Wedding Stories

Johan & Keegan

How did you first meet? 

We met on Tinder.

Tell is a little about yourselves as a couple?

We both love nature, family, friends and Jesus.

Tell us about the proposal…

We got engaged on 30 December 2018 at sunrise on top of the Arniston Caves in the Western Cape.

How long was your engagement?

9 months.

Did you find it challenging to find your perfect venue?

Finding the right venue for the vision we had in mind was a huge task. We had collected 86 venues’ wedding documents and created a Google Sheets document in which we sorted all the important information into columns so that we could have a holistic view of what each venue had to offer, and how they compared to one other. Our biggest challenge was finding a venue that had that outside, garden feel, but with a solution should we be blessed with rain on the day.

What made you decide on Lythwood as your wedding venue? 

The look of Avellini tent suited our gourmet market/festival theme. We also wanted as many guests as possible to stay on the venue so that we could make an entire weekend out of it and make sure we spend quality time with everyone in the days leading up to the main event. Lythwood offered this option.

Describe Lythwood in 3 words…

Excellent service. Beautiful. Warm and welcoming.

What was your vision for your Big Day… 

We both like doing things differently. We wanted to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere that reflects our personalities, and the type of home we want to create in the years to come.

We also wanted to create more experiences over and above the actual wedding, to ensure that we get to spend time with at least every person we invited. So we called our wedding BestFest! Activities included a sunset hike on Saturday afternoon, Yoga & Mimosas on Lythwood’s beautiful lawn on Sunday morning, followed by a group wine-tasting at Highgate Wine Estate later the afternoon.

On Monday was the Main Event… our wedding! We both love gourmet food markets, so we wanted our reception to have a gourmet-market/festival feel, with food stalls and informal lounge/bar seating. Lythwood’s Avellini tent was absolutely perfect for this look and feel!

Did you have any special details and décor? Tell us… 

Yes… very specific details. Everyone had a mood board! Even poor Vuzi (Lythwood’s 5-star chef) received one!

Our furniture itself was detailed and had a wide variety of shapes, textures and colours. So we didn’t want to have too much décor over and above that. Our flower vases were empty gin bottles – we are obsessed with beautiful gin labels! We made the rose gold frames and food stall bars ourselves and borrowed the Persian carpets and wine barrel from family friends. We served the food on bamboo boats, black slate tiles, and wooden planks which had wax paper with our wedding logo printed on.

What did you find most surprising about planning a wedding?

How much the small extras can add up to.

How did you deal with any planning stress? Do you have any tips or tricks?

I’m a big over-thinker… so the only way I could cope with stress was to speak to my husband, family and friends. Going through all the details with someone else helps you get an objective opinion. You realise how much you’ve actually already done, and they are able to point out the gaps from a clear and calm point of view.

What did you find the most challenging part of planning your wedding?

Finding time to do all the planning with a full-time job. I felt exhausted when it was done – but it was all worth it!

What was the most fun detail of your wedding to plan?

Our seating and lounge set-up! Our original quotes were triple the amount we budgeted for, so we had to be very smart with the suppliers and furniture selections we chose. I had a very detailed spreadsheet in which I made sure we considered absolutely every detail from online reviews and delivery costs, to whether the products are in line with current interior design trends. It took us approx. 3 months to get the right combination, and finally, we decided on Settings Furniture Hire and The Wedding Table.

The set-up was done on the day while I was getting ready, so I only saw the end result when I entered the tent with my husband. I was blown away! And it looked even better than my mood boards – which says a lot!

What did you learn about your husband/wife during the planning?

We both have very specific and different ways of doing this.. and neither of us gives in easily. But we quickly learnt that in some areas it’s important to step back and trust your partner. Even if you don’t agree with their method… nothing trumps them knowing that you trust in him/her.

What did you learn about yourself?

I over think things, a lot.

What’s your number one piece of advice for couples just starting to plan their wedding?

Use a budget model template and make sure you budget for every type of expense, even if it’s only R50. We used Bruidgids’ budgeting estimates as a base and combined it with some research online. And add 20% more at the end of your calculations for hidden costs – there are ALWAYS hidden costs. Believe me!

Also, make sure someone is aware of every detail of your wedding so that they can step in and make decisions should something not go right on the day.

And, most importantly, tell your bridesmaids and family what you expect of them. Both my mothers and my bridesmaids knew exactly how I wanted everything and it made not only the big day but the leading up to it, extra special!

Tell your bridesmaids exactly what type of kitchen tea/bachelorettes you want – don’t let them guess. People celebrate moments in life differently – if you want them to write you letters on the day, or to pray for you, tell them! Don’t assume they’ll just do it because you will be disappointed.

What would be the one thing you would recommend that a couple spends good money on for their wedding?

Photographer AND a videographer! I truly believe in having both. Photos and videos capture moments differently. Have as much content of the day as you can so that you can re-live it over and over again!

Tell us about your dress, from buying it to how you felt in it on the day…

I felt absolutely amazing! So beautiful, and very comfortable. I had a bit of drama though. I ordered the dress through The Wedding Boutique to be imported from the Made With Love brand in Australia. I had just, just made the cut-off for dress imports when I ordered it, and when it arrived two weeks before the wedding, it was too short. The Wedding Boutique handled it extremely well. They managed to think of a plan to lengthen it, and within a week it was all fixed!

Give a brief description of the morning of your wedding – how did you feel, who were you with, what did you do?

I was a bit stressed the morning of. I wanted to write letters to my husband and family the previous evening, but unfortunately, my mind was preoccupied with my 3 bridesmaids dresses being 3 sizes too big! So I decided to go to bed and wake up earlier to write the letters. However, I ended up rushing to get them finished as everyone wanted to come and say hi and wish me luck! Finally, at one stage, I just closed the door, put the “Do not Disturb” sign on, and finished my letters. After that, only my mother was allowed in the suite. We had a quiet moment where she blessed me with oil and prayed for me and my marriage. And after that, my bridesmaids, service providers and grandmothers arrived, and we spent the whole day drinking champagne, laughing and making silly jokes!

Tell us  a little bit about your ceremony… for example, did you write your own vows and, if so, what made you decide to do that?

Our ceremony was extremely special. The atmosphere was warm and welcoming, we all laughed a lot, and at the same time, we could truly feel the presence of the Holy Spirit.

It took place outside Lythwood’s restaurant, on the cement pavement under a big tree. It was a very cold day, and the sky was overcast. Our view overlooked a small hill with cattle grazing in the distance.

When I saw Johan for the first time through the windows while my bridesmaids were walking down the aisle, my heart filled with love and contentment. Nothing had ever felt so right. My father, on the other hand, was more ecstatic about the cows in the background! I later found out that he personally went to the man in charge of the cattle and asked him to make sure they were there, in full view!

My father and I did the father-daughter dance at the beginning of the aisle. It was very important to me that he be the last man I danced with, and that he placed the veil over my head before he handed me over to my husband.

Johan’s aunt, Amelda, led the sermon and spoke beautifully about the walls of Jerusalem. She continued the wall metaphor and explained how we will always have to keep on building onto our marriage and how we should break any walls that should form between us. Our mothers and fathers came and huddled around us as my father prayed over us. At this moment, the sun started shining through the clouds, through the branches of the trees and onto our heads. This was an amazing affirmation that our ceremony was truly blessed from above.

However, we still had our fair share of laughs during the ceremony! My grandmother was supposed to be our ring-bearer, but the previous night she had a nightmare that she lost our rings, and asked if we could rather entrust them with someone else. At the last moment, that someone else ended up being my mother. When Amelda asked for the rings to be brought forward they were nowhere to be found. My poor mother, in all her excitement, had misplaced the rings somewhere between the bridal suite and the aisle! Immediately 10 people got up to look for them, while we improvised and sang another worship song. Two minutes later they returned with the rings, and we all chuckled as we could finally move on to the formalities.

Later we found out that there was more to the story… one of the brave people to help in the search for the rings was my uncle Robert. While everyone was looking in the corridors, he decided to go look in the bathrooms. He looked around the basins and saw nothing. As he turned to leave, he noticed something in the toilet… two rings! Not even thinking twice, and without even rolling up his sleeve, he stuck his hand into the bowl and fished out the two rings. He then came running out of the bathroom to showcase his heroic discovery, only for my mother to tell him those aren’t the rings! As it turned out, one of my bridesmaids accidentally dropped her rings in the toilet when she lifted her dress to sit down… and when she saw them decided they’re too cheap for her to stick her hand in the toilet for!

All in all, our ceremony had the right amount of laughter and depth to it. It suited us perfectly and we couldn’t ever imagine it any other way.

And your Reception? 

Our reception also exceeded all of our expectations. The food stalls and lounges really did create a relaxed atmosphere. Everyone felt comfortable, which meant that our guests were engaged in all the speeches. We had lots of fun and danced the night away!

What was the most memorable moment of your wedding for you? 

The moment I saw Johan’s face for the first time. He was getting so cold, his lips were blue! But I’ll never forget the expression on his face. He was so proud to see his wife walking towards him!

Was there anything about being a Bride/Groom and your experience of the wedding that surprised you?

What surprised me the most is how important this day was to our families too. And how many people sent us messages beforehand – even people that weren’t invited or didn’t know us that well. That really touched us.

In hindsight, is there anything you wish you had done differently – an aspect you would have left out, something you wish you’d done or perhaps something that didn’t turn out the way you had planned?

So the biggest thing we would have done differently was my bridesmaids’ dresses. I really wanted long, emerald green dresses, and at the time there were no dresses in that colour in stores or online (now I see them everywhere!). So I decided to have the dresses made.

I contacted an established fashion designer to make them for me. She had a good reputation and did lots of work for a few South-African celebrities, so I trusted her. After a while I realised that she was not very good with time management. She had not started the dresses when she told me she would but managed to talk her away out of it by assuring me that the style I wanted was very quick and easy to do. I had 6 bridesmaids, so I let them all arrange their own fittings with her. Some of them only went for one, and when I asked her if they should go for another, she again assured me that no, one fitting is fine.

Looking back now, I can so I was way too naive. I was extremely detailed and micro-managed almost every aspect of our wedding, except this – because I trusted her, she was supposed to be a professional. But when I saw the dresses on my bridesmaids the Sunday evening before our wedding for the first time I burst out in tears. The material she used was a beautiful colour, but it was heavy and a horrible texture – all after I had sent her samples of the material I wanted. And the actual seamstress work was not good at all.

But the worst of all is, three of the dresses were almost three sizes too big. My Maid of Honour’s dress (who went for 3 fittings) was almost 50 cm too long. Luckily, my bridesmaids, mother and mother-in-law are absolutely amazing, and everyone jumped to find solutions. My one bridesmaid decided to go to reception and ask if they knew of a seamstress in the area. And then, as luck would have it, the receptionist responded saying the other receptionist who is off duty happened to have just finished his fashion design degree, and he stays on the property. And that’s when Sbonelo Madlala pitched up at the bridal suite on a Sunday evening at 8pm in his pyjamas, with his sewing machine and saved the day!

Moral of the story? Make sure you wait till 10pm before putting your pyjamas on. Lol! Just kidding. Make sure you see your bridesmaids in their final dresses at least 2 weeks before the wedding.

Name one to three things that were a “must have” for your wedding – that were worth spending your money on…

A beautiful, yet comfortable dress. Comfortable wedding shoes. A man that love you unconditionally (minor detail!)

Where did you go on honeymoon and for how long?

We both have a big love for the Western Cape, so we went to Gordon’s Bay in George and Thesen Island in Knysna for about 10 Days.

Wedding Suppliers

Photographer: Wilma Towell Photography Please note picture quality has been reduced for display on our site.

Videographer: CinaStage Studios

Wedding Dress : Made with Love Bridal at The Wedding Boutique

Hair & Make-up: Kendyl from Nixon MakeUp

Furniture Hire : Settings Furniture Hire and The Wedding Table

Flowers: Eugenie Clack

Hanging BestFest sign & Cake Topper : Papermoon

Wedding Stationery Design: Keegan Bester

DJ: Riaan from DJ Extreme