I know what you’re thinking…there’s NO way this wedding cost only $10,000, but it’s so true. We’re talking dress, invites and every other gorgeous detail that you see here. Yup, this wedding is proof that you don’t need to skip the pretty to stay on budget. Pietri Photography captured all the lovely including lots and lots of personal touches from South Africa. See even more right here!

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From the Bride… Gareth and I met by chance through our shared love of rugby. We met about six months after Gareth had first moved to the USA from Johannesburg in the fall of 2007. Gareth had recently started attending a local college, and on the recommendation of a neighbor, ne joined my university’s rugby team — he had previously been at the University of Pretoria rugby academy and wanted to keep playing in the US. Meanwhile, I had just returned from a year abroad in London, where I started watching the game. When I returned to college in California, one of my good friends was dating another rugby player and invited me out to a game and dinner. Gareth and I met at a rugby dinner event, and we began dating a few months afterward. I feel like it was love at first sight, but Gareth was a little shy, so it took months of hanging around the pitch to get his attention. However, once we went on our first date, we have been inseparable and dated for four years until he proposed.

We wanted as many family members from all over the world to join us, so summer seemed like the best time to wed — despite the Florida heat! We had guests come from South Africa, Japan, Europe and Australia. It made us feel so loved that so many family and friends came from so far to share in our day. The ceremony took place in the roofless chapel of the Mailtland Art Center under a canopy of trees. The oak-nestled art center provided a perfect Southern style back drop and was highlighted with floral arrangements flown in from South Africa. We had a traditional Catholic ceremony, but instead of communion our priest gave a homily about a pineapple and passed out pieces of pineapple to eat. He equated the pineapple growth to the growth of a marriage — how it takes years to grow, it needs love and care, and will be full of sweetness on the inside if done right. We did not know he was going to do this — he actually cut up and served the pineapple to us at the altar. It was quite a surprise, but something that we will always remember.

310 Lakeside, our reception venue, is located on Lake Eola, the center of Orlando’s downtown. Although the restaurant is located a the base of a high-rise building, it has a warm, inviting feel (lots of Southern hospitality) mixed with just the right amount of sleek modernity. It was the perfect venue for our intimate wedding and provided the upscale service and feel I wanted our guests to enjoy. I wanted to add a bit of South Africa to everything I could, starting with our flowers. My bouquet was made from a King Protea, the national flower of South Africa, surrounded by eucalyptus and a few gardenias nestled behind the main bloom. Every woman in my family carries gardenias, and I also wanted to honor that tradition. Our table linens were brought in from South Africa by my mother-in-law, as were our favors. Each person was able to take home a hand-beaded tortoise, a traditional Zulu handicraft. Our cake topper, a beaded couple, was also hand-made in South Africa. We also named each table after a city that was dear to our hearts; the table signs were made from simple wooden frames which I painted a pearl-gold. The calligraphy for the table signs was down by my mother in law. Our cake was also a special touch — we chose Sprinkle Custom Cakes, as the owner was able to make us a traditional South African wedding cake (fruit cake, but not the Christmas kind — more like a rum cake). And we served our cake alongside vanilla, lemon and red velvet cupcakes (a Southern favorite).

My mother made a beautiful quilt with African fabric, which doubled as our guest book. Guests were given the opportunity to sign a block and leave us a special message. Together with my mother-in-law, we a made the table signs and calligraphy for each sign. We also tied all the ribbons for the palm fans one each seat at the ceremony. Also, I am not sure if the counts as DIY, but we did have a surprise visit from Elvis at the end of the night! A family friend of ours, who works as an impersonator in Las Vegas, put on a great show. I think our guests from overseas loved it more than the Southerners! The whole event was a bargain at under $10,000, including invites, dress and all!

Wedding Photography: Pietri Photography / Ceremony: Maitland Art Center in Maitland, Florida / Reception: 310 Lakeside Restaurant in Orlando, Florida / Floral Design: Lee James Floral Designs / Wedding Cake: Sprinkles Custom Cakes / Wedding Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas / Entertainment: DJ Scott Thompson of Thompson Entertainment / Chair Rental: Orlando Wedding & Party Rentals / Wedding Dress: David’s Bridal / Bride’s Veil: David’s Bridal / Bride’s Tiara: David’s Bridal / Shoes: NYC transit via SteinMart / Bride’s Necklace: From Her Great-Grandmother / Bride’s Earrings: From Her Mother-in-Law / Bride’s Signet Ring: From Her Grandfather / Bridesmaids’ Attire: Their Choice