One of the best pieces of advice that I’ve heard, and that I always pass on to couples in the early stages of wedding planning, is to pick three priorities together. Three things you want to make sure are exactly as you want them on your big day, no compromises, spare no expense. And then – this is the important part – let the other stuff go. If it’s not going 100% according to plan, let it go. If you can’t afford it, find a cheaper alternative. If you don’t have time to DIY it, let someone do it for you, or buy it, or do without. Prioritisation keeps you sane. I don’t know if anyone passed this little nugget on to today’s bride and groom, but they seemed to get it anyway. They’re foodies, so they chose a venue with incredible food (The Foodbarn in Noordhoek). They didn’t have time to go crazy with the decor, so they found a place that already had lots of unique and lovely design details and just added special, personal touches. They wanted to spend time with their guests, so they did a pre-ceremony shoot with photographer Nielen Bottomley. It all comes together into a beautiful, intimate wedding with a pretty pink and grey colour palette, that feels completely unforced and unhurried. I love it. And of course, I especially love that Amy used Cap Classique in her planning. We inspired her – and now she’s inspiring us!
From the beautiful bride:
At the end of 2005, the Springboks were playing a rugby match against the French in Paris. I was living in London at the time, and all my friends went across in the Eurostar to watch the match. Because I’d left it late to book the trip, my seat on the Eurostar was separate from everyone else I knew, and James ended up sitting next to me. We started talking, realised that we had mutual acquaintances (as most Saffers in London do) and spent the rest of the train ride chatting in the bar car… We saw each other again during the match, and again on the Eurostar trip back, but James was too shy to ask for my phone number at the time. Fortunately, he plucked up the courage to get it from a friend, and we went for dinner a couple of days later. We’ve been together ever since.
We came back to South Africa in 2008 for me to specialise (I’m a doctor), and had spoken a fair amount about getting married before James popped the question. He knows me well enough to realise that I would want to choose my ring myself, so when he proposed, he did it with earrings. :)
I love pink, so knew that pink would be one of my colours from the start. I happened across some perfect pale grey dresses in Poetry when I wasn’t even looking for bridesmaid’s dresses, so grey was then the logical choice for a second colour. Luckily, James and his brothers all had grey suits, which fitted perfectly with the bridesmaid’s dresses.
I had spent a lot of time on websites looking for inspiration, so also knew that I wanted the day to be relaxed, with a rustic/vintage feeling. Initially I was keen to find a venue which was a blank canvas so that I could decorate it to my taste, but I quickly came to realise that I wouldn’t have the time. James and I LOVE food, and spend most of our time thinking and talking about food and wine, so The Foodbarn in Noordhoek was an obvious place for us to approach as a venue. I was so pleased that they do weddings and functions, as they have the most amazing food, as well as a really relaxed barnyard feel which was perfect for us.
We wanted to spend as much time as possible with our guests, so we decided to do our couple photoshoot before the ceremony. We spent a really fun hour with Nielen and it was wonderful to see each other before the formalities, as it meant we were completely relaxed by the time the ceremony rolled around. James didn’t have to worry that I wouldn’t arrive! I definitely feel that this was one of the highlights of the day, even though it may not be the traditional approach.
Because The Foodbarn functions as a restaurant and had a lunch service on the day of the wedding, and as we are not religious, we needed to find a venue for the ceremony. My mother used to work for the owners of Greenways Hotel, so we asked if we could have the ceremony on the lawn. My aunt is a cellist so she kindly organised colleagues to form a trio of cello, guitar and oboe with her. They played before and after the ceremony. James’s brother and his girlfriend also sang a Bruce Springsteen song during the wedding, which was very special for us. I had polar fleece blankets made in the wedding colours (pink and grey) and handed them out when guests arrived. The blankets were a big hit with all the girls as the Cape Town weather is so temperamental and it got quite chilly as the sun set! We stayed on for snacks and the cake before going to Noordhoek.
I was very keen to do some wedding DIY as I’d read all these blogs where people had done such wonderful things. I decided to make all the invitations, table setting lists and menus myself so that they would all be coordinated. I also bought mirror glass tea light holders, paper bags with battery-operated tea lights – an amazing invention for outdoor use – and pink Chinese lanterns as the little details were important to me.
The whole experience at The Foodbarn was fantastic! From the welcome drinks (cosmopolitans to go with the pink theme) to the meal, which included a between-course ‘Boozy Smoothie’ made of icy vanilla vodka and litchi (delicious!). The staff were so accommodating, and Debbie (one of the managers) also did all the decor for me, including flowers. They were very laid-back but professional which was so lovely as it meant that I was also relaxed.
The other great experience of the wedding day was the music provided by our DJ, John Oosthuizen of Capricorn Music. He was absolutely excellent, and knew how to read the crowd. He had everyone on the dance floor until the small hours, which meant that we had a fantastic time with all our friends and family around us.
My advice to future brides is to stop and think what YOU would like for your wedding, not what other people want or expect. You don’t have to do something just because it’s done traditionally. On the other hand, there are also no limits to what you can include in your wedding.
I started off looking for inspiration in magazines, but think it is actually easier (and cheaper) to look online where there is no limit to the information available. I spent a lot of time looking at Style Me Pretty, Cap Classique and The Pretty Blog. Style Me Pretty is great for getting ideas because of the sheer volume of weddings they feature, but obviously Cap Classique has an advantage for South Africans as it gives information about local providers.
Congratulations, Amy and James! Wishing you a wonderful life together! Also, a big welcome and thanks to Nielen Bottomley whose work we’re featuring on Cap Classique for the first time today. You can find more from this pretty wedding on the Germinate blog.
Ceremony: Greenways Hotel, Claremont
Reception venue & catering: The Foodbarn
Photographer: Nielen Bottomley for Germinate Photography
Flowers: Bouquets & buttonholes by The Rose Cafe, Newlands. All other flowers by Debbie at The Foodbarn.
Cake: Krista at Florentines Coffee & Gift Shoppe
Bride’s dress: Tracey O’Hanlon
Bridesmaid’s dresses: Poetry
Hair & makeup: Candice Leigh Arnott
DJ: John Oosthuizen, Capricorn Music