Colourful, Mediterranean Inspired Wedding in An Old Prison

Jenni Elizabeth Photography

March 23, 2015

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Andel and Pieter were married between Christmas and New Year’s Eve in Riversdale, South Africa. They chose Die ou Tronk, an old prison, as their venue. Surprisingly this unusual location has been converted into the most gorgeous event space! From outside the building looks as you would expect, but once inside you are met by a beautiful, bright courtyard with lots of flowers and trees.

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“We decided to get married during the most festive time of the year, when no one is working and everyone is in a GREAT party mood”, the bride told me. “We live on Mauritius in the Indian ocean, but wanted our wedding back home in SA so that all our friends and family could attend. Because we live so far away, and have not seen anyone in ages, we wanted to focus and the party and not have too many formalities in order to spend as much time as possible with our guests!”

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“We both love Mediterranean food, and I’ve always been inspired by Mediterranean courtyard weddings, but I have never come across any thing remotely close to that anywhere in South Africa”, she continued. “Whilst on a trip to our beach house, my mom and we stopped at the old prison in Riversdale. As I walked through the door I was amazed. Six metre high mossy, chipped walls surrounded two beautiful courtyards, with hidden nooks and crannies. The prison, which is actually a historically significant building, is today used as a coffee shop and market and after some persuading the owner agreed to let our wedding be the first they’d ever held.”

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With such a wonderful venue, the couple didn’t need to do much in terms of extra décor. They set up long tables and decorated them with polkadot runners and wild flowers which they put in vintage medicine, soda and other little glass bottles that the bride had collected from antique stores. “We wanted a no-nonsense, unpretentious wedding and because the building was so beautiful and authentic, it did not need much decoration. We put up lights and hired long festival tables for next to nothing. My cute little grandmother made the table runners and spent hours making the confetti by hand, which she decided should be the same colours as my dress.”

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Andel’s incredible and unique wedding gown was made for her by rising South African fashion designer, Sheila Madge Bakker. “I’ve always known I wasn’t going to be the typical all-white bride”, she explained. “One of my best and most talented friends made my dress. She did the embroidery by hand herself, in the three weeks before my wedding.”

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The couple also used local suppliers to not only save money, but support the community. “Because we got married in a small farming town, we decided to support them. It is not a popular wedding venue or town, so the community was very intrigued and extremely helpful and everyone wanted to be part of the fun. By using the local suppliers we were able to save a lot of money. Our mobile bar was set up in a cell by a local guy, who is friends with the owner of the liquor store across the road who let us use his fridges, ice and bar staff for next to nothing. We also saved a lot of money on the flowers because we had made friends with some of the local farmers and they had no problem with us ravaging their fields and farmlands to find the most beautiful flowers free of charge. Another local business supplied tables and benches for approximately £3 each including benches! Because my wedding planner grew up in the area, she knew a lot of the locals and was able to set up meetings and organise great deals for us. She was our greatest ally and made it all possible.”

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“My biggest piece of advice for other couples would be to hire a professional wedding planner”, Andel concluded. “It just takes so much pressure and stress away from your big day. It doesn’t mean your wedding has to be any less unique or creative and different. Wedding planners love a challenge, they do so many of the same weddings it is a breath of fresh air for them to do something different. It also means that someone else takes a lot of the responsibility on the day and the weeks before the wedding. Wedding planners are organised, know what needs to be done and when. It really makes the whole thing a lot easier. Especially for destination weddings!”

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