Consider this wedding an ode to everything we love about the relaxed southern African lifestyle: beautiful scenery, friendly faces, nights spent under the stars to the beat of an African drum. The charming grounds of Portsalon Lodge in Harare, Zimbabwe, were the host to this laid-back affair. From the first look to the last dance, Gus and Carly were bright with smiles and laughter, which they shared with their nearest and dearest in a succession of lovely tableaux that spanned the tiers of the Portsalon gardens. First up, cocktail hour followed by an outdoor ceremony, and then the reception, which paired simple greenery with hundreds of fairy lights, to magical effect. With these lovely images taken by GingerAle Photography, you’ll be smiling for days too!
We met through mutual friends on a houseboat trip on Lake Kariba. We had both just moved back to Zimbabwe at the end of 2011 after having lived outside the country for several years. We had the same friends, but had never laid eyes on each other until we met, but the timing was perfect. We got on so well straight away and loved each other’s company, and we have been together ever since that trip.
We got engaged in March 2016. We went for an early morning hike to a place we often went, and when we were at the top watching the sunrise, he dropped a knee.. it was perfect!
The ceremony and reception were both at the same venue. We chose Portsalon Lodge in Harare with its big terraced gardens and chilled vibes, as we wanted to do everything outside and not too over-the-top. We started at the top terrace for the cocktails, middle terrace for the ceremony and moved down to the bottom for the reception.
We both wanted to have a down-to-earth wedding day, where we all felt relaxed, the guests and ourselves.We wanted to join in the cocktail party with the guests so as not to miss out, and take a bit of pressure off and make everyone feel comfortable, so we did the photos with a first look and then joined our guests for the cocktail hour before we had the ceremony. We did not necessarily have a particular theme in mind – no particular colour scheme or theme – we just wanted to have very chilled decor and neutral colours, and I think this worked out.
Not too many DIY things to be honest – less stress ;) My bridesmaids and I made a paper backdrop/curtain that I had seen on Pinterest which you will see in the photos.. We used recycled prosecco bottles which we stuck stickers onto for the table layouts. The table numbers were printed and stuck into the top of wine bottles on the tables. My husband’s dad handmade all the delicious ciabatta loaves we had on the tables which was special too!
The only flowers we had were in the bouquets. Otherwise just greenery and a very simple style. We had penny gum/eucalyptus leaves as table runners down the middle of the tables which was basically the extent of the flowers. We also used these leaves as confetti instead of petals.
My wedding dress was made by the amazing Fiona Mauchan. I didn’t try on any dresses or anything like that but I had a style in my mind of what I wanted, so decided to go and get a dress made. Took some ideas to her of the shape and style I wanted. It was a very interactive experience, as I live in Zim and she is in Cape Town, but it worked. The dress was a very detailed beaded and lacy, high neck bodice, with tulle skirt.
I had six bridesmaids. I let them have free reign over their dresses and they all chose their own style dress so to suit their body and what they like and so they were comfortable on the day. I just gave them the colour palette to choose from, which was neutrals/greys, they all ended up choosing grey tones, so it worked out very well.
My favourite part of the day was the beginning, after we had done our first look, being at the venue watching the guests arrive. We took a few moments to look around and realise that everyone we loved and cared about was together in one place to enjoy our day with us and celebrate our marriage. That made us very happy. We remember exclaiming several times to each other that afternoon, “I’m so happy”.
Proudly Zimbabwean Details
We had some traditional drummers from Drum Cafe, who played while we walked back up the aisle after we were married, and then walked everyone down from the top terrace to the bottom terrace for dinner.
At the end of the day, just doing what we wanted to do and what suited us and would be fun and chilled for us and everyone attending! And deciding to have fun while planning the day and try to not have any stress about it at all.
Advice for Future Brides & Grooms
A piece of advice my sister gave me while planning the wedding and dealing with everyone involved – cheeky but true – “Listen, smile, agree and then do whatever you were going to do anyway!” ;)
You can see more from this wedding on GingerAle Photography’s blog.
Venue: Portsalon Lodge | Catering: Friends of the bride & groom | Photography: GingerAle Photography | Flowers & décor: Hire Society | Bride’s dress: Fiona Mauchan Bridal Couture | Hair: Cara Ross | Makeup: Kerryn Lane | Hiring: Rooney’s | Entertainment: Drum Cafe