As far as romantic and dreamy destination weddings go, a dusty, beautiful vineyard in South Africa is definitely up there! And that’s where we’ll be whisking you off to today to celebrate Jenna and Blake’s moving Jewish wedding.
Jenna and Blake are living proof that long-distance relationships can definitely have their happily ever after. Being apart for nine years, Jenna and Blake demonstrated how good things certainly come to those who wait.
Family was at the heart of this gorgeous big day – with a chuppah hand embroidered by Blake’s mother, which now serves as a quilt in the couple’s home, and Jenna’s moving tributes to her own mother, who had sadly passed away.
Gorgeous bride Jenna looked like a vision in her La Sposa gown – unsurprising, given that she owns a small clothing boutique and really knows her stuff. We particularly loved her advice on finding the perfect wedding dress.
Jenna’s wonderful writeup is full of pearls of wisdom, so take a moment out of your day and dig into this stunning South African wedding!
How we met
Jenna, the bride: Blake and I met straight out of high school in 2002 while he was visiting from Johannesburg for summer vacation. We started dating the following year, and had a long-distance relationship for nearly nine years until he moved to Cape Town. He proposed in October 2015 and the rest, as they say, is history.
A simple but elegant outdoors venue
We got married on a wine farm out in Stellenbosch Winelands in Cape Town. We really wanted a venue that had somewhere we could stay over to wake up in the morning, get ready, enjoy the process and ultimately make a weekend out of it. Most of our family and friends were travelling from out of town, so accommodation on and near the venue was key.
When we visited Altydlig and saw the beautiful deck and manor house which is run separately to the wine farm, we knew it would be perfect.
Blake loves the outdoors, and the reception venue had a lot of wood, which was a beautiful canvas, and I loved the idea of getting married near water.
It was a perfect balance between simple and elegant. It was made it more special for me when I saw black swans, ducks and ducklings on the lake. I lost my mom a few years ago and she had a thing for ducks! It was actually one of the first ‘figurines’ she taught me how to draw. So having the chuppah ceremony on the lake definitely felt right!
A down-to-earth, loving and intimate wedding
We wanted a wedding that represented us. It was down to earth, loving and intimate. Having been together for a long time made it really feel like a true celebration of love and togetherness. Yes, the little details are important and very special, but the love and unification one gets to experience on the day as a couple, and with everyone close to you, far exceeds how big one’s cake is, or how many flowers are on the table.
We didn’t have a color scheme as such. The reception venue was mostly all wood, so I wanted to bring in a modern and elegant touch. We used glass, copper and wooden dà©cor pieces, and incorporated the color with flowers and printed napkins.
Blake and I did most of the ground work but it reaches a point where it is best to pass over the reigns to a professional. Carla from Pretty Different Events was our wedding coordinator. She really helped us tie up all our loose ends. She was great with giving her advice and expertise. We would not have managed on the day without her.
Paperless Post invitations
We used Paperless Post for our save the dates and wedding invitations. It was so easy to use and made life a lot easier when tracking RSVPs, especially with so many of our friends and family being all over the world.
We were very lucky to have our engagement shoot with our photographer a few months before our wedding, and decided to use some of our favorite pictures to make our invitations more personal and unique.
Natural but elegant hair and makeup
The back of my dress was a really special part of it, so we opted for a side style that I could unpin later on in the evening for a more relaxed feel. Vanessa kept my makeup natural but still elegant, it suited my taste perfectly.
The perfect La Sposa wedding dress
I had absolutely no clue what I wanted as a wedding dress. I tried on a variety of styles to make sure I knew which one suited my body shape, and was totally convinced I was going to have something made as I hadn’t found ‘the one’ yet.
As soon as I put it on, it intrigued me. It had all the elements I had in mind for a dress incorporated into one (elegant but sexy, timeless but still edgy), and just fell in love with it. The bridal house has an in-house dress designer, so she altered it to fit me as if it was made for me.
My tip for those brides to be out there who are purchasing a dress… don’t start looking for your dress too early. Often one changes their mind on what they want and going to look for a dress too early on can lead to an impulse purchase. It’s okay to start and stop when looking for wedding dress. I did that, and purchased mine not even three months before my wedding, and was so glad I did.
My dress had a lot of lace and detail, so I wanted to keep everything else very simple.
My veil was plain with a small amount of beading on the edge just to complement the detail of my wedding dress.
I wore a pair of drop pearl earrings of my late mom, and a bracelet that I never take off that she and my late gran gave to me.
Silver glitter heels
Let’s just say that my feet don’t come cheap or easy. I am petite, and so are my feet. In South Africa, it is near impossible to find my size shoe, and a great looking pair is even harder.
I got my shoes from London by a company called Pretty Small Shoes. They were completely covered in a silver glitter with a high enough heel to make a slight difference, but also manageable to move around in.
The handsome groom
Blake was sleek but casual in a Hugo Boss white shirt, black suit pants and black suspenders. He wanted it to be laid back, so all his groomsmen were in chinos and a white shirt. His two best men wore suspenders too.
Comics are a big love in our family, so my nephews wore Star Wars button-down shirts, chinos-style shorts and sneakers.
Bridesmaids in blush
I had seven bridesmaids with seven different styles, tastes and personalities. The most important thing for me was that my bridesmaids were happy, comfortable and felt good! To me, happy bridesmaids equalled a happy bride!
The color palette was different tones of blush, and they could wear what ever they wanted, so long as the dress was long.
It turned out even better than I could have imagined, and most importantly, they were all happy! My sister was my maid of honour and wore a gunmetal strapless dress, which complemented the tones perfectly.
A hand-embroidered chuppah
Blake’s mom is incredibly talented, and offered to hand embroider our chuppah for us. We chose the colors and it was kept a surprise until the big the day, when we got to stand under it.
We were so grateful to be able to stand under such a beautiful creation that we get to cherish forever. It turned into a quilt for our bed, and she even made matching pillow cases that PG we can pass down.
Seven days apart
We did not see or speak to each other at all (no texting, phone calls, WhatsApp etc). If we had any questions, we went through his two best men who were real troopers in lending support to us during that time.
It made seeing each other for the first time at the badeken ceremony even more special and emotional than we could have anticipated.
Our rabbi gave all those at the badeken an opportunity to give us their advice, blessings or any words they wanted to share with us before we walk down to the chuppah. It was so incredible to take a moment with each person so close to us and have that quality time at the wedding, when so many don’t get to experience that.
A fabulous florist
Flowerheart Florist brought our vision to life! I had complete faith in Marilize from the moment I spoke to her, she just got me and our vision.
I wanted to incorporate interesting textures like twigs, berries, moss, fynbos and succulents balanced with elegant floral touches like roses, queens lace and lisianthus.
Some foliage was sprayed rose gold to create little accents, and it balanced perfectly with the look and feel that we wanted. I didn’t want the flowers to look too feminine or vintage. We alternated every second table.
One had lots of glass and smaller arrangements, and the other wooden boxes, lanterns and bigger flower arrangements.
For the bridesmaids’ bouquets, we kept it simple as all the girls’ dresses were different. We had touches of flowers incorporated with plain and hand-dyed penny gum, wrapped in beautiful ribbons.
She totally exceed my expectations. I think the best thing I did was have complete faith in Marilize and let her do her thing.
A creative genius photographer…
Our photographer is a creative genius! Landi from Organictales Photography is the most down-to-earth, talented individual. She has photographed weddings in Asia, all around South Africa and we were lucky enough to have her for our wedding.
The moment I saw her work, it just resonated with me. I knew Blake would love her style too, and she was just perfect for us. She has this ethereal, mystical feel that captures emotions and takes you into another world.
She captured all the special moments big and small on the day that we get to look back on forever.
My advice for those looking for a photographer is to find a photographer who suits you as a couple in look, feel, style and personality. While a popular photographer who photographs many of your friends’ weddings may seem like the logical idea, it may not be the right fit for you. It is OK to take risks, sometimes those are the ones that pan out the best.
Latsky Multimedia were our videographers, and we were so glad they could capture our special day for us.
We had a food truck cater our canapà©s, starters and mains, which our guests pre-selected beforehand via an online menu.
For dessert, we had a variety of cakes and cupcakes on a dessert table. Our wedding cake was a two-tiered red velvet sponge cake with rose ombre buttercream icing. We then had lemon meringue, cookie dough cake and red velvet cheesecake and oreo cupcakes.
We added granadilla lolliesm which is a firm South African favourite in our summer. My mom loved these and as the saying goes on the Cape Town beaches ‘a lolly to make you jolly’.
Larry Soffer Magician and Mentalist captivated and entertained our guests during canapà©s. He is mind blowing! From bending spoons and forks, to making objects levitate, he literally blew our guests’ minds.
During our couple’s shoot, we were in the vineyards and could hear our guests cheering and clapping. It was such an awesome feeling to know they were enjoying themselves.
We had a break between our retinue shots and couple’s shoot to mingle with our guests for a few minutes, and people we completely captivated and transfixed by his ability. Definitely one of the best decisions we made!
Legacy of Sound were our incredible DJ’s. They provided awesome sound, lighting and music to keep the party going. Many guests came from out of town, so they were ready to party!
Including loved ones
All of the speeches had everyone in tears. I have never heard more true, beautiful words spoken and we really felt the love all round.
It is always hard when one wants to incorporate all your family members in such a special occasion so finding ways to involve them is very important. We chose some to sign our Ketubah, local marriage certificate, say the prayer over the challah and say a toast.
One of my really enjoyable moments leading up to getting ready on the day was being able to sit with my bridesmaids, eat snacks and play Cards Against Humanity. We got to laugh, chill and just be in the moment.
Advice for couples currently planning their wedding
Enjoy the small things. The drives to search for wedding venues (sing in the car, get some snacks enjoy the road trip) cake tasting etc… those are all memories.
I am sure it has been said many times – don’t sweat the small stuff! It really isn’t worth it. You can plan a wedding as perfectly as humanly possible but on the day it is out of your hands.
Carla from Pretty Different Events gave us a great tip. Go sneak into your reception area before it has opened up to all your guests. You have put so much time and effort to create your perfect day, and when all the jackets and handbags are at the tables you don’t get to have that moment to just take it all in and see how beautifully it has all come together.
Jenna & Blake’s little white book
Photographer – Organictales Photography
Videographer – Latsky Multimedia
Wedding planner – Pretty Different Events
Bride’s dress – La Sposa purchased at House of Silk
Bride’s shoes – Pretty Small Shoes
Groom’s attire – Hugo Boss
Makeup + Hair – Vanessa Kroeger and Chante Le Sueur Makeup and Hair
Flowers – Flowerheart Florist
Band – Legacy of Sound
Invitation – Paperless Post
Magician and Mentalist – Larry Soffer