When Nicole sent us her wedding to publish on our website, she had such a lovely write-up accompanying the photo's that I decided to not write my own article but instead publish hers as is.
I know every bridal couple will say that their wedding was absolutely perfect and everything that they had hoped it would be and I have to confess that our feelings are no different. Our aim throughout our engagement was to have a relaxed, different, untraditional and heartfelt wedding. Getting married in Hanover, a small and sleepy town in the heart of the Karoo, ensured we got just that. We all walked to the church for the ceremony (including the bride!) and we had our reception in the street under a cloudless, starry Karoo night sky.
Ray and I got married on our 9 year anniversary and months before we had even become engaged we decided Hanover was where we wanted to celebrate our love. . The guest house is called 3 Darling Street and is owned by Ray’s mom and stepdad. After we got engaged we set up a website (www.theknot.com/ourwedding/raytruter&nicoleward ) which allowed us to give all of our guests a bit of insight into our journey as a couple as well as information about the small town, available accommodation, dress code, weather conditions etc. Most of the guests travelled from Port Elizabeth to attend and it was important that we included clear directions and maps on the website. The theme of our wedding was Vintage Karoo and our wedding invitations were vintage style photo frames that I painted to give it a white washed look, as well as mini enamel mugs with vetplant inside. We used these enamel mugs throughout the wedding as you will see later.
The guests arrived during the course of the afternoon and evening on Friday 1 April and after they had all checked in and wandered around the town they joined us at the guest house bar and restaurant for a build a burger evening. It was so nice to see all our guests mingling and having fun but mostly getting to know each other. Our wedding was a very DIY one and it was definitely a family affair. There were no guests at our wedding… only workers ha ha. My mom made Red Velvet Cupcakes as part of our desert for the wedding and on the Friday night most of the ladies were in the kitchen icing them for us. The groomsmen were outside hanging the rope across the street for our lanterns at the reception the following night.
It had been raining since Thursday 31 March when we arrived in Hanover but when we woke up on Saturday 2 April it was a stunning day! Being a DIY wedding we set everything up ourselves. Or should I say our guests set everything up. We had people carrying tables (which were stolen from the monthly Saturday Market…), putting chair covers on, setting the table décor, hanging fairy lights and lanterns, making salads, hanging hearts all over the street and inside the church. It was truly amazing to see all our family and friends working so hard for us.
My dress was made by the incredible Lee-Anne Griffiths of A DO décor and design. She was absolutely brilliant and made perfect sense of all my magazine cut outs and hand drawn wedding dresses. It fit like a glove and I felt so comfortable in it. I didn’t want to take it off! It was very flattering and so different. Ray bought his suit from Birches. The bridesmaids wore their own black dresses and I bought pearls and head pieces for them to tie in with the Vintage theme. I bought stunning dresses from Truworths for my 2 Maids of Honour. The Groomsmen wore their own blue jeans and we bought pale blue shirts, poor boy caps and suspenders for them.
My hairdresser (Maria Deidda from Perfect Touch) was kind enough to travel all the way for me as well as our Pastor and his wife (Kurt and Shantelle Sutton from Oasis Family Church). This ensured that the ceremony was a very personal one because he knows us so well. My sister in law (Megan Nicholls from Skin Beauty Clinic) did my make up while my cousin’s girlfriend (Candice von Ruben from Beautylicious) did my bridesmaids make up.
Because of our limited budget and the distance we couldn’t afford professional photographers and my husband (an aspiring photographer) was crazy enough to try and take some pics of our own wedding with the help of a friend (Leanne van der Merwe). She realised this was a crazy idea and as she works at Rhodes University she managed to convince two 4th year photo journalism students to come to the wedding and they took pics for us free of charge. They did a fantastic job and I love how they managed to piece the weekend back together for us. We owe a big thank you to Caeri Dunnell, Dianne Jordan and Leanne.
My gift to my mom and dad were embroidered handkerchiefs with “To wipe away the tears as you watch your little girl walk down the aisle” on it. I had my own made with our wedding date on. We used it quite a bit during the emotional ceremony!
The time eventually arrived for us to walk to the church. The bell had been rung for all the guests and they had already wandered to the ceremony a few minutes before I did. It was such a special moment to walk down the gravel street en route to the church with all the local children cheering us as we walked by, with my mom, dad, sister, bridesmaids, paige boys and flower girls in tow.
It was an extremely emotional day. It was a day we had all been waiting a long time for. When Ray and I first started dating everyone knew that it would be forever. Those few steps down the aisle felt surreal. I had two Maids of Honour and six Bridesmaids so it made the moment last a lot longer! Walking down the aisle with my dad I was in tears. EVERYONE was in tears! There was not a dry eye in that whole church. I walked down the aisle to Everything by Lifehouse and I had a bouquet made out of old brooches and rings (from my grannies, moms, and a few new ones). My bridesmaids made it for me. I then asked the special women in my life to tie brooches to the lace wrapped around it as I walked down the aisle. That made all of us cry even more! Ray was crying, my father in law was crying, everyone was crying. Instead of rose petals we had scattered black and white photos down the aisle of Ray, myself and the guests at our wedding. It was like a walk down memory lane! The pastor’s sermon was so relaxed, so true and had special meaning for each and every person in the church that day. We didn’t have any hymns but a friend of ours (Caron Strydom), who has an amazing voice, sang Feels like Home by Chantal Kreviazuk for us. It was so touching!
When the ceremony was over we walked out of the church to a song called Kissing You by Des’ree. We both love music very much and knew it would play a big part in our wedding.
After the ceremony all the guests went to a little museum just outside the church where we served sherry and orange juice in the old enamel mugs I spoke about earlier. This museum housed all sorts of antiques and vintage pieces and hence tied in perfectly with our theme. We enjoyed some time with them before heading out for our photos. All the guests walked back to the reception (aka the street!) The guest house is known for its pizza’s and is aptly named Papa Luigi’s and for this reason we served these as starters for the guests. We played various Frank Sinatra and Miles Davis songs while they waited for us. Because the town is so small and we could walk to all of our photo locations we weren’t gone for very long.
In true Karoo style we enjoyed a delicious Lamb Spit and homemade salads made by my mom, step mom and the farmers wives in the town. Our wedding cake was a tower of various cheeses and this cheese and biscuit tier became part of the desserts for the evening along with my mom’s cupcakes and a farmer’s wife’s mini milk tarts and koeksusters.
Our first dance was very untraditional! We danced to Wet Welly by Goldfish because it has a very vintage sound to it. It isn’t a slow song but we thought that we would put a spin on it - this is a joyous occasion so why shouldn’t it be a happy fun song. The guests loved the up-tempo beat and soon joined us. My dad is a big Greenday fan and not a dancer So I thought I would make it as easy as possible for him and chose Time of your life by Greenday as our Father/Daughter dance. Caron Strydom and her talented father Andre Strydom entertained the guests well into the early hours of the morning. They are a powerful singing duo and were definitely the life of the party!
At one stage I think all the guests were on the dancefloor were screaming away to Raise your glass by Pink and hence we have decided that it will become our theme song for the wedding.
When it got dark enough all the guests went outside to watch us let off the sky lanterns. We let off about 15. It was so amazing! We asked the DJ (Ryan Nicholls who is my sister in laws husband..I told you it was a real family affair.) to play Sweet Disposition by the Temper Traps as we let them go. This could have been my favourite part of the whole wedding. I have never seen anything more beautiful! It was definitely a goosebump moment. We only found out afterwards that some of the locals thought they were “unidentified flying objects.
As I previously mentioned, everyone got involved in the wedding. We even had our very own auction to raise money for our honeymoon. My father in law filled mini glass bottles with all sorts of alcoholic mixtures and named them after various things to do with Ray and I and the wedding (for example a bottle was called A touch of Karoo Madness and Hanover Brew etc). We soon pointed out that a friend of ours should give up his day job and become an auctioneer! It was so unplanned and so fun and had everyone in stitches.
There were so many unique touches and so many DIY elements in the wedding and my advice is that you can certainly pull off an amazing wedding on a VERY tight budget if you are just prepared to roll up your sleeves and get creative.
We bought scraps of paisley material and our Ouma made serviettes for us. My sister embroidered “Hanover 2 April 2011” on each serviette and guests were able to take this home with them. The table numbers doubled up as guest books. We wrapped little books with vintage style paper and stuck number stickers on them. They were the table numbers and the guests at the tables could write messages to us in them. Our friends at Angelic Wonders kindly lent us paisley print tablecloths and rustic chargers. We bought loads of enamel mugs in all shapes and sizes and the Flower and Gift shop filled them with white roses and vetplant.
We made a sign to stick on the wall that spelled out “You are my dream come true” and painted an old piece of wood that we found in my fathers garage with the words “All because two people fell in love”. I also made a sign for the little suitcase that the ring bearer carried down the aisle with our rings in. It had “The Rings” written on it. To keep the guests entertained we had photo boards made of a Bride and Groom that they could take their picture with. Ray collected coffee tins, pierced holes in them and stuck a candle inside and this became VERY effective décor for the ground. I was very lucky to have a hands on husband who was just as creative and involved in this wedding as I was (sometimes even more so I think).
The guest’s presents were old looking candle holders for the ladies, biltong for the men and had a book made for everyone. This book detailed our history as a couple, how we met, the long distance relationships, the engagement etc. It also included historical facts about Hanover, the church, fun things to do in the town and the lyrics of the songs that we played at the wedding. Louw Sevenster designed it for us and Repro House printed it.
In order to keep the kids entertained at the wedding (because there were quite a few) we made colouring in books for them with Karoo related pictures inside. They received their own wedding gift pack with the colouring in book, crayons and sweets. We also made First Dance flags for them so that they could wave these when we did our first dance. Although I think the adults enjoyed doing these more than the kids did. We have received so many compliments from the guests and it makes us very proud because Ray and I put a lot of hard work, effort and thought into every detail of the wedding. We knew it was a special day and we wanted to make sure it stayed that way and lasted as long as it possibly could (most of the guests partied until 3am – including the bride and groom!). We never wanted to get wrapped up in stresses over décor, wedding colours, the right colour flowers etc so we just eliminated all of those things from the wedding.
There is no denying that planning a wedding on a shoe string budget is hard work but it is extremely gratifying. We had plenty of help from friends and family and it touched our hearts. We would do it all over again in a heartbeat. We went on honeymoon to Thailand (Bangkok, Koh Samui and Phuket) and we loved it so much that we can’t wait to go back!
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