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Surprising Hidden Costs…

If you are planning on having a wedding cake with lots of tiers that looks gawjiss and divine and is just the most fabulous thing on earth, you may want to keep the following in mind.

Check with your venue whether they will charge you to cut it into pieces for you after you’ve done the cake cutting ceremony and had pictures taken! Some venues will charge you for this service.

This is one of the reasons cupcakes continue to grow in popularity.

Looking At A Venue?

As a wedding planner I am beyond particular, so when I am looking at a wedding venue I have a long list of questions I ask. Many of these questions will be answered in conversation with the venue staff, and some will be non-applicable for your wedding.

I must stress that if a wedding venue can not find the time to have you visit with a set appointment and someone to meet with, then you should remove them from your “potential venue” list. Any venue that claims to be too busy to be able to make an appointment to see you and show you around their premises clearly doesn’t need your money.

Here are the questions I ask when viewing a venue:

  • Are the candelabra included in the venue hire (check what is available for look and quality)?
  • Are there adequate bathroom facilities?
  • Are there enough chairs for the ceremony venue or will you need to hire more?
  • Are there other weddings taking place on the same day?
  • Are there restrictions for photography?
  • Are waiters and barmen included in the venue hire?
  • Can you get dressed on the premises, is this room included in the venue hire (if you’re doing everything in one location) and what time can you get there to begin preparation?
  • Can you spend your wedding night on the premises and is it included in the venue hire?
  • Can you use your own suppliers and vendors?
  • Do you allow candles and open flames (this also applies to fireworks, flying Chinese lanterns, candle-lit walkways)?
  • Do you have noise restrictions (this sometimes happens if residences have been built up around a venue since it was opened)?
  • Does the venue have a a problem with you bringing a coordinator with you (keep in mind that a wedding venue’s own coordinators are looking after the venue, not the bride)?
  • Does the venue have a coordinator you can work with (keep in mind that a wedding venue’s own coordinators are looking after the venue, not the bride)?
  • Does the venue supply a PA system?
  • How far is it from the ceremony venue from the reception venue?
  • How far is the parking from the ceremony venue?
  • How far is the parking from the reception venue?
  • If you’re thinking of an outdoor ceremony and reception, is there an adequate back-up plan at the venue?
  • Is confetti/ rice/ streamers allowed after the ceremony?
  • Is cutlery and crockery included in the venue hire (check what is available for look and quality)?
  • Is decorative draping included in the venue hire (check what is available for look and quality)?
  • Is it pretty enough to take photographs (try to visit the venue at the same time of year and time of day as you plan to get married, summer flowers and greenery are often gone in winter)?
  • Is it wheelchair accessible?
  • Is table linen included in the venue hire (check what is available for look and quality)?
  • Is the clean-up fee included in the venue hire?
  • Is the dance floor big enough once the tables have been set up (5mx5m is usually enough)?
  • Is the venue available for your date?Is the venue big enough for your wedding (or too big)?
  • Is the venue easy to find?
  • Is there a generator?
  • Is there a minimum requirement for food and beverages, and are there consequences for not fulfilling the minimum?
  • Is there a payment schedule option?
  • Is there enough secure parking on the premises and is it included in the venue hire?
  • Is there space for the band/ DJ in the reception venue after the tables are set up?
  • What is the cancellation policy?
  • What is the corkage fee (a bottle of wine per table can be costly as you pay for each one opened and not everyone drinks wine, consider letting people order it if they want it)?
  • What is the expected turn-around time for communication during the planning process?
  • What time can set up begin?
  • What time does the venue close at night and are there overtime charges?

Apart from this long list, I suggest you ask for a sample contract to read through before they draw one up for you.

Tanya and Peter Get Married

This Sunday past, I had the priviledge of spending the day with Tanya as her wedding co-ordinator!

Since Tanya planned her own wedding, spending her wedding day with her meant that I was there to field phone calls, ensure all her service providers arrived and completed their tasks on time, and that her time frame was adhered to as much as possible. I was also there to fetch anything that may have been forgotten, keep an eye on lipstick, pin boutonnieres on lapels, help carry photographer’s equipment if I could, and ensure that gifts were carried to cars and luggage moved from the ready room to the bridal suite at the end of the day.

I had THIS much fun, and it was such a beautiful wedding. Tanya’s beautifully understated elegance and eye for detail was on show everywhere you looked, from the table decor to her wedding gown.

I got to work with two fabulous photographers on the day too- Jeanette and Alana are quite a team and I can’t wait to see their photos. Oakfield Farm’s fabulous staff were really on their game too- thank you Edison and Patience.

Here are some of my photos from the day, though I don’t get to take many whilst I run around!

Photographer – Jeanette Verster

Second Shooter – Alana Meyer

Venue & Catering – Oakfield Farm

Cake – Dilene from Salon de Culinaire

Bride’s gown and MOH’s cocktail dress – Marietjie Oelofse Couture (marieks12 on Twitter)

Stationery and table decor – Michelle from Evergreen Design

Photo booth – The Photo Corner

Decor and flowers – Flower Creations

Hair and make up – Frances and Lizelle from SLM Hair Design

An Awesome Online Toy!!

I made a little discovery today and I’ve had so much fun with it!

Are you stuck with picking a colour scheme for your wedding?

Try this – the DeGraeve.com Color Palette Generator!

It is actually used for generating colour codes for website and blog designing, but I had a ball!

Tamara & TSC’s Wedding

This is Tamara and TSC’s story, in Tamara’s own words.

Our Engagement
One day, sitting in a lecture, I was doodling on a piece of scrap paper and I came up with a ring design. The diamond (biggest most sparkly and valuable bit) symbolises God, holding together the two pear-shaped stones on the side (TSC and me), and the bands of white gold symbolise our lives, intertwined. TSC loved the idea, and he asked me to visit a family friend who ran a large diamond business in Gauteng when I was home for my holidays. They offered us a wonderful price. When I got back from my family holiday in Bosnia, I picked up the ring and fitted it on. I hated it. It looked nothing like my design. But I sucked it up and headed back to CT, where I handed the ring over to TSC and waited for him to propose.
Thankfully he is as impatient as I am, so I didn’t have to wait long. After two days, he called me from work and asked me what my plans were for dinner – he wanted to take me out. Knowing what was coming, I asked (casually, I thought), whether I should dress up. He said yes. Fishing some more, I asked whether I should dress up for sushi at our local spot or more for the Mt. Nelson. He said, “Dress for the Mt. Nelson”. I squealed and said, “Are we going to the the Mt. Nelson?!” I’d always wanted to go, but it was way out of our budget. “No!” was the adamant reply.
We drove to the surprise spot where he’d made a reservation and I climbed out the car… We were standing opposite a very dodgey looking pub called Nelson’s Eye. “Um, I feel a bit over-dressed,” I said. He was distraught – he’d got the name wrong and booked at the wrong place! I tried to comfort him and said he should forget about it – we could do the supper on another night. He decided we would try the Mt Nelson and see if they had a table open since that was where he’d wanted to take me.
They did have a table open. The  sussed out our clothes and asked if it was a special occasion. TSC whispered that he was going to ask me to marry him. I pretended I couldn’t hear. We had a sublime evening. The food and service is amazing (we’ve been back twice on our wedding anniversary since). We ordered bubbly. Then he started… I’d warned him that when he asked me, I might ask “why”, which is what my best friend did when her boyfriend proposed. So TSC had prepared an answer. His speech went something like this:
“You know I love you and I think you’re the most amazing woman in the world. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. So will you make me the happiest man alive?”
To which I responded, “And by that, what you mean to say is…?”
“Will you marry me?”
Of course, I said yes. Even though I’d known it was coming, I bawled my eyes out. He put the ring on my finger and suddenly it was perfect.
I loved our whole engagement experience. The only thing I’d change is that he didn’t get down on one knee! We were both so young and out of our depth at such a luxury restaurant that he was too embarrassed. In fact, we only have one photo of the night – taken outside, because we were too shy to ask if we could take photos inside. I still rag him about the lack of bended knee. 😉
The Big Day
I loved my wedding. LOVED it. It was a beautiful 35 degree sunny day with cloudless blue skies on 16 December 2006 (nearly five years ago!). It was a week after my graduation and we were both 22 at the time. I had only ever been to three weddings (and two of them were only because I was singing in the choir – I didn’t know the brides). My family, my bridesmaids and I all stayed at the Lodge the night before and on the morning of the wedding, we had a lovely lazy brunch and then started our preparation. I was not going to be one of those brides that stressed about the things that weren’t perfect and missed out on enjoying every moment of the day. There was bubbly, giggles and lots of girly chat going on where I was getting ready with my army of smurfs- five bridesmaids dressed in bright blue.
TSC and his best man, on the other hand, were watching cricket and having a beer.
My shoes were found after about three hours of trawling Canal Walk shopping centre. TSC’s shoes took us three months to find, fussy boy this one. I had two garters – one given to me by the dressmaker at Mayers, and one I’d found (the on in the picture) at a Chinese shop for R5, being sold as a “baby headband”. Haha! I used that one for the garter toss and kept the other one.
I had wanted my bridesmaids to feel comfortable, so I bought them each a few metres of fabric and posted it to them. They each designed their own dress and had it made, my only rules were no strapless dresses and nothing super-short. I saw the dresses for the first time on the day and all my girls looked fantastic. Because they’d had to cover their own dress expenses, we got their make-up done professionally for them. I’d also bought each bridesmaid a crystal pendant in Bosnia, which I strung on blue velvet ribbon as a thank you. They all wore them on the day.
The wedding started at about 3pm with an outdoor ceremony, followed by canapes on the lawn.
I did a lot of decor stuff myself.
I made little baubles and strung them from the trees with small bells so that when the wind blew, you could hear them tinkling. Each hanging bauble had a chocolate in it with a note to each guest thanking them for being with us. We did these instead of favours, and while we disappeared to have photos taken, the guests kept themselves busy looking for their baubles. Seeing we got married a week before Christmas, lots of them apparently used them as Christmas tree decorations afterwards.
There were also photos of TSC and I hung up, with little anecdotes about where they were taken written on the back.
I also knew that if I had had a bouquet, I would probably have lost it or sat on it, so I asked for a trailing wrist corsage band with bells woven into it too. Each bridesmaid also had a wrist corsage.
My folks were amazing and I’d love to show you a family pic, but they’d kill me if I put their photos up online, so I’ll just show you one of my brother doing the reading, which he forgot in the room. Our pastor said, “And now, a reading from Tamara’s brother” and then there was this long pause. Eventually he said, “Does anyone know where Tamara’s brother is?”
Someone shouted from the back of the crowd, “He’s gone to fetch the reading!”
Hehehe… it was awesome.
We had two pastors at our wedding – one officiating and one who preached. He gave a brilliant, short and to the point message, which I was thankful for. We wrote our vows ourselves and after the official bits, we had a group of family and friends pray for us.
There are no photos of me putting the ring on TSC’s finger – he gave me the wrong hand and had to change it afterwards! It was tough getting the rings on – in such hot weather, our fingers were quite swollen.
Instead of rose petals or rice, I opted for pink dried fynbos flowers. Local and eco-friendly. :) A bit itchy when they get down your dress though!
For the ceremony’s music, we had a wonderfully talented friend, Chris, sing and play guitar for our hymns, and another muso friend, Lolita, joined him to sing an incredible version of Amazing Grace while TSC and I signed the register inside.
Our MC, Phil, was a good friend who is Zimbabwean, meaning he doesn’t speak any Afrikaans. All of TSC’s family hardly speak any English. Phil decided to use the only Afrikaans word he knew and pepper his speeches with it, much to the confusion of everyone there. The word was aardappel – potato!
I’m not a fan of wedding cake, so I got a varsity friend who happened to be a qualified chef to whip up some absolutely amazing cupcakes. This was before cupcakes were “trendy”. They were delish.
Before the canapes were served, my mom had put out a whole whack of nuts and TSC’s parents had supplied 20kg of biltong and droe wors from their farm. It all got polished off within minutes!
After the canapes, we put out a “dessert bar” with chocolates, sweets and  baked goodies I’d picked up at Compass Bakery (if you live in CT area, you MUST explore there).
Our music was handled by a friend who set up my laptop with a sound system. TSC and I opened the dance floor with a supposed rhumba to The Carpenters’ “Close to You”. TSC got stage fright, so it wasn’t really a rhumba in the end!
We expected people to dance well into the night, but being a balmy CT summer’s day, it just didn’t get dark (we never got the chance to light our candles and Chinese lanterns)! And by 8.30, most people were tired after a day in the sun and headed home. A few stayed to dance, drink the last of the wine and wander in the vineyards.
It was such a wonderful day and I’ve loved being able to remember it all again as I wrote this.

Wedding venue: 5 Mountains Lodge in Wellington
Dress: designed by me, made by Mayers
Flowers: Kleine Marie in Stellenbosch
Make-up and hair: Brushstrokes
Photos: Denis Ginn Chosen because he made me laugh – I hate being photographed and Denis’ sense of humour made me more relaxed 😉 I’m not sure if he does weddings anymore though.

And now for your visual enjoyment, some photographs of Tamara and TSC’s wedding.