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Adventurous Safari Wedding in South Africa

The only thing that could possibly top a rehearsal dinner in the middle of the South African wild, is a wedding following suit. This gem is overflowing with the raw beauty of an African safari coupled with impeccably crafted details at the hands of Afresh Event DesignNineteen Eight Five, and Wedding Concepts. Now throw in image after stunning image by Mike Falco For Christian Oth Studio and you have a gallery not to be missed.

Colors
Seasons
Spring
Settings
LodgeOutdoor

From The Bride…While Jon and I got ready with our family and wedding parties, the guests were treated to an early morning game drive at sunrise. After our preparations, we boarded the safari jeeps once again for the ceremony at Inkwazi Hide, a large, wooden deck under a 200-year-old Acacia tree overlooking the Sabie River. A local African choir sang Zulu praise songs as I walked down the aisle and we were greeted by our officiant who spoke on themes of friendship, adventure and nature (punctuated by hilarious hippo grunts coming from the river). When we were pronounced man and wife, our guests surprised us by loudly trumpeting on Vuvuzelas. Afterwards, Jon and I snuck away for a few photos and our guests were treated to signature cocktails while taking in a glorious African sunset on a deck overlooking the river. When it was time, guests journeyed towards the candlelit reception dinner.

Memorable Moments…True to our adventure theme, some of our most memorable moments from the wedding were the unplanned and unexpected ones. Our 2-year-old ring bearer not only dressed up as a lion cub, but also burst out with spontaneous roars as he walked down the aisle. A curious hippo joined us during our couples shoot on the riverbed. And despite the demanding travel and early morning safaris, guests rallied and still managed to dance the night away. One of my favourite moments was during the last song of the night, Toto’s “Africa.” As the lyrics blared “I bless the rains down in Africa” at 3am, it started to pour and we all rushed outside to dance in the rain.

Local flavor…Since the locale was so rich in raw beauty and splendor, we wanted the African landscape to be the focus and also tried to stay true to local elements and flavors. Waiting for guests in their lodges on arrival was a handmade Guide Box, filled with South African favourites like rooibos tea and Amarula liqueur. Also included were some clues for an adventure-filled weekend: a compass, an Acacia twig, and a Field Guide with information on local customs, wildlife facts and useful Shangaan phrases. To ensure that the florals would hold up under the fierce African sun, we opted for a combination of King Proteas, succulents and feinbos. As guests enjoyed local wines from the famous Stellenbosch region, a group of traditional Zulu dancers set the African rhythms in motion by teaching guests tribal dances.

Personal details…We wanted the wedding to be not just a celebration with family and friends but also a heartfelt thank you and show of appreciation for their constant love and support throughout the years. We tried to achieve this through personalized details. These ranged from surprising guests with their childhood photos on their seating cards (a great conversation starter) to calligraphy on the place cards with goofy nicknames and individual welcome “telegrams” that described our favorite past adventures with the guest.

In gratitude…In the end, it was a true “Wild At Heart” wedding adventure. A bottomless THANK YOU to Kim and Michael for helping to create and document our dream wedding. Jon and I were so grateful to begin our new chapter together with such an incredible adventure with our family and friends.

Photography: Mike Falco For Christian Oth Studio | Event Design: Afresh Event Design | Floral Design: Nineteen Eight Five | Wedding Dress: Reem Acra | Invitations: Lara's Designs | Catering: Lion Sands | DJ: DJ Rene | Beauty: Mist | Planning: Wedding Concepts | Travel Logistics: Travel Concepts | Wedding Venue: Lion Sands

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South African Safari Rehearsal Dinner

This rehearsal dinner goes out to all those wild at heart. Capital A Adventure was an underlying theme that was woven throughout this South African safari wedding starting with a rehearsal dinner amongst the wildlife and the stars. Have a look at the gorgeous imagery captured by Mike Falco For Christian Oth Studio and stay tuned for the stunning wedding coming up next!

From The Bride…Why Africa? Jon and I met in NYC through a mutual friend and over the course of our 8-year relationship, our favorite moments together are ones where we felt like we were on an adventure. So when it came time to plan our wedding, we wanted to cultivate that sense of curiosity and wonder by hosting a safari wedding out in the untamed African bush. We settled on my native South Africa and after five months of intense planning, 75 of our closest family and friends from different corners of the globe set out for our “Wild At Heart” wedding adventure.

Into the wild…After a long day on the road, our guests arrived at the Lion Sands Game Reserve, in the heart of Sabi Sands. All the arduous travel paid off as the remote locale allowed our guests to experience the majestic African landscape in all her unbridled splendor. After a refreshing afternoon tea, the guests hopped into jeeps and set out on their first safari game drive. The guides did not disappoint and fearlessly took everyone off-roading in search of the famed Big Five game. The wild encounters included four lions feasting on a freshly killed buffalo, a baby elephant tripping over its trunk, a pair of rhinoceros brothers napping together in the shade, and a mother leopard teaching her cub to track with a playful game of hide and seek.

Rehearsal Dinner in the Bush…After the eventful game drive, the jeeps brought the guests into an unprotected clearing where a casually elegant bush dinner awaited. The guests shared their experiences from the first day around a campfire and savored local meats such as kudu, ostrich and biltong. Glowing fireflies, oil lanterns hanging from trees and the dramatic Milky Way up above helped to illuminate this surreal evening.

Tea ceremony…After the relaxing dinner, our loved ones gathered around us in a protective circle as Jon and I served tea to our parents and elders to express our gratitude. A particularly poignant blessing from my 87 year-old grandmother resulted in moist eyes all around. I loved that the emotional moment was an unexpected melding of two cultures: a traditional Chinese ceremony taking place in the African bush, illuminated by a campfire and lanterns (with a few hyenas looking on as well).

Photography: Mike Falco For Christian Oth Studio | Event Planning: Wedding Concepts | Wedding Coordinator: Wedding Concepts | Floral Design: Nineteen Eighty Five | Stationery: Lara's Designs | Catering: Lion Sand's | DJ: DJ Rene | Accommodation & Travel Logistics: Travel Concepts | Beauty: Mist | Decor & Lighting: A Fresh Event Design | Rehearsal Dinner Venue: Lion Sand's

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A Classic Tented Affair at Glenmere Mansion

A Bride that isn’t afraid to jump on the bed in a gorgeous J. Mendel gown is my kind of girl. She’s also the kind of girl who’s wedding captured by Shawn Connell For Christian Oth Studio is so beyond beautiful. Imagine a weekend filled with a rehearsal dinner as pretty as they come, a ceremony draped in blooms, bocce ball while sipping on cocktails, and dinner and dancing under a glamorous tent. It’s classic as classic can be crafted by Bowen & Company with florals by Lewis Miller Design and you can see it all here.

Colors
Seasons
Fall
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Mansion
Styles
Romantic

From Christian Oth Studio Elizabeth and Ryan wanted to spend as much time with their family and friends as possible, so they opted for a weekend-long celebration in the beautiful Hudson Valley. Both love the great outdoors and immediately envisioned the festivities taking place outside with water views. After touring multiple venues with the couple, we discovered Glenmere Mansion in Chester, NY. With recent renovations complete, the 1900’s Gilded-Age Mansion has been reinvented as a luxury boutique hotel and spa just an hour from the hustle and bustle of NYC. After strolling the beautiful Italianate villa and expansive grounds, Elizabeth and Ryan were sold. They loved the fact that the 18 guest rooms could accommodate their family, the unique spaces and gardens could host the various events throughout the weekend, and the brand-new state-of-the-art spa would be a destination for guests to indulge in a bit of pampering and relaxation.

All of the guests, even those staying off property, were invited to enjoy the beautiful grounds on Saturday morning and afternoon prior to the Ceremony. The bride and groom lined up plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained, as guests were treated to their own private, luxury resort for the day. Bocce, croquet, tennis, biking, and the couple’s favorite food trucks that drove up from NYC to serve lunch were among the fun activities on offer. Custom blankets, embroidered with the couples’ custom-designed monogram, were also provided to guests as they picnicked on the grounds and took in the breathtaking views from every side.

One can plan every last detail of their wedding, but weather is always a gamble in any season. As a last minute shower moved in to our area for the ceremony, we moved the ceremony from a bluff overlooking the lake to a tented terrace. Here, we maintained the gorgeous views of Glenmere Lake and the fall colored foliage, but guests and wedding party were safely tucked under cover. However, quick thinking was required as our team rallied to shift the floorplan. Luckily, Lewis Miller, one of NYC’s top designers, was on hand and had the brilliant inspiration to move the chuppah to the center of the tent with all guests seated around the couple. We began to lovingly refer to this set-up as “chuppah in the round.” Positioning the chuppah this way made for a more intimate and personal ceremony, and as the ceremony came to an end, the clouds parted, revealing a dramatic sunset for the happy couple.

Since these concert goers love music and Ryan is a musician, great music was a must when planning the wedding. The entertainment throughout the evening consisted of a string quartet (the bride actually walked down the aisle to Beethoven), jazz trio, 14 piece band, DJ and percussionist. They chose a playlist that would appeal to guests of all ages. A lively, swing dance set beckoned guests into the dinner tent, with a variety of standards from the American Songbook during dinner, and an after-party ensued with today’s pop hits.

Elizabeth and Ryan wanted to make sure their guests were well fed and fueled up all weekend long ,so they provided custom tote bags filled to the brim with their favorite indulgences. Items included black and white cookies from William Greenberg Desserts, pretzels from Martin’s Pretzels Union Square, and BBQ Pop Chips. Each item was branded with designs that were cohesive with the look of their save the date and given a new name in their romantic theme. An emergency kit filled with aspirin, 5-hour energy, and other boosts bore the message “To keep you healthy and strong and dancing all night long.” Lastly, they included a weekend schedule so guests wouldn’t miss a beat of this amazing weekend.

Elizabeth and Ryan wanted something that screamed romance, and I think their wedding did just that. Lewis Miller used soft and pale flowers such as English roses and Dahlias with pops of greenery to create a lush bouquet for the bride. The centerpieces were comprised of mismatched vessels and candles so that no two tables were exactly alike. There was tons of candlelight, lanterns suspended from the fabric-draped tent canopy, and sparkling silver which made the tent twinkle.

Having incredible food was essential to the couple, who cook often and enjoy the vibrant NYC restaurant scene. The wedding menu was inspired by their love of comfort foods such as mac and cheese, braised short ribs, and pumpkin whoopie pies.

The dual-flavor cake was designed by Nine Cakes. It was comprised of chocolate and vanilla cake with white chocolate buttercream, plus the groom’s favorite coconut cake with coconut buttercream. The cake was on display during the reception but was given to guests as they left the post brunch as a sweet take away.

Photography: Shawn Connell For Christian Oth Studio | Videography: Films By Francesco | Event Planning: Bowen & Company | Floral Design: Lewis Miller Design | Wedding Gown: J. Mendel | Cake: Nine Cakes | Cupcakes: Baked By Melissa | Stationery: House & Paper | Reception Venue: Glenmere Mansion | Bride's Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Bridesmaid Dresses: Morgane Le Fay | Catering: Laurence Craig Catering | Lighting: Luminous Designs | DJ: Generations Events | Band: Rainbow Room Orchestra Of Hank Lane Music And Productions | Favors: La Maison Du Chocolat | Rabbi: Tom Weiner Of Congregation Kol Ami | Beauty: John Olavarria | Blankets: In2green | Bride's Veil: Tia Mazza | Custom Tote Bags And Luminaries: Henya Direct | Directional Signs: The Freckled Owl Studio Etsy | Floral And Decor: Lewis Miller Design | Groom's Tux: Ermenegildo Zegna | Rentals: Party Rental Ltd. | Tent: Stamford Tent

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Egyptian Red Sea Resort Wedding

There’s something about this Egyptian wedding that feels completely exotic and wildly romantic all at once. With cool, blue colors and architecture that left our mouths dropped, La Maison Bleue was the ultimate setting for the two-day festivities and Christian Oth Studio captured every last bit. It’s a wedding that’ll inspired you in more ways than one, and don’t miss the full gallery for part one of this cultural lovefest.

Colors
Seasons
Summer
Settings
Hotel

From the Bride… When Mo and I got engaged, we knew two things: we wanted to throw a destination wedding, and we wanted Christian Oth Studio to document it. We are both Egyptian/Canadians living in Dubai, and with friends and family flying in from different corners of the world, we wanted it make sure our wedding was a getaway experience for everyone.

After setting the date, the first vendor we booked was the photographer. We knew that while every detail mattered, all that would remain would be beautiful photographs and our memories of the day. We contacted Christian Oth Studio and I remember praying that either one of the two incredibly talented Christian Oth or Shawn Connell would be available. When we received the email from the studio that said they were both available, and would both be shooting our wedding we couldn’t believe it. We were over the moon.

We found our venue by pure chance. Mo was visiting friends in the Red Sea resort town El Gouna when he spotted an intriguing blue house; he later discovered it was a boutique hotel called La Maison Bleue. The 10-room property, with its antique furniture, dramatic marble staircase, and Colonial façade, epitomized the kind of old-world grandeur that appealed to us as a couple. It felt like a Levantine fantasy, with bits of Ancient Egypt, Venice, and Istanbul weaved into its architecture and interior design. And with intricate details filling every corner of every room, we fell in love with it pretty much instantly. That, coupled with its beachside location and intimate feel, sealed the deal for us. We couldn’t believe that this hidden gem was only an hour’s flight away from Cairo!

The striking hotel made for a dreamlike backdrop to our event, which we filled with timeless, whimsical details to match. Overgrown flowers and cascading blooms covered the venue. A five-piece band filled the air with jazz tunes. A banquet of hearty gourmet dishes was laid out in the venue’s dining room. Still, we made sure to also include plenty of personal touches—from the napkins printed with our favorite Rumi poems, to the confetti bar filled with petals from my favorite flowers, and even the mini monogrammed cakes we gave away as favors, mimicking the wax seal on our invitations. And with our amazing planners, Cherry on Top Events, by our side everything went by seamlessly.

The most memorable part of our wedding was our first dance, which took place right after our big, traditional zaffe entrance. I remember the loud Arabic percussions dying down and our friends and families surrounding us in the courtyard. The moment Sleeping at Last’s “Tethered” started playing, it felt like we were the only two people in the world. Then, a soft wind started blowing and picked up my veil in its way, which kept wrapping around Mo and I as we danced. It felt truly magical.

The best advice I can give engaged brides is to truly savor every moment of your engagement period and enjoy the planning process. With so many decisions to make it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But it’s important to remember that your wedding should be a celebration of who you are as a couple and as individuals. And to me, there was nothing more fulfilling than injecting all the little bits of ourselves into our wedding, and sharing it all with the people we love.

Photography: Christian Oth Studio | Videography: Fimatography | Floral Design: Flower Power | Wedding Dress: Vera Wang | Cake: Seventh Star Bakery, El Gouna | Bride's Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Band: The Rift Band | Groom's Shoes: Louis Vuitton | DJ : DJ Rauf Assaf | Event Planning + Stationery: Cherry On Top Events | Groom's Tux: Tom Ford | Hair : Chez Richard | Makeup: Nadia Salem | Map Design: EDanae | Tuxedo: Tom Ford | Wedding Venue: La Maison Bleue