Our DIY Woodlands Wedding

More like our Do-It-With-The-Help-of-All-Our-Friends-and-Family Wedding

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{brides and wedding planners, feel free to forage through this list of what our woodlands wedding day entailed}

On October 3rd 2014 amidst family, friends, trees, sky and each other’s teary glances, Collin and I swapped rings, said our I do’s, feasted and made our merry way into marriage.

I whipped up the ‘best day of our lives’ (and it really was) with tons of creative masterminding and much pinterest-sifting.  All these plans and ideas were excuted by myself, my now lovely husband, and the help or input of pretty much every single person we know and love.

These cost effective, easy-ish to accomplish, and thematically stunning ideas include:

The stationary

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As traditionally expected, I introduced the wedding theme and colors in the ‘save the date’ and invitation – Mint, silver and woodlands animals (which I sketched myself). I even designed an email signature to use for all wedding related emails as a cute touch.  The invitation was sent out as a website, but for the wedding party and parents I made a keepsake version – a white tin, a private letter, fridge magnets of little owls, and the invite that pulls out from a ribbon tag.

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This woodlandsy minty silvery theme then continued throughout this booklet which were handed out to guests arriving at the wedding.

Cover

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back cover

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My dress

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I designed my dress based on bits and pieces I liked from various different dresses. The kind lady who made my dress adjusted it slightly to the more realistically flattering version. (Dress makers see all styles of dresses on all sorts of shapes and sizes, trust their instincts!) This lovely garment was made for me by Estique Wedding Wear in George.dressIMG-20141004-WA0001

If you live in a big city like I do, consider avoiding over priced boutiques, mass produced dresses, or shoddy handmade cheap dresses by finding a decent boutique in a small nearby town.  Whether you buy a ready made dress or ask them to make you one, you will most likely be able to buy a very well made dress from them for cheaper than renting one in the city… and then you have an actual dress to sell or keep.

My Hair, Make-up and Accessories

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With the help of some stunningly skilled friends, my hair (with extensions) (by Ferrigno Hair Design) and make-up (by Natural Living) was super affordable/free and enchantingly beautiful.  These lovely looks were adorned by an incredible gift from my MOH of a diamond necklace, and the extremely sentimental and made especially for my wedding day earcuff (by Forever Love).

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The Bridesmaids

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A very sweet and generous family friend offered to make my best girls some simple but smart dresses in the length they chose.  We then added a bit of glint by sewing costume jewelry bracelets onto ribbons to tie around their waist. Their hair was all done in various braids as suited each best, and they could wear any silver jewelry they chose, though they all lovingly chose to wear the necklace I gave them in the bridesmaid brunch.

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The Flower Girls

I bought many many meters of tulle and ribbon in white and various shades of mint which the flower girls’ mom generously turned into the most adorable tutus.  Skipping through the trees and walking down the aisle, ribbons in hand, in their tutus, white t’s, glittery sneakers and bunny pins (made as a gift by a wonderfully talented friend of mine), they were the cutest picture of woodlands whimsy.

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The Groom & Groomsmen 

I went for smart casual, with Collin’s best men in grey shirts, charcoal skinny ties, and black chinos. I originally planned on all stars, but the boys weren’t too keen on sneakers, so we found some form of foot apparel middle ground. As boutonnieres (lolwat at that word, that spelling should not be allowed anymore 0o), they had ferns pinned on by little fox badges (also made for us by the same talented friend). (For the grooms party photos, credit and appreciation to Adri Viljoen)

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We searched long and hard for Collin to look so dapper in his non traditional jacket.  We chose to categorically avoid a suit jacket, as Collin wanted to feel more sentiment and less formality.  The jacket we did find, along with white shirt, textured grey skinny tie, black chinos and the fancier side of sneakers kept him looking smart whilst fitting snuggly into the grey/woodlands/folksy theme.

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Looking back at the photos, I am in love with the picturesque combination of textures and colours.

The Ceremony

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We were wed amongst the trees, under the sky at a hidden away forest venue called Pampoenkraal on a farm in Durbanville (Western Cape, South Africa).

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It will always mean so much to me that we were married by the same officiant that married my parents 30 years ago.

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My own father (who is also an officiant/pastor) said a few very special words,Wedding-143

 

and we were swept away in the moment by friends of ours who also happen to be members of a Hillsong worship team.  {friends who sing at weddings are special, professionals who sing at weddings are breathtaking, friends who are professionals who sing at your wedding are breathtakingly special.}

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We then planted a tree for many poetic reasons, but also because now we can go back once a year and take a photo under it as it and our family grows. {awwwww}

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Woodlands decor came naturally at this beautiful outdoors venue among the trees.  I adorned an awkward tree stump with photos pegged to twine, scattered rice lights (china town battery operated!) and chalk boards all over the trees, tied mint and silver ribbons to all the backs of all the plastic chairs, and edged the aisle with ivy. (When I say ‘I’, what I actually mean is my amazing mom spending hours watching soapies tying ribbons together, and my awesome wedding party who all jumped when I hinted ‘bounce’) One of my bridesmaids made bunting from book pages, silver colored brown paper and hessian stapled to twine.  Fyi, typo sells copper (and other colored) staples for a neater finish.

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The main attraction (until I arrived) was the aisle runner – Our timeline, from meeting to that moment.  A family friend cut the vinyl stickers for me as a gift, and I stuck them onto good ol’ cheap white fabric lining.  We then pegged (literally with tent pegs) the lining into the ground and hid the pegs under the ivy.  Clever hey!  This is the BEST solution I could find (make up actually) for an on grass aisle runner, after ages of sourcing and hunting and pricing.  To keep it white until I arrived, we used ivy as a ‘no entrance’ chain and the groomsmen instructed guests to find their seats from the outside aisles.

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Our confetti moment came to life after months of punching tissue paper (which by the way is one of the most biodegradable materials), and if you still don’t trust it, you can buy ‘biodegradable tissue paper’ on ebay (but I think that’s just a marketing ploy tbh).  Besides being not-so-bad for the nature, it was so pretty as it floated slowly to the ground.

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The Photoshoot

Giant credit to Nina Claasen Photography who blessed us with these stunning memories of our wedding day.
I asked Nina to capture happy, natural moments rather than ‘smile’-click ones.  She did exactly that, and so beautifully.  I really am in love with our wedding album.  Here are some of my favorites.

Wedding-192Wedding-200Wedding-208Wedding-211Wedding-214Wedding-226Wedding-236Wedding-245Wedding-259Wedding-263Wedding-260Wedding-273Wedding-296Wedding-297The ‘interlude’

I’m not actually sure what the part where the guests have welcome drinks and eats is called, but that’s what they did.  And they did this in a lovely lapa area between the ceremony and reception areas.

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I made an easy recipe of mint lemonade (this recipe + the tiniest bit of berry carioca for color).  For presentation, I got some crates of bashews bottles from my (now) mother in law, and bought a few more on the road side (about 90x cheaper than hunting them down in antique stores).

This was served with platters of cheese.  Collin was very upset that cheese would be eaten without him, so I arranged a platter and drinks to be brought to the photo shoot (helped with the casual, natural vibes at the shoot too).

All of these wonderful eats and drinks (I assume, what bride has time to eat), were enjoyed by our guests to the folk (at our request) sounds of the talented Dirkie & Talisa. Music during the interlude, even if not live, makes a big difference to the vibe.  It is after all that awkward time when all the people you know but don’t know each other mingle for the first time.

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The reception

We celebrated our nuptials directly after the photo shoot/interlude in an earthy, rondavel type hall at the same venue. a I would totally recommend enjoying your whole wedding at the same venue in one big easy flow.  It makes setting up SO much easier, and the guests don’t feel like they’re dedicating n entire day driving and finding venues at your beck and call.  Also it helps keep all the guests around (none of those slip aways between venues).

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In line with the woodlands theme, there were animals rather than table numbers.  I had them laser cut from cheap wood, glued book pages to them, and tea stained them.  These correlated to the woodlands animals sketched (by me ^^,) on the seating charts, which were pegged to twine in keeping with that woodlandsy look.

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IMG_7537172423999Once at their table, guests could find their seat by their name tags attached to the brownies (which we – the bridal party – baked till 2am the previous morning). The brownies were our very affordable, yet yummy favors.  I designed, printed and cut the tags myself which worked out a lot cheaper and easier than buying pre-cut tags.

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The guitarist and violinist from the interlude were kind enough to move their equipment a few meters and continue playing at the start of the ceremony.  Their festive music was our ambiance till dessert, when the DJ took over.

Speeches were split up between each course, starting with our best man and maid of honor before starters were served. Between starters and the main course (amazing buffet with meat braaied on a fire in the middle of the lapa) each of our fathers said a few words, and just before dessert Collin and I each said a short thank you speech.  We found that keeping the speeches short and sweet, and splitting them up throughout the evening allowed each speaker the guests’ full and non-bored attention.

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The cake…that cake… drool. We have committed ourselves to buying that same cheesecake every single year just once a year.  It is as special as anniversaries, birthdays and mothersdays, it needs to be celebrated, but only once a year.  And yes, I did say cheesecake.  It was a MISSION to find a bakery that were willing to make us cheesecake for our wedding.  Finally we did find the wonderful Frostings in Durbanville who made us a stunningly beautiful and delicious 4 tier cheesecake covered in chocolate slabs.  The bakery also arranged these meeple toppers for us and we asked them to paint the hearts in our wedding color.


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Let me take you through it slowly – that’s 1 tier of blueberry cheesecake covered in dark chocolate slabs; 1 tier of strawberry cheesecake covered in milk chocolate slabs; 1 tier of caramel cheesecake covered in caramel chocolate slabs; topped with 1 tier of lemon cheesecake covered in white chocolate slabs.  Oh my goodness I’ll have the whole wedding over just for that cake.

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The Dance Domain company helped us (in about 6x1hour lessons) learn a choreographed boogie dance for half of the song Timber (yes, actually the one by Pitbull and Kesha… yes that actual one).  Right where the song builds up half way through we (pre arranged with some so there’s no awkwardness) had our friends all join on the dance floor.  The perfect trigger to partying the night away. (And yes I changed dresses, to a R150 factory white summery dress and danced happily in my cute silver sneakers ^^,)

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The Video

The best videographer I’ve ever seen captured our stunning day, and at a phenomenally affordable price (even before he blessed us with a discount).  Nick Waring is astounding at what he does:

All in all, I’m loving married life, and I love the day it started ❤

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Engaged – The Story

[Spoiler] He proposed! I said yes! We’re engaged!

The rest of this blog post is for the close friends, family and  romantics who love the details.

For a month or two now, Collin’s been planning quite a romantic scheme of a proposal. Flowers, and friends and champagne, going down on one knee and the perfectly planned speech.  The entire proposal was magical, except it wasn’t any thing like that at all.

Collin got home last night from the gym (yes gym, I did not misspell dota, or wow, or game – gym), tired, sore and sweaty, to find me sitting on my bed with my hoodie over my head and my face red and my hair matted in tears – pretty!  What lead up to this point was a horrible weekend of stress, anxiety, arguing and a total of about 4 hours sleep the entire weekend – one of those times in life when it feels like every direction you look there’s a problem and every problem feels unsolvable.  I promise this is the same story that ends in a magical proposal.

As Collin walked in and found me in this mess of a state, I was about to unleash my self pitying rant on him when he took one look at me and said, “just one second, I promise I’ll be right back, I just Have to go pee first.”  I hadn’t noticed at all that he was only gone for a total of about 10 seconds before he was back in my room and sat down in front of me.  So there we sat cross legged on the bed, sweaty and sore, sobbing and a mess, and both utterly exhausted. I poured out my entire soul to him in wines and sobs and he just sat listening and looking at me.  When I finally paused to take in whatever soothing, sympathetic response I expected him to give me, he reached into his pocket and pulled out the box.

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Instantly my sobs of panic and anxiety changed to sobs of complete surprise and elation – note I was still sobbing, possibly even worse.  I only wish I could remember the exact words and everything he said, wow proposal would’ve had logs ><. But I do remember him starting to say how this was the right moment because this was us, not that we’re two sad self pitying humans who never sleep and cry and gym all the time, but that we’re messy, and emotional, and care sooooo much for each other – that’s us. Well he started to say this, when the stove started beeeeeping, to be followed by my phone which suddenly decided to make every noise it knew all in a row. By this point my sobbing has turned to giggling and Collin is soldiering on in his speech.  Of what I can remember, he went on to talk about how imperfect our lives have been for the past 5 years, and how much we love each other through everything and how sorry he is, but he will not be going down on one knee because gymming sucked. Haha I’m smiling so much just recalling all this. Putting in a disclaimer that this was the part of the speech he’d been practicing, he went on to remind me about how he asked me out by saying “I have a business proposal for you” and continued, “Our business has been mutually beneficial and I want to extend the arrangement.”

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It got to the moment, and Collin started with, “Bronwyn Marion Flanigan”, and then shared the words, “Will you marry me?” with a duck crash landing on the roof with a bang. I handed him my hand to put the ring on, and my ring finger (of all fingers) had sauce on it from the food I’d been cooking.  After cleaning off the bbq, he slipped on the ring – too big. But sparkly!! SO sparkly. I sparkle now.  One of my favorite things about the entire proposal is that I’ve known for a while now that he’s had the ring, and I’ve been anticipating the moment and assumed I’d know exactly what was happening when it finally did happen.  Could NOT have been more wrong, could not have expected it less at that very messy moment when he pulled the box out of his pocket.

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Magical. Utterly and splendidly imperfect.  I said yes.

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We enjoyed the rest of the evening together at the Durbanville Cattle Baron – where we went on our first anniversary we weren’t apart (long distance sucked). Happy now 🙂