Real Farm Wedding in Swellendam {Estelle & Pieter}

Today’s wedding isn’t as brand new as most of the weddings featured on Cap Classique – you may even have seen it featured before. But from the day I first saw it on superstar photographer Christine Meintjes‘ blog in October 2009, I’ve been completely and hopelessly besotted with it, and I have been dying to feature every wonderful, inspiring detail. Fortunately, Christine and the Aleit team were only too happy to share, and Estelle and Pieter sent me the sweet story that started it all. Everything about this wedding is beautiful, but everything is also heartfelt, and I know that once you’ve seen it, it’ll stay in your memory forever too. Estelle talks about getting married in Nature’s church, and that’s exactly what this is – a farm wedding in the very best sense of the word, where the grand natural beauty of the surroundings combines with the joy of two people in love to create something that is just spectacular. Of course, the attention to detail doesn’t hurt either – I just LOVE ideas like the ‘washing line’ table plan, pitchers of chilli water, fynbos (including mushrooms!) and laser-cut wooden name tags. And don’t get me started on Estelle’s gorgeous dress (and funky shoes!), or on the heart-melting way her dog walked her down the aisle. Let’s just say it’s one of my favouritest weddings ever, and leave it at that.

From the lovely bride, Estelle:
We met the first time in church September 2007, but the real meeting only took place December 2007. I impulsively decided on the Thursday just before our summer holiday to visit a friend of mine in Pringle Bay, a small Cape coastal village, for the weekend. On the Saturday morning I was woken with the news that three friends from Johannesburg were joining us. I remember walking down the stairs and seeing this blue-eyed, “bushy-tailed” guy standing in the living room. We were once again introduced and the rest is history. The planned weekend stop-over turned into an unplanned five-day road trip along the coast ending off at my family’s farm. We swam in the sea, played with beach bats, danced, laughed, went wakeboarding and star-gazing and in the process fell hopelessly in love with each other!

After a year of maintaining a long-distance relationship, Pieter asked me to marry him. It was wonderful! I knew he wanted to ask me to marry him, because we had already had the ring designed and made…but the time he took to pop the question was something! We were again at my family’s beach house and he wanted to ask for my father’s blessing, but couldn’t get him alone. He tried everything to make an “unofficial appointment” with him, but it never worked. In the end he decided to ask in our kitchen after dinner one night, while the rest of us were watching television. He was so stressed that he actually forgot to plan something for the proposal! Luckily my sister-in-law got him the number of a place where we could go horse-riding (my most favourite thing to do in the world!) and they organized to pack a picnic breakfast for us and to hide it somewhere along our road. Everything went perfectly according to plan. I was over the moon to at last be able to see my ring and for three consecutive days we celebrated the engagement with family dinners and cocktail parties!

My childhood dream was to one day get married on our family farm between Swellendam and Suurbraak. The farm really made the wedding what it was. The ceremony was in the veld, between the mountains and the dam where I have spent so many hours… the place where I can be still, find freedom and remember what life is really about. We were married in Nature’s church – at the top of a hill in the middle of nowhere with fynbos fields around us and the mountains as a backdrop – no decoration needed! The veld with all its colours was like a painting – the mountain shaded in pink from the Ericas that were in bloom. The fynbos (indigenous vegetation) was lime green, yellow and olive, and the dam had shades of deep dark blue water and sand-coloured stones. We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful setting! We had white parasols to keep the sun off and guests sat on wooden stools, hay bales and church benches. Instead of carrying a bouquet, I had our family greyhound Mila (who thinks she’s a model!) leading me to my dad and all the way up the aisle. As we walked the long road to the ceremony area, we had to walk around all the people waiting for me. I was too scared to look up, but when at last I managed to peek at where Pieter was standing, I just saw his brother wiping away tears, Pieter standing with the biggest smile ever and the rest of the guests in total awe.

After the ceremony we served canapes nearby. We couldn’t have kitchen equipment, so kept it simple with roosterkoekies (griddle cakes), tomato bruschetta, biltong, watermelon,strawberries and mini chicken rotis. Both of our families love good food, and we tried to plan our menu around the farm atmosphere.

We had the reception at the old farmyard, Somerset’s Gift. The whole look and feel of the decor was centered around the flowers, plants and nature in the surrounds. We used fynbos from our own farm to put on the tables and our wonderful florists, Flowers in the Foyer, brought the rest. It ranged from wild mushrooms, thorn branches, proteas and malva leaves to yellow orchids in all sorts of antique vases. Each table also had a unique combination of linens. My mother and I bought the material and my mother-in-law had her team of needleworkers make all the tablecloths and napkins. For table numbers, we used small easels with canvases on them, to further give that at-home feeling. We decided to make the name cards double up as favours. Everyone’s name was laser cut from wood and tied to the napkins. Everyone really enjoyed them – by the end of the evening I saw people with them attached to their hats or handbags, and many of them now appear on our friends’ fridges and bedroom doors!

We didn’t have a cake. We’re not at all traditional people and we thought we’d rather do something that has meaning and symbolism to it (and is good for the environment!), so we planted an indigenous tree to symbolise our new beginning. As the tree grows, so we trust our relationship and love will grow and bear good fruit all the way to old age. For dessert, we served mini versions of our favourite sweets – chocolate fondant, vanilla pannacotta and little Amarula milkshakes. We also served special choc-chip chocolate ganache shortbread cookie sandwiches made by my friend, Nicola Meyer, with the coffee.

One of my favourite moments of the night was when Pieter and I entered the reception area, with Jack Johnson’s ‘It’s always better when we’re together’ playing – everybody stood up, applauded, whistled and went wild. Pieter made me twirl around on the dancefloor and I wanted to shout “IT’S TRUE!! IT’S ALWAYS BETTER WHEN WE’RE TOGETHER!!!!”

Isn’t this just the most adorable wedding? Thank you so much to Estelle and Pieter, and to the wonderful Aleit team and to Christine Meintjes. You can catch more from this farm fête on Christine’s blog.

Service providers:

Co-ordination: The Aleit Group
Photography: Christine Meintjes
Videographer: Ben Ludick ([email protected])
Ceremony: Pastor Fred May ([email protected])
Reception venue: Somerset’s Gift ([email protected])
Catering: Dish Food & Social
Flowers: Flowers in the Foyer
Hair & makeup: Lianne Kakebeeke
Stationery: Elsje Designs
Marquee: Nomadik
Hiring: Exclusive Hire
Lighting: Something Different
Flooring: Event Flooring
Bar & waitrons: Urban Tonic
Music: Aleit Music & Entertainment

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