Subtle Elegance in Natal

Subtle Elegance in Natal

NAMES: Jessica Caroline Taylor / Samuel Tennant

WEDDING DATE: 14 May 2016



Sam and I met through our mutual friend, Bianca Robinson. On Heritage Day, 21 March 2012, she spontaneously asked both of us if we’d join her for lunch in Stellenbosch. Our first glance was soon to be followed by hundreds more through the rear-view mirror on our way to lunch, and the rest as they say is history.


Three years later, after two years of long distance, yet hearts more connected than ever, Sam returned from New York with ‘the ring of rings’, which he presented the next day on our three-year anniversary. The day started with what had become the usual: sitting in the living room excitedly reading our letters, hiding behind them holding back or in my case hiding the tears. It was towards the end of my letter that I realised, this could be my lucky day, but a part of me thought not to get ahead of myself – the guy hadn’t seen me in months, maybe he just really missed me, and he tends to go all out ‘just because’, especially on special occasions. He may have also given me an anniversary present from Tiffany, a beautiful necklace and earing set, so I didn’t think I could possibly be adorned with a ring on the same day. He took me to where we had our first date, where we spent our young days hopelessly in love. Then we went to Stellenbosch for lunch – a replay of the day we met, except this time followed by me reading my second letter on a bench in a nearby garden we used to frequent.

That evening we chased the sun to Llundudno where Bianca and husband George (Sam’s best man) had prepared the kind of picnic you only see in magazines. Running across the beach to catch the sunset, our deep breaths were soon stilled with rose-lined trail to what led to my third and last letter, which ended with a proposal in writing and a beautiful moment with Sam kneeled down, speaking wonderful words and my dream ring presented. With no words but a heart full of yeses, with no hesitation but trying really hard to hold onto this fleeting moment, I eventually said yes!


 Our wedding day, a year later, was a declaration of our faith and commitment to each other. A promise to selflessly serve each other for the rest of our days. It was an intimate gathering of those closest to us and a beautiful celebration of our love.


With Sam’s move to Johannesburg, me living in Cape Town and most of our family and friends living in Durban, we thought we’d get married in The Midlands. While it was a logistical nightmare planning the wedding, help from our family and friends made it all the more special. We chose Netherwood because six months into our relationship, my now mother-in-law, Dom took me there to show it to me for ‘one day’, and because they have alpacas (Sam was sold)! But in all honesty, the chapel on the hill overlooking the Midlands to the Drakensberg was the main reason, as the ceremony, for us, was the most important part of the day, and we were yet to find a setting more beautiful and befitting.


We didn’t want to distract from the natural beauty of the surrounding landscapes, and think the neutral tones with touches of wood and green detail achieved this, with white seasonal flowers and green foliage for decoration.


We looked no further than our friends Page & Holmes to photograph our day. Not only does their work appeal to us in the way they so beautifully capture emotion and priceless moments, but they’re also just all-round amazing humans. Their energy on the day is all for you and their generosity of time and talent has no bounds.


My dress was a gift from my Mum, Sue and designed by Christian Gabriël du Toit and Malcolm Kluk also known as KLûK CGDT. I stumbled upon their Cape Town store on a Sunday morning walk with Sam the year we met and had to stop to admire the most beautiful bridal gown I had ever seen.

We started the process months in advance and so the dress evolved from what I had initially envisioned into a timeless piece inspired by the 1920s.

The underdress was made of the finest off-white satin, with a tea-soaked chiffon overdress lightly embellished with shimmery white crystal beads to capture the fading autumn light.

The long train evoked a sense of life as the cold air whisped it from underneath, an ethereal movement as time stood still. This really made the dress.


I wore the Viola sandals in ice white – so comfortable, especially when adventuring on our creative shoot.


Bianca wore the understated and elegant Indigo Wrap and Lara wore the Jones Dress with pleat detail, styled with the Beth Top for a layered look, all in Luna. They both wore tan leather wedges from Country Road/Woolworths.

We sourced almost everything locally where possible. Amy Venter is my most respected local designer and so every women/girl in the bridal party wore something from Jane Sews


My flower girls, Kairo, Sierra and Isabella wore the Margot sandles. (Their white linen dresses were from Country Road.) The pageboys were little versions of the groomsmen, wearing beige chinos and white buttoned shirts with suspenders and the cutest bowties.


On our engagement, Sam presented a classic Tiffany engagement ring in platinum. Dom had my band made with 14 diamonds of hers, and Sam’s wooden band enclosed in silver was made by Rohan Cherry, a Cape Town-based jewellery designer.


Dom handed me down the most beautiful, dangly crystal earrings specially for our wedding day.

I gifted my bridesmaids hammered cuffs from Michelle Robin Jewellery, which I had engraved with a personal message for my bridesmaids.


Sam’s shirt, wastecoat and suit was tailored by Frank Bespoke in a classic white and navy combination, finished with tan leather shoes. His tie was made using the same satin fabric of my underdress.

The groomsmen wore navy chinos and white shirts with suspenders, and they all wore happy socks to keep it festive.


I chose a simple French roll, which I thought complimented my dress nicely.


Kendyl McPherson from Nixon was lovely, and she and her team had us all ready in good time.


Our wedding invitations were designed with the help of Sam’s best man’s sister, Grace Winter, and we modeled our other stationary on those. Our stationary was simple, letterpressed with an image of our initials enclosed in a leaf wreath, and classic grey text on an off-white background.


May is best time for tulips and my Granny carried them when she walked down the aisle many years ago, so a simple bouquet of freshly-picked tulips seemed fitting.


Our video is a wonderful reminder of the grandeur of this momentous occasion. Richard Gorvan filmed our wedding. He’s also part of the band we had play at our ceremony, 24 Skies.


My bridesmaid’s woke me up with some tea and breakfasty things Dom had made. We sat in bed together, starting the day off in prayer.


We sourced most of our wedding décor from Crystal & Vine and borrowed a few pieces of Dom’s. We put everything together ourselves the day before. Dom’s sister, Martine from La Bo M in Mauritius arranged all the flowers and foliage with the help of those family and friends staying with us in the farmhouse the few days before the wedding.

We enjoyed the DIY aspect. We loved making things and seeing every helping hand touch and turn our ideas into something beautiful.


My sister-in-law Corina volunteered to help us with the planning and all the things in between that we were too preoccupied to think of. She was incredibly selfless in the time and effort she put in months before the day until the final hour. Everything she did was with love and I think that showed on the day, which ran more seamlessly than we could have ever imagined.


Cake is probably my favourite thing, and I love lemon, so we decided on a lemon chiffon or something like it. My aunty Kathy is one of the best bakers I know, and she offered to help us in some way, so it was without question that she would be the one honoured with such an important part of day. The trial and (most likely no) error put into finding the perfect recipe was so unncessary, yet so appreciated. The end result was delightful – a beautiful ‘naked’ lemon cake garnished with foliage and white florals.


I walked down the aisle to Ed Sheeren’s Tenerife Sea, we walked out of the chapel as a Mr and Mrs to the sound of U2’s Beautiful Day, we walked into the reception to Maroon 5’s Sugar, and enjoyed our first dance to Majozi’s Darling.


Our DJ Peter Wilson played beautiful French café music during lunch. Later he did a great job at reading the crowd and played some crackers that our friends still talk about to this day. Nearly everyone danced, including our grandparents, and apparently the party carried on well after we left.


Delish Sisters catered the most delicious canapes after the ceremony (apparently) while we had family and bridal party photos, followed by a sit-down lunch. My father-in-law Edgar selected our champagne and four stunning wines: Swartland Cuvee Brut, Anura Chardonnay, Newton Johnson Sauvignon Blanc, De Toren La Jeunesse and Longridge Pinotage. We also had select craft beers on tap from S43 in Durban, and an open bar.


Expecting to be tired after the wedding, we spent a couple of nights near the venue. Karkloof Safari Spa with its unlimited, on-demand treatments was the best way to spend the first two days as a Mr and Mrs, and a dose of the bush was just what the doctor ordered.

Sam was born in Mauritius and has been going back to visit family for years, so he thought he’d take me to a place that’s close to his heart. We spent two weeks at two stunning LUX* resorts in Le Morne and Belle Mare. I preferred Le Morne because it had more of a boutique feel, but Belle Mare had more of a vibe, so spending a bit of time at each was ideal and great to see two different sides of the island. Belle Mare is just a short beach walk or boat ride away from Sam’s family’s beach house, so that was particularly special.


Colin Edmonds from Kloof Harvest married us, and also emceed our reception. He’s a good friend of ours and just such a champion.


The most important thing is to prepare for your actual marriage. We both read Tim Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage, which helped clarify some misconceptions we had.

Your wedding day is just the beginning of this beautiful, lifelong adventure. For us, it was all about God and bringing Him glory and this still holds true today.