Mia and Gary

There is something utterly romantic about winery weddings. The beauty of the landscape in the photographs, the knowing that almost like a marriage, wine takes time. it takes love and care but boy is it good when it goes well. Mia and Gary held their South African celebration just outside of Bowral, which they chose because of their love for the beautiful setting.

Gary recalls how he and Mia met. “My old housemate and one of Mia’s friends were going on a blind date. My housemate was new to the country so he asked me to go along as he didn’t know the area and also to act as a bit of a wingman for him and Mia’s friend brought her along as well. While the friends didn’t hit it off Mia and I ended up talking all night (despite a terrible pick up line from yours truly). A couple of days later we went over to the girl’s house to cook them dinner and Mia and I started a really strong friendship. We started dating about a year after that and were engaged after dating for 9 months. Thankfully all four of us from that night are now married, (the other two to different people) so a happy ending for all”

Mia chimed in “Gary and I are both South African. I am Afrikaans and Gary is an English speaking South African.  Both of us immigrated with our immediate families approximately 11 years ago.  The short story is that Gary and I met 3 years ago as we were both the wing man and wing women for our friend’s blind date…. Although they are both now married to other people….  Gary and instantly became the closest of friends, and within 9 months of official dating we were engaged to be married.”

Photographs today are by Taylor Made Photography. I love the classic yet romantic photographs of today’s wedding Taylor Made produced. I love how they captured Mia’s spontaneous laughter, but also the finer details of the day. Video of the day was captured by Four Leaf Films.

Kicking off with the gorgeous rusty orange bridesmaid’s gowns. Mia explains “Because each bridesmaid had a different body shape, personal style and taste we decided to get their dresses made. I decided on the style of a maxi dress and then encouraged each bridesmaid to decide on the shape e.g. sweetheart strapless, off the shoulder or v neck style.  I wanted a colour that was unique and fitted well with the rustic theme of the wedding and the earthy colour scheme. During our holiday in South Africa mum and I bought Christian Dior silk chiffon, which had a shiny rustic orange brown tinge and a burnt orange material as a base.

As the girls walked the light reflected off the material and it almost looked like flames. It was so beautiful, and different. This was mum and I’s gift to the bridesmaids.”

The invitations tied the theme of the day together. Mia says “Our wedding invitations were done by Lisa Marie of Willowlane Studios in Double Bay. They were stunning and we have had many compliments about them. They were a bit of a luxury but they did a great job of setting the mood for the wedding”

Mia wore an off the shoulder gown by Halo Bridal. She remarks “I only visited 3 bridal stores and found my beautiful dress at Halo Bridal. I was very lucky as the dress was a ‘once-off’, and there were no other dresses to be made in the same style.  I always thought that I would have a strapless, poufy princess dress and to my surprise it was quite the opposite. The dress had a lot of beautiful lace, and detail which made it look classic vintage. It was quite tight, which complimented my curviness (Gary wrote that part).

The one-off only dress was a blessing and a curse, because it only came in the one size, which I had to try and fit into.  There was no tailor made dress from scratch. I had plenty of time to get in shape and fit into the dress I kept telling myself and purchased the dress 12 months prior to the wedding. To my family’s amusement time flew and I started to exercise 2 weeks before the wedding! It luckily fit on the day!”

Mia used Ethix for hair and makeup styling on the day. She recalls “As part of our research into local suppliers we found Ethix – Yvette van Schie (make-up artist) and hair-dresser Claire. My sister and I drove down to Bowral for a hair and make trial and were quite impressed with the professionalism, advice for pre-wedding skin and hair care.

They were quite attentive to any questions we had. If we didn’t like anything were happy to make changes and did not get offended. I find sometimes some hairdressers and makeup artists are snobby and get offended, however this was not the case. The wedding day was fabulous as the girls really took care of us, made us comfortable and feel beautiful!”

Mia got ready with her family and bridesmaids at Milton Park Country House Hotel and Spa. The couple hired wedding cars from The Vintage Factory, Mittagong. Gary says “They were absolutely beautiful cars, Mia and her dad arrived at the church in a 1927 Rolls Royce Phantom, the bridesmaids in a 1963 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud and the groom and groomsmen in a 1956 Bentley. You’ll see the 1927 Rolls Royce in an upcoming movie being shot in Sydney…”

The floral arrangements for the day were styled by Kate of Absolutely Flowers Bowral “Kate is as her company name says amazing! She is so lovely and friendly and very creative. Kate also offered to help setup the table decorations alongside the flower decorations in the church and wedding reception.  I really wanted vintage roses and magnolia leaves. Roses however during the beginning of September were very hard to come by. Kate made it happen and found amazing cream vandella roses.”

Mia says “Pearls was the theme. Each bridesmaid had hanging pearl earrings and a few strings of pearl bracelets. I wanted something soft to compliment the rustic coloured dresses.”

Mia and Gary married at St Jude’s Anglican Church, Bowral. “A beautiful little red brick Anglican Church with stained glass windows. To add to the classic, vintage feel of the wedding we hired stringpace. They sounded very beautiful.  They send you a CD with over 50 samples of their performances, playing anything from classical to popular music. We had Coldplay, U2 and sting to the classic Ave Maria and Canon in D.

Our Menu’s and Order of Service booklets were made by a friend as a favor and we printed them ourselves. Our thank you cards were given to us as a wedding present and were hand made.”

The couple’s favorite part of the day was “Marrying our best friends/one another – Whether it was going to rain, hail or shine, we were so excited to become married to one another and to spend the rest of our lives together! Walking into the church, the minute we saw one another’s faces, the nerves faded and it was pure joy!!”

Gary’s suit was custom made to suit him by The Gentleman’s Club in Chatswood.  Mia remarks “I had full confidence that Gary could arrange the groomsmen attire without my full involvement. And may I say I was very impressed. Being very biased, he was a very handsome and stunning looking Groom. The groomsmen wore suits custom made by The Gentleman’s Club Chatswood, the same place as the groom. The groomsmen also looked very charming.  To save costs, the groomsmen suits were also custom made, however from a slightly different material, close enough to match the groom.

I have to thank the groomsmen (Angus, Brian and Stephen) for taking care of the groom, for being amazing friends and looking stunning on the day.”

Mia recalls “For the hymn, one of my talented bridesmaids Amy sang accompanied by her husband Clarke on guitar. It is so special when your friends are involved in your wedding.”

Describing the wedding in a  sentence, Mia says “Lots of genuine love, classic South African style wedding, our dream wedding, with a lot of personal touches and contributions from family and friends, good food and wine, with lots of laughter thrown in.

Of their photographer, Mia says, “Darren was brilliant, lots of fun and very good at taking the pressure off the wedding couple! We would recommend him in a heartbeat; he also took fantastic pre-wedding photos for us.  We were so lucky to have Darren! He is professional, has a fantastic sense of humour with a  refreshing attitude and energy  that helped make Gary and I feel  really comfortable and confident both on the pre wedding photo shoot in May as well as the wedding day itself.  Darren’s creativity and skill captured our wedding exactly in the way that we wanted.

One of the biggest importance’s to Gary and myself was to find a great photographer to capture one of the momentous days of our lives, as well as complement our personalities. We wanted someone who was creative, skilled and fun… We could not have found a better match!”

The couple held their reception at Centennial Vineyards. Mia explains “We found Centennial Vineyards 3 years ago as we just started dating. We were on a wine tasting holiday with friends.  Gary and I immediately fell in love with the venue, the big wooden door, outdoor fire place, amazing food and great tasting wine, the beautiful rustic decor of the restaurant. It reminded us of home. When we became engaged there was no question as to where the reception would be.

When deciding on a venue and the style of wedding Gary and I very easily agreed on everything. We wanted to showcase a little bit of the ‘south African’ in us as well as our personalities. The theme for the wedding was ‘Rustic Vintage’.  We immediately knew the perfect venue, Centennial Vineyards in Bowral. Centennial was perfect because it matched our theme, our love of delicious food and fabulous wine. The barnyard feel of the restaurant and outside fireplace helped us to escape back to South Africa.”

Mia remarks “I work as an Event Manager which made organising my own wedding a treat.  This time I was the client as well as the organiser. My mother also has a real neck for organising and creativity, so I would say we were a great team. I do however want to give a lot of credit to my mum for all her hard work! Especially with all the DIY (explained in the questions further down). All the vendors found it to be quite entertaining how thorough the run sheet and detail was… at times I was a little embarrassed. However it assisted in a stress free day.”

The decadent wedding cake was made by a friend. Mia recalls “A girlfriend of ours who is a qualified pastry chef made us the wedding cake as a gift. We wanted soft butter-cream icing, roughly spread, the idea that you can just swipe your finger through it and want to lick it off! One tier was chocolate mud cake and the other tier was caramel mud cake. We wanted a mixture of a rustic looking, yet elegant cake. It was amazing. After the honeymoon we had some friends over for champagne and leftover wedding cake.”

Mia’s mother had plenty of hand in the reception decorations “My mum organised the table decorations. She bought the chocolate coloured organza to cover the tables. She also purchased fake pearls and every Thursday night she would string all the pearls together to decorate each table.  She even surprised me with a mock table at home when I came home from work one day. She really brought all my ideas to life which assisted in the excitement leading up to the big day.

We made our own table numbers, using mini wire hearts purchased from local South Africans alongside the road and spray painted the actual numbers stuck on each heart. The table numbers were hung onto each tall candelabra. Gary and I used one of the photos from our pre-wedding photo shoot and asked a work colleague of mine to design our menu’s using the photo as a watermark.”

The couple utilised styling companies for hire. “We hired had 1 tall and 1 medium sized candelabra with mirrors on per table hired from Decorative Events. so that the candle light reflected off them in the dark. The Candelabra’s were gorgeous as they added a bit of ‘antiqueness’ to the table. On top of each candelabra we had cream vandella roses with dodder vine and a white candle in the centre.” They also hired mini candle holders from The Styling Company “The love of candle light did not stop at the candelabras. Per table we also had 4 mini candle holders for some extra light and to add to the romantic ambience.”

Mia recalls “Our wedding certainly had a lot of our personalities in it and a lot of our memories from our respective childhoods in South Africa. We really wanted a South African themed wedding and the combination of music and decorative pieces from South Africa really made it a special night. Gary loves food and so he was in charge of the final menu. I was in charge of the music. I event wrote and sang groom Gary a song as part of my speech.”

For reception entertainment, the couple hired DJ Teejay from Instinct Music. Mia says “He traveled all the way down from Sydney. I could honestly say that the music was a big highlight on the night and he was worth every penny.  During the wedding ceremony there was a glitch with the CD and our recessional song that was very special to us was no played. Gary mentioned this to DJ and as a surprise he downloaded the song and used it as one of the main dance songs during the reception. It was so special. He really listened to what we wanted, the style of music and the feel we wanted for the night.”

Gary remarks” Our first dance was semi-choreographed; I say that because we did a few practice dances to our music and worked out a routine, but on the night we just decided to go with the flow and only loosely followed the routine, it worked out really well as it felt much more natural (I’m not the best dancer you’ve ever seen!). We danced to a live recording of ‘All I Want Is You’ by U2, as I am a massive U2 fan and the song means a lot to both of us.” The couple gave out favors from Polka Dot Cookies and My Treasure.