Light spilled through towering oak trees at Stefan and Gabrielle’s summer solstice South African wedding.
A collision of hearts set within the lush forest, the couple’s poetic ceremony was wildly authentic. In front of an organic arch crafted from wildflowers, the Stefan and Gabrielle wed against pale blooms standing on raw earth. The bride wore a weightless antique-inspired silk gown with sheer long sleeves by local designer Sadie Bosworth and carried a bouquet of wheat, foraged from the surrounding farmlands. The ethereal simplistic reception was held inside the Die Woud glass conservatory, beneath a canopy of foliage and chandeliers.
The poetic visuals were captured by fine art photographer The Woods Photography.
Names / Gabrielle & Stefan Snyman
Location / Caledon, South Africa
Wedding Date / December 21st, 2022
Guest Numbers / 70
Budget / $20,000
How We Met
Stefan and Gaby are high school sweethearts. They met when Gaby was just 16 and Stefan was 18 and have been dating ever since. Now in their 30’s, the couple couldn’t wait to host a celebration that would not only sanctify their love for one another, but their love for the friends and family who have been by their sides all these years.
Our Engagement Story
Stefan proposed to Gaby while in Tuscany, Italy during the summer of 2018. While staying in the 15th century La Torre Di Carlo in the Monticcheillo, Stefan proposed with a 17th century Georgian antique ring, with a pistachio green Peridot stone set in fine detailed gold filigree.
What we love most about each other…
Stefan and Gaby have grown up together, moved across the world together. From South Africa to Sweden, they have been each other’s home and are first and foremost, best friends.
The setting for their South African wedding was nestled amongst ancient oak trees and tall wattle forests at Die Woud venue in Caledon, South Africa. The ceremony was conducted beneath the mottled sunshine and swaying trees and the reception was held in the glass conservatory. The date chosen for the wedding was the southern hemisphere’s summer solstice.
Combining a retro aesthetic with stripped back natural elements, the day was a unique display of old world vintage meets cottage charm. The core colours of the South African wedding were earthy, with pistachio green as a repeating feature.
In a non-traditional decision, the bride and groom decided to get ready together. As they both live in Sweden, away from their loved ones in South Africa, they wanted to spend as much time with everyone as they could. That meant that the bridal party and immediate family spent the morning together in a cottage farmhouse near the venue.
Matt Kay, also known as The Woods Photography, captured the day. The couple were drawn to his analogue inspired shooting style that is both romantic and dramatic.
The couple also supplied the guests with disposable cameras. 10 cameras were set on tables and used by guests throughout the night, and two were kept by the bride and groom. Some of the most special and treasured images from the day came from these disposables, and was one of the best decisions made by the couple.
“The decor for the ceremony was intended to be organic and pastoral, pulling inspiration from the farmland and forests of the area.”
The decor for the ceremony was intended to be organic and pastoral, pulling inspiration from the farmland and forests of the area. A messy yet lush floral arch was the backdrop to their ceremony.
The reception decor was similarly inspired, with overflowing and organic floral arrangements on the tables as well as large leafy arrangements hanging from the ceiling. Organic shaped pottery and tall candles were placed amongst the table floral arrangements, further adding to the rustic yet curated atmosphere.
Wedding Planner & Stylist
Gaby planned the South African wedding herself while in Sweden, with coordinator Lauren Kelz assisting her with on the day co-ordination as well as final detail wrap ups.
Crisna from Bouwer Flowers was their florist and put together floral arrangements of wildflowers and pale blooms, to create an atmosphere of the cottage garden, tied in with local varieties to create a natural display of the rustic and romantic.
Gaby’s bouquet was a tall stack of wheat sourced form the surrounding farmlands. Stefan’s ancestors were wheat cutters, and the choice to carry the wheat into the ceremony was a harken back to Stefan’s forefathers and the family Gaby would now be entering.
The bridesmaids held bouquets of wildflowers, and the groomsmen wore boutonnieres with small heads of wheat and wildflowers.
Gaby designed all the stationary herself, and used vintage ethereal illustrations for the invites, name cards, standing menus and seating chart.
Favors & Bonbonniere
The wedding favours were artisanal soaps made by Gaby and Stefan’s close friends and guests at the South African wedding, Yazmine Horowitz and her partner Josh Potgieter. The soaps were made from bentonite clay with spirulina and lavendar, and were the perfect shade of green to pair with the natural table decor.
The cake was a blush vanilla sponge with sage coconut icing and edible flowers, with a rustic finish.
Food & Beverages
Welcome drinks of gourmet gin and champagne were on offer with the canapés, which consisted of kataifi deep fried prawn with apricot vinaigrette, brie, cherry and thyme bruschetta, mushroom, caramalised onion and gruyere puff tart, peach and prosciutto crostini, and baked spinach artichoke wonton cups.
The menu was a sit down two course meal with wine pairing, and a dessert table of sweet delights on offer thereafter. Starters included baked halloumi with chilli honey, garlic aioli, slow roasted cherry tomato and sweet potato crisps. Mains included grilled lamb rump, harissa and confit garlic roast potatoes, zucchini sauce, carrot puree, mint sautéed green peas, fried onion and jus. The dessert table included South African wedding cake, amarula truffles, crispy rooibos milk tart rolls, brownie petit fours, and macadamia and cranberry nougat. A midnight snack of loaded french fries was brought around by waiters while the party was underway.
Fashion & Beauty Notes
Bride’s Dress & Shoes
The dress was designed by Sadie Bosworth Atelier from Cape Town, South Africa. It was inspired by antique wedding gowns as well as simple cottage-esque flowing frocks. It was made from champagne coloured raw silk with sheer sleeves and silk covered buttons. The shoes were retro inspired block wedges by Ángel Alarcón.
Wedding Rings, Jewelry & Accessories
The wedding rings were simple, classic bands made from 18 K Swedish red gold. To complete her look, Gaby wore her grandmother’s vintage gold watch and a gold ring worn by her mother as a teenager. Her earrings were drop pearls with gold detailing and she wore a dainty gold necklace gifted to her by one of her bridesmaids.
Hair & Makeup
Hair and make up artist Tash Papadopoulos took care of Gaby’s look, keeping things classic and natural. Using Gaby’s natural curls as a starting point, Tash simply enhanced and refined. Make-up was kept classic, with a simple black liner and rosy blush to elevate the look. The bridesmaids wore their hair down in messy waves, with small cuttings of baby’s breath dotted throughout their hair.
The groom wore a retro inspired Sandro Paris tobacco suit, with Aimé Leon Dore loafers. He wore a gold square faced Cassio watch, and a gold signet ring engraved with a simplified family crest, featuring two stalks of wheat, that was gifted to him by his groomsmen. The groomsmen wore short sleeved beige button ups, in varying fabrics from cotton to linen, with sand coloured trousers and loafers.
As the couple wanted to spend as much of their day with their loved ones as possible, they decided to take the 30 min drive from their farm stay to the venue in shared mini buses. This meant the bridal party and family enjoyed the scenic drive with one another and it was simply a continuation of their morning spent together.
“The cake was a blush vanilla sponge with sage coconut icing and edible flowers, with a rustic finish.”
Gaby walked down the aisle to Max Richter’s recomposition of ‘Spring’ from ‘The Four Seasons’. In a display of the perfect summer solstice, the glowing sun and lush canopy held the tune of this piece like magic. They closed the ceremony with Mazzy Star’s ‘Fade Into You’ and their first dance song was a ballad by the Drums called ‘Down by the Water’.
The bride and groom curated a soundtrack for the day that included a fresh, summer inspired indie playlist for canapés, a soothing and soulful retro and instrumental playlist for dinner, and a funky 70’s, 80’s and 90s playlist for the party. Their DJ orchestrated these playlists and ensured the different moods of each part of the day flowed seamlessly.
Their celebrant was their close friend Dave, who created the ceremony alongside the couple. They included a hand binding ceremony during which one of the bridesmaids bound their clasped hands in a silk ribbon, over which their vows were spoken.
Readings included excerpts from Paolo Coelho’s ‘The Alchemist’ and Madeline Miller’s ‘Song of Achilles’.
“Organic shaped pottery and tall candles were placed amongst the table floral arrangements, further adding to the rustic yet curated atmosphere.”
A memorable moment…
A memorable moment for the couple was right after the ceremony, while preparing for the confetti throw, when the bride and groom stood alone in the forest. It was an overwhelming moment, when the build up of the day seemed to settle on them. Tears were shed and hugs exchanged, in an effort to collect themselves before the joyous walk through the confetti throw of olive tree leaves.
One thing I wish I knew before I started my wedding plans…
If the couple could give one piece of advice it would be to conduct your wedding the way you want to, and not what tradition dictates. Forget about traditional schedules or necessary elements and create a day based on your own wants and desires.
Wedding Venue / Die Woud
Wedding Planner / Lauren Kelz
Photography / The Woods Photography
Bride’s Dress / Sadie Bosworth Atelier
Bride’s Shoes / Ángel Alarcón
Wedding Rings / Gold of Sweden
Hair & Makeup / Tash Papadopoulos
Florist / Bouwer Flowers
Cake / Divine by Design
Catering / Die Woud
Celebrant / David Karnezos
Entertainment / DJ Ash from One Night Only
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