Photographer: Ayeh Khalatbari & Mischa Durrant
Elena has always loved the fairy tale, beauty and the beast; however, this is far from reality for this good looking couple who tied the knot at Nooitgedacht Wine Estate which is surrounded by rolling vineyards and mountain vistas in Stellenbosch, the prefect romantic spot in the Western Cape.
Elena and Stephen met twelve years ago on Clifton Beach in Cape Town and although it was not love at first sight, they built a good friendship over the years and took time before dating and dated for seven years before he proposed, also at a Wine estate after a beautiful picnic next to a lake. Elena says, Stephen’s proposal was simple yet beautiful.
When asked to describe their relationship, Elena says that she and Stephen are best friends and soul mates, which forms the core bond of their marriage. They have a youthful and fun relationship that allows them both freedom to go out with friends and let one another do the things they love. There is no possessiveness or jealousy which allows the relationship to thrive. At the same time they have huge respect for each other and it’s important to them that they listen to each other and compromise when they don’t agree. With this attitude, we think this is going to be a long, lasting marriage.
The couple fell in love with the raw simplicity of the venue and they were enamoured by the century old oak trees as well as the Cape Dutch style of the buildings. The vision they both had for their venue, was something that had greenery, romance and untouched beauty, which is exactly what they found at Nooitgedacht. The word they use to describe their wedding is “romantic”.
The theme or vision they had for their style was rustic with an elegant and romantic feel. Elena is first to admit that she had very little to do with the décor and owe the splendour of it to her incredible wedding planner Nick Nicolaou. She says, “I gave him my ideas, and he transformed them into something out of a fairy tale” and they could not have been happier.
Wooden tables were used softened with nude organza runners, which popped by using gold cutlery and gold rimmed glasses and under plates. Loads of candles and naked bulbs hanging from the ceiling added that extra touch. The ceiling was also completely covered in greenery. Real Olive trees were brought into the venue to add to the greenery. The array of flowers used were roses, hydrangeas, cymbidium orchids, St Joseph’s lilies and dendrobium orchids which were super spectacular. To add the Beauty and the Beast touch to the wedding, wrought iron gates and trellises were installed behind the main table which were adorned with chandeliers, it proved to be a definite show stopper.
For the look, the bride wore a Vicky gown from Pronovias. The original nude lining was completely removed and the gaps were filled with extra lace to cover the important bits! Her planner convinced her to completely bead the entire gown which, Elena says, was the best decision she ever made. “I have to once again give him the credit for it, because we argued at every fitting and he was right about everything. He really transformed my gown into my dream dress. I wore my hair up for the ceremony and the first part of the reception because I wanted to showcase the back of my dress, then after dinner I let it loose for a more casual and natural look,” admits Elena.
Clearly Elena has many friends, and it showed in the fact that she had no less than eleven bridesmaids, but she says, she would never have had it any other way and says it created the most incredible energy and atmosphere. Elena chose emerald green dresses for them, that she had ordered online from the USA. She describes the gowns as very whimsical and simple which suited their theme perfectly. She had only one flower girl, her niece who wore the same dress but in an ivory colour. “It looked like a Victoria Secret fashion show, the girls looked incredible!” smiles Elena.
The groom had a bespoke suit made at Frank Bespoke in Cape Town, only the best, and the groomsmen wore their own black suits along with pocket squares which added a pop of colour. The wedding cake consisted of 2 layers – half carrot and half chocolate ganache.” The cake was eaten so quickly I’m wondering if we should have had 3 tiers. No doubt, the guests loved it!” says Elena.
We asked Elena if there were any surprises or anything that went terribly wrong or perfectly right on the wedding day, and her humble reply was this: “Its’ so hard to single out specific moments, but getting ready with my girls, walking down the aisle, listening to the speeches, our first dance, and dancing with my dad were just some of my favourite moments. The weather was absolutely perfect and we had Nick taking care of absolutely everything. Not one single thing went wrong… it was a perfect day!” Flat sandals were handed to all of the guests which, Elena says, was an absolute life saver when their feet started to hurt. It also kept them on the dancefloor a lot longer.
Sharing what was unique on their day included the fact that it was a combination of a Jewish & Greek wedding. The ceremony was conducted by a professional who specialises in interfaith marriage ceremonies. She did the ceremony in English but incorporated a few traditions which made it enjoyable and relatable for everyone. The couple then kicked off the reception with the Jewish Horas which is traditional celebratory dancing. Later in the evening they had the traditional Greek dancing and breaking of plates which is always such a party starter. Both cultures have really strong tradition which created a great vibe and awesome celebrations.
Elena’s advice to future brides is very wise: “The best advice is not to have any expectations. Get a good wedding planner and make sure he knows exactly what you want. The minute your expectations are too high you are setting yourself up for disappointment, so make sure to just take in every moment and to be as present as possible. The whole day goes by in the blink of an eye so pay attention to all of the details. This includes the décor, the flowers, the food, the music, the guests and everything in between. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to spend time with everyone, it’s your day and your guests will naturally come to speak to you. Make sure your team of makeup artists, photographers, videographers and everyone else all feel more like family than service providers. Keep it as intimate as possible. Most importantly, have fun and don’t sweat the small stuff!” beams Elena.