10 March 2018 was the date of one of the most amazing days of our lives. One and a half years of planning went into this day and as one of my clients advised – it is worth every single penny you spend!
We got engaged on 5 June 2016 and decided on a long engagement. Working for ourselves, it was the best decision financially & it also gave us the opportunity to really enjoy being engaged. Immediately after the engagement we set a date, and about 1 month later I found the venue & photographer. Tip: book these two things asap as every year prices increase! I booked and paid for them straight away. It’s also two of the biggest expenses so it was nice to have those large costs settled.
We wanted a venue that accommodated all our guests so we narrowed down our options based on the areas we loved most, the cost & the accommodation. Once I had my top 5 venues I narrowed them down further to have a top 3 based on the photos – obviously the photos were important to me so I chose my top 3 based on what our couples shoot photos would look like. Tip: I searched through thousands of photographers blogs to see what they all captured at the venues to give us a good idea of what sort of photos we’d be looking back on in future. Tim made the final decision based on the food menu- De Oudekraal completely won us over!
De Oudekraal was a fairly new venue so it was very reasonable – originally we were going to have a winter wedding as it is easier on the budget, but because De Oudekraal was so reasonable, it allowed us to have a summer wedding – also, the photos I fell in love with were shot in summer when the farmlands were brown, so that also helped with our decision on the date. I wanted brown wheat fields – which happen in March, hence our chosen date of 10 March.
Next came the planning of the decor.
Tim and I are a combination of down-to-earth simplicity and a bit of glitz & glamour. Our venue was very rustic based on our love for the simple things, open landscapes & great food. I wanted to add a bit of a sparkle & this came through in our decor. Our wedding decor stylist named this theme “Rustic Elegance”.
I wanted our wedding to be classic, so I opted for no colour but kept true to my love of the colour mint by subtly sneaking it into the day in the small details like the ribbons on our flower girl’s basket & handkerchiefs etc. I also wanted to do a lot of DIY. Now, DIY is not always cheaper, so I chose to do DIY for the things that added our personal touch rather than trying to cut costs with it.
Tim and I LOVE our wine, so all those wine bottles you see on the tables….?… we drank those and sprayed them gold to be a part of our big day! I also bought the gold animals for the tables and sprayed them gold. I tried to match guests names to the animals (some friends favourite animals, nicknames etc) and found that some people took them home as a memento – I was so happy to hear this!!
Tim and I didn’t want to spend too much on flowers, we really loved just having greenery. I’m not a white roses kind of person and Bouwer Flowers totally got this. I was so happy with the simplicity of the greenery on the day! She added a few small white flowers here and there along with some pampas grass which brought the dry farmland feel into the venue.
DIY: I made the 3 hoops that floated behind our bridal table by spraying 3 hula hoops gold & buying flowers from my local flower shed. I used florists tape to hold them and got the bridesmaids to help me make them as we were setting up the venue the day before. It was a nice ice breaker for parents and the bridal party to sit and chat while they were making the flower hoops. Tip: Be sure to make a tester before the wedding day. I made one a few months in advance to make sure I could do it nicely!
I’m all about the details so once we had paid for all the important things, I stretched our budget to add special details like Gold letters that I bought on sale from Typo (R100 for 3). They were plain wood and I sprayed them gold to fit the venue. I didn’t want the usual “mr & mrs” at our chairs so I simply tied and “&” between us.
We organised a “beer barrow” for our pre ceremony drinks that people could help themselves to while they waited. We also created a “special” at the bar – “bride’s special = pimms & lemonade”, “groom’s special – brandy & coke”. It was just a nice personal touch.
PS.All the empty gold bottles were supposed to have candles in them, I assumed the set up team would have put the candles in them (I had 100’s of candles still left in boxes). Tip: Don’t assume that anything will be done, ask the obvious questions! I also assumed the table set up team would place glasses on the tables, and they assumed the venue would… so 5 minutes before I arrived at the venue to walk down the aisle my step father was running around placing all 85 glasses on the tables by himself. Make sure you know exactly who is doing what, even if it seems obvious!
The gift & guest book table
We had a large suitcase for people to place their cards & gifting into. For our guestbook, we didn’t want to be stuck with signatures on something that we would never use so we asked people to sign a champagne ice bucket – something that we will use often! I also downloaded a cute questionnaire were people had to fill in the blanks to create a sweet message of advice for us. (It was lovely reading these when we arrived back from honeymoon).The ceremony area
I totally fell in love with this mini forest at the venue & Bouwer flowers absolutely blew us away with the gorgeous arch they created. We added this arch at the very end of our planning & scraped together the last bit of budget for it. It was SO worth it!
I asked to take the flowers home after the wedding, so I gave the two bottom blocks to our parents and allowed my bridesmaids and groomsmen to take some bouquets home. Tip. Some florists allow this if pre-arranged. Otherwise flowers get donated to charities etc. I planned to donate mine but on the last day, while packing up, I decided it was a nice gesture to all those who stayed behind to help us pack our things. Bouwer Flowers was very kind to allow us to keep the flowers.
Tim and I made our wedding games with the help of my step dad. They were such a hit, especially the Jenga. It was a great ice breaker to get the guests chatting and laughing together. Tim enjoyed this the most when planning the wedding. My family got involved helping him sand, cut and test the game.
DIY: I needed something to line the aisle but as we didn’t have much more budget for flowers, I thought about how I could incorporate our gold theme into the ceremony area. After days of searches on Pinterest I found something that could either have been super kitsch (I would have just scrapped it on the day) or something that could have been quite cute… these white and gold hearts on sticks.
Yes, I cut each one and pasted them on each stick – all 800 of them! The day before the wedding, one of my bridesmaids had the task to lay them out, and once I had a look at it, I thought it was quite nice (I’m sure she was quite relieved that she didn’t have to pick them all up again LOL)I also hung little signs on the trees which were frames I bought from H&M on special and printed phrases that meant something to us.
The black board signs were bought from a second hand wedding group which I propped against the trees or put on easels that I borrowed from my mother-in-law. The wooden direction frames were made by us using palettes and the gold vinyl was printed by a company I found on the internet – Epro Products.
DIY: I didn’t want to spend money on confetti, it literally just gets thrown once and then lies on the ground. I also wanted it to be bright for the photos and meaningful to us… so I chose my favourite flower in shades of pink & purple and asked all my neighbours in my suburb’s community group if I could come over and pick their bougainvillea flowers. When they heard it was for a wedding I had lots of responses and spent a full day, two days before the wedding, picking flowers with one of my bridesmaids. I then bought a bucket, sprayed it gold and labelled it with vinyl.
The handkerchiefs were a last minute addition that my gran offered to sew. We placed it on the seats in the ceremony area for people to use. It was a lovely detail that the guys enjoyed on the hot summer day and the ladies used to dry their happy tears…
The setting up of the wedding went well as I had a very specific pdf that had each persons name and their set up task sent to them (extreme right?!). I also printed some on the day so that we could make sure everything was done and everyone had something to do. It worked out so well! I have to thank all the bridesmaids, family and groomsmen that helped us over the months leading up to the wedding as well as during the wedding weekend. Setting up your own wedding can be extremely stressful but thanks to them, it went perfectly & was stress free. I also want to thank Bouwer Flowers for absolutely blowing us away with our flower set up (I can’t wait to show you all my bouquet in blog post PT. 2)! Happinest made our vision come to life exactly as we imagined it AND BETTER! We couldn’t have asked for a better team. They were so patient with me, asking 100’s of questions and sharing ideas continuously. THANK YOU!
Part 2 coming soon : THE WEDDING