Today’s real wedding is EVERYTHING!! Perhaps one of my all time favourites. Our gorgeous bride Lou wore a beautiful 1920s-esq beaded dress with the most fabulous headpiece and dreamy veil.
The elegantly rustic day was set against the stunning backdrop of Ghost Mountain Inn in Zululand, South Africa. The whole day just had a wonderful vibe and energy about it and was of course, absolutely gorgeous and captured beautifully by their talented wedding photographers, Knot Just Pics.
Words by Lou. Images by Knot Just Pics.
Elegant, Understated Rustic Wedding at Ghost Mountain Inn (Zululand): Lou & Matt
I was nervous about wedding dress shopping and was lucky that my friends took charge and booked a couple of appointments for me so I couldn’t put it off! I wanted something that I would feel relaxed and comfortable in. I knew I wouldn’t go for anything too big and restrictive but had some fun trying on a couple of big dresses!
They just weren’t right for me though. In the end it was easy to choose. When I tried my dress on for the first time I instantly loved it and knew it was “the one”. It was comfortable and relaxed but still made me feel glamorous and special. It was a nod to a 1920s style which has always been a favourite for me.
I bought my headpiece from the bridal shop. It was the only one I tried on because I fell in love with it and it seemed to go perfectly with the style of my dress and my hair.
My necklace was a gift from my mum. She bought it for me 7 years ago when she found out she was ill, shortly before she passed away. It has always seemed too special to wear so it was the perfect time to wear it. It helped to have a part of her with me on a day I missed her even more than usual.
Matt chose his own suit and looked great, although I’m not sure he didn’t regret choosing tweed when he found himself in 34 degree heat on our wedding day.
Our flowers and décor were done by Jackie Sullivan. Her company is called By Jackie. The organization of this was potentially tricky, as we were trying to plan the wedding from the UK. But Jackie made the whole process really easy.
We had an outdoor garden wedding venue and wanted a fairly informal rustic style. We sent her pictures to give her an idea of what we were after and she got it instantly and brought it to life. From the sourcing of the items to the final set up on the day, Jackie took charge and took so much of the stress off us.
The venue was beautiful on its own and with her added touches it looked stunning. We couldn’t be happier with the outcome! We had a mixture of proteas, roses, foliage and baby’s breath ‘spilling’ out of wooden crates.
The venue was outside and mainly on grass, I didn’t want to be worrying about heels getting stuck etc and again was after being comfortable for a long day and night of dancing so went for some flat lace Toms sandals.
I wasn’t planning on having a veil but they put one on me in the bridal shop and I loved it! I figured it really is the only time you’ll get to wear one.
Matt’s sister is a very talented violinist and she played for us as I walked down the aisle. We chose Air on the G-string by Bach. It was a lovely personal touch to the ceremony.
My Father gave me away. I think we were both choking back tears and ended up looking very stern on our way down the aisle!
How Matt and I first met was central toward us choosing the venue.
We are both doctors (I’m English and Matt’s South African), and after I completed my Foundation (internship) years in the UK, I went to South Africa to work in a rural hospital for a few years. I ended up being randomly placed at Bethesda Hospital, in Ubombo, close to the Mozambican and Swaziland border.
This area is truly beautiful, but also very rural and remote. Not long after I got there, I met Matt, who was starting his rural community service year as at the same hospital. After a few months, we started dating; our first date being at our future wedding venue, the Ghost Mountain Inn. It became an oasis of peace, tranquility and luxury that we could escape to when working in a stressful and resource limited environment, and we had many happy times there.
So when it came to choosing a venue for our wedding, the choice was obviously the beautiful Zululand and Ghost Mountain Inn – a place that has been close to our hearts since the start of our relationship.
The icing on the cake was asking our old medical manager (and now very good friend) who was there from the very beginning of our relationship to conduct the ceremony. He did a great job and it added such a personal touch to the proceedings.
Our wedding day felt very special to us, it brought together friends and family from the UK and South Africa, but also reunited a group of people who shared in the magical (and sometimes tough) times of working in that area.
The cake was something of a last minute decision- we called Penny McLoughlin, another recommendation who is based in Durban. We didn’t give her much notice, but she was really helpful and managed to get the cake to us with time to spare. We didn’t want anything too fancy and went for a classic tiered cake.
Unfortunately on the day the venue forgot to set up the bottom tier so it was a little shorter than expected! It still looked really good though and was delicious.
Matt and I are both terrible at having our photo taken and were dreading feeling awkward having lots of posed pictures. We wanted to have some lovely pictures but also wanted a relaxed, natural feel to them. We chose Knot Just Pics after looking at their website- they seemed to have the perfect approach for us.
On the day Szerdi and Andrew were both amazing, they guided us through the whole thing, put us at such ease, made the photos fun and by the end of the evening it felt like they were just two more friends at our wedding. We have been absolutely blown away by the photos.
I’m sure they must be some kind of wizards!
I picked skirts for my bridesmaids and found this one of the hardest things to settle on. I wanted something that would work well with the style of the day and that they would feel comfortable in.
I bought a hairclip for the bridesmaids but left it to them to decide how to have their hair styled. I wanted my bridesmaids to be comfortable so they picked their own shoes, they also wore Estella Bartlett necklaces each with a different motif that I felt suited them.
For us the whole day was unforgettable, but a memory that will always stand out is having some of our photos taken at the local Wimpy at Mkuze’s one and only petrol station!
Not usually an obvious place for wedding photos, but it is a place of special significance for us as it is (bizarrely) the location of our first kiss!
I think this was the first time anything like this had happened there, but initial surprise among staff and customers soon turned to singing and ululating which created a funny, but also happy and electric atmosphere!
If you could impart any words of wisdom to a future brides planning their wedding day, what would they be?
That’s tricky as I think everyone approaches things differently. I know some people are super organized with pin boards and spreadsheets, we tended to just do things as we went along. I guess I would say just don’t put things off because time will fly by.
My main concern on the day was worrying about the guests and whether they would all have a good time. But in the end I realized when you have only your closest friends and family around, and everyone is so happy for you and up for having a good time, that you actually ‘can’t lose’, of course they are all fine!
Things can and will go wrong, not everything runs smoothly, but the only people that are likely to notice this are yourselves, and you definitely shouldn’t sweat the small stuff.
wedding credits / photographer: knot just pics / wedding venue: ghost mountain inn / brides dress: eliza jane howell / brides veil& headpiece: eliza jane howell / hair & makeup: / florist: by jackie / wedding cake: