This Rustic wedding celebration took place in Hilton in KwaZulu-Natal. Chris and Mel, who live and work abroad, came home to tie the knot in the place where Chris grew up. With a lot of help from friends and generous contributions by their guests, this wedding came together in a showcase of all their guests’ talents, and a celebration of love and friendship! Saysha Baker got to document this special occasion in her uniquely documentary style which the couple fell in love with immediately.
Tell us about your dress?
I got my wedding dress tailor made in Ho Chi Minh City where my husband and I currently live and work. I had been looking for and designing the ‘perfect’ wedding dress for quite a while. I could never find a picture of a dress that had everything I desired and so I started drawing up designs based on bits of dresses that I liked. Once I was 100% happy with my final design, I then began the search to find the perfect tailor. After choosing the fabric and the lace, the tailor and I worked closely for about 3 months to make the dress exactly how I imagined. I couldn’t have asked for anything more!
How did you pick your photographer?
Chris and I were referred to Saysha by a family friend, but we wanted to keep our options open knowing that we had a specific style of photography in mind. Saysha was the first of what we thought would be many photographers to meet. But we liked her instantly as a person and after looking at her photos we knew she would be the one! She has a documentary style and instinctively captures the most beautiful natural moments which was exactly what we were looking for!
What made you choose your venue?
Chris grew up on a beautiful small holding in Hilton called The Knoll. He moved there with his family when he was 12 and The Knoll was a wild piece of land with an old farmhouse that was yearning to be given some TLC. That is exactly what they did and have made incredible memories there since then. We chose this to be our venue not just because it is beautiful or because of the obvious cost saver but largely because this is where Chris’s heart and soul is.
Where did you cut costs – what is a good saving tip?
Our major cost saver was the venue by using Chris’s family home. We made rustic place mats out of sliced tree trunks, branded them with our initials and wedding date and then doubled them up as a wedding favour. We opted for a simple starter followed by a main course buffet but saved costs by asking a baking lover friend to make a whole lot of dessert favourites which she so generously did at cost price! Our three-tiered wedding cake was made by 3 different people we knew were good at cakes; Chris’s gran made the bottom tier fruit cake as a wedding gift, one of my bridesmaids offered to make the middle tier carrot cake and a family friend volunteered her services to make the top chocolate cake tier as well as to put it all together and decorate – it cost us nothing!
We were blessed enough to have amazing friends and family who jumped on the bandwagon and helped where they could. We had family and friends who donated flowers from their gardens, others who lent us vases, platters and other wedding paraphernalia and many helping hands who dove into the setup and décor. We also did a lot of DIY to make signs as well as collecting large amounts of wine bottles to use as vases and candle holders. Another very generous family friend donated hay bails for the guests to sit on for the ceremony so we saved on hiring chairs. Yet another amazing family friend offered his services in woodsmanship and made the beautiful rustic doors we walked through. I would have to say that we saved so much money by just letting people get involved. All too often people feel the need to have complete control over their wedding and do it all on their own. This not only makes it more expensive but also extremely stressful! My tip is to let everyone know what you want and what you expect and then welcome donations, help, and advice. It is amazing how many people want to show their love and support for you through giving! Another tip would be to have a priority list that will guide your spending. We were not too fussed about the food and settled for good, hearty meal options over fancy, gourmet food that people probably wouldn’t remember anyway. We wanted all our friends and family to be comfortable and have a good time and focused our attention on what would give just that.
What was the most difficult part of the planning process?
All of the wedding planning took place while we were working and living in Ho Chi Minh however, that was not the most difficult part. The whole process was relatively smooth except I found it quite difficult sometimes to try please everyone. You are constantly getting ideas and requests from people, some of which you love and some of which you could do without. Keeping the guest list as low as possible was tricky because you want to please everyone but you also need to keep within your budget. Our budget allowed for 150 people initially but then skyrocketed to 200!
Did you do any DIYs?
Yes PLENTY! We made signs, our wedding stage, ceremony doors and we collected bottles as well as other decor items. Myself and my bridesmaids got help to make our own flower crowns and the groomsmen corsages and my mom got together with my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and gran to make the wedding invitations. We also printed the seating plan and menu and stuck it up on an old notice board.
Here’s a lovely little video that one of their friends shot with just a Go-Pro! Such a cute idea, and an effective cost saving tip! If you trust a friend’s capability, feel free to ask if they’re up for the task!