Magical Wonderland Forest Wedding in South Africa

Roxanne Davison Photography

September 5, 2017

Jane and Ben were married in South Africa in April. They wanted their wedding to feel natural, beautiful and ‘foresty’. They were inspired by A Midsummer Nights’ Dream and wanted something that resembled a wonderland forest meets a magical fairyland! Since the wedding was in South Africa’s Autumn, they also wanted it to have an autumnal feel. They used lots of dried leaves and autumn colours.

However they actually had no real flowers at the wedding. “I didn’t want any flowers, except for the ones on my dress,” explained Jane. “All the bouquets were made of herbs, which we now have hanging around our house and we used my mum’s old brooches for the bridesmaid’s sashes and on my bouquet – it felt very sentimental and special.”

“We still really wanted the feeling of overhead greenery, but our venue didn’t allow for hanging things from the roof, so we had to come up with an alternate plan. I am a little tree obsessed, so making out tree centrepieces felt like a natural thing to do. We made them by hand over the better part of six months. We picked the branches and dried them, stripped them of their weak branches and dead leaves and preserved them in glycerine with dye to get their pink colour (a four week process per branch). Our house looked like a florist shop for months! My brother then hand-lathed each base for us and we secured them inside. The preserved leaves were attached with wire and special tape which we painted, and finally covered them with fairylights and a few fake flowers for added fullness. Making them was a shot in the dark whether or not they would work… but it did! Seeing them all together was magic.”

Jane co-owns a bridal design house, so naturally made her own wedding dress. “My business Partner, Dale, and I spent months hand-making my gown, it was a labour of love! The fabric was champagne and nude and covered with ribbon flowers and pearls. We’ve worked together for five years on so many dresses for other brides and so the moment he laced up my corset and zipped up the dress (he was one of my bridal party) was a special moment for us both. I bought my wedding shoes from Nine West, which I then personally hand-covered with beaded lace and velvet bows. I have size 9 shoes, and I had to fight to find a pair of wedding shoes in my size! So in the end I just decided to wear black, and stop fighting the inevitable. I can always wear them again, and I love them!”

Their wedding ceremony was held in a chapel and was relaxed and emotional. “Walking in and seeing all of our closest family and friends waiting was such a magical experience. My step-father walked me down the aisle while Promise by Ben Howard played. We had to stop several times because I kept crying, which I was totally unprepared for. I now know why brides wear veils that cover their faces; it’s so no-one can see them when they ugly cry down the aisle! Seeing Ben was incredible, he looked so happy and nervous and it set me at ease. We had obviously done a really good job on the dress, because a bee decided I was in fact, a real bush, with real flowers, and would not leave me alone throughout the ceremony! We all had a good laugh and it reminded us to let go, relax, laugh and just enjoy the moment.”

As their wedding fell on the Easter weekend they decided to hold an Easter egg hunt for their guests while they were getting their photos taken. “People were getting quite into it!” she laughed. “The Eggs were golden Lindt Bunnies that had customised ‘Jane & Ben 2017’ on their little bell ribbons… They were incredibly cute.”

“We didn’t really plan it, but because I am a creative by nature, and very particular about what I like, our wedding became full-scale DIY. I really thought I was capable of handling most things myself but woah, I was humbled! You don’t factor in how emotional you will be closer to the wedding, and that is why it is so hard to DIY it all. Not because you can’t, but because of the unforeseen emotions you have to deal with on top of all the projects! We made our own wedding invitations, the tree centrepieces, the bistro lighting and my dress. My bridesmaid, Skye, made the menus and hanging table seating chart. Looking back, it really was a lot to take on.”

“The best part about wedding planning was having the most wonderful sense of community”, she concluded. “So many close friends and family all helping and making an effort and showing so much endless support. That was wonderful.”