So you’re planning your wedding?  Congratulations on your engagement!  It’s a fun, slightly overwhelming, occasionally confusing, incredible time – Use it wisely ; )

Having just been through a wedding of my own, I thought I’d use some of my insights as well as my experiences with weddings I have photographed to give you a few tips which will hopefully help to make the day your own.  (Simon Cowell might be on to something with that phrase).  This will be a series of thoughts using our wedding as a base to explain the thinking behind the decisions we made.  Of course, you can use them or ignore them, but you may find some useful tips.

A little after our engagement, Ashton and I discussed our future wedding. We spoke about what we wanted, how we imagined the day to be. We decided that we didn’t want a “traditional” wedding – Traditional:   I use that term loosely and in a context that may be different to yours.

We were so against the idea in fact, we were convinced we’d be saying our I Do’s on a remote island somewhere.  Please, don’t get me wrong.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with traditional weddings – They’re generally beautiful – They just aren’t us – In my interpretation, I get nervous and sweaty thinking about it, so why put ourselves through that on what’s meant to be the most amazing day of your life?

In May 2014, We had just returned from an incredible destination wedding – Friends of ours were married in Thailand –  We had gone with and I had photographed the wedding.  It really was a spectacular day, rich and vibrant in colour and diverse in cultures of a country other than our own.  We were pretty convinced it was exactly what we wanted in terms of it being different to the norm, so we continued our investigations to find the perfect international location.

Destination weddings can be tricky of course, and before long we were finding that what we pictured, was becoming increasingly difficult to find.  When we asked around it also seemed that not everyone was keen on the idea flying half way around the world to watch us get married.  Shocking.  I know : )

We discussed the option of a local wedding and what it was about them, we didn’t want vs what we did.  It turns out, we wanted our guests to just have a good time and we wanted to keep it as informal as possible.  We figured, if we could do that, we would look into staying a little closer to home.  Cue the search for a venue, locally.

In June, we agreed to view a few local venues.  Ashton wanted big, tall trees – a forest for the ceremony.   We went in search of this in Tulbagh, Tokai and finally Stellenbosch.

Google:  Mauritius Cape Town wedding venue forest or really tall trees with outdoor dancing and raw light bulbs

We arrived at Winery Road Forest with the intention of viewing the venue as a candidate for a mid-day Forest ceremony followed by an afternoon picnic on the lawns and then heading on to our honeymoon.   It sounded perfect –  Casual, different, relaxed and on budget.   Amazing.

It was raining as we walked through the forest and as we chatted with the co-ordinator, we stepped into the main hall on the premises to escape being sopping wet.   “Can you hang lights across the open courtyard?”  I asked.

In that instant as we stood in the empty room gazing out to the courtyard, whlie she uttered the single word, Yes – Our game plan changed.   There would be no destination wedding, no midday ceremony and no picnic.  We were signing up for a late afternoon ceremony, dinner in the main room and dancing in the courtyard under the lights.  “We have a cancellation for December 20th if you want the date.”  Just like that – Sold.

Lesson – Stay open to the possibility even if it’s not what you originally imagined or something the venue has ever done before.  When it comes along, regardless of what it looks like, if you open your mind and are able to use a little bit of vision, you’ll know if it’s right for you.

Some iPhone pics from our first venue visit:

Darren Bester Photography - Planning a Wedding - 1a Darren Bester Photography - Planning a Wedding - 2 Darren Bester Photography - Planning a Wedding - 3

 
Next up, I am going to discuss our timeline and explain how we adapted the normal order of events to best utilise our time and ensure the most beautiful light for our photographs. You can find that here: The Wedding Timeline

 
 

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