As a little girl you always wonder what “YOUR BIG DAY” might be like, look like, feel like and as you begin to visualize this perfect picture, your ideas and thoughts run away with you. Well, when the day finally came after getting engaged in the beautiful country of Cancún, Mexico, the entire way home it felt like a steam train took off in my mind. Dresses, bridesmaids, food, décor and then the big one A VENUE!
I will start at the beginning so I suggest you grab a cup of coffee, because I have a feeling this is going to be a long one.
When looking for a wedding venue, we struggled and i have always been quite picky when going to other weddings, scrutinizing the venue, food and décor as we all have our own taste, but the day I came across my “fairytale” wedding location, what I like to call it, there was no looking back! It was hard to pick a perfect location, something central enough for all family and friends. You have to think of accommodation that is nearby for guests to have the option of staying over, enough parking, easy access to the venue, there is a lot to consider, but choosing Winery Road Forest was the first best choice we made.
We went for our first appointment and venue viewing with Lizé and I can remember looking at my now husband, (oh how I love that I can call him that now) and he could see on my face how overwhelmed I was with ideas and obviously my bridal vision. I am quite a rustic outdoor kind of girl and the forest was just so captivating for me, its like you get lost in the beauty of its presence, it even smells like home.
We sat down with Lizé and I just gave it all to her, poor soul, I thought she would be overwhelmed with all my blabber of what I wanted, and it was the complete opposite, it was as if she was in tuned with me and could basically finish my sentences. This made the stress a lot less prominent and she even had a list of vendors to use for different things so I didn’t have to look around much and they did basically all the work for me, it was amazing!
Guys, this venue consists of the most beautiful dam overlooking the Stellenbosch mountain range, the forest and the most adorable rustic barn, yet so elegant in its own unique way. And let me not get started on the bathrooms, it made going to the toilet an experience. It was all just so perfect! So we paid our deposit and secured our date.
3, 4 months down the line and we were sitting at our last logistics meeting!
THE DAY BEFORE
The time went by so fast and when I blinked again it was the day before my wedding! I mean I thought I was nervous doing my drivers license test, this is a whole new level of extreme stress. We started the day with coffee, obviously. The rest of the day was wedding duty day. We had a lot of little things to take care of and luckily, I had my entire bridal party there to help and off we went to the venue.
We had decided on an in-house wedding coordinator so we made use of the venue’s wedding coordinating services which worked out perfectly as they knew the venue best and we just felt so comfortable putting our “BIG DAY” in their hands and trusting they would just blow us away. The wedding coordinator was so accommodating, I took up doing all the décor myself rather as it was the cheaper option and I remember panicking because I couldn’t get my eucalyptus hoop I made hung on the wall behind the bride & groom table, and Morne who was our wedding coordinator, took it from me and told me to go home and relax, and that he would sort it all out, I mean what a relief and I really needed that support if anything, when you do plan a wedding – MAKE A CHECKLIST!
The day was almost at its end and I left the venue, praying that when I got there the next morning that I wouldn’t faint at the door.
THE BIG DAY
I woke up without an alarm around 7:30. I slipped into my “bride to be” tank top my bride tribe had gotten me and shuffled downstairs. Myself, my mom and bridal party stayed at a guest house 20 minutes from the venue, I knew I needed coffee and some Biral because the nerves started kicking in. And as I stood in the garden practising my vows, my bridal party came out singing with a beautiful white silk gown with the words “bride” embroided in pink, playing the song “Marry you” from Bruno Mars, of course the tears were rolling as I was totally surprised by this experience and the effort put into this, was incredibly meaningful. After some tears, giggles, a quick breakfast AND MORE COFFEE myself and two bridesmaids hopped into the car to go to the venue while the others did their hair and make-up, we still had to do a last few minute décor arrangements and make sure my hoop was in actual fact hanging.
As we got there it all became so real to me, it was all coming together, the grass so beautifully cut, ah that smell of freshly cut grass, it actually looked edible.
When I walked into the barn which was where my wedding reception was to be held I was taken away. It was ALL done, my wedding coordinator went above and beyond he even hung up the fairy light curtain that was to go up behind our table, it was just all so perfect.
The dancefloor and courtyard were the most inviting part of this venue!
We put out the last few bible verse boards and our confetti at the ceremony area. The confetti we decided on was popcorn as the venue is eco-friendly and nature conserving, therefore your confetti needs to be biodegradable, and trust me it makes for a beautiful photo. We then stood back and were just in awe, we had a beautiful sunny day and as the sun beamed through the forest trees we looked at each other and couldn’t put to words how magical everything looked. This was like a fairytale book
We rushed back to the guesthouse at which point we had to have our make-up and hair done in less than 3 hours, but we made it just in the knick of time.
That moment I had put my dress on, breathed out deeply, and in anticipation looked into the mirror and watched how my vision had come together. The butterflies had already exploded in my tummy, and then I was ready
“Let’s go say I DO”
We really started this wedding off with a bang. On our way to the wedding we had a car accident in the vintage VW Combi we had rented for myself, bridal party and my father, we were blessed to all be unharmed and after a cliché delay of about 25 minutes, it was my turn to walk down the aisle, and not just any aisle – A FOREST AISLE!
You know that happy feeling you feel inside when watching a Disney princess movie and its that gripping moment towards the end where the prince saves the princess and they live happily ever after, well that feeling came to life for me in this moment walking down the aisle towards my knight in shining armor.
Standing in front of everyone you know and love for 30+ minutes is slightly awkward, whatever way you slice it. You know every eye is on you. What do you do with your hands? Where do you look? It’s all sort of a guessing game. I remember my dad handing me off to Gavin and I took his hands and not wanting to let go until it was time to be announced as husband and wife. We had a quick reading from the bible, and then it was time to read our vows. Gavin and I wrote our own, which was particular sentimental to me. The forest gave us such a feeling of peace of comfort, at times it felt like we were in another dimension. Then finally “I now pronounce you husband and wife, Gavin you may kiss your bride.”
HAPPY HOUR, OR TWO
After the “I do’s” and the first kiss, our guests were whisked away to pre-drinks at the dam which I have mentioned before, has a captivating view of the Stellenbosch mountain range with pink skies as the sun sets, I kept calling the pre-drinks “happy hour” because let’s be honest that’s what it was. Gavin and I, on the other hand, were whisked away to take photos, and were given the most amazing picnic basket with champagne and snacks from the venue as a celebratory gift, which was amazing because we didn’t get a chance to eat anything before the reception. I don’t regret the photos we have. Looking back even just a few months later, I’m glad we have them. It’s just the struggle of your wedding day, trying to find time to say hello to the people who came to celebrate with you and also find time to do your bride and groom duties.
We had so many compliments on the food that was served at the “happy hour”, which is always a risk and a worry when planning a wedding I mean how do you exceed +/- 100 different individual’s expectations.
We held our reception in a rustic barn with hanging crystal chandeliers, it was so rustic yet had a touch of elegance. Our dance floor was outside in the courtyard with a white and black checkered dance floor, we were nervous about the rain so Lize suggested we put up the bedouin tent, which in the end was so worth it. It had fairy lights hanging from it as well which looked beautiful once the sun had gone down, and they came on.
Before everyone heading into the barn we had a group photo taken with all our guests, how amazing does this not look. We love this photo!
We ate the most exquisite dinner, I remember a few guests coming to compliment the dinner and how there was just so much food, which was great because normally you have too little but everyone was happy so we were too. Then came the toasts. We laughed and cried, as you do with all good toasts.
I envisioned us up there making total fools of ourselves. But that song turned on and we got up there and I’m not exaggerating when I say there wasn’t a SINGLE OTHER PERSON under that tent in those few minutes. The one moment I worried about the most, turned out to be one of my most favourite memories for the day.
Our first dance song was “This year’s love” by David Gray in case you were wondering, and soon after everyone got up and joined us on the dance floor.
I danced my married booty off for the next 3 hours. Looking back I probably should have been a good host and make sure to make the rounds and see every person, but by this point the night was mine and I was going to be damned if I didn’t enjoy the best part of weddings.
The wedding venue had the most accommodating staff members and were so willing to help any guests who needed anything, and my wedding coordinator guys – was honestly a silent hero, he stayed up until the very last where he actually helped carry some gifts to the car and wished us off.
Looking back, I cannot say thank you enough to Winery Road Forest for all that they helped with, put effort into and for making my fairy tale wedding come to life, I was so lucky to come across this venue and live in my own personal Disney movie for a day.