Real Wedding at Harold Porter Botanical Gardens {Carley & Marius}

Living in London, one of my all-time favourite days of the year is when I walk past my local florist and notice that the tulips are in. There they sit, in all their pretty, perfect colours, telling me that spring is on its way and immediately making me well up with happiness. I’m a HUGE fan of tulips. Which is why I totally coveted the bouquet today’s bride carried from the very first moment I saw it. But it didn’t stop there. Once I saw the rest of this oh-so-laid-back picnic wedding, I just knew I had to share it with all of you! Carley and Marius decided to host their ceremony and reception at the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, which I hadn’t even heard of, but which I am totally putting on the list for next time I’m home because the surroundings are just so beautiful. Their day was everything a Cape Town summer wedding should be – all bright colours and parasols and cupcakes. I just love Carley’s pretty dress, and the way they used streamers instead of confetti. And anyone who serves choc ices at their reception is a winner in my book! Their photographer was Bernard Bravenboer, who I’ve been looking forward to featuring on the blog for some time. Welcome, Bernard! And a massive thank you to Carley and Marius for sharing their day.

Carley sent over the the scoop from behind the scenes:
Marius and I met through his sister and her husband. After I finished studying I went to work full time for a campus ministry, and part of my job was PA to the campus pastor, who is married to Marius’ sister. She and I became good friends and I also got to know his family well, but only briefly met Marius. Some time later, Marius moved down to Cape Town and decided he was going to marry me, and three years after that, he did! He’s a very determined man!

Both of us LOVE people – it’s one of the things that defines us as a couple. If you meet Marius, the first thing he will do is give you a hug, even if you’ve never met him before! So it was very much in line with who we are that a defining feature of our wedding was that all our friends and family were involved in putting it together. I had eight bridesmaids – two of them bridesmaids were the wedding planners, another created the programs, others sourced my wedding dress and the bridesmaid dresses, and yet another did the flowers. My old flatmate and her husband did our catering, friends built our ceremony arch, and a close friend married us. It gave all our friends and family a chance to show how much they loved us and we found that people exceeded our expectations.

We visited the Harold Porter botanical gardens with friends in March. Marius mentioned that it would make a beautiful wedding venue. So when we got engaged a few months later, it was the first (and the last) venue that we looked at. Because we are both such people’s people, we really wanted a wedding where we would be relaxed and comfortable and our guests would be relaxed. I am also not big on details so I really didn’t want to have to worry about table settings, etc. So we chose to have a picnic wedding, and both the service and reception were held picnic-style in the gardens.

We loved our venue – nature did all the decorating for us! It was so spacious and also meant that we could invite kids (which was really important to us) and they had a blast. We got to move around the garden for different parts of the wedding and had our coffee, cake and dance in a small hall on the premises. Our musician, Sven Blumer, played during the reception and he was amazing. Every single guest I spoke to raved about him. He created such a great atmosphere. However, choosing to have an outdoor reception was hard work as we had to bring everything from Cape Town. Make sure you have a good organiser and delegate!

Our bridesmaid dresses only arrived from the UK on the Wednesday before the wedding as one of my amazing bridesmaids had bought them there and I hadn’t seen them on the girls yet. But on the day they looked MARVELLOUS together! It’s hard work to find a dress that looks good on everyone (including four pregnant bridesmaids!) – if you’re going for something more laid back, I would recommend the UK websites. They have BRILLIANT stuff that is actually much cheaper that what you can get in South Africa.

We decided to do a wedding website and email out our invitations – which really worked very well. We used Wedding Window, which was brilliant, easy and not very expensive.

Congratulations, Marius & Carley! I hope married life is just as much fun as your wedding day was!

You can see more of this lovely picnic wedding on Bernard’s blog.

Service providers:

Venue: Harold Porter Botanical Gardens
Catering: Blueberry (Martin & Lisa – 0834016110)
Photographer: Bernard Bravenboer
Flowers, decor & co-ordination: Marion the Magnificent and Bronwynn the Brilliant (my bridesmaids!)
Bride’s dress: The Wedding Box, Tygervalley
Hair & makeup: Hannali Langner for House of Hair (021 8801729)
Music: Sven Blumer (0845172532)

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