Morning WWWers :-) I have a beautiful Whimsical Wonderland Weddings reader sharing her wedding day today… ekk!!
“I looked at WWW very often while planning our wedding for inspiration, I love your site! and still have regular visits post wedding :) I have wedding planning withdrawal :) and just love looking at the beautiful pictures and ideas.” Hayley told me.
Now that makes my heart sing.
Hayley and Mitchell are based in the UK but being from South Africa they decided to get married there at Calderwood Hall Manor. They wanted their wedding to be intimate and relaxed with a vintage feel. They put some serious amount of work into all the pretty decor, crafting so many items.
They went for a blue colour scheme with white and silver touches, which looks opulent and really special.
Thanks so much to the wonderful Jacki Bruniquel for sharing her gorgeous images with us today.
Names…. Mitchell and Hayley
Wedding Date…. 14.04.2012
The Proposal…. We have been good friends since we met in our first year at Secondary School (where he says he had a crush on me☺). We only started dating two years after school though when we met up by chance on a night out and have been together since for over 8 years. Mitchell proposed on a weekend away at a romantic place called Mountain Park Hotel in the lower Drakensberg in KwaZulu Natal (KZN), South Africa. I later found out that I had unknowingly given him quite a hard time to be able to propose as he suggested things like a hike up the mountain where he intended to find a romantic spot, but I declined because it was extremely hot! But it all turned out to be perfect and romantic in the end when he surprised me first thing on our last morning as I opened my eyes!
The Vision for the day…. We wanted an intimate and relaxed wedding with a vintage feel and lots of hearts and lovebirds. The most important thing for us was to share our ceremony with the people we love followed by a big celebration together and our guests to have a great time.
The Planning process…. We booked the main things – the venue, photographer, florist, DJ etc in advance then focused on the details closer to the wedding. Our planning priority was to have a great venue with good food/drink, music and atmosphere for our guests to enjoy and everything followed from there. We also loved planning the details of the day and special touches. There were a few stressful moments but we tried not to worry about small things and be flexible with our ideas. We were so lucky to have so much help from family at home and in the UK that helped everything run smoothly. However, I was bad at making lists, I had it all the details in my mind but it would have helped to have some written notes to refer to for the planning and for everyone that helped us. My amazing mom (who lives in KZN) did so much for us and was the best wedding planner ever! We had so many special moments planning together too.
The Venue… Our wedding was at a beautiful Edwardian Guesthouse called Calderwood Hall Manor in the KZN Midlands (Southern Drakensberg). Being based in the UK we looked at many places on the Internet and my mom went to look at several of the choices for us and although they were lovely they just didn’t feel right. Then, on a holiday back to South Africa, we went to see Calderwood first and as soon as we arrived we knew it was perfect for what we wanted. It has a great setting and warm feel so we booked it on the spot. We also loved their little chapel where we had our ceremony. The Calderwood staff were so kind, welcoming, helpful and added so many special touches. The food was really delicious, the atmosphere is lovely and we would recommend the venue to everyone. Also, because it was a destination wedding for many of our guests it was important to make sure that the venue and nearby places had good and affordable accommodation. Several guests stayed from Friday night and it was lovely to have a weekend long celebration.
The Dress… My dress was from Belles of Hilton in KZN. It was the first place I went to look at with my mom and although I tried on several pretty dresses there this was my (and my mom’s) favourite as soon as we saw it. I loved the style and the lace detail across the front. Belles added personal touches by sewing on the lace straps with pearl detail, lace fragments at the back of the dress and also made my veil with the same detail. I was advised by married friends not to make an impulsive decision in case I saw another dress somewhere else that I preferred, so I didn’t book the dress on the day and looked at a few other places in case. I still chose my original favourite but am pleased that I looked around for just in case…
The Readings and Music …. We spent a lot of time planning the music for our ceremony and reception to include songs that were meaningful to us and our guests. As the most important part of the wedding we made our ceremony personal by involving friends and family. Our special cousin Carl did two bible readings for us, which he chose. He hand wrote them out and gave them to us afterwards in a special card, which we will treasure. My good friend Roxanne sang two songs during the ceremony, accompanied by my cousin on the guitar. We chose ‘When the Music Fades’ by Matt Redman instead of a traditional hymn during the ceremony and ‘A Thousand Years’ by Christina Perry while we were signing the register. My bridesmaids walked in to ‘Stand by me’ (John Lennon cover) and I walked down the aisle with my dad to ‘Can’t take my eyes off of you’ (Franki Valli original). This is his favourite song and it was a surprise for him as we started walking down the aisle- it was a very special moment. We also chose the songs for our guests arrival in the chapel and for the first hour of the reception while we were eating, but then our Dj took over the rest of the celebrations!
First dance: ‘Never tear us apart’ by INXS – the words are very significant for us and this was the first thing we decided on for our wedding. Reception arrival/walk in: Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo Ole’ Final song – Time of your life by Green Day
My brother, Murray, was a great MC, very entertaining and we loved all his announcements and speech. Having an MC also really helped with the flow of things during the evening.
Beautiful bridesmaids and groom’s and groomsmen’s attire… We had five lovely bridesmaids (my best friend since childhood, new sister-in -aw and three cousins) and wanted to make sure that they felt comfortable in their dresses with different styles and details for each of them. I bought the lace and satin fabric and trimmings and the creative Celie and Melissa Potgieter (my lovely friend and her mom) made the dresses. We found accessories at several different places; the bridesmaids earrings were from Sass Diva’s (South Africa) midnight blue range, my necklace and shoes were from Debenhams and brooch from Etsy. Mitchell and his two groomsmen wore suits and waistcoats from Lord Louis in Durban. Mitchell chose the suits he liked best and their charcoal grey colour complemented the bridesmaid’s dresses. Our two very cute flower girls wore dusky pink little fairy style dresses, which I found online.
The Flowers… Kerry’s Flowers and décor did beautiful arrangements for the reception and chapel. I collected pictures of arrangements we loved to show what we had in mind and our florist created exactly what we wished for. As our all time favourite we had hydrangeas as a main flower, mixed with lilies, tulips, gerberas, lizzy anthems, mums and others. The arrangements were so pretty and we especially loved the flower arch at the chapel entrance, the big pink flower heart on the reception floor with H+M initials and the arrangements in the angel vases. My bouquet was a mix of graduated white and cream blooms with pearls draped through them. The bridesmaid’s bouquets were shades of pink and white with lace and silver hearts around the stems.
The Cake… We couldn’t choose between cupcakes or a main cake so we decided to have cupcakes (carrot and vanilla in dark blue and silver cupcake cases placed on a cupcake fountain stand) for the garden reception and a main cake for later. We loved the idea of a heart shaped cake so we had a special three tier heart shaped stand made from silver coated wrought iron. A local lady, Colleen, made the cake and the three tiers (delicious chocolate and vanilla) were iced with off-white icing and lace patterns and decorated with lace material and pearls. We bought a wooden set of lovebirds for our cake topper and we painted them to match our theme.
Your Photographer…. As soon as we knew our wedding date we asked Jacki Bruniquel to be our photographer. For us, photos were really important for capturing our wedding memories and we had our hearts set on her as she is wonderful and photographs weddings so uniquely and beautifully in an ‘un-posed’ style that we prefer. Luckily for us, Jacki and her great second shooter Tash were available. They are so dedicated, creative and made us feel so at ease. Jacki captured all the special moments, our guests and details of our wedding perfectly, we couldn’t have wished for a better photographer.
The Details + Decor…. The venue was lovely and perfect for the elegant vintage feel we wanted. We didn’t have a specific theme but we chose midnight blue as our dominant colour and had splashes of soft pinks, white and silver.
Our décor was from a combination of great service providers and buying things we loved and lots of DIY (with lots of help from family, especially my mom, and friends).
We sourced our décor from local shops in the UK, online and in South Africa. We hired big silver and crystal vases, candelabras and other main pieces from Kerry’s Flowers and Décor. All the tables were slightly different with four main looks and different decorative pieces, candles and arrangements but with the same vintage feel.
Our DIY seating board, signs, wooden hearts, sweet bags, stationery, ladies favours etc, finding decorative items and having family members help make bunting, gift bags and other decorations added personal touches, were fun to do and cost effective. Personalised luminaries with hydrangea prints dotted around the venue added pretty light.
We decorated the large garden where we had our drinks reception with lace bunting made by my cousin, lanterns, DIY painted birds, hearts and other little decorations. Instead of having a wishing tree we used large silver wire birds for guest to tie their wish tags on. There was also croquet set up in the garden, which provided some entertainment.
For our ladies favours we made (with much help from my bridesmaids and aunts) mdf wooden decorated fridge magnets in the shapes of hearts, teapots and teacups. We combined these with plantable heart paper cut outs and chocolates in the gift boxes. Our mdf painted heart chair back decorations also served as gifts for the ladies to take home. For the gents favours we had frosted shot glasses made and filled them with chocolates.
The Honeymoon…. We went away for a few lovely nights to the coast after the wedding before coming back to the UK. Our ‘official’ honeymoon is in August – Mitchell is organising it and the destination is a surprise…. ☺
Memorable moments… We both feel there are too many special memories leading up to and on the day to pick one …. But what stands out for me is sharing the moment of waking up on the wedding morning to a beautiful sunny day with my mom, the overwhelming feeling as the chapel doors opened seeing all our family and friends and Mitchell up in the front, saying our own vows was really special, the Minister pronouncing us husband and wife was an amazing feeling, the emotional speeches and having family and friends with us laughing and celebrating for the day.
Advice for other couples… All weddings are unique and from our experience there is no ‘recipe’ for planning a wedding, its personal to different couples. You only get one chance so try to enjoy every bit of the wedding process and all the fun times it comes with! We both woke up really early on our wedding day and partied till late (flat shoes for dancing came in very handy), we wanted to use every minute and so happy we did because, as everyone says, it flies by and very rarely will we have the chance to have so many of our friends and family celebrating together in one place.
We sometimes felt overwhelmed by all the choices out there so we tried not to over think things and stick with our priorities and what we loved. We really enjoyed making things ourselves and having family involved made it lots of fun. We both said we wouldn’t change anything about our wedding except take the time to eat the delicious dessert we missed and maybe have had a videographer – so many couples have said how much they enjoy their wedding videos.
Food: CHC Catering for Calderwood: +27 33 394 3924, email@example.com
Photographer: www.jackibruniquel.com (Durban, South Africa based but does destination shoots)
Flowers, bouquets, button holes and décor –firstname.lastname@example.org/ +27 824119106
Brides Dress and veil: Belles of Hilton – Yelena: email@example.com
Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Celie and Melissa Potgieter, also owners of Fat Robin Creations – www.fatrobincreations.com
Groom’s and groomsmen’s suits: Lord Louis – www.lordlouissuithire.co.za
Cake: Colleen Stocken – firstname.lastname@example.org
Cupcakes: Vanilla Chantilly – www.vanillachantilly.co.za, 031 312 2937
Cake stands: Custom Made Wrought Iron – email@example.com
Thanks so very much to Mitchell and Hayley for sharing their wedding with us today. Planning a wedding abroad is no mean feat and they did such a wonderful job. What an honour to share today :-) XOXO Lou
Tags: Blue Wedding Ideas, Destination Wedding Ideas, Jacki Bruniquel Photography, Real Weddings, South Africa Wedding
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