The Offbeat Bride: Charlie, Ecologist
Her offbeat partner: Quinten, Artizan
Date and location of wedding: Midlands Forest Lodge, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa — May 4, 2013
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We're both very down-to earth and love being barefoot, so we got married barefoot. We'd planned to have a picnic on the edge of this really old forest (there are 900-year old trees there), but it turned out to be really wet, so we moved the picnic inside. I sewed a cushion for each guest (which took five months!), and my mom made the blankets.
Two weeks before the wedding, we got officially hitched at the Department of Home Affairs, so the day was really just a celebration with friends and family. We combined some of the stuff you'd normally do in a church with what is done at the reception, so all the ceremony/intro only took about an hour and then the party started. My cousins made potjiekos, a traditional South African stew which literally translates to “pot food,” and is cooked in a massive three legged black pot over a fire. We had two 50-litre kegs of beer from a local microbrewery up the road. All of the food was locally-sourced, the decorations were made from up-cycled jars and old tins, Quinten's granny made the cake, and I iced it! We only spent R16000 which is about $1600 USD.
Tell us about the ceremony:
One of my favourite books is Correlli's Mandolin, and I asked my auntie to do a reading from it to start the ceremony. It fit with our forest theme very well, and also spoke to the way that Quinten and I regard our relationship.
Our biggest challenge:
Even though I'm mostly laid-back, I can be controlling about projects and seem to think I can do it all myself. I had to learn to give some responsibility to others and let them contribute. On the day of the wedding, which was set in May (autumn in South Africa) when the weather is supposed to be the most dependable, we had had a month of sunshine, and woke up to grey misty skies! The weather got steadily worse, and half an hour before the ceremony was about to start, it HAILED! It was hard to trust that the vision we had of the day would be realised. When everything had to be moved indoors, I'd have liked to have been there to help set up, but couldn't. My friend roped in some of my cousins to help and they transported the whole picnic inside. They did a truly magical job, and it looked as if they'd brought the forest in with them. I'm glad that I trusted my friend to do this.
My favorite moment:
When I walked in to the room, I could see that Quinten looked like he was about to cry (and he likes to think he's as hard as a rock), and that made time slow down for me. I knew I'd made the right choice. It was also really special to have my family there. Some of them, like my brother, live overseas and couldn't make it for the day, but had sent video messages. So it felt like they were still a part of the celebration.
My funniest moment:
My friend's daughter was my flower girl, and when asked if she would be a part of the ceremony, she agreed only if she could wear a pink dress. I explained that she could wear a green or brown dress as those were the colours of the wedding. She said she'd think about it. Luckily for us, she watched the movie Brave that week, and fell in love with Merida. She decided that if her dress had to be green then it had to be Merida's dress from the movie. She also insisted on having Merida's bow and quiver! I thought this was great, and when we informed the ring bearer what his counterpart was wearing, he decided he also wanted to dress-up, too!
During the ceremony, the flower girl didn't fully comprehending the humour in the speeches, but made a point of laughing out loud when everyone else laughed. It was usually a bit delayed and very loud, which made everyone laugh even more.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
That it's okay to be a bit girly sometimes. I've always been a bit of a tomboy — you'd never seen me in a dress a few years ago. But as I've gotten older, I've become more okay with who I am. I can play soccer, build a fire, and do things that boys normally do, and also wear a dress and look pretty if I want to. I like to cook, I like to garden, I like to do epic hikes over the mountains, and go camping. I can be an adventurer and a homemaker, and I think that planning and pulling off this wedding has helped me realise all aspects of my personality.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Venue: Midlands Forest Lodge
- Photography: friends of the couple
Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!