Oh…my…goodness. We can barely breathe after being wowed by this morning’s real wedding! The dress, the location, the zebras (yes, you heard me right) and the fairy-tale vibe of this wedding makes it absolutely one of a kind. Our South African couple, Casper and Shelaine, got married in the depths of Dunkeld Forest dwarfed by the beautiful forest and surrounded by picturesque wilderness. Captured by the super-talented Dominique at Hello Love Photography, this wedding blows new life into the world of outdoor woodland weddings. The theme didn’t overcomplicate the day, with serene purple tones and lavender fragrance encapsulating this pure and very real love story. As a young girl, this might just be the wedding day that most of us free-spirited brides dream of……..arriving in a horse-drawn carriage, draped in a bespoke petal adorned princess dress finding forever love in the forest. Graceful and overflowing with joy, this bride had a clear vision for her spectacular day, which included lots of DIY and personal touches from the most important people in her life. Here’s Shelaine to share more about her fairytale forest wedding…..

The three things that I wouldn’t hesitate to spend money on is the venue, your dress and the photographer. All the other things are just extras which your guests won’t really always notice at the wedding. I’d say everything else is optional…

It was love at first sight

We’re both teachers. Casper and I started working at the same school in 2011. I saw him sitting there in his white shirt with a red tie and I immediately fell in love! That tingly-butterfly-feeling was there instantly and thankfully, we had a friend in common and she introduced us….right after the staff meeting!! We started talking to each other and it blossomed from there. We would organize situations where we could “accidentally” meet at school, or even just walk past each other’s classes to get a quick glimpse of each other. Casper would bring me a pack of Smarties every break-time and even the children in class knew that the chocolates would be arriving daily! He asked me out in October 2011 and shortly after he got a job in Hendrina, Mpumalanga. 5 months later I also moved there just to be close to him.

Our engagement was one of the most amazing experiences ever. I was on holiday in the Kruger National Park with my best friend and her family. The day we had to travel back home we stopped at Afsaal (a camp site) for our last picnic. Suddenly I saw this guy staring at me the whole time. (Casper had shaved so it was difficult to recognize him immediately). My friend knew about everything of course. He booked an extra night at Pretoriuskop (another camp site) and I was ecstatic as I totally love the Kruger National Park and now I had another night there with the person Iove the most! He had arranged a sunset drive at 2pm. That’s when I started wondering what was going on….the sun doesn’t set at 2pm in the afternoon?? We drove around in the park for quite a while and I started getting nervous and a bit irritated….why wasn’t something happening? Suddenly we stopped at this very nice view point and the guide took a camera out to take some photos of us. The next moment Casper was on his knee….saying a lot of things. I remember asking him what he was doing? He asked me the big question and I think I said yes before he was even finished! A champagne picnic and A LOT of smiling followed!! Best day ever!

Whimsical wedding dress full of petals

I absolutely loved my dress! It wasn’t the traditional white wedding dress but it definitely had the WOW factor! Fritz Wilson was my first and last choice. We walked into his studio and I saw this dress. I’d already seen it on the website! First he gave me the choice of fitting different styles and then I tried on that particular dress. It fit me like a glove with no need for alterations. It was just perfect. The only thing I added was a veil to match the design of the dress. It was so comfortable and I loved the way it moved. It was huge and I had to sit on the back seat of the car because that’s the only place I could fit! Everything about the dress was so unique that I couldn’t really describe it to anybody before the wedding. My make-up was very natural and comfortable.  Trevor Conn did an amazing job with my hair as well. It was an-almost-beehive with a side “pony” of curls. So comfortable and I didn’t have to worry about the hairstyle moving around or getting messed up because it looked so natural!

Casper wore a brown suit with a tailored leather waistcoat. His tie was also brown and he had a boutonniere made out of leather and crocheted flowers. Purple socks matched the groomsmen. He really looked dashing! The groomsmen wore brown pants and white shirts. They each got a purple tie and matched Casper with a boutonniere made out of crocheted flowers. My mother made the purple bridesmaid skirts and they wore plain brown t-shirts. They all loved the outfits and said they very comfortable and easy to move in. Their bouquets were almost the same as mine and also hand-made by my mother. The girls glued their own buttons on their shoes (which promptly started to fall off on the day of the wedding – haha!).

A forest filled with lavender

The décor in the forest was very simplistic with a few purple ribbons and crocheted flowers. Just to add some tradition to the wedding, I walked down the aisle to the wedding march played on the harp which sounded beautiful, especially in the echoing forest. We used lavender stems as our confetti. The fragrance covered our while ceremony area!! I’ll always remember our exit as bride and groom every time I smell lavender.

spectacular woodland venue

Our wedding was held at Dunkeld Country Estate. It took us about a year to plan the wedding. We were just looking for the perfect venue and we certainly found it at Dunkeld Country Estate!!! We both love the outdoors and the forest at Dunkeld was perfect. The décor in the forest was very simplistic with a few purple ribbons and crocheted flowers adorning the space. The rest of the venue is so picturesque and needed nothing except the amazing views.

We hired an absolutely fantastic wedding co-ordinator to help us prepare for the big day. Alwina was always there when we needed her and she always made jokes to keep us relaxed! I could call her any time and she always had the best answers and good advice.

I arrived into the forest in a beautiful horse and carriage just like something from a fairytale!

DIY bouquets and weaved lavender ribbons

We featured crocheted flowers at the wedding made by my very creative mother who made each of the bouquets. She glued them all together and weaved more ribbons in between. Mine had an extra special button at the bottom which I call my ‘I love Casper’ sign because of his beard! Crocheted flowers, ribbons and buttons.

Love, wild animals and the most incredible photographer!

Our photographer, Dominique from Hello Love Photography, made everything so easy for us. She was so very relaxed and guided us through our photo session. We were quite nervous as it was our first time doing something like that, but her experience totally put us at ease. One of the highlights was capturing the zebra’s in the wilderness……Dominique spotted the zebra’s first and we very VERY slowly moved closer to them to get them in our photos. We just love those shots.

Favourite moment

I honestly don’t have just one moment. We loved it all! Our first dance was very special…….we danced to our song which is Bok van Blerk’s “Klein Klein Dorpie Gevoel” (we are Afrikaans, but translated it means “Small Town Feeling”). It’s a special song for us because we live in Hendrina which is a very very “klein dorpie” (small town).

any advice?

Lists!! Make lists and remember to keep your groom informed. Casper was very involved and loved planning everything with me so make sure your partner is a part of the whole experience. The only things that I would not hesitate to spend money on is the venue, your dress and the photographer. All the other things are just extras which you don’t really always notice at the wedding. Everything else is optional! But these three things are key in my opinion.

the line up

Photographer: Hello Love Photography
Venue: Dunkeld Country Estate
Bride’s Dress: Fritz Wilson
Hair and Make Up: Trevor Conn



Wedding beauty on its way!

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