Wednesday, 7 March 2012

wednesday weddings: south african farm style

One of the best things about this blog is that I get to celebrate things more than once. 
As in, there's real life, and then there's this record - it can take a long time to find the right words and the right photos to illustrate a post - like this wedding of a schoolfriend of mine (Don't even try to do the math- you'll run out of fingers...) 
It's months since I asked permission from both the bride and photographer - so much so that the bride is nearly a brand new momma! I knew that I had to go searching in different places for all the photos that I wanted to show you, so I put it off convinced it would take a lot of time... 
but the bonus is that I have been able to relive the whole special day all over again!

I'm a big fan of weddings - it doesn't matter whether it's city or country, beach, bush or berg, full-on formal or laidback & low-key, fancy or flat shoes only- I love 'em all!

Yet there is something that is even more special when it's at a venue that is important to the people involved - as it was with Shannon's wedding to Gavin, held on the farming homestead where she had grown up, surrounded by sugarcane farms which KwaZulu Natal is famous for, bordered by private game farms, high above the mighty Umkomaas River flowing through the untamed Umkomaas Valley.
June is mid-winter in South Africa, and while sunny, it was pretty chilly. Storms in the months before had brought down trees, destroyed farm outbuildings and smashed the wall around the pool. 

Not that this was a bad thing, since it became the obvious place to build the altar, next to the centuries old brick & slate farmhouse:

The farm provided the perfect setting to showcase the skills of photographer Adrian Shields. When I see Shan in the window of her parent's bedroom, I imagine this is where she played as a child imagining her fairytale wedding, one day far away...
I had to include this photo of family & generations in this post - Shan's beloved gran and aunt during the ceremony, and bridesmaid & sister Kate's belly, baking Shan's nephew who was born just weeks later
(Although I am unsure why Adrian never thought to photoshop out my frown lines as I sat behind Shan's aunt! It may have been June, but it was bright. Note to self: don't use sunnies as an alice band but to protect the eyes!)
Ceremony was time to celebrate...
Gavin, the groom, managed a game farm at the time of the wedding - and having run many weddings with friend and wedding co-ordinator Di Priem, the attention to detail was extraordinary. Forget Bridezilla - here was Groomzilla! 
The nip in the winter air was kept at bay by warming fires in 44 gallon drums - nothing unusual there - other than the bespoke messaging welded into the metals. It was a clever detail by day that got even more impressive in the dark (not so impressive were my attempts to photograph it in the dark, so just trust me on this
While the wedding party wandered off for photos we tucked into shots of sherry and Amarula, the unique South African liqueur made of fermented marula berries. (As an aside, we may like the bottled stuff, but elephants, rhino, warthog, kudu, baboons, vervet monkeys, zebra and porcupine are all known to partake in fallen marula berries - they like to get 'drunk' too!) 
Fortune cookies provided much amusement, as did the 'wedding survival kit' for all guests...
Oh, here they front of the stables where Shan has probably spent more waking hours than anywhere else on earth!

Night fell and we moved under cover...

The same storm that had provided a natural altar had knocked down stables - which Gav craftily re-worked into a bar, complete with optics for shots, and strung with fairylights...
which was well frequented as we danced the night away by firelight...
lucky Adrian managed a better shot of the fires than I did!
Such a fun and special day - I kinda wish we could do it all over again.
I might have a word...

Shannon Naude is a professional wedding make-up artist based in Hillcrest, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. Contact Shannon Leigh via Facebook.

images: some own, professional shots by Adrian Shields Photography
wedding planner: Di Priem


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