Our Secret Garden Spring Wedding
If you had to visually translate our hearts, you would see our wedding.
Nestled between a windy Friday and a cloudy Sunday, lay a surprisingly summery Saturday perfect for a secret garden wedding in spring. Our wedding was a true expression of love not only for each other, but for our friends and families as well. From the hand written letters and illustrations, drought friendly touches, hand drawn family crests, the song my dad and cousins sang me down the isle to and even a harpist – it was a spectacular day thoroughly and thoughtfully celebrated.
Who are we?
Maria Magdalena + Sean Duncombe Campbell
13 October 2018 at Langverwagt, Cape Town
Extinguish my eyes, I’ll go on seeing you.
Seal my ears, I’ll go on hearing you.
And without feet I can make my way to you,
without a mouth I can swear your name.
Break off my arms, I’ll take hold of you
with my heart as with a hand.
Stop my heart, and my brain will start to beat.
And if you consume my brain with fire,
I’ll feel you burn in every drop of my blood.
- Rainer Maria Rilke
Our ceremony took place surrounded by such opulent nature that I refused to add anything extra to it. The only additions were chairs and the two family crests that I hand crafted for both of our parents as gifts to thank them for their massive contributions. My family crest was on my side of the isle and Sean’s on his. We had name cards for each member of the family and the bridal party to ensure that everyone could sit together. I wrote the song that my dad and cousins sang me down the isle to. My dad also married us and sang a beautiful blessing before our vows. It was an Afrikaans and English ceremony to pay respect to both of our cultures.
The ceremony was followed by a walk through the gardens, the signing of our marriage certificate and a beautiful confetti toss of dried flowers before we led the guests to a secret garden for a champagne toast and extensive canapés while they enjoyed the sunset and music by Mischa Dream Folk and Harp Noted.
We had some time alone then as we walked around the gardens with our talented photographer and videographer teams to capture this magical day in our lives. My dress was so special to me. It’s the first dress I tried on while wedding shopping and I could never get it out of my mind. I actually visited it a few times. I chose the existing Giselle dress from Elbeth Gillis and added some 3D flowers to it that I sourced myself and altered the back to be more detailed. I then also added a stunning full circle raw silk skirt to it that I removed before the reception.
My dried flower crown was expertly created by Shari of Bouwer Flowers and I loved it so much I kept it on the whole evening. My mother had a custom dress made with a flower crown and I grew up watching their wedding video so it was definitely an inspiration for me to follow in her footsteps. Sean wore his traditional Campbell kilt and his father and brother did the same, which was super special to both of us. Our wedding colours were inspired by both of our family crests so all things family was important to us.
At the intimate reception we opted for two long tables with our fathers sitting at the heads, surrounded by our families. As a symbolic gesture I only used the Campbell crest in the stationery designs for the reception. The napkins I chose were luxury drought friendly material and I stamped the Campbell crest to each of them. Each person had a 100% recycled handmade paper menu and his or her hand written name card was handmade seeded paper that doubled up as their wedding favours which they could plant in the cement planters we gifted the guests.
We mainly had dried foliage ceiling installations and added a few fresh flowers to the bouquet and the four Ikebana table arrangements. Everything was kept very minimal to minimize the waste and we bought the Ikebana vessels in order for us to take it home or gift to family. My bouquet and flower crown is now displayed in the entrance to our home and we kept two of the dried table arrangements, which we use as decoration around the house.
Our first dance became the most powerful memory of being enveloped by love and light. We had a separate dance floor room where we handed out giant sparklers for all of the guests to light and lovingly danced our first dance under a sea of fairy lights surrounded by our favourite people. It was pure magic. We even asked out videographers to create a special first dance documentary to keep forever.
There are so many things that I have learnt along the way on this journey to the altar and so many things I would have done differently, but I can honestly say that this day was far better than I ever expected. Things have a wonderful way of simply coming together in the end and we were so grateful to our hard working suppliers who blew us away on the day.
It is an honour to have a wedding at all, big or small. We made sure that ours stayed very true to us as a couple and a family.
A FEW TIPS
Hire a wedding planner.
We were a bit shocked when we got a quote for a wedding planner and decided against it, but very quickly realized that it would have saved us a lot of money, time and frustration. She told us our budget was too low and we were offended. Insert hysterical giggle. She was right about everything. Remember, you can do everything yourself, but you will take twice as long because you are an amateur. Dealing with incompetent, unenthusiastic or frustrating wedding suppliers really do drain the happiness out of the process. You can still be super involved with details if you have a wedding planner, but it will save you time, money, many tears and quite possibly your relationship 🙂
Choose enthusiastic suppliers.
What I found was that not all suppliers actually like weddings after a while and mainly do it because it’s a very big industry where you can make a lot of money. Completely understandable, but learn to suss out those who are bad with communication and are not all that into their jobs anymore and avoid them if you can. Choose suppliers that are enthusiastic and positive, they make your life so much easier. Our favorites were Bouwer Flowers and Orpen Films.
Customize an existing designer wedding dress.
You can see what it looks like on your body, you can customize it as much as you need, it is still made from scratch to your measurements and it’s almost a third of the price of a fully custom wedding dress.
Our venue was recommended by photographer Becs of Love Made Visible and the caterer by an old friend of mine who got married at the same venue earlier that year. The caterer especially stood out. A few people said it was the best food they’ve ever had at a wedding, which is a relief since a third of your budget goes to the food and you have no control over quality. My hair and make-up artist was recommended by my old studio mate who worked as a stylist for years.
Buy bridesmaid dresses or use a dress designer in the same town as your ladies.
I think there really is something to be said for simply buying bridesmaids dresses. It removes a lot of the stress and dress catastrophes. If I could do it over again I think I would simply buy the dresses ready made. None of my girls dresses fit and the week before (even on the wedding day!) we had girls running around trying to get the dresses to work. They all looked stunning, but I think buying would have made more sense and then simply altering it with a tailor if there were any issues.
Planning, styling, illustrations and designs: Maria Magdalena Atelier
Website: Campbell Web Works
Wedding Dress: Elbeth Gillis
Hair and Make-up: Marlinette Newman
Custom Engagement- and Wedding Rings: Michelle Robyn Jewelry
Flowers: Bouwer Flowers
DJ: Justin Sletcher
Singer: Mischa Dream Folk
Harpist: Harp Noted
Décor and Furniture: Baie Goeters
Photographers: He is Visual
Videographers: Orpen Films
Wedding Cake: Ingrid Campbell
Maria Viviers, Janet Rademan, Marianne Wallace, Lili Rademan and Chris van Wyk
Minister: Chris van Wyk
Masters of Ceremony: Chad Huskisson and Matthew Cornish