Gerhard and Inge’s Wedding in the Hills

28 Nov 2011

In a stunning setting close to nature and close to their hearts, Inge and Gerhard had a wedding they’ll never forget

Gerhard and Inge had their dream wedding on a mountain top overlooking a valley, near where Inge’s parents lived in South Africa. As it was in the middle of nowhere, most people stayed overnight – allowing the party to continue on the following day. Here, Inge lets us in on their big day that was everything they imagined (despite the bride having laryngitis).

Was there a theme to your wedding?
No, not really. We wanted something that was fun for everyone, but still had those elements of tradition mixed in.

Who did all the organising?
We both did - with a little help from the bridesmaids and our parents.

Did one person take on the bulk of the organising and was it stressful?
I probably did the bulk of the research and planning but Gerhard was really supportive and helped when asked. For us, it was a pretty smooth process. We are both really laid back about the details so it was not too stressful.

Did you have a religious ceremony and if so, where was that?
We got married in a chapel, which was in the same place as the reception, but it wasn’t a religious ceremony.

How did you choose the location for your wedding and reception?
The venue is located close to where my parents live and they know the owner. I have always loved it and my father, who is an artist and creates beautiful wooden furniture, has created some of the furniture there so the place has a lot of sentimental value for me.

Was any part of your wedding chosen based on the venue?
The lavender arrangements, as well as the colour of the bridesmaids’ dresses, were chosen with the venue in mind. I knew that the natural shades would look amazing in the setting.

How long did it take to find your dream dress?
For about three months, I tried on dresses in every shop in Dubai, but didn’t find anything I liked. So when my mum came over to spend some time with us, I decided to have something made. At the same time, we suddenly saw a dress in a window which was beautiful but way too big for me so I took some details from that design and worked it out with the dressmaker.

How did you decide on the dresses for your bridesmaids?
Both my bridesmaids were seven months pregnant on the wedding day so this limited what we could do! I wanted to make sure they were comfortable but also wearing something that they could grow into from when we had them made.

Did the groom get to choose what he wanted to wear?
He wanted to wear a tuxedo, which I was quite happy with, so we went and bought it together. He looked amazing in it!

What mattered most to you when planning your wedding?
We were both keen to spend money on the band, the venue and the food. All the other details were less important to us as we wanted to spend less on other items so that we could invite more people.

What else did you do to save money?
We chose not to spend money on invitations. Instead, we created a ‘wedsite’ which had all the information about the wedding day and the events we had planned after the wedding. This worked really well as it was great for guests travelling from abroad as we suggested transport and accommodation options on there as well. It cost us nothing and we had a lot of fun with it.

What detail stood out on your day?
One of the more memorable details was the favours we had. My father made little photo frames out of red ivory (a beautiful red-coloured rare wood and the name of our venue) so that when our guests arrived, a staff member took an instant Polaroid picture of them. Then, during the ceremony, the photos were placed on the tables in the frames – this was used instead of a seating plan and guests had to find their picture on the tables to find their seat.

What was on your menu?
We had a soup starter and then a choice of chicken noisette or Karoo lamb. As the venue specialised in weddings they had a limited number of options for each course, but all of the food was amazing.

Can you describe your cake and why you chose it?
The cake was white chocolate and nougat. It was one of the things that went slightly ‘wrong’ as they decorated it with pink roses which didn’t work very well with the rest of the décor. It tasted delicious though!

Was the music important to you?The music was really important to us as we wanted to dance. Before and after the ceremony, we arranged a troupe of 22 young traditional singers and dancers to entertain the guests. As most were from abroad, this added a nice exotic flavour. Then, my amazing friend Salha sang me down the aisle, which was deeply moving and very personal. During the reception, we had a band play that was amazing and the dance floor was full the whole night.

What was your song for your first dance as a couple?
Our first dance was to Etta James singing At Last. Neither of us took it very seriously though and we didn’t rehearse for it at all.

What was the atmosphere on the day like?
Even though I had laryngitis, the atmosphere was electric from start to finish and, as people mingled, it became even more fun. It was very romantic and emotional at first, and later become more celebratory.

How many guests were there?
We had 120 guests. Most of our friends and family flew in from abroad and thankfully, both sides of the family all got on really well. We mixed all the tables up so no one knew each other. It was a bit of a gamble, but it worked! It was a complete whirlwind but so much fun. We wish we could rewind it and do it all over again.

Is there anything you would have done differently?
We wouldn’t change a thing except for the fact that I was ill at the time of the wedding. I think it helped that we kept it relatively simple. You shouldn’t get too worked up over the details that no one will remember anyway.

What was the most rewarding part of the day?
The most rewarding part (other than marrying the man of my dreams) was having all the people we love in the same place. Seeing how they all got on was fantastic. The most stressful thing for me was making that decision to let go – on the day, there is just nothing more you can do and you just have to step back and enjoy it. The control freak in me struggled with that (for a bit!) and then I loved every moment.

What’s the one element you will remember forever?
There are so many: the drive to the chapel with my father, seeing Gerhard’s face as we walked towards him, my friend Salha singing me down the aisle, the tears of joy, our first kiss, walking out as a married couple…and that was just the ceremony!