Oh, how I LOVE this wedding! It’s just bursting with colour and life and joy, and with personal touches, and most of all, with family and friends having a great time celebrating the two people who are joining their lives together (not to mention the kind of fab details we’ve come to expect from the Wedding Concepts team). It’s everything we all want our wedding days to be. And no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t narrow down Jules Morgan’s beautiful, beautiful photos to a single post. So – yay! – you get two of them! And even better, the bride, Jacqui has been sweet enough to send over plenty of background that you won’t want to miss. So… tada! Here’s Part 1, and be sure to come back later for Part 2.
Neil and I met at salsa classes while living in London. We were friends for five years before we started dating. He is originally from Kerala in South India and I grew up in Cape Town. After living together for a while in London, Neil took a new job in Belgium, where I joined him a year later. Two years after that, we relocated to Dubai where we currently live. We were in the middle of wedding planning as our move from Belgium to Dubai happened, so we were very glad to have Christina and her team at Wedding Concepts to keep everything on track.
Funnily enough, Neil proposed to me in Dubai before we knew that we would end up living there. He had originally planned to propose during a skiing holiday in France but my lovely little niece was born on the night he planned to propose and he didn’t want to steal her thunder. I joined him on a business trip to Dubai shortly after that and he surpised me with a 4×4 trip into the desert, complete with a visit to a camel farm, a camel ride and a surprise dinner amongst the dunes. It was gorgeous. Carpets, cushions and flaming torches had been set out, drinks were chilling on ice and we had a private chef who cooked up more food than we could possibly eat. I had no idea he was trying to propose and kept inviting our guide and chef to join us. Poor Neil ended up having to propose at the Grosvenor House Hotel when we got back after the desert trip. Luckily he got the proposal in just in time as the staff had filled our room with flowers, champagne and chocolate coated strawberries which would have given the game away completely!
We chose to get married in South Africa, rather than in India or Dubai, as it is such a beautiful country and still the place I consider home. It also gave us the perfect excuse to get Neil’s family together from all over the world for a wonderful holiday and to meet my family. The Elgin Valley, just an hour outside Cape Town, was the perfect choice as the location for our wedding weekend. My family have a property in the mountains surrounding the valley and it is an area where I spent a great deal of time as a girl. Our whole family would meet there on the weekends and I have lovely memories of running around barefoot in the bush and swimming in the dam with my cousins. Neil also loves the property and we have spent many happy weekends there together. Unfortunately, it is a bit too rustic to host a wedding there. Luckily, Elgin is full of gorgeous venues so we had loads of choice. We wanted to make a weekend of the wedding as we had so many friends and family joining us from all over the world and from various parts of SA. Many of them had not met before so we wanted to give them time to get to know each other and to come to love Elgin as much as we do. Elgin fitted that requirement perfectly. It’s small enough to find accomodation and venues close together and large enough that there is loads to do.
We saw lots of venues but fell in love with four which we felt showcased Elgin nicely. We chose Southhill wine farm for the Friday night braai, Applethwaite Farm Church which nestles against apple orchards for the wedding ceremony, Rockhaven Farm for the wedding reception and accomodation for the bridal party and Highlands Road Estate for a chilled out farm brunch the morning after the wedding. We could not have asked for nicer people to deal with at all of our venues. Liz and Mike at Rockhaven were like an extra set of parents and everyone we dealt with went out of their way to make our weekend perfect. Nothing was ever too much trouble.
We wanted our wedding day to have a relaxed, laid back feel. It was important to us tohat our decor was in keeping with our location but to also bring in a touch of Neil’s Indian roots as the evening progressed. The little church where we were married is so beautiful that it didn’t need much added to it, just a few white roses on the pews and a gorgeous floral arrangement at the altar. My Mum had made all the bridesmaid’s bouquets, buttonholes and my bridal bouquet. It was very special walking down the aisle carrying something she had put so much time and love into making. Guests were greeted outside the church by waiters serving fresh farm lemonade and chilled water. Our guests wore a mix of Western and Indian dress which looked so pretty against the greenery all around us. The church is Anglican (my background) but the ceremony and priest were Catholic, as are Neil’s family.
We included a few Indian elements in our ceremony which are traditional where Neil grew up. Part of the ceremony involves Neil covering my head with a sari to symbolise that he will protect and provide for me, this is followed by him tying a Thali (a little gold ornament) around my neck with a thread from the wedding sari to symbolise that we are married (a bit like the rings do) and we finished off by lighting a ceremonial lamp with seven wicks to symbolise the union of the families, the couple and the church. We had an anxious moment as the lamp burned a little too high and we wondered whether we would set the church on fire. Luck was with us though, and all went smoothly. All our orders of service had the same Indian print as the wedding invitations and menus but were in soft greens and white to complement the colours chosen for the first part of the day. Father Hovers made the service really personal and it was incredibly special standing with Neil in front of all our friends and family exchanging our vows.
That’s the end of Part 1, but don’t forget to check out Part 2 of Jacqui and Neil’s gorgeous day!
Venues: Pre-wedding braai – Southhill; Ceremony: Applethwaite Farm Church; Reception – Rockhaven Farm; Post-wedding Brunch: Highlands Road Deli
Wedding planner: Christina Holt for Wedding Concepts
Photography: Jules Morgan
Videography: Vicky Goslin
Flowers & décor: Sorrento
Flowers for bouquets and buttonholes: Linda Keevey at Heaven Scent Gardens
Catering: Zest Catering
Cake: Kanya Hunt – +27 82 375 5200, [email protected]
Wine: Paul Cluver, Belfield, Iona, Silverthorne, SouthHill, Highlands Road Estate
Hair & makeup: Sebastine Pepler
Local expertise: Elgin Tourism Office