Real Wedding at Rawdons Country Hotel {Candice & Justin}

Well, it’s always a very special day when I get to share one of our real life bride’s weddings with you all. Because I don’t know about you, but I feel like these ladies become friends, and by the time I have read all about their inspirations and ideas and shared their excitement, I can’t WAIT to see how it all turned out and feel like I was there to raise a glass to their happiness. So it’s with great pleasure that I’m sharing the first of our 2013 RLBs’ weddings with you today – our lovely Marie Antoinette bride, Candice. I’ve loved reading her lyrical descriptions of the wedding she dreamed up, inspired by Versailles and Downton Abbey and even a little by The Hobbit. I sighed over her gorgeous themed rehearsal dinner and engagement shoot. And now I can finally show you Candice and Justin’s elegant, heartfelt wedding, photographed by an incredible team of US photographer Alicia Swedenborg with our very own Catherine Mac second shooting. Wow. It is AMAZING. And be sure to read Candice’s beautiful description of the big day, because if that doesn’t make you sigh, you don’t have a romantic bone in your body. So without further ado, here’s Candice…Read More

Real Bridal Shower: Downton Abbey

Good morning, friends! Did you enjoy our Sparkle & Blush fest yesterday? Today we’re back to real life inspiration courtesy of one of our real life brides, the lovely Candice. You’ll remember Candice was our Marie Antoinette bride, and so far we’ve followed her through her whole planning process right up to her Versailles-themed rehearsal dinner (loved that!). Today we’re getting a peek at another pre-wedding event, the bridal shower, and one of the most adorable themes I’ve yet seen! Candice is a huge fan of Downton Abbey (aren’t we all?) – in fact, in her first email to me she joked that she avoided the sun in an attempt to acquire skin as pale as Lady Mary’s – so it was the perfect theme for her bridesmaids to pick, and much fun (I feel I should be saying ‘japes’ here) ensued! There are so many lovely ideas here – and I love that the gifts were so personal and creative. All images are from Louis John van Rooyen of {Moment}ography.Read More

Marie Antoinette Rehearsal Dinner

So. I’ve written this introduction six times, and I keep going back and deleting the whole thing. Because, basically, I seem to have run out of words to tell you how thrilled I am with this feature. It’s a first – we’ve never done rehearsal dinners before – but it’s also completely unique AND it comes from one of our very own Real Life Brides. That’s right – Candice is a married woman, and she’s back to share a couple of pre-wedding events before we do the big reveal of the Big Day. For those of you who have followed along, Candice is our Marie Antoinette bride – she and fiancé Justin were in love with and inspired by everything to do with Versailles. They even found the perfect venue, Casa Labia in Cape Town, but unfortunately had to change plans when they realised it was too small for their party. Now, most people would just give it up, maybe go back for an anniversary, but not these two. Instead, they decided to kick off their wedding celebrations with a rehearsal dinner at the venue (read the whole story here). And they dressed up for it in custom made period costume. And they did a couple shoot beforehand. AND Candice wore an exquisite lace dress she bought from Etsy. AND they got Catherine Mac (whose photos make me covet every one of her weddings) to be there with her camera. You guys, it’s pretty much a wedding blogger’s dream, and this isn’t even the wedding! So sit back and enjoy every inspirational image – with more to come from Candice very soon. (Oh and psssst, you can see more of Catherine’s lovely pics over on her blog.)Read More

Let Them Eat Wedding Cake #10: The Honeymoon

It’s less than three weeks until the day we are married and the craziness of wedding planning has officially hit. With all the loose ends to tie up some things are of course going awry, others better than expected – fun, excitement, stress – but what is standing out more than ever in all this planning madness is how incredibly remarkable my ‘almost-husband’ is. He’s been like anti-stress on this planning adventure. Wonderful in every way and with the wedding drawing nearer even more wonderful as the stressors increase. More than five years have passed and I still miss him when he leaves a room and get excited to see him upon his return. And I get to marry him. SOON! To say that I am excited to meet him at the church may be the greatest understatement that ever leaves my lips. :)

But what on earth will we do once the wedding is over? When everything has been taken down and the boxes of goods used on our special day are packed away and returned? Shall it be London, Paris, New York? All these amazing options were under serious consideration until our search was interrupted by a perfect find and we both knew we had found our answer. A Mauritian paradise it was destined to be. :)

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Let Them Eat Wedding Cake #8: The Rehearsal Dinner

When Justin and I can’t decide which take away to order we tend to adopt the Lorelai Gilmore approach of ordering all the top contenders and enjoying any left over’s in the week that follows. Sometimes ordering more than one thing and combining them creates a unique and rather remarkable experience, the whole sometimes being even greater than the sum of its parts. Pasta on a pizza for example. Ambrosia. So when we realised that the venue we first fell in love with couldn’t fit all our wedding guests – I think we adopted a rather similar mentality. Completely discarding this perfect venue somehow seemed like a step in the wrong direction. Surely we could find a way for it to add something wonderful to the wedding experience, set the tone, the ambiance, stir up the excitement perhaps? The solution to our wonderings? The rehearsal dinner.

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Let Them Eat Wedding Cake #7: The Details

It’s four o’clock in the morning and I’m singing “I could have danced all night; I could have danced all night, and still have begged for more. I could have spread my wings, and done a thousand things I’ve never done before…” whilst searching for pictures of wedding décor online. I think it means we are officially in the final stretch. Less than two months to go! :))

So, how will we decorate our wedding? Well… there’s table settings, for which I found myself reading a book on French and English etiquette (which I am utterly relishing) to be certain as to which cutlery to hire. There are colour schemes, where contemplation has brought me to the interesting conclusion that I am completely smitten with the colour seafoam green (or perhaps it’s just these shoes?).

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Let Them Eat Wedding Cake #5: The Flower Girls

I would like the type of wedding that my younger cousins enjoy. A celebration of our family and friends – where its littlest members know that they are adding something truly invaluable to our day. A family wedding. Beauty without pretence. A day with an air of excitement, a newness, a belief in magic.

Being from a large family I was lucky enough to be a flower girl three times growing up, and I was a flower girl in some of my first and fondest wedding memories. I remember getting dressed with the bride and her bridesmaids, with all the excitement in that room – the hair, the makeup, the flowers. I remember posing for photographs in a field, being made to feel special, being thanked by name in a speech. I recall my feet swinging – not yet being able to touch the lovely grassy floor underfoot, and I remember catching the bouquet. It was simply wonderful – being privy to all the excitement, and being a part of something so special.

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Let Them Eat Wedding Cake #4: The Cake

What isn’t there to love about cake?

A cake is an experience. From the whisking and mixing of the ingredients to its delicate artistic finishing it is a feast for the every sense. A cake is a birthday with re-lightable candles, a celebration, a gathering, a gesture of love. It’s happiness on a sunny day, sprinkling breadcrumbs in the garden for the birds and eagerly waiting for your mum to call your name to lick the spatula. It’s running through excitedly and devouring every last bit of the raw cake batter goodness, sometimes wondering why it ought to be baked at all. It’s that distinct, warm scent of deliciousness that makes you hold your hands over your face whilst you stare longingly into the oven, barely waiting for your creations to achieve the much anticipated golden brown colouring. It’s wearing pearls in the kitchen pretending to be Julia Child. Indeed, a cake is a memory, and so being, is a wedding decision deserving of some thought.

In the movie Father of the Bride, wedding planner Franck suggests that one begin the planning process by thinking of the cake, as the cake will determine the wedding that one ends up having. The cake suggests colour, formality, tone, and in line with Franck’s advice, choosing the cake was actually the very first wedding planning decision that I remember making… A 2005 decision to be exact! :) Flipping through a magazine, I had seen it, torn it out and kept it. A decision easily made, and a cake I just can’t wait to see!

Recently, however, it is actually this, the Father of the Bride movie cake, that I have found myself staring at bizarrely often. The rich butter coloured cake seems to almost twinkle with the magic, warmth and comfort of the Disney classic and seems to say ‘wedding’ with an inspired confidence.

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Let Them Eat Wedding Cake #3: The Venue

From the moment the ring is slipped onto your finger and your betrothal gleefully announced, a couple is advised to quickly find and secure two things that can become booked up over a year and a half in advance – the venue and the photographer. Indeed, not only are these some of the first tasks in the wedding planning process, but also some of the most important.

Being a tad wedding crazy (as mentioned in prior posts), I had already spent endless hours looking for venues online and had seen many a beautiful property, but nothing ‘us’. Staring at my computer screen, nothing had made me shout “THAT’S IT!” at an audibility common only to those of us with farm upbringings, or childhood operatic aspirations. Well… that’s not entirely true. We had found the perfect place months before the engagement. A place that would have effortlessly pulled off the theme in question and that we both loved. But it had only been able to seat 80 guests, which despite my initial fairly deep denial, I soon came to realise simply wasn’t realistic for us.

And so with the realisation that our wedding was only a year away, the euphoric “it’s my birthday everyday” engagement feelings began to be replaced by a rather palpable anxiety felt right in the centrepoint of my chest. Waste time and lose the perfect venue. We had to find a venue!Read More

Let Them Eat Wedding Cake #2: The Inspiration

I think it’s a gut thing. Or an equilibrium thing. Or something to do with getting that sense of peace and calm and ‘wow, I can imagine it this way’ feeling. That’s how I knew that the church was ‘the one’, that’s how I chose my dress, it’s how I chose my cake, and it’s how I have been trying to choose all the many things in between. And so when we started thinking about themes and places that have inspired us, it didn’t take us long to decide.

Versailles. Paris. Does one really need reason to be inspired by such things? I had heard of the beauty and magic of France and was proud of my French heritage, but it wasn’t until I’d climbed up from the metro and experienced it, that I really knew. And I say experienced because it wasn’t just a storybook-like beauty that greeted me, but an air of something, a feeling, a magic – you couldn’t get this from pictures. “Every man has two countries – his own and France”, and we felt just that as we stood looking over the Seine with perfect snowflakes falling ever so gently, or when we went back in the spring and sat around a fountain in the Jardin des Tuileries eating our breakfast baguettes. Paris swept us off our feet, filling our minds with possibilities and creative aspirations. A day trip to Versailles made the word ‘wow’ seem completely overused, but it was on a return trip to Marie Antoinette’s Petite Trianon and Hamlet where we really found the four-year-old-in-Disneyland, ‘I can’t quite believe this is real’ type of happiness. And so that was it. Marie Antoinette had seemed to love beautiful things – dresses, cakes, shoes, opera – interests which she’d famously indulged, but she’d also loved nature, and the sanctuary of her Hamlet. And these are the elements we would like to bring into our wedding. There will be no palace or attempts at creating one, but perhaps the finer things might be brought through in the details. Marie Antoinette enjoying tea in her garden perhaps. Royal, but familiar.

When I picture our wedding I picture one of three things. The first is the ceremony, walking down the aisle with my dad, and seeing Justin waiting for me at the altar; another is an aerial view of myself, arms out and spinning slowly, taking all the prettiness in, taking in the magnitude of the day, trying to store it all in memory, and trying my very best not to let it pass too quickly. The third is more of a feeling that accompanies the image of myself staring at our finishing reception through a window, feeling excited, happy, content. Feeling that everyone knows how much we love them, everyone knows how incredibly special they are, people are happy, and that it was a good day.

Enjoy the prettiness!

Sources: Flower girl {S: Tamara Menges; P: Archetype Studio Inc.}; dress with flowers; macaroons with rings {S: Plan On Forever Events; P: Ruth Eileen Photography}; pink shoes {S:Catherine Sheppard of The Life Styled; P: Elizabeth Messina}; rose with ring {S: Lovelee Affairs; P: Paperlily Photography}; Laduree cake; Marie Antoinette’s hamlet; film stills from Marie Antoinette by Sofia Coppola (2006); escort cards with carnations {S: Before I Do Events; P: Josh Elliott Photography}