If you’ve ever had the chance to experience Cape town, you already know all about its laid-back charm, natural beauty, and amazing wine lands. Mark and Jo’s wedding embodied all those picturesque and relaxed vibes at their vineyard warehouse wedding in the Constantia wine region just outside Cape Town.
Seeing all the DIY projects Jo Malin and Mark pulled together for their High Constantia vineyard wedding, we’re convinced there are very few things this multi-talented couple can’t do! They chose a modern rustic vibe that was as simple as it was elegant. Jo used eucalyptus and proteas to anchor the centerpieces, floral arrangements, and the boutonnieres, mixing in gorgeous indigenous flowers with succulents and air plants from her own collection.
The bridal party’s bouquets were single king proteas. The bridesmaids chose their own mismatched dresses in the colors dusty rose and burnt coral, and wore eucalyptus head pieces. We love the eclectic yet elegant orange, scarlet and blush mixed color scheme which was off set with grey to add a hint of elegance to the overall look and to pop against all the natural greenery of the vineyard.
A lot of personalization went into almost every aspect of the day. Jo even made the bridesmaids’ delicate dream catcher necklaces as their gifts and the golden dinosaur cake topper on the wedding cake.
These photos captured by Mint Tea Photography beautifully showcases all the dreamy DIY details of this magical Cape Town wedding!
I searched long and hard to find my dress. I knew I wanted a non-white long sleeved dress with an open back that I could feel classic yet relaxed in. I chose to have it custom designed by Molteno Creations and I couldn’t have had a better experience working with Rose who completely understood my body and boho Bridal-y needs and gave the dress that touch of whimsy that I instantly loved.
An important part of wedding planning was to make it unique and representative of our laid-back personalities. Mark and I both wanted an easygoing, understated wedding, so in the design we stayed away from anything too formal or stiff. We wanted the wedding to feel like an intimate garden party, with an enchanted old-meets-new atmosphere. A friend told us that it felt like “something out of a Midsummer’s Night’s Dream” – which was a better compliment than we had expected!
We didn’t feel the need to define a specific theme, as we agreed it wasn’t “us” to conform to a pre-determined look. We drew inspiration from both modern, classic and bohemian elements and chose to make it truly personal. For the décor we used a lot of stuff that was readily available at the vineyard, such as wine barrels, wine corks, bottles, and pallets, which naturally lent itself to an upcycled/ industrial look that suited the rustic warehouse environment , which we softened and modernized with greenery, draping and ghost chairs. A bit of everything, in other words. We picked DIY projects that we were also keen on reusing as home decor afterwards – so it was a win-win effort, really. We now have a gorgeous pallet daybed for our patio, and wine cork monogram with our initials and a huge succulent heart for our wall, amongst many other things that will always be an every-day reminder of this special day!
Something that was equally crucial was to find the right photographer who could capture the romance without it being cheesy. We were looking for a specific atmosphere in the photos and found a perfect match in Mint Tea Photography. Sarah was a joy to work with and also threw in a bonus post-wedding beach shoot – such an amazing wedding gift!
It was incrediblyspecial that our family and friends were so involved in the making and execution of the wedding. Our closest friends and immediate families played a huge part in the making and setting up, which was all done from scratch by manual labour, and this experience brought the entire group of families together as one big unit working towards one goal: getting us married.
A vivid memory of the set up is Tola (Maid of honor) standing in a wine crate which is lifted up by Davids (High Constantia owner) forklift to attach the draping, and our cousins from New Zealand forming an acrobatic human ladder to hang eucalyptus from the café lights. Everyone worked extremely hard and it was just so moving to see people doing this for us.
Our families flew from all over the world to celebrate this occasion. People came from Sweden, New Zeeland, Israel, the UK, Canada, Bahrain and Johannesburg to be with us. We asked our visiting family members from afar to read us the 7 blessings in the ceremony (a Jewish tradition) which made family involved in the ceremony. We wanted to have a massive gathering of friends and family to celebrate our promises to each other, and that’s exactly what happened. Friends who hadn’t seen eachother for years met again, and distant family members re-met or met for the first time. It was everything we dreamed of and more.
Walking down the aisle to Mark was something I dreamed about for years. Having my best friends walk with me in my dream dress to the beautiful music we had chosen, and seeing Mark at the chuppa is something I’ll never forget. We asked our officiant Azila Raisenberger to take a minute with everyone closing their eyes where we as a group reflected on the day and the moment, taking in the essence of it to carry on into the future. She was a perfect officiant as she really understood and embraced us as individuals and merged our different backgrounds and cultures beautifully, and she was also so much fun and had everyone giggling too!
Our ceremony was very personalized. The 7 blessings are traditionally verses from the Torah, but as we are not orthodox, we sourced snippets and readings from favourite books, poems and even movies that were meaningful to us – from Rumi, Kipling to Winnie the Pooh. We read our own vows, and the ceremony as a whole was very unique and personally involved our families with readings and cups of wine. The breaking of the glass was a really exciting part – especially since Mark had to stamp hard a few times before the glass broke! The happiness was immense as everyone got up and boogied off their chairs during “Mazeltov”
OUR FAVORITE MEMORY FROM THE WEDDING
Mark: Watching Jo walking down the aisle and circling around me. She was out-of-this world beautiful and it dawned on me how surreal it is that I get to marry her.
Jo: Seeing Mark and how emotional he was, the serene surroundings and sharing our own vows was a dream come true. Moments that also stood out was cutting the cake with an antique sable, which was a surprise feature, and going around the local vineyards in our 1920s car – a group of children from a village came running and cheering for us, which was heart-warming.
The most fun part was Hava Nagila –the Jewish circle dancing!
The most frightening was definitely the “chair lifting dance” (part of Hava Nagila) – so exhilarating though!
Jo: The first time I visited High Constantia, I could definitely see myself getting married there. We picked this location because we know it since before – it is actually our friend’s house! We often go for social gatherings, and the venue is just beyond scenic and cosy. The winery is small in size but this suited to a T as we wanted that intimate atmosphere. Plus, David makes some of the best wine and cap classique in South Africa, which always helps decision making!
Our families and friends transformed a tractor and wine crate storage warehouse into the most stunning reception venue. In just a few days it was emptied, cleaned, dressed up with draping and greenery and stunning long tables laid. We stretched a tent over one side an incorporated the vineyards into the dance floor. Everything was lit up with café lights and industrial style light bulbs that we imported especially for the wedding.
We were so lucky with the weather – November is spring for us but it had been cold and raining (in the middle of a drought) in the week. Miraculously, the sun came out just for one day which made the outdoor ceremony just so beautiful with clear skies.
We didn’t want anyone to feel like they were waiting during cocktail hours, so we made an effort to create a beer garden atmosphere in the lush backyards of High Constantia while we were taking our pictures. There was craft beer on tap, wine tasting in the cellar, lawn games, comfortable seating, picnic blankets and a swing that Mark made. More than anything we think people just enjoyed hanging out and catching up with each other.
Instead of a store bought wedding card, we asked people to print out their own wedding photo (or any other picture that was special to them) with their message. It was amazing to that everyone brought a piece of their own marriage history to share with us – we can highly recommend it. Instead of a traditional guest book, we had a jar were people could leave travel tips, date tips and other useful suggestions. It is now in our bookshelf and we can pull a piece of their wisdom whenever we might need it.
We wanted the food to be simple, delicious, fresh and abundant. Our caterer Marc was a dream to work with and put on a Mediterranean spread with lots of vegan options, with fish and steak being freshly grilled on the braai. The wedding cake was rich chocolate mud cake with vanilla mascarpone filling, and a range of home made desserts as well.
Aside from the ceremony, the speeches were definitely the most moving part of the day. Everyone who spoke made a huge effort and had dug up fun things from our younger days. Friends messaged Mark afterwards to tell him how his groom’s speech deeply touched them and gave new insights about their own marriage.
Our list of DIYs is actually a bit insane – but the most significant things Mark did was to build the chuppa, the branch chandelier that we hung above our table in the barn, the ladder shelves for the favors, the wooden lanterns and all the lawn games. He also took his brother-in-laws for a eucalyptus “hunting trip” a few days before the wedding to gather all the greenery for the decoration of the warehouse.
Mark: Jo made concrete pots and planted succulents from our garden as favors for 110 guests. She also made the dream catchers that were hanging from the trees, and with the help of a bridesmaid folded what must have been something like a thousand paper cones from old book pages to hang as a backdrop. All the signs were calligraphed and in addition to that, she also designed the programs, invites and the menus with a wedding quiz and table games. She cast the copper and concrete candle holders for the tables, made her own veil, back necklace and head piece. She even made the flower girls skirts and her reception wedding dress!
Jo: “It was a rather busy year but I wouldn’t have done anything differently if I had to do it again. My sister sew lace flowers on to my dress and embellished my wedding shoes – it was sisterly wedding bliss”. Our mothers together sew all the cushions for the seating, made lemonade for the juice bar and everyone else helped out in so many practical and supportive ways that it would be impossible to express our gratitude legitimately.
The florals were done by bridesmaid Meghan who also supplied the delicious kombucha for the welcome cocktails. We ordered a delivery of flowers from a street flower vendor, and arranged the flowers into centrepieces and focal points for the ceremony. Jo’s mother made the bridal bouquet out of a variety of proteas, fynbos, eucalyptus, orchids and large roses. Bougainvillea was brought from Best man Kens garden and processed by family members into aisle petals. Olive leaves were handpicked on the farm and used as confetti. It was a frenzy of activity the days leading up to the wedding and at times it was super stressful, but everyone came together as a team and we could all enjoy the fruit of everyones hard labour.
We had so much fun doing our wedding crafts. As we are into sewing, graphic design and carpentry already, it was evident that we would do a lot of personal touches. If you are an ambitious creative this is a great opportunity to make your wedding really unique. Our advice is to definitely DIY a few things that you know you will enjoy doing and are likely to turn out well, but maybe not quite as many projects as us if you prefer to have an engagement doing other things too!
Our advise on choosing a venue is to consider practical aspects as well as choosing a meaningful place. We both loved being married at High Constantia and chose it just shortly after getting engaged, but as the place is normally not a wedding venue meant we had to bring in everything ourselves: forks, napkins, toilets, a kitchen – literally everything, except for the wine. Converting a fully in use warehouse to a banquet hall in two days also takes some determination!
We never used an official planner but lucky for us my Maid of honor stepped in as a project manager the week leading up to the wedding – I don’t know what we would have done without her and her fiancé who both works for Afrikaburn (our local version of Burning Man festival) and her outstanding organizational skills and practical effort basically made the day happen. When you are planning a DIY wedding, it is paramount with good organization. Get all the help available – and have a strong communication system in place. A clipboard and shared google docs is a must!
Even when things aren’t going exactly the way you planned, do not be discouraged. A few things might get lost or forgotten about, especially if you are DIYing or have planned in a lot of details. But it will still turn out amazing in the way it is supposed to be; so just focus on enjoying the moments with each other, stop to soak in the significance of the day and be open to receive the support from the people around you – the rest will just fall into place. You are gonna get married and people will have a great time being there with you – so embrace whatever happens on the day with an open heart. 100% perfection doesn’t matter when you are surrounded by people you love!
Processional – “A thousand years (violin, cello and flute)
Recessional – “Mazel tov”
First Dance – “Islands in the stream / Dolly Parton and Kenny rogers
Contributing vendors to this wedding:
Photography – Mint Tea Photography
Venue and wine – High Constantia Wine Cellar
Ceremony musicians – The Hungarian Trio
Reception music – MGM DJs
Kombucha – Theonista
Catering – Marc Wassung banqueters
Cake – The Cupcake Tarts
Craft beer – Beer works
Groom’s Apparel – Carducci
Wedding Dress – Molteno Creations
Bridesmaids dresses: Etsy, ASOS and vintage
Bride’s shoes – Vivienne Westwood
Bride’s perfume – Giorgio Armani
Bride’s jewelry – Lulu Belle & Aagard
Rings – Prins & Prins Diamonds
Rentals – Jack & Jill Hire