If ever there was a case for getting married in winter this is it! Gorgeous light, so crisp and fresh! Alexis Diack captured this beautiful wedding of Lauren & Guy’s on a beautiful winters day in the Natal Midlands, South Africa, close to where the stunning bride grew up. Lauren’s Mother made her dress for her and it became a really special journey for the two of them together. She got so involved in the process she even went as far as taking courses in couture corsetry! Lauren explains more about this part of their journey and more below…
Tell us about finding your wedding dress: “I’ve never really given much thought to what my wedding dress would look like, for me the most important thing was to have a celebration with our friends and family. All I knew going in was that it was important to me to have a dress that was made from pure natural fibres, and ideally out of pure silks and cotton, it also needed be the dress that would be an important part of a day that would create lasting memories that were full of joy and love. I’ve always loved lace because my mother and grandmother had beautiful French lace on their gowns (my mothers ancestry is French Huguenot) and I quite like that tradition. I only went to two dress fittings and I kept it simple by just taking my mother with me. We tried on several lace dresses from high end couture to mass produced budget brands and despite the varying (sometimes eye watering) price tags they all get made overseas, in a factory and at the end of the day they all use the same linings and materials to stitch it together.
Until you actually try on a wedding dress, you really don’t get the full picture of how it is in reality. The gowns were all really beautiful and I did feel quite amazing in them but for me, it was quite an impersonal experience which made me feel very vulnerable and that was against what I was trying to achieve from the start. In my heart I always knew my mother would make my wedding dress and somehow it just evolved into that. My mother made my sisters wedding dress and I have vivid memories of her sitting up late at night hand stitching pearls on my sisters gown and to this day when I look at my sisters dress, all I see is a work of art and pure love.
When I asked my mom if she could make my dress for me, she was very excited, so was I and I felt so much better about the whole thing. She took the ideas I had in mind mixed it with my personality and started by cutting a pattern from scratch and it snowballed into a project that was just for the two of us. We ended up researching couture techniques and fashion history and we followed quite a traditional dressmaking method. We just loved learning all these new things together it was a very special time that we shared. My mom also knew that I didn’t want to wear a strapless gown in the chapel so the design she created was a strapless silk taffeta gown with a diamanté beaded sash for the reception and for the ceremony the dress had a silk lace bolero with ¾ length sleeves that was topped by a very romantic and floaty three layer silk paj skirt overlay which had a small train. My mom also talked me into getting a cathedral length veil and I’m so glad I did because it was so much fun and those little touches added a bit of drama to my dress.
The bodice was lined with a pure silk and flannel lining and the skirt was also lined with soft cotton muslin, so it was incredibly comfortable and light. My mother even took some courses in couture corsetry using books from the London College of Fashion syllabus. It was an absolute labour of love and even though my dress is really quite simple, when you look closely, the detail is extraordinary, the seams are invisible and even the thread used to stitch it together was silk. It was quite humbling and she made memories for me that are full of love and laughter and those special moments that we shared would have never been experienced had she not made my gown. It is a one off and one of the greatest gifts she has ever given me.
What was the inspiration for your wedding? Friends and Family! Plus it was an excuse to just have one big celebration where we could catch up with each other. We very happily chose to have our wedding in South Africa, first because of family and second because of our budget, it costs a lot less to get married in South Africa than it does in London. It was also the perfect chance to get everyone in the same room at the same time for one big party – something that is hard to do when you live far away. For me personally, our wedding was the first time in over 10 years that I had all of my family in the same room at the same time so it was very emotional. The inspiration behind the decor was to bring some of our UK life with us. We never really had a theme but the key words were, crisp, clean, homemade and vintage English fete in Africa. All I knew was that I wanted lots of white bunting and flowers.
Our venue was at Granny Mouse Country House in the Natal Midlands and close to where I grew up. We chose it because the location is beautiful, the accommodation is excellent the chapel overlooks the Caversham valley plus their website was easy to use and had all the information we needed to know online without having to phone or email and it included all their wedding packages together well as info about detailed inventories and itineraries which covered every aspect of our wedding weekend – this was a huge deciding factor and its so important when you are arranging your wedding from thousands of miles away. Their onsite wedding co-coordinator Candy was brilliant and their service and food was above and beyond excellent.
Any DIY/Budget elements? Our wedding had a very strict budget so Guy and I had to prioritise where to spend and where to save. As a result our whole wedding was DIY, we wanted a party but we didn’t want to waste our savings on one day when we have the rest of our lives to get through so it forced us to prioritise where we would spend and save. Having a wedding on a budget was one of the best learning experiences I have ever had and it made me come up with all sorts of creative solutions to things I never thought possible.
We chose to get married in the winter because packages cost much less which would give us more room to spend on important things for our guests enjoyment like quality wines and good food. We hid a lot of budget cuts in our décor that we did ourselves and we streamlined our flowers to choices that would add lots of volume and softness to the space but without breaking the bank.
Most memorable moment? The chapel doors opening and looking at my husband at the end of the aisle, seeing all our guests and family looking absolutely stunning and my dad squeezing my hand when he walked me up the aisle.
Anything other details that help tell the story of your day: My parents gave me a 1945 solid silver sixpence for my shoe which they bought from the Royal Mint, it was presented in a beautiful white box with the royal mint emblem on it and inside it had lovely card explaining the ‘sixpence for your shoe’ tradition – a real family heirloom in the making.
Photographer | Alexis Diack, Videographer | Michelle Rabe, Cake | Lana Joubert, Cupcake Couture
Grooms Attire | Made to Measure – King and Allen, Cufflinks | Mulberry, Caterer | Granny Mouse Country House
DJ | Topjocks, Dave Ward, Chapel Music | Brides Aunt, Additional printing | Cassandra Kidson Design