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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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KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, South Africa Wedding at Caversham Mill

Intimate and simply gorgeous, this Bride’s vision for a “summer camp for grown-ups” came to life in the prettiest of ways. With a stunning South African setting and love pouring out of every pretty picture by dna Photographers, this gallery is as good as they get. See it all here.

Colors
Seasons
Summer
Settings
OutdoorTent
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Elegant

From The Bride…I have rented a five-bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for the past eight years, and five years ago, when one of our roommates was moving out, I posted an ad on Craigslist. I received the following response: “Hi! My name is Chris Shirley. I am a 23 year old Structural Engineer. I currently live downtown and am moving out of my current apartment on 1 June. I work on 45th Street. Your apartment looks great. I would like to meet up with you and check it out.” He moved in on June 1, and after a summer spent going to the beach, camping out for Shakespeare in the Park tickets, and walking my dog around Central Park, we fell in love.

Christopher proposed in Central Park three years later, and we were married in City Hall with my mother and our best friend as witnesses. We told only our close friends and family, but Christopher wanted to keep our City Hall wedding a secret, because he feared that no one would fly half way around the world for our real wedding if they knew we were legally married. I managed to keep it secret for two months, and then posted this on Facebook: “Christopher Shirley & I got married on November 23, 2011 at NYC City Hall. We weren’t going to announce it until after our actual wedding ceremony, but I’ve waited over 2 months and I have no patience left. We’re married and I love the boy!”

Christopher is from Johannesburg, South Africa and we love the South African countryside. We wanted to hold our wedding ceremony at his family friends’ home and Country Inn, the Caversham Mill in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. Luckily, Christophers mother is an event planner, because we both work full-time and are in graduate school part-time. I emailed my mother-in-law a million photos from Style Me Pretty and told her we wanted “summer camp for grown-ups.” We wanted to go river tubing and midnight swimming, and romp around the hills with our best friends. We wanted to sing loudly at night, and take our friends on a game drive to see the Big 5 after the wedding. We also needed a vegan wedding, which was difficult but not impossible to pull off in South Africa. We are both vegans and animal rights activists, and to hear our meat eating friends proclaim that our wedding menu was so delicious they may actually consider going vegan was pretty incredible.

The rest, as they say, is history. My mother got her very first passport and flew 14 hours to South Africa. Our best friend married us under three beautiful old trees, and we had the most amazing time with friends and family who flew in from five different countries and four different continents to celebrate our marriage with us.

Photography: Dna Photographers | Venue: Caversham Mill

South Africa Wedding from Tasha Seccombe

One of my favorite aspects of blogging for SMP (besides, well, everything) is the opportunity to pour over gorgeous weddings from all across the world. I like to think of it as virtual vacations to the most incredible places imaginable. And today’s destination adventure takes us to an ever-so-serene apple farm in South Africa. It’s every bit as sweet as it sounds, and with just one look at the gallery of images from Tasha Seccombe, this stunning locale will definitely take place on your must-visit list.

Colors
Seasons
Summer
Settings
Farm

From the Bride…When Douglas and I got engaged, we both new that finding a venue for our wedding would be a challenge. We wanted a memorable wedding that would suit the people we are, what we enjoy, and include the things we both love. Our first choice was a beautiful farm. We believed that a serene, natural venue, would lend itself to a beautiful and relaxed wedding. We eventually decided on a family friends’ apple farm – Windermere – from which I have some great childhood memories. This was the start of a wonderful year of fun wedding planning (we would need to bring in everything from cutlery and tables to gas ovens and chopping boards) and interacting with some of the loveliest people in the Elgin valley.

We met Nadia Strauss from 4 Every Event, who is calm, level-headed and down to earth, and whose strong presence meant we always felt everything was under control – it really was. She did not at any point push her ideas onto us, and allowed us to express our wishes and showed us how they could evolve. We put together a mood board to capture the day. This was going to be the inspiration for every detail of the wedding. It took a long while to get these images together, to find the right pictures and make sure we were both happy with the final result. We wanted a country wedding, and we are both lovers of good food, good wine and fine dining. The marriage of fine dining and a country wedding had to be perfect. It was not to be shabby-chick or rustic, but rather an elegant, natural country affair, with a bit of the old world. Nothing was to be contrived or plastic, but real and wholesome. Quality was very important to us. There were a few key elements that would make this wedding special – flowers, trees, wood, bees and honey. We wanted lots and lots of flowers, lots of nature – an indoor-outdoor dining experience in the garden. The honeybee became our symbol of Mother Nature and everything would pivot around this idea.

We found a wonderful stationer – Lara Friday. We sent her our mood board and she was brilliant in interpreting what it was that we wanted. An elegant apple tree and a honeybee would bring together our simple, natural country theme. The colours were easy to decide on – creams, whites, sage greens, light browns and a hint of lavender blue – all found in a meadow. Our wedding day was a hot, still, sunny day. When I arrived at the church I thought I was stepping through the entrance of a magical, sunlit, wooded garden. A stream of rose petals led the way to the altar and a sea of smiling faces greeted me with warmth along the way. After the ceremony, Douglas and I drove off in a styling vintage car, which added to the old world flavour. The farm was breathtaking. The pre-drinks area was perfect for people to mill around under the trees and relax with some fresh homemade lemonade. The marquee was situated under big trees and we were lucky that it was warm enough to keep all the sides open, allowing us all to wine and dine in the outdoors while the stars came to life above us.

Nadia had interpreted the décor and flowers perfectly. The flowers were to look as though they had been freshly picked from a meadow that day. The tables were to look soft, elegant and natural which was achieved using a rectangular wooden basket brimming with flowers for the centerpiece and wood stumps to complement the theme. Each table had a different configuration, adding to the simplicity and natural feel. Jars of orange blossom honey were given to each guest.

My favourite touch was the cream lanterns hanging above each table. These were a special request I had made, and in them sat white candles of all different sizes, bringing a warm glow to the dining area, along with the wooden oak flooring below. Lanterns were to be used anywhere and everywhere in favour of normal lights to enhance the warmth and magical feel of the night. The food, provided by chef Gordon Manuel from South Hill, was outstanding and served very professionally. The wine, from the local boutique Highland Rd and Belfield wine estates, complemented the poached fillet risotto perfectly, and we finished off the meal with a slice of orange and almond wedding cake and berries drizzled with honey. The eating did not stop there, however, as we served cheese boards and much later on, gammon rolls for those who were still hungry. We partied late into the night and into the early hours of the morning, until the sun rose.

I will never forget my wedding day – the décor, the suppliers, the guests, they all added to what was the most memorable day of my life. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I can thank Tasha Seccombe, our photographer, for capturing some of the most natural photographs from the day, and whose eye managed to capture the mood perfectly, so that all I need to do is browse through and remember each and every happy moment.

Wedding Photography: Tasha Seccombe | Cinematography: Vicky Goslin |  Floral + Event Design + Planning: 4 Every Event | Ceremony Location: Paul Cluver Chapel | Reception Location: Windermere Farm | Catering: Gordon Manuel | Stationery: Lara Designs | Cake: High Tea | Hair + Make-up: Lianne Kakebeeke | Wedding Dress: Robyn Roberts