Hoopfulbride's Blog

Planning a wedding in a place called The Hope

whether the weather… 11 November 2009

Filed under: De Hoop,fabulous photographers,rainy days,weekend away wedding (WAW) — hoopfulbride @ 4:43 pm

If I have one comment about preparing for a wedding day: there is NO point in worrying about things that you can’t change. Really. Don’t stress if it is seriously KAK weather on your wedding day. It’s not good luck, it’s not bad luck, it’s just the way the weather turned out that day (and bollocks to all those myths that make us feel like completely uncontrollable factors (like the bloody weather) are in some way a reflection of us, our wedding, or our marriages. B-O-L-L-O-C-K-S.).

I too spent every possible day prior to my nuptials pouring over every possible weather forecast trying to imagine what the day would be like.  One thing I am extremely grateful for in having my W-A-W is that the lack of signal and internet connection at De Hoop meant that I was simply incapable of checking the weather for the last three days. In any event, the little “me-time” I had was dedicated to speech reviewing and to soaking in the enormity and sheer wonderfulness of the whole experience. As soon as the ball started rolling I suddenly realised (like, it became FULLY real) that worrying over the weather was just a bloody waste of time…

On the Friday night (perhaps to loudly)  I proclaimed that the only aspect of all our outdoor-planned wedding activities I was fully emotionally invested in was getting married under the giant fig tree at the hitching post! And we could. The wind blew and gusted, but we were protected under the tree. The sky looked ominous throughout (adding to the sheer drama of the photos), but we were married in the dry.

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Sure enough, the minute Rooster and I stepped out of the chapel (where we had retreated with our families to sign the register) it started to drizzle. Not too hard, but enough to join the fynbos and lavender tossed in the air as confetti. It was really quite poetic!

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So plan B kicked in: canapes were not enjoyed overlooking the beautiful vei, but in a long, low barn, where the excited chatter and grins were amplified.

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Rooster and I did not attempt to cross the vlei on a boat (what awesome pics it would have made), but we were driven around in the gloriously adorned Snorkel (never has a wedding car looked so grand) and got to wave out the window at all our guests, stop for a cocktail from the refuel station gate-keeper and snap a couple of silly shots in the rain before hastily hopping back into the car to sip and enjoy champagne. I think that, more than any other time of the day, that drive around in the rain embodied the pure exhilaration we felt at being finally married!

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We could not take the amazing, dramatic shots with the spectacular De Hoop backdrop as we had hoped and imagined, but we took our family shots on the steps of the manor house in the fading carpuscular light… which gave them a kind of old-wordly quality.

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With my family…

I got my shot in my gumboots 🙂

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And the reception venue truly felt like a retreat from the storm: it was full of warmth and soft, beautiful light, and our friends commented that they felt like they had escaped into a different world.

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Sure, it might have been glorious if we’d been basked in sunlight. But rain did not ruin my wedding – it just made it more real… Really, don’t stress: Que sera, sera.

[Um, Photos are all by our fantastic photographer who is also a friend and who loved shooting our wedding, but doens’t want to shoot any more weddings… so I’m not going to credit him until I’ve spoken to him. Cos it’s a shame not to give credit where it is due!]


Ha Ha… The Wedding Reunion! 8 October 2009

I regard it as somewhat of a triumph that a mere week and a half after the nuptials our mateys and family have organised themselves enough to hold a wedding reunion!

Ok. I exaggerate: the primary instigation for the Wedding Reunion (it’s like Survivor… hilarious!) is one of The Things That Went Wrong: oysters.

Rooster and I had organised our canape menu with the more than able assistance of our beautiful friends The Cookies (#1 and #2). Due to their involvement in the industry (in fact, we met Cookie #1 when she did the subliminal catering for Rooster’s sister’s wedding), they had all manner of hot tips for fancy food we could get on the cheap… including oysters! Now, we knew that an oyster stand would impress the socks off our guests, and Wild Peacock would sell them to us for R4,50 an oyster (less than US.60c)… so we duly ordered 300 of the shuckers (sic). Except, to ensure maximum freshness, they would be shucked and ready for us on the Saturday for our trustyandtremendous driver to fetch from CT and bring through to De Hoop when he drove through for the nuptials on Saturday morning.

That’s where things went awry:

[Please bear in mind that there is no cellphone signal at De Hoop. There was also only generator power in the house I stayed in and no electricity in the house Rooster stayed in (the rest of the houses are fully powered, but they’re on the other side of a lake).]

Rooster forgot to give directions for the oyster pick-up to Trusty Driver before we arrived at De Hoop.

The only directions we therefore had at De Hoop were on my ancient laptop.

The only place where Trusty Driver’s details were stored was Rooster’s (powerless) cell phone.

Late Friday night (after the pub quiz.. AWESOME!), it fell on me to plug in ancient computer, charge Rooster’s cellphone, and send directions to Trusty Driver… All went according to plan: cellphone fired up, computer booted up, I located e-mail with directions, waited for cellphone to charge a little more when: WWIRRRRRRrrrrr: The generator switched off! The laptop switched off (crap battery)! The cellphone died! 

The end result was  that there were no oysters at our wedding. Wild Peacock, because my phone had no signal and went through to voicemail, thought the wedding had been cancelled (!!!), and froze the oysters…

So, this evening we are getting together with all the friends and mateys for an evening of oysters and bubbles and memories of the wedding: in other words, our wedding reunion! Our photographer mateys (who did an awesome job) have worked their arses off to get the pics ready and we will be projecting them for all to enjoy and appreciate. It will be grand!

But seriously, there were many things that went wrong at that wedding (besides not having our schmancy oyster stand):

  • the hot water didn’t work in the Bride’s house. So, after having a mini-facial in the morning, I washed my hair by sitting in about 7cm of lukewarm water in the only bath in the house that had warm running water and filling a cup to rinse the soap and conditioner out of my hair. My darling scissor, best friend and longlost friend followed suite…
  • it rained hard right after the ceremony such that we couldn’t take the amazing photos that should have been taken in De Hoop… That place is a photographers wet dream… except, of course, when it’s wet. Then the photographer can’t take very many pics at all…
  • because of the rain we had to move the canape time indoors to an area where there wasn’t very satisfactory acoustics. We’d hired a BRILLIANT and beautiful musician to play some Afro-Brazilian tunes, but these were lost on about half of the guests. At least there are some great pics of him!
  • the house we’d allocated for the babysitters was vetoed at the last minute by Rooster’s scissor who’d just had a baby (she wanted it only for her children and their cousins). Such that all the OTHER parents streamed into the main manor house where we were trying to have a couple of pics with family and wedding party… not highly successful and a bit stressful!
  • I had spent a good two days the week before preparing baby beetroot to serve as an additional salad on our buffet. The De Hoop chef forgot to put it on the buffet table. We might be eating beetroot for months to come…
  • the seating plan was a mess – we didn’t know the table configuration until it was all set up late afternoon before the wedding (the joys of being the first wedding in a venue)… subsequently we had some amazing wedding faeries busting their arses on the morning of the wedding to get everyone seated while I was preened (and Rooster ran around madly doing other chores). In the end, most people were seated, but i think some guests just sat where they wanted when they couldn’t find their names!

There was probably loads of other stuff that wasn’t right too, but I didn’t care a jot! We loved the chaotic, crazy, happy celebration that emerged despite the mini-disasters… If I would give some advice, I’d suggest having a wedding co-ordinator so that those kind of hiccoughs don’t happen. But really, they didn’t matter in the end.

Rooster and I were married and we celebrated with the most beautiful, colourful, fabulous souls, who cares about anything else?


Don’t worry, I’m back! 6 October 2009

Filed under: frock,fynbos,honeymoon,Things I love,weekend away wedding (WAW) — hoopfulbride @ 12:03 pm



And married… how blissful!

To answer the Two Burning Questions:

Question One: Was it the best day of my life?

For starters, I think that makes life pretty restricted. I’ve had some incredible days to date and hope to have many more.

One thing is for sure, though, I will always think back to our wedding weekend with a glow and a grin. It was a time full of love and laughter and beauty. There were numerous times Rooster and I looked at each other and laughed a disbelieving guffaw at just how perfectly fabulous everything had turned out (and when I say “perfect”, I don’t mean “soperfectthatnothingwentwrongever”… I just mean that it was so joyful we couldn’t believe it was happeneing to us!).

Question Two: Where was the honeymoon?

Romantic, mystical, gorgeous (and there are a lot of gorges around as well) Victoria Falls.

We spent 4 nights in the bush at Matetsi Private Game concession on the Zimbabwian side of the magestic Zambezi, where we were treated like royalty! We slept and ate and went on game drives and unsuccessfully fished for tiger fish and wallowed in our memories of the WAW.

And we finished the week off in the marvellous and ridicuously colonial Victoria Falls Hotel… in the honeymoon suite (of course), which prompted many knowing smiles from the staff.

This time too is amongst the happiest times of my life…


But how much booze??? 23 July 2009

Filed under: foodndrink,Uncategorized,weekend away wedding (WAW) — hoopfulbride @ 12:00 pm

Now that we have decided on our poison for the night, Rooster and I have been trying to figure out how MUCH of the stuff we need to order… It’s a problem: we DEFINITELY don’t want to run out, but we don’t want to overspend for obvious budgetry reasons… you would think this would be neatly summarised somewhere!

As a starting point I remembered a guide in the Martha Stewart Winter 2009 wedding mag, so we dug through the piles of wedding mags (I went through a bit of an obsessive-compulsive stage: pre- apracticalwedding, eastsidebride, accordionsandlace, et al days) and found the guide:

For a party of 100 guests, Martha recommends

  • 2 bottles gin
  • 2 bottles rum (light? dark? dunno)
  • 2 bottles bourbon
  • 2 bottles scotch
  • 2 bottles whiskey
  • [um, so that’s 6 bottles of whiskey altogether, but there’s a selection from each major whiskey-making region just so the guesties can have a choice! I don’t think our guests are that sophisticated… or we won’t let them be…]
  • 4 bottles vodka
  • 1 bottle dry vermouth
  • 1 bottle sweet vermouth
  • 7 bottles red wine (ONLY SEVEN!!!! For 100 guests!!! Jeepers…)
  • 10 bottles white wine (TEN??? ditto)
  • 4 bottles “blush” (which I shall call “rose” – it’s supposed to have an apostrophe on the “e”, but I’m not tech-savvy enough to figure that out)
  • 2 cases of regular beer plus two cases of light beer

OK, Martha, before I comment on the gross weighting og spirits over wine (perhaps it’s an a-merican thing, but our Saffa friends would run out of wine in the first hour), I have one vital question: Where are the bubbles???

I don’t think I can contemplate a wedding without bubbles. Seriously. And this came from  “Wedding Magazine”!

The Internet (overwhelmingly) recommends using the evite drinks calculator. Pretty nifty, you type in the amount of guests, how many hour the party should last and the numbers of “light drinkers” (um, 20 children), “heavy drinkers” (wonder how they define heavy…) and “average drinkers” (well, average compared to whom?) and they kindly tell you the recommended booze list. Which is lots of fun. Especially if you keep remembering exactly WHO has been invited to the wedding and upping the “heavy drinkers” number… and then remembering that we’re handing out Turbovite (energy vitamins) so it’s unlikely that the party will end at midnight…

According to evite (and my over-estimations), we need 700 bottles of beer, 140 bottles of wine and 35 bottles of liquor…

Obviously, there’s still no bubbles (problem)! And, I think (especially SAfrican) people will be less inclined to quaff millions of bottles of beer at a wedding as opposed to, say, a 30th birthday party. Especially if the wine is delicious (which ours is, obviously). And how do we break down the red-white divide (we are not serving rose)?

There was a fairly useful suggestion on the you&yourwedding discussion board (I thought the Brits’ drinking habits might mirror ours more closely):

  • The advice I received from my sister’s friend (who runs a restaurant) is as follows:
    two glasses champagne per person for the reception
    1-2 glasses pp for toasts
    2-3 glasses (half a bottle) of wine for the meal
    3-4 glasses of wine/beer during the evening
  • He suggested calculating at 5 glasses of wine per bottle to allow for any spillages and bad corks.

This seemed like jolly good advice indeed (those Brits), but after some debate it appeared the calculation required was somewhat difficult. Especially on the champers side as we are serving cocktails during canapes (lemonade and white rum and pomegranate and vodka) and only offering glasses of champers when people arrive at the reception area…

We started talking around: concensus at our pre-marriage counselling was not more than two glasses of bubbles per person, one bottle of wine per person and the red:white split should be 2:1… They all looked at us like we were a bit lush when we also asked about spirits (limited) and beer…

Then, while lying in bed idly paging through the Wedding Album wedding magazine (a BEAUTIFUL SA publication. Very artistic and inspirational as opposed to instructional), they had all the advice we needed (from professional SAfrican barmen to boot – so they know our audience):

  • about 1 bottle wine per person
  • In summer the ration should be white 2:1 red; in winter 1:1, or even white 2:3 red.
  • 2 glasses bubbles per person

Whilst there’s no mention of beer or hard tack, we think we might have figured it out based on all advice above as well as our own estimates and needs (i.e. I don’t mind having leftover bubbles… or that wine for that matter)! We also took into account the fact that we may want to dip into the booze supplies prior to the actual wedding (it is a W-A-W) and the fact that nobody has to drive anywhere if they don’t wish to so few people will hold back just for the sake of being responsible…

Here is the (draft) boozelist for Rooster and Saartjie’s wedding of 200 people:

  • 7 bottles vodka (for mixing with pomegranate juice for canape cocktails)
  • 7 bottles white rum (for mixing with lemonade for canape cocktails)
  • 108 bottles (9 cases of 12) Bubbles!
  • 108 bottles of Red
  • 60 bottles (6 cases of 12) of Sav Blanc
  • 60 bottles of Chard/Semillon/Viogner blend
  • 2 x 30l kegs of beer
  • 6 bottles of brandy for mixing with coke (SA classic drink)
  • 6 bottle of dark rum for mixing with ginger beer and mint (my fav late-night wedding drink)
  • 6 bottles of tequila for passing round the dance floor
  • 6 bottles of Jagermeister for passing round the dance floor

How did you figure out your drinks list? Think we’re over- or under- estimating?


road-trippin 15 July 2009

Filed under: De Hoop,foodndrink,weekend away wedding (WAW) — hoopfulbride @ 5:17 pm

Rooster and I are giving ourselves a long weekend (the joys of self-employment!) to De Hoop and the Breede River from tomorrow morning to do some wedding scouting and have a fun-time: hurrah!

Tomorrow we are hitting the Elim wine route (read more about it here) – we are insisting on having local wines at the wedding so the only responsible thing to do (we think) is to indulge in some on-site tasting! The plan is to go and visit the six wine farms in the area, taste their offerings and purchase a couple of bottles of “finalists” to make our decisions with our parents. Luckyforme, I will get to be the “principal taster” as Rooster has just discovered that he has a sulphur allergy so he has to avoid wine… (designated driver for life?).

Then, on Friday we will meet our errant florist and decide whether she will indeed be making our beautiful venue even MORE beautiful. I do hope so: depsite my previous rants, they are just so convenient and (importantly) so darn cheap!

On Friday afternoon we will transfer to De Hoop where we will be met by Rooster’s parents and foodie-suprema sister because on Saturday we  will be having our FOOD TASTING! Yippee! Rooster’s dad is also super excited as he will be mapping out the treasure hunt for “activity day”. He is really into it – fantastic!

Needlesstosay, I am ridiculously excited and am a little nervous-excited for the food tasting. Even though the chef at De Hoop has years of experience, the way we decided on what to eat was a tad unusual: we gave them a menu (compiled with the help of  The Cook) and they have agreed to reproduce it… I promise to give a report card when i return.

So there will be a small blogging hiatus as I will be leaving my computer behind. On my return, however, I promise to fill these pages with loads of pictures of our wedding venue, a report on the food, and let you know the subtleties of our chosen tipple 🙂



Suppressing the (sometimesnotsoinner) control freak 8 July 2009

Filed under: being thrifty,De Hoop,fynbos,honeymoon,weekend away wedding (WAW) — hoopfulbride @ 2:52 pm

Two things have happened recently in my personal wedding land that require the Type A in Saartjie to take a forced breather

Firstly, Rooster has been discussing changing our honeymoon plans along the lines of having a mini-moon in the week after our nuptials (to a surprise, African location) and then taking a bit of a longer break at the end of the year and exploring somewhere a little further afield: India, China, Argentina, Ethiopia (some examples)…

Now while I am not averse to changing my plans, once I’ve made a plan I generally like to stick to it. Rooster, on the other hand, likes to chop and change quite a lot. He is a Libra and I am reliably informed that this is a typical Libran quality – although I am generally disinclined to throw my lot in with astronomy, I think the characteristic fits like a glove in this case! So reassessing the whole honeymoon vibe does come as a bit of a major readjustment for me as that box had been ticked. I am convinced, however, that the most marvellous thing about a partnership (as I constantly learn from mine) is that our perspective is continually challenged. So, while he helps me to see new angles when I think a decision has been all tied up, I help him committ to the best possible outcome (all things considered, of course).

I’m beginning to like the idea of mini-moon plus extended december/january holiday more and more! I like the idea of planning a trip together and of exploring a new place together. I like that we take less time off work in September/October (while we both work for ourselves, it is a bit bad from a PR p.o.v. to be absent for too long in the middle of the year). I like that we get to have two fantastic holidays.

Letting go of the control freak…

On the other hand, The Second Issue is not so easy for me to suppress my anal retentive tendencies: The florist is driving me nuts.

To put this in perspective, De Hoop is pretty far from any major metropolis and therefor pretty far from quality vendors. The person we will most probably use to decorate our venue is RIDICULOUSLY reasonable and local and, um, not too “country” (as in unsophisticated, but unsophisticated is too strong a word…). Also, because our venue is in the back-o-beyond, it’s not so easy to pop down to the flower market: blossoms must be ordered well in advance. I have not yet met the actual florist, but i have had several dealings with her daughter-in-law (the person tasked with “communication”) and she seems like a really lovely person in person.

But (m-therf-cker) it may just be the MOST difficult challenge I have ever encountered trying to communicate our vision and enlist their help in bringing it to fruition. This is not for lack of trying: I am a lawyer, I use words accurately for a living and I am used to being able to communicate effectively (if not well). Not with our florists. It has got to the point where the sight of an e-mail from them in my inbox raises my temperature a few degrees as it is certain to contain


a quote for something I have never asked for or will never (ever) want (gel candles – I do not want a gel candle within a 50km radius of my reception. No matter how many times I politely stress my dislike of gel candles, they somehow wind back on the following quote);


a quote for something which we are supplying ourselves (eg. old silver, bronze and copper vessels for flowers; recycled jars for candles (they want to rent these for R15 each!));


omit something important which we really would like a quote for for comparative reasons… followed by a LONG (up to a month) break in communication regarding this item while they “compile a quote”… in which time they forget. Again;


An utter miscommunication: we have asked them to quote on flowers and some minor decor items. De Hoop has asked them to quote on setting up the entire reception hall (which is an old barn) with tables, chairs, lighting, cutlery, crockery, etc. We continually are quoted items for De Hoop’s account (despite pointing this out to them) and then they insist they cannot remove the item until they have clearance from De Hoop. Never-mind-we-never-asked-for-the-bloody-item-in-the-first-bloody-place!!!!!!!

Jeepers Creepers.

It’s got to the point where I am ready to walk into their offices and construct my own quote so I do not have to deal with one more ridiculous exchange!

Also, I think I’m arriving at an important, control-freak, kind of decision: they can drop off the flowers and I will find some blessed souls amongst my friends or family to help me pop the stems into the awaiting vases: that way i can rest assured that i do not have to struggle to make myself understood to a person who clearly does not want to understand!


Disclaimer: we are travelling up to the region next weekend and we will meet with the actual lady responsible for the arranging. If I get a good feeling from her, I will desist with my plan to take over. Otherwise, I’m taking matters into my own hands!


On chosing how to spend money for the biggest party of our lives… 30 June 2009

Yes eastsidebride! Yes Meg! Yes Accordions and Lace!  How clever and articulate you ladies are. I have been mulling over your posts on wedding budget and this is my take on how we’re spending money:

Rooster and I consider ourselves extremely lucky to have a decent budget to play around with for our wedding because, simply put, we love to throw a party… and we are, for 200 people! All things considered, we probably have exactly the right amount. If we have more, we’d probably bank the cash (and buy a new car  or travel or a little holiday nest in the mountains or something) and if we’d had less, we’d just be a little less hospitable (as explained below).

We’ve approached our spending with a tight-fisted “spiral” philosophy: the smaller or closer it is to us or our wedding venue, the happier we are to spend money one it. The further away or bigger, the more we try to avoid it. In other words, we have tried our darndest to spend small and close with those in our immediate community. For example:

  • What we or our families can make or collect ourselves (without inflicint any kind of pain), we have: invites and other paperwork, “favours” (welcome pack on arrival with note and little bottle of liqueur and rusks to take home to enjoy with coffee in the morning), vases (all old silver and bronze from our family and friends), candle holders (recycled jars) and pickled beetroot as salad.
  • We have used and will use friends and family (or friends of friends) for our cake, beauty, hair, make-up, ceremony music, rings, dog collar for cowboy, photographer and videographer.
  • Our wines, florist, hire of equipment (most of it) and food (including fish and lamb for the braai/bbq which is the main mean) are from businesses or farms or fishermen in the area around De Hoop.
  • Where we have not been able to find a personal contact or someone near De Hoop, we’ve tried to support South African micro-businesses or crafts people in cape town: bridesmaids dresses are from a local SA designer, as is my dress (although she has imported the silk from London to ensure it is made under fair conditions), flower girl dresses will be made by an INCREDIBLY talented refugee woman (from Somalia) who makes her living by sewing, bridal party shoes are from a Pakistani street vendor who brings in leather and beaded shoes made in his village (ok, not southafrican, but still micro), the bulk of our guest registry will be with small bespoke stores we adore in ct (only some stuff from the online giants for guests from further away), dj (a young guy starting out) and cocktail hour musician (an Angolan singer-guitarist who plays beautiful afro-brazilian music), south african recycled paper to print invites from our local paper store etc…
  • Only for VERY few items have we resorted to splashing out or buying in bulk from big stores (sorry chinese children…). I have insisted we pay a slightly ridiculous amount on hiring chrystal candle holders because i am in love with them SO much. We will also probably buy stuff like candles, etc, en masse because I’m cheap like that. Rooster is buying his suit from a local boutique that imports suits from Italy (although the guy is himself going to source a suit that fits him perfectly!) – tad more expensive than local, but not ridiculous and the suit is BEAUTIFUL.

As a result of this philosophy, a few very awesome things have happened: friends have offered to do things for free or have offered us amazing discounts. Locally sourced products and vendors (already cheaper) have offered to let us use their products at a discounted rate. And for the bulk-buys, we’ve been able to hunt for bargains (because I love a bargain…). So, we’ve saved LOADS of cash compared to the same wedding if our philosophy was any different. Yay…

For the most fleeting of moments, we thought about holding onto the cash: perhaps even being “responsible” and investing, but it occurred to us that we could share the love a little more! So we subsidised accommodation at De Hoop for all our guests. We’re paying for accommodation for our close family, the wedding party and their partners! We’re also paying for the accommodation for the wedding fairies who are helping us for free! And my aunt (my dad’s only sister) and uncle who were recently laid off and have both had to settle major medical bills recently: we can pay for their accommodation too!

We’re still trying our hardest in these times to scrimp and save wherever possible and we do have moments of unease where we worry about how much cash we’re spending on just one party (at least it’s a WAW so it’s a whole 4-day vibe…). But actually, what good does it help to splurge on the silly things at our wedding, then pass the cost of travelling and accommodation onto our guests?  Times are tight for everybody and it is a real privilege to be able to treat our guests, even if only a little bit.