Jan & Liezel – Down by the riverside

I simply can’t get enough of “backyard style” weddings. You know those weddings that have the vibe of a good old family get-together. It’s a big-hearted affair, where both grandmas’ crochet work and aunties-in-law’s vintage tins fits right in.Jan and Liezel’s big day was exactly that. A beautiful weekend celebration for family and close friends. The lovely couple were so passionate about making it a family affair that their Golden Retriever pup almost made the guest list.
Liezel says: “I wanted it to be pretty and whimsical yet look completely effortless and natural”. To create that “pretty and whimsical” look, Liezel got all the talented ladies in her life to help out. They made so many things, from the fabric hearts to the stationery. The stunning venue also added to the magic. I totally get why they couldn’t settle for anything less.

Tell us your love story …

Jan’s speech at the wedding was all about love at first sight. And that’s exactly what it was. We met at the band Lukraaketaar’s show in the Mystic Boer, Stellenbosch. I noticed him the moment he walked up the stairs. Luckily my friend knew him and introduced us. I remember the very first thing he said to me was “Hold my drink I’ll be right back” and then he disappeared.
 I thought that was a bit weird, but I was willing to overlook it. According to him he was so frazzled by me he had to go to the bathroom to calm down and plot his next move. At the end of the night we had our first kiss and I was completely smitten.

So how did he pop the question?

We got engaged on Christmas Morning 2010 at Infanta (near my uncle’s holiday house) on a wooden bench overlooking the ocean. I had ACL reconstruction surgery beginning of December and was still hobbling along on crutches. I remember being annoyed at him as he nervously paced up and down looking for the perfect place to sit with me desperately trying to keep up.
I’m still not quite sure what he said as he went down on one knee as I completely zoned out. My mind was buzzing with thoughts off: What should my voice sound like when I say yes? Should I be crying? Should I be screaming? I finally went with a huge kiss, the longest hug in history and then said yes. We drove back to the family holiday house. There were tears, smiles, many photographs and a boatload of champagne. I loved the fact that my family was there to share in the day.

What were the highlights of your wedding day?

I came downstairs to get to the ceremony site. My dad and I kept joking about me tumbling down the stairs and landing at the pastor’s feet in a heap of white material. Halfway down my dad looked at me, gave the biggest smile and said “Halfway there! You are doing great!” – such a special moment. I walked in to the song Cosmic Love from Florence and the Machine, which was perfect for the mood and setting. Our ceremony was so special, especially when our parents got to join us in the front for the final prayer. The speeches were great and then the awesome moves on the dance floor. Our guests really did bring their A game.

Any advice for brides-to-be?

Planning a wedding is all about making difficult decisions. Towards the end you will start second-guessing all of them, BUT always stick to your first choice. Don’t blow the budget on a fancy dessert table. By the time dessert is served people are either too busy having shots at the bar or getting down on the dance floor to really appreciate the fine Belgian chocolate or Italian gelato. Most of all: Get a videographer!

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?

My dad’s not a keen dancer, so we made no definite plans for a father-daughter dance. The night before I however decided I would go get my dad during the reception for a dance even if just one spin, but then never got around to it. I really regret not having that moment with him. Also I planned everything down to the bathroom breaks for the wedding, but neglected to fine-tune the morning-of schedule. Getting dressed was complete chaos instead of the relaxing time I envisioned.

What was the biggest obstacles you had to overcome while organising your dream wedding?

The venue. We both loved Mofam River Lodge. The vibe and people there are just so amazing. But the venue meant hiring a few extras including the white Bedouin tent. I looked for options more within our budget and actually did find a place I really liked. But I couldn’t get Mofam out of my head. After many sleepless nights my dad phoned and said that he liked Mofam best and that if it’s what I want he will make it happen (best dad ever)! Also I was dead set on having our 1-year-old Golden Retriever Knox attend the wedding. He’s such a big part of our lives and was even in our engagement shoot. Everybody tried to talk me out of this. In the end I realised having my master in food begging, overly excitable, water loving pup at a wedding next to a river might just cause everyone extra stress. I was also a little worried that with all the excitement he might wander off and get lost in the woods. And so I made the toughest choice. He had to stay home.

Were any of your family members or friends involved in the wedding and what were their contributions?

If I could rent my mom out for weddings I’d be a billionaire. All the decor items on the tables came from either my mom or my house. She did so much to make it all perfect. My dad organised the gorgeous tulips that were used and helped with some DIY stuff. My cousins were bridesmaids and my best friend since the age of five was my man of honour and chauffeur. My brother was a groomsman and my uncle was master of ceremonies. Jan’s brother photographed the boys getting ready. This was definitely a family event. Oh, and a friend from work who has her own bridal boutique in Stellenbosch made my wedding garter.

Did your wedding preparations include any DIY projects?

Big time! I sent millions of emails with DIY ideas to my mom and she made them all to perfection. She did my gorgeous invites and the rest of the stationery. She made the table runners, the delicate material flowers with name tag at everyone’s seat. The cushions used at the ceremony, the Liezel & Jan sign at the entrance of our ceremony; she painted lime green lanterns cream with a rusted finish and also made what we call the Shrek and Fiona cake topper, which I just love. My aunt made all the super pretty material hearts and the bunting used at the pre-drinks. I made our Polaroid save the dates and the menus for the tables.

Did you include any wedding day rituals or traditions on your big day?

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. My something old was my grandma’s gold locket and the vintage handkerchief tied around my bouquet. Something new was my wedding jewellery, specially made by Shelley & Harry and was a wedding gift from my mom. Something borrowed was my dress hired from Elizabeth Stockenstrom and something blue was our dog,Knox’s blue tag that was also pinned to my bouquet.