We are super excited to share the beautiful Elgin Valley Wedding of Matt & Michelle with you. This couple got married at Old Mac Daddy, a trailer park themed resort in the Elgin Valley in the Western-Cape, South-Africa. Michelle and Matt planned their wedding all the way from Canada. At Vivacious Weddings, we understand how difficult it can be to plan things from abroad.
However, if you have a wonderful team of excellent wedding vendors, anything is possible. If you plan a destination wedding, it is important to keep track of everything. Keep a list of things to do, contact persons etc. With online communication platforms, it is easy to plan a wedding from anywhere in the world. Almost all wedding businesses communicate online.
Matt & Michelle wanted to go with minimalistic decor and they pulled it off so well. The venue has a spectacular modern barn feel, so little decor is needed. Talented wedding photographer, Duane Smith photographed this couple’s wedding so well. You will see for yourself, the pictures tell a thousand words. Enjoy this lovely Elgin Valley wedding below. For more amazing wedding inspiration browse through our blog.
Favourite wedding memory:
I have so many! Meeting Matt at the arch for the ceremony stands out among many great memories. It was the culmination of everything that we had prepared for for over a year. And after spending the weekend catching up with family and friends that I hadn’t seen in about two years, it was nice to be ‘reunited’ with him.
My other favourite memory is of how amazing and helpful my family and friends were. My brother went out of his way to help me on the wedding day: making sure we had umbrellas, driving me to the pre-ceremony photoshoot and back to the ceremony (his poor girlfriend was without a partner most of the day!).
And just being able to spend time with my mom and my closest friends (who stayed at Daddy’s Hideaway with me), was fantastic.
If I had to only pick one, it was the first time we met before the ceremony. We were not going to do a pre-shoot but it turned out to be a good move. It gave us a quick chance to see each other with no one but our photographer around, and after so much prep to that point it was a relief to hug and laugh a bit.
We were lucky that our wedding and honeymoon could happen shortly before COVID-19 became a pandemic and everything went into lockdown. Since we don’t live in South Africa anymore, we decided to spend time in SA for our honeymoon.
We left the wedding venue and drove to Aquila Game Reserve in the Tankwa-Karoo for two nights. Two of our friends (whom I haven’t seen in 7 or 8 years) joined us and we had a great time on safari and enjoying wine under the starry Karoo skies.
It’s fully catered, so we didn’t have to do any planning. Matt and I then went to Durban and spent a few days at the Zimbali Beach Resort. That was followed by a couple of days in Johannesburg. Just to reconnect with the city where we met and which was our first home together.
Advice for couples planning their wedding:
You can make plans for things sooner than you think. By drafting order of events in advance, you start to get an indication on how you want things to go, and what to start planning for. Use the advice from your inner circle. If you work out the basics early, you can have the freedom, later on, to make it your own event.
We wanted to make sure there were enough food and drinks (both alcoholic and alcohol-free) available all weekend. On Friday, we organised a spitbraai for everyone (it’s offered by OMC and was great), and on Saturday we had post-ceremony canapés, a 3-course dinner, and a midnight snack (which went down a treat!). We also wanted to make sure we kept everyone entertained, so we hired lawn games and a three-piece jazz band for the cocktail hour. The jazz band was amazing and we also hired them through Dan at SHOUTMC.
If you have people travelling to your wedding who don’t know the destination well, put together a guide with practical and sightseeing info. Our guide had airport info, suggested flight paths (for those long Canada-South Africa flights), car rentals, accommodation, grocery shopping, where to go, what to see, etc. Sharing that with everyone meant we didn’t have to answer too many individual questions.
We were emigrating to my home country after living in South Africa together. Since Michelle is from South Africa I really wanted to propose to her in her home country. We enjoyed living in our flat in Joburg and we would go to the rooftop of our building for the occasional sun-downer among the leafy suburbs.
That is where I proposed on our last full night in South Africa. It was a special way to mark the end of a chapter, and to start a new one together. The next day we were on our way to celebrate with an “engagement-moon”, with a short trip prior to arriving in Canada.
I knew not before long, we would be back.
The story behind the wedding dress:
Since my dress had to travel from Canada to South Africa with me, I didn’t want it to be too heavy or fragile. I had always wanted to wear my grandmother’s wedding dress (it’s beautiful and I tried it on once and it fit!), but it’s a warm, long-sleeve dress and wouldn’t do in February!
Then I thought about having the dress made from a vintage pattern that my mom had given me, but since we had just moved to Canada I didn’t know where to start finding a reliable seamstress. I also didn’t know where to buy wedding dresses from. Do in the end, I went with the most legit looking google result and found a large bridal store about 30min from where we live (David’s Bridal).
I found the perfect dress – light, flowy and vintagey – on my first visit to the store and ordered it. I sent my mom and bridesmaids a photo and luckily they also loved it and thought it suited me perfectly. After the wedding, I gave the dress to a friend in Johannesburg who was happy to find another happy owner for it. It’s a beautiful dress, and it would be a shame for it to be worn only once.
The story behind your wedding cake
My mom and aunts are fantastic bakers and I wanted her to bake the cake at first. But in the end, I realised that with all the other planning going on (and catching up after not seeing her for over a year!), it would be too much to add to the list.
I contacted Lullubelle’s Bakes in Somerset-West a few weeks before the wedding and she baked a beautiful, delicious red velvet cake decorated with lovely flowers. She was lovely to work with and I appreciate that she could fit in my order at such short notice.
It was also great that she is in Somerset West since my family lives in Strand and it was easy to collect the cake and take it to Grabouw. I wanted red velvet, semi-naked cake (Matt loves icing – he has a proper sweet tooth, and I prefer the cake without icing), and it was great. Maybe the best red velvet we had ever tasted.
Planning the wedding from Canada was difficult to get a sense of the venue. We only had the website photos and the odd Instagram post to go by. Also just the available decorations. The venue itself is so beautiful that we knew we could get away with minimal décor. Leaving us to focus on providing guests with great food and drinks.
But the décor we did get, we wanted to be beautiful. Luckily, the local décor company, 4Every Event, was very communicative. They provided photos of the available decorations. We got lots of inspiration from their Instagram feed. They decorated the lawn beautifully with hay bales, tables, lawn games and flowers This contributed to the whimsical element we wanted to evoke.
After a week of beautiful, sunny days, it rained on Saturday and we couldn’t enjoy the beautiful setup. Luckily we could still use the lawn for the ceremony – I love the macramé curtain that we used in the arch.
Since Matt is Canadian and I’m South African, our wedding was going to bring together people from all over. We had guests travelling from Canada, Europe, Australia and we wanted a venue that could double as a weekend getaway destination for them. Old Mac Daddy was perfect in this regard. It offers accommodation, fun activities and it’s in a beautiful and accessible part of the country. Grabouw also has a connection to my mom’s side of the family who grew up here and still lives nearby.
We wanted to emphasise the fun and whimsical side of the wedding with the intention of encouraging our guests to have fun and get to know each other over the course of the weekend. We chose Baberton daisies in yellow, pink and orange for the tables.
The week before the wedding, Matt found shweshwe fabric in Cape Town, which matches the bright colours of the daisies, that we wrapped the wedding favours in (since then, some of our guests have repurposed the shweshwe wraps as face masks!)
We didn’t want the colours to be overwhelming, rather bright splashes, and kept the rest of the decorations very neutral.
Overall we went with classic choices that were upbeat, mostly from the mid-century soul and R&B influences, plus nostalgic favourites across a few decades, peppered with a few modern songs. Working with ShoutMC, we put together ideas for playlists across all parts of the evening.
Our DJ, Mike from ShoutMC.com, really nailed it. To start we had to adapt our set-up for the ceremony to misty weather, which Mike did without hesitation. The processional songs worked great and it was one of my favourite moments. We may have thrown in some Elvis to the proceedings.
It was smooth to work out the first dance with our DJ. Our first dance song was What a wonderful world by Sam Cooke. We felt it was perfect: under three minutes, a good samba beat, and a nice lyric. We practised this a bunch, probably too close to the actual wedding but felt it went well. I recommend if you want to really rehearse then start probably at least 4 months ahead of time.
Mike kept the dance floor alive and kept our game plan in mind for the duration and also adapted to the crowd as the night went on, playing some local favourites we did not think of.
From processional onward, we felt like we put our own personal touches on the music and were really glad we did!