So. Imagine the story of a girl who dreams of wide open spaces and a boy who shares that dream. They meet, they fall in love, and they begin to live their dream together. On a farm, full of big-eyed cows and golden fields. There’s a ring and a proposal, and they plan a wedding. But more than anything else, they want the wedding to be a celebration of the dream that they share – of this life that they love. So they have it on a farm, and they invite not just their favourite people but their favourite animals to come along as well. They have their photos taken with cows (cows called Penelope & Xerox!), give their guests carafes as gifts, and place local flowers in dairy urns around the venue. They keep it simple, and rustic – dairy chic, if you will. And to top it all off, they serve milk instead of champagne for the toasts. Would you not fall head over hooves for such a story, and such a wedding, and for the sweet couple who planned it? Because I know I did, pretty much the minute that photographer Claire King (Photography by Claire Nicola) sent over her dreamy pics for me to look at. And now I get to share it with you, yay!
Helen, the bride, sent over some details of their day:
We met in Stellenbosch through mutual friends in 2006. It sounds silly to say ‘love at first sight’ but maybe ‘love at first conversation’ sounds better! Like when you start talking to someone and don’t feel silly telling them that your dream come true would be to live in a place where you could stand on your roof and see nothing but rolling green hills filled with cows, horses and sheep (me) to which that person replies: “Do the hills have to be green or could they be golden and still filled with cows, horses and sheep?” (Julian) We now live on and run a dairy farm near Bredasdorp. It really is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Julian proposed on our farm when we were walking one morning; it was very romantic. We decided that we wanted to get married that year and then chose a date based on the farming schedule – October it was.
The theme that we chose was ‘Rustic Romantic’. It was very important that people felt comfortable and felt our personalities in the wedding. Neither of us are very formal or conservative so we decided from the beginning to do things our way. We wanted people to walk away from the day feeling like they had spent a relaxing afternoon with family and friends, and this played a big role in our catering, music and guest list which we kept small to make it feel as intimate as possible. I had always wanted to incorporate wheat into my wedding flowers and so taking that as a starting point we decided on our colours: green and white with a dash of pink and a hint of charcoal. The venue actually belongs to Julian’s parents so we were lucky enough to have the biggest thing taken care of right from the beginning. It was made even more special by Julian’s dad, who built a deck especially for us to get married on.
The venue and the perfect weather also made the day amazing. We has decided on a mid-morning ceremony and lunch in place of the popular evening wedding and everything was green and sunny and summery and perfect. The ceremony was very special as it was performed by a close family friend of Julian’s and we were able to write our own vows. Herbie the Weimaraner in the photos has been Julian’s best friend for 12 years and because I had been staying in Stellenbosch since the Wednesday before the wedding and Herbie had come through from Bredasdorp with Julian on the Saturday morning we were worried that he would get excited and jump on me when he saw me coming down the aisle. Luckily we all underestimated his good behaviour! The seating at the ceremony was also very special, once again to go with the Rustic Romantic theme we chose to use straw bales that were covered in hessian/burlap which my friend Jacqui and my sister lovingly did on the Saturday morning of the wedding.
We are both quite quirky people and I like to believe that everyone who shared our day with us felt our personalities shining through.Being dairy farmers, we had two of our cows brought along to take part in the photos! Julian had spent a few months before the wedding halter training them so they were extra special. It really worked and just added to making the day truly US and one of a kind! We also chose to do our toasts with milk flutes instead of champagne flutes.
We kept most of the decor simple but still US. Our seating charts were printed by Elsje Designs who did all our other design work and Jacqui & I made the trees up the afternoon before the wedding. We decided on the old milk can because of the rustic look and the dairy connection, they were lent to us by a friend from Bredasdorp. As our guest gifts we really wanted to find glass milk bottles but after months of searching I wasn’t able to source them anywhere so we changed direction slightly and went with glass carafes which Elsje Designs sandblasted for us with a monogram of our initials and the date of the wedding, everybody loved them. We did a few other quirky things like having personalised labels printed for mini salt and pepper grinders on the tables which guests took home with them after the reception.
The flowers were not conventional flowers as we went with flowers that we love and that grow wild naturally in the mountains of Bredasdorp and wheat from our farm (Compacta proteas, wheat and tolbos were the main flowers with white accents). The florist we chose (Hermien from Flowers in the Foyer) understood what we wanted from the word go and she did an amazing job – the flowers really tied the whole day together and I loved my bouquet of white roses and wheat.
Also the food was wonderful – the team at Dish made the most amazing canapes and the main course was unbelievable. The food was one of the most important aspects for us because I love to cook and we both love good food. We had a barbeque with fresh whole line fish and fillet steak straight off the fire and onto the tables in a family style buffet, once again capturing the relaxed family feeling we wanted. And our wedding cake, yum. We decided early on that we did not want to go with fruit cake as neither of us can stomach it so we chose our favourite – chocolate mousse cake. I spoke to the caterer and asked them if they could do it or if we needed to contact a baker, fortunately the caterers were very enthusiastic and the cake was amazing and we used it as our dessert so nothing was wasted. We didn’t have a dance floor and DJ but went instead with a live band. We also chose to sit at a table with our friends and not at a traditional bridal party table at the front of the tent. Because we had managed to keep the numbers down this all added to that “family atmosphere” we wanted.
One of the most important things I learned through this whole process is that everyone has their own idea of what a wedding should be and that you need to stay true to yourself when you are planning the big day, otherwise your personality gets lost in translation. Finding a photographer and making sure you feel comfortable around each other is very important. (We struggled to find someone we liked and after I ended up posting a plea on Facebook a friend sent me Claire’s contact details. We clicked instantly – she was amazing and captured the day perfectly AND made Julian and I feel completely comfortable in front of the camera!) And last but not least, nothing can actually ruin the day for you, even rain, you most likely don’t even notice 90% of the stuff that goes on without you knowing about it so just relax and enjoy the day!
Congratulations, Helen and Julian – wishing you many happy years together enjoying the life you love. And a massive thank you to Claire, who is new to Cap Classique, but I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of her here!
Venue: Jacana Guest Farm
Catering & cake: Dish Food & Social
Photography: Photography by Claire Nicola
Florist: Flowers in the Foyer
Stationery: Elsje Designs
Bride’s dress: Robyn Roberts
Hair: Annalise from House of Hair, Stellenbosch
Makeup: Carien from La Creme, Stellenbosch
Entertainment: Que Bossa