on SBB this year, of course, but one that shows off the style perfectly is that of our very own Real Life Bride, Cheryl McEwan. See the full wedding from our archives here.

All images: Nastassja Harvey


Cheryl and Sven’s wedding was a great example of this style – as a photographer (and details person!), Cheryl included lots of lovely eye candy. For example, pink lemonade (Cheryl made sure she had some for her bridesmaids’ photo shoot, and they looked adorable!), a rose detail on her shoes, carnival-style tickets for escort cards, doily details, lasercut dessert table signs, a vintage typewriter guestbook, fabric bunting and bridesmaids in pretty candy pastels. She carried proteas and roses, while her girls each had a bouquet of baby’s breath. It all combined perfectly!

Steal Their Style:

  • Start with a white, ivory or off-white base. Table linens should be kept clean and simple, and you won’t need a ton of wall decoration. In terms of venue, this theme is quite flexible, so you can work it in a marquee, a clean-cut winefarm venue or one that’s more rustic like a farm or barn. Pretty or mismatched crockery and cutlery can work nicely here (especially if you’re going for a tea party vibe) but you can just as easily go with the classics that your venue will supply.
  • Settle on a palette and then dress your bridesmaids in all your different colours. I loved that Cheryl’s girls wore the same dress in different shades, because it put all the focus on the palette, but you could also get the girls to wear different dresses if you prefer the mismatched look. Give each of them a simple baby’s breath bouquet.
  • For the bride, you can really get away with most styles of dress here, but a romantic dress like Cheryl’s or a lace one would be my first choice. I loved that Cheryl accessorised hers with those to-die-for shoes! She carried a protea and rose bouquet, which is the classic choice for this style.
  • Proteas and roses also featured on the tables, along with brunia as a filler. Vary flowers arranged in pretty silver containers with some placed under bell jars for a lovely botanical look. Pastel bunting is a pretty, festive touch, and you can add to this fete-like atmosphere with lemonade or ginger beer and circus/carnival-inspired stationery. Note that you don’t have to go the whole hog with a carnival theme – Cheryl just used hanging admission tickets in a circus font to add a fun touch, for example.
  • Vintage found objects are an important part of this look –  we’ve seen everything from typewriters for guest books, sewing machines, gramophones, cameras and keys, to trophies and silver tea sets. And, of course, vintage books! Try to use items from your home or family collections, or that have special meaning to you, and that can then form part of your decor after the wedding. Or you can rent lovely items from a local hiring company – My Pretty Vintage is an SBB fave.
  • The desserts table was another real high point at Cheryl’s wedding, and also adds a fun element. Play with different heights, textures and especially colours here, and top them off perfectly with sweet signs (Cheryl’s were made by Doodles Laser – see more about lasercut stationery here). If you want guests to take their sweets with them, make sure to give them little punnets or paper bags to put them in – this is one favour your guests won’t leave behind! Instead of sweets, you could have a variety of home baked cakes (another nice fete reference) or a biscuit bar – so fun!
  • If you’d like more great tips on shabby chic styling, check out this awesome guide from b.loved.

  1. Ruby grapefruit bottled drinks from Woolworths, South Africa, R43.95 (other flavours also available) – just remove the labels from these babies and they’re perfect!
  2. Carnival-inspired invitation suite from The Invitation Gallery
  3. Bell jar (from a selection) from @home, R79
  4. Pastel matching bridesmaid dresses (many other colours also available) from Dessy
  5. Pastel fabric bunting from A Fete Beckons on Etsy, $27.50
  6. Shoes with ruffle from Dorothy Perkins, £15
  7. Grey and white stripey paper straws from In Good Company, R2 each

DIY Detail:
Doilies fitted perfectly into this wedding and I loved how Cheryl used them to help guests find their tables. But how else can you use these inexpensive but very effective little wonders? Here are five of my favourite DIYs:

For even more doilies and DIYs, check out this post.

This post was originally included in the SouthBound Bride monthly newsletter – subscribe here.


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