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Tuscany Meets South Africa Welcome Brunch Inspiration

I love the unexpected—the mashups of pretty that I could never dream up. But Lisa Poggi & Gianluca Gasperoni, Carolina Casini of Tuscan Dream and Tommaso Torrini of La Rosa Canina Firenze? They are exceeding my wedding expectations today with this blend of Tuscan elegance and South African earthiness. We’re starting with this cozy brunch and later, there’s even more gorgeous to follow.

From Lisa Poggi & Gianluca GasperoniWhen setting out to create an inspirational wedding shoot, one tends to push boundaries and create a look with people who you have most likely formed strong working relationships with over the years. Now take four Italians – three of who have never been to South Africa – and their vision of producing a beautiful shoot where European style straight out of Tuscany would meet their South African counterpart.

Carolina Casini of the internationally renown villa rentals & destination weddings managing agency TuscanDream turned to South Africa’s most exclusive and creative wedding management and design company Wedding Concepts, to act as collaborative creative consultants and to assist this dynamic Italian team in creating an original shoot to combine Italian charm & South African elegance in the Cape Winelands. The team consisted of internationally renowned wedding and lifestyle photographer Lisa Poggi and her partner, fashion photographer Gianluca Gasperoni, and of course incredible Tuscan floral extraordinaire, Tommaso Torrini of La Rosa Canina Firenze.

It was up to all these new personalities to pull off a shoot in only a few days, whilst ensuring that everyone was on the same page, creatively! One significant thought that was realized in this whole exercise is that creativity doesn’t have a distinctive language and the results are simply exquisite. Which goes to show, wherever you are in the world, it’s the joy of working with like-minded personalities that will honestly ensure a beautiful product that everyone can be proud of.

With the superb help and assistance from the team from Wedding Concepts, the Tuscan team was able to secure the support of some of the most renowned names in the South Africa luxury wedding industry! So to explain the look, we imagined two moments in our wedding story: an intimate welcome dinner and then of course the wedding day.

In the first story the materials, colors and shapes are the most typical of the colorful mix of cultures in South Africa. The atmosphere is light and the look is about simplicity and relaxation. On the day of the wedding however, to compliment the design of the wedding dress and the rich look of our bride and groom, the flowers and table settings frame and complement the idea of the contrast between classic elegance and simple organic features. The flowers and foliage collected in the field of our location were mixed with the rich raw materials of the stationery and elements around the venue. The result, a stark contrast that created a clear balance between classic elegance and raw simplicity.

Photography: Lisa Poggi & Gianluca Gasperoni | Event Planning: Carolina Casini - Tuscan Dream | Jewelry: I Pesci Che Volano | Venue: Hawksmoor House | Bridal Outfits: Stefania Morland | Bridal Shoes: Aliverti | Cake Design: Roxanne Floquet | Calligraphy & Stationary: Betty Soldi | Design & Florals: Tommaso Torrini - La Rosa Canina Firenze | Female Model: Rouximia from D&A Model Management | Groom Suit And Shoes: Fabiani | Hair & Make Up: Yolande Du Toit | Male Model: Ross from D&A Model Management | Wedding Management: Wedding Concepts

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Romantic South African Wedding at Rockhaven Farm

I am obsessively in love with this wedding dress. My crush on Jenny Packham has no limit. Sequins, sparkle and the most beautiful billowing tulle is the icing on the cake of this absolutely breathtaking South African wedding. Tasha Seccombe and Boy Meets Girl Cinema transports us away to what can only be described as a dreamland and that is where I’ll remain for the rest of the day.

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Summer
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Farm
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Rustic

From The Bride… From the beginning we kept using the words: relaxed, fun, personal and something a little bit different to describe what type of wedding we wanted. I know that as far as weddings go this is probably a bit of a cliché but as we had decided to invite 40 of our closest family and friends to join us in South Africa from our London base, I thought we, at least, had a good starting point.

Originally from South Africa, I moved over to the UK to go to university and met my husband, Nick during the first few weeks. We instantly became known as ‘Nick and Nic’ and after 10 years together, we were a few weeks away for our wedding day. Despite London being my permanent home, I had always known that when I got married I wanted to do it back in South Africa and luckily Nick loves the place as much as I do and shared my sentiments.

We chose a place just outside of Cape Town in a little town called Elgin. The area is surrounded by apple and pear farms with the most idyllic scenery. Deciding on a venue was surprisingly one of the easier decisions we made as we both knew that we weren’t going to be able to go and do the traditional ‘recce’ of venues that most couples do, so we relied on feedback and lots of photos on blogs and photographers websites. As soon as we saw Rockhaven, we knew this was our place. Its a working farm that caters to weddings with a simple modern-ish barn, gorgeous gardens with views of the valley, and the most charming little ‘boathouse’ overlooking a lake which is where we held the ceremony. With a setting so beautiful I decided I only wanted to enhance it with a soft romantic colour palette of sage, grey, cream and pinks and bring together elements of both South Africa and England.

I, of course discovered a love of Pinterest and wedding blogs like Style Me Pretty which were incredibly useful for giving me amazing inspiration but also very overwhelming – there are just so many ideas out there! We did have a brilliant wedding planner in South Africa who I would share all my ideas with via Dropbox. One of the hardest things about getting married abroad is that you can’t do much DIY so instead I decided to focus on doing a few things really well and make our wedding as personal as possible. My sister and her boyfriend, who are both architects, helped to design and make all our stationery. 

I love flowers but hadn’t thought that we would be able to afford loads however one of the perks of getting married abroad is that it was a lot more budget conscious and as both our ceremony and reception were held in the same location we were able to move and easily re-use the flowers throughout the day. Our florist was incredible and took my inspiration pictures and put her own creative twist on it and created something breath-taking. A combination of roses, lisianthus, dahlias and hydrangeas combined with Proteas (South Africa’s national flower), fynbos, Queens lace and ferns emphasised the English country garden feel. 

When it came to my dress I’d never known exactly what type I wanted – in fact I could tell you all the things I didn’t want but not what I liked. Being only 5’2” I knew that I couldn’t pull off a frothy gown and with the South African summer I wanted something light and travel friendly. I tried on several different style dresses but kept coming back to this beautiful tulle Jenny Packham dress with fluted sleeves and lots of tiny sequins and paillettes with the smallest of trains. I didn’t have any sort of emotional connection to the dress but just kept being drawn back to it – it was so comfortable and flattering and could see myself spending the whole day in it. I borrowed a pair of diamond earrings from my mom and wore a simple pendant necklace that Nick gave me the day before.

For Nick, I wanted him to have an equally special suit for the day. Normally weddings in England are the traditional 3 piece suit and tails but this was not going to suit the very warm climate nor the style of our wedding. Luckily my parents live in Dubai so we had the luxury of very good tailors and souks where you can get quality fabric and tailoring at a fraction of the price. After many back and forth photos, phone calls, emails and using internet guides of ‘how to measure for a suit’ with my mom – she delivered everything to the tailor and we waited with bated breath. When I saw Nick in his 3 piece suit in pale grey with a dark grey paisley lining I couldn’t believe how dashing he looked and we were even able to personalise the suit with our wedding date embroidered in.

We couldn’t afford to stretch our budget for a live band for the reception (in the end our DJ was amazing and almost no-one left the dance floor except for when my cricket mad husband and his friends organised an impromptu game at about 11pm!) but did still want some live music. We ended up with a classical duo during the ceremony and an incredible jazz duo during the pre-reception who kept our guests entertained while we were off having some photos. We also got our guests to give us their song choices which we gave to the DJ proving for an amazing party – which eventually only ended at 2:30am in the morning!

We knew that we wanted our wedding to be a big party to celebrate our 10 years together. This started with a barbeque on the Friday evening at a local restaurant, the day before the wedding and culminated with a picnic on a wine estate on the Sunday – for most it started the previous week when our guests flew in and we rented a villa near the beach in Cape Town.

We couldn’t have asked for our wedding to be more of a celebration of everything we have together surrounded by our friends and family – you couldn’t wipe the smile off of our faces for weeks afterwards.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe | Videographer: Boy Meets Girl Cinema | Coordination: Creation Events | Flowers: Paradiso Flowers | Wedding Dress: Jenny Packham At Morgan Davies Bridal | Stationery: Family | Brides Shoes: Zara | Bridesmaids Dresses: J Crew | Catering: Rockhaven Farm | Lighting: 4 Every Event | DJ: Capricorn Music | Groom's Attire: Lobos Tailors, Dubai | Groomsmen's Attire: Reiss | Ceremony Music: Play | Bridal Jewellery: Borrowed From Mom | Cake And Desserts: Nelle Cakes | Decor Hire: Blooming Wonderful | Farm: Rockhaven | Groom And Groomsmen Ties: Bows And Ties | Hair & Make-up: Candice Leigh Arnott | Pre-reception Music: Gary Deacon

Destination Wedding in Tunisia

Dear bride and groom, if you decide to renew your vows in a few years I hope you have room for a few more guests. I know a several SMP staffers that might start lobbying for an invite. We’re smitten and there’s no going back. Seriously, a bougainvillea drenched courtyard, a beyond perfect dress, a ridiculously gorgeous couple, and it’s all captured beautifully by Emm & Clau!!?? Heaven. And it’s all right here in the gallery.

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Spring
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Villa

From the bride… Karim and I met in 2009 in Al Ain, the oasis city of the United Arab Emirates; Karim is half Tunisian and half Romanian and I am British, South African and Norwegian. Whether it be fate, destiny, or pure luck that brought the most unlikely setting and combination of two people together I am forever thankful for that day, and for Karim’s brilliant charming skills. Five years down the line, a four-year engagement and a French bulldog later, it was time to plan our wedding… The first hurdle we met was deciding where to have the wedding, living in Dubai with family and friends spread over 6 different countries it was a much thought about decision. After much debate and consideration we opted for a destination wedding in Tunisia. With Karim’s family connections to this capital city on the Mediterranean, Tunis was an obvious choice. This exotic location is steeped in history and culture, is well known for its local cuisine and fine wines and most importantly has a fabulous climate for many months of the year. We wanted the whole wedding to reflect not only ourselves but also our different cultures. The search began in February when we flew over to Tunisia to visit some wedding venues and sort out as much as we could within 10 days, as it would be the last trip there before the big day. As luck had it on the first day we found the most idyllic wedding venue; it was perfect in every way. A refurbished farmhouse with rustic charm and stonewalls concealed with creeping bougainvillea, a beautiful open courtyard surrounded by drooping trees. It was honestly everything I had ever dreamt of and we couldn’t believe our luck on finding that Tunisian gem.

Planning started 6 months before the wedding date, and only now do I truly understand why a wedding planner is the essential ingredient to a successful destination wedding. However I was lucky and blessed enough to have a secret wedding planner hidden in my husband combined with the most supportive family who were involved in putting together all the small details that made our wedding picture-perfect. Much of the decorative details were flown over from Dubai, America, Australia and London, including hand made table runners, the cake topper, personalized stamps, straws and our invitations. On the wedding day we were expecting approximately 80 guests. The visitors had started arriving in Tunisia a week before and some stayed on for at least a week after the wedding to make the most of everything the country had to offer. We ran around for the days beforehand catching up with the excited travelers and introducing each other to members of our extended families and intimate friends.

The wedding day: For me one of the most special parts, was seeing all the decorative details come together; I had spent years looking through and collecting wedding magazines, hours on pinterest and wedding blogs; and finally all of the time and effort put into every detail became more than worth it. Our wedding was a truly perfect and magical day; being surrounded by the family and friends we love the most was an overwhelming and beautiful experience that shall never be forgotten.

Photography: Emm&Clau | Floral Design: El Firma | Wedding Dress: Pronovias | Shoes: Alice And Olivia | Bracelet: Elie Saab | Necklace: Elie Saab | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Pronovias | Groom's Shoes: Paul Smith | Hotel: Villa Didon In Carthage | Wedding Venue: El Firma – La Soukra | Earrings: Swaroski | Suit: Sacoor Brothers In Dubai | Tie: Pink

Rustic Chic South African Warehouse Wedding at Blue Bird Garage

Illumniate Photography described this wedding as a “big feast of Pinteresting loveliness”, and I do believe they hit the nail on the head with that description. Because I could (and probably will) pin every single image sitting in this gorgeous gallery. It’s sweet rustic touches mixed with a fabulous urban setting, and the result is pure perfection. See it all here.

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Fall
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Warehouse
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Rustic

From Illumniate PhotographyI love the simplicity of the look of this wedding, yet the careful thought that went into the detail. Keziah (the bride) is one of the most creative people I know, so as you can imagine her wedding was one big feast of Pinteresting loveliness! To name just a few of the cute quirks, she D.I.Yed hanging plants; used wooden school chairs to seat the guests; and used vintage newspapers as placemats. I also loved how involved Craig (the groom) was in the whole planning process.

Keziah and Craig chose to mix it up a bit by having their ceremony in the evening. They had a special “first look” in the forest with some close friends and family before the ceremony, and this was followed by some bridal party and couple pictures around the forest. It was so nice to know that there weren’t any guests waiting for us, meaning we could take our time.

The ceremony and Reception were both held at the Blue bird garage – a warehouse-like spot where a popular market takes place on Friday evenings which they converted into a perfect wedding venue!

Candles were lit and lights were strung and a most beautiful, spirit-filled atmosphere was in the room. What really stood out for me at the reception was the love that Craig and Kez have for their family and friends and people in general. What a beautiful thing.

Photography: Illuminate Photography | Wedding Gown: Sharon McLean | Cake: Gimmene | Catering: Basics Catering | Make Up: Jill Sangerhaus | Hair: Fringe | Wedding Venue: Blue Bird Garage | Candlestick Hire: Function Hire 4 U | Flowers And Wreaths: The Rose Café | Sationary: Marieke Goncalves

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.

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Spring
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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 | Wedding Venue: Lion Sands | Beauty: Mist | Planning: Wedding Concepts | Travel Logistics: Travel Concepts

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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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