Picture the most beautiful place that you could get married at…it would probably include breathtaking views, an amazing venue, good food, delicious wine and being surrounded by your family and friends. Well, this is just the wedding we are bringing you today. Mark and Robyn got married at one of my favourite venues in the Cape (South Africa). Yes, I am a little jealous, as this happens to be the farm where Robyn grew up so you can imagine how special it was for her. From the couple`s description of their wedding it is obvious as to how much time and effort went into their day. The best part of it all is that they didn`t focus on the frills. Instead they spent time making sure they included details that meant something to them and their families. From the home made decor and bottled farm olives, to the marimba band, so much love was poured into making everything so very personal! Do yourself a favour and make sure you read through their story below the images taken by Riaan West.
Briefly explain how you met…
We met in Dubai at a braai of a mutual friend back when Mark was relatively new to Dubai.
The following week a bunch of my friends was going camping in the desert and I invited him along. He never even asked where we were going, but accepted immediately and then rushed to the shops to buy some camping equipment as he didn’t have any.
We had a great night and the following morning I was stung by a scorpion. He took me to the hospital (1.5 hours back to Dubai) and then waited the entire 5 hours of observation time at the hospital with me.
He says he was charming and funny and told me all his secrets. I don’t remember anything we spoke about (probably the anaesthetic into my foot). I remember the main headings, but no content.
We then talked and had lunches or dinners at every opportunity as he was travelling to Iraq quite a bit at the time. A real gentleman he is and so it took him a good many weeks to pluck up the courage to kiss me. 😉
I wrote this for our wedding website…
There was a braai and they met.
She invited him camping.
He, without hesitation, said yes.
She was stung by a scorpion,
He came to the rescue.
He was charming and funny,
She remembers nothing.
He was new to Dubai,
She was a seasoned tour guide
The adventures began and have continued since..!
He surprised me and took me away to Ziggy Bay (Six Senses).
We had a fantastic evening relaxing, swimming and enjoyed dinner under an open, starry sky.
He suggested a walk along the beach afterwards. There was a reasonably full moon and a little glowing phosphorescence in our footsteps or as the waves crashed. I was totally high on life, soaking up the sound of the ocean, the sand between my toes, the abundance of stars (we are deprived in Dubai) and the magnificent moon winking at us.
At the end of the beach, I hopped and skipped about splashing here and there and eventually sat on a large rock to absorb it all. Mark got down on one knee and asked me if we could renegotiate the terms of our lease (see below).
We have a little joke we laugh about. Once early in our relationship, Mark did something silly or boyish and asked if I had buyer’s remorse. Quick as a flash I turned to him and told him I hadn’t bought anything, we only had a short term lease. When he was down on one knee, he asked if we could renegotiate the terms of our lease and would I be his wife.
The highlight of your wedding day…
It has to have been sharing it with all our family and friends. Living in Dubai, we are away from all those we love and we miss it constantly.
My Great Uncle (aged 85) played the Bugle to announce the start of the wedding ceremony. It was hauntingly beautiful and it took me a few minutes to gather myself afterwards. I no longer have any grandparents and about 3 years ago, I told him I hoped he could one day play at my wedding. It was an honour to have him play.
It also poured with rain for most of the day and the farmers and the mountains really needed it. There was a little drizzle at the start of our ceremony, but it then cleared and was a beautiful, sunny afternoon.
We mixed guests at tables, so that Marks friends and family had the opportunity to meet mine. So many people mentioned how much they had enjoyed that afterwards and there were many connections made which may not have been.
Your wedding venue…
Olive Rock was created and is run by my Brother (Nick Stanford) and his wife, Simone.
The name was based on a love story written and Illustrated by my Grandmother.
I had always wanted to get married on the farm and was just fortunate that Nick and Simone had created one of the best venues in the country. It has become so popular, we really planned around which date we could get Olive Rock.
They give incredible all round service and allow each bride to create their own feel and theme on their day. Every wedding there is unique.
My brother is the Chef and never ceases to amaze. It is impossible to chat to friends about the wedding and not hear about the food and how good it was.
Any advice you can suggest to brides planning their own wedding…
It is important to keep things simple and true to who you are as a couple. Yes, it is true that it is your wedding and you can do whatever you wish, but I think the key is having it relate to ‘who you are’ and what ‘your story’ is.
Our table names for example were all named after fly ties for fishing as this is a passion of Marks.
The decor and all aspects of the table settings were from the farm and really represented my our love of nature and my years growing up.
Your favourite part of planning your wedding…
Sharing ideas with my parents and seeing the joy they got out of planning and helping us create the magical day we wanted.
We wrote our own vows and they remained secret. It was amazing hearing them for the first time on the day and listening to what the other person promised and hoped to give and achieve in our marriage.
It was incredible having Mark, who as the groom might have handed most things over to the bride, but he remained involved in every aspect of the planning and selecting.
Any DIY elements in your wedding…
Having grown up on the farm, I love nature and the outdoors, as does Mark. We wanted our wedding to find a certain ‘Rustic Sophistication’ which I believe we achieved spot on.
Almost every aspect of decor came off the farm. My Mother and Father are both very creative and spent months making wooden table and place names, fine and delicate wooden flowers for decor and the grooms as well as wreaths and ladders which were hung above the table and the dance floor.
The favours were jars of Olives grown on the farm and made by my mother.
Some of the olives were also used in the starter I believe.
We printed cards with a few special pictures of us on them, and hand wrote a note to each guest or couple. These were placed on the tables at their seats and added a special bit of colour and a personal touch to the decor.
Any challenges while planning your wedding…
It is a little difficult planning a wedding in SA when you are living in Dubai, but we were fortunate to have a team at the ready to manage anything we could not. We communicated often and were honest about what we liked and disliked. The entire family pitched in and supported us.
Tell us about your dress…
I looked around Dubai, but everything was far too bling and over the top for me.
There is a mother and daughter seamstress in Ceres who have made dresses for many of my friends in the area and we asked if they might be able to make it on for me the week before the wedding.
My mother and I hunted for material in August when I was home briefly and the dress maker took my measurements.
We were way out of our depth, not knowing all the varieties and what can work with what, but somehow after a multitude of trips, we settled on an interesting bag of material which later became my dress.
I had no idea how it was going to turn out. The lining layer was a slightly darker blue, deep teal colour. The middle layer was a sort of soft lilac cloth and finally a soft white lace for over the top.
I arrived a week before and fitted a mock up (on Friday) which was made with sheet material to check the shape.
Well like magic when I returned for the third fitting on Tuesday, the dress was almost complete and looked incredible.
I had decided it would be a little different and it was. I had hoped for a simple dress that was elegant and flattering. One that I could walk in easily, feel totally comfortable and dance in it all night.
I absolutely loved the dress and so enjoyed being able to share the process with my mother. Mark would have been expecting a white dress, but I am totally confident he loved it as much as I did.
What song did you choose for your first dance…
We have a number of favourite songs, but we decided that Mark would select it and it would be a surprise, with him coming to ask me to dance when he had the DJ to put it on.
We liked it for the words and the feeling and the fact that it is a relatively unknown song.
It was a song by Imaginary Future – Love is beginning.
Our DJ was fantastic and once the dance floor was opened, it was never empty.
My parents started a marimba band in Wolseley about 2 and a half years ago. They gave young kids from the area the chance to audition and have built a very successful band who performs at weddings and functions all over the Western Cape. Through various sponsors and fundraising, they now have a room in Wolseley which acts as the school and they have started training new kids. It is an incredible project and has given many children a skill, taught them manners and confidence and given them the opportunity to travel. They performed at the Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival last year and in Dubai on their way home.
We have been so inspired by the energy and effort my parents have put in and have so enjoyed seeing the kids thrive and improve. They played the wedding march at the ceremony and entertained guests during the drinks and snacks and were an absolute hit. We were honoured to have them and the spirit they represent as part of our wedding.
DJ – Dirk from BAHA entertainment
Photographer – Riaan West
Table clothes – Function hiring for U
Entertainment during sunset drinks and snacks – amaWolseley Marimba Band
Bouquet – Marcel – www.designbymarcel.co.za