Wiehan & Francis

An Extraordinarily Authentic Karoo Wedding

Wiehan and Francis met each other in grade 8. Throughout their high school years, they were in class together and obviously they became very good friends.  Although, it never dawned on them that they would one day get married, until five years ago at the Wacky Wine Festival in Robertson, after 14 years of friendship Wiehan took the plunge and declared his eternal love for Francis.

Francis says she honestly did not expect Wiehan’s proposal.  They had planned a solo, 3-day hiking trip to Blyderivierspoort. On the last day of the hike, they came across the most breath-taking waterfalls namely, the Fan-Falls. Francis recalls that she was climbing the rocks trying to get a better view of the beautiful 5 tier waterfall, oblivious to the fact that Wiehan was stressing about finding a suitable spot to ask for her hand, but he must have found a good spot, because, the rest as they say is history.

When they saw their venue of    choice. They had made a checklist before they arrived at the venue, but Sweetfontein Boutique Farm Lodge exceeded their expectations.  They both always dreamed of hosting a Karoo wedding. They both love the gravel roads, the beauty of the Karoo plains, the smell of the unique vegetation, the “noise of the stark silence” of the Karoo and of course the beautiful blanket of stars at night. Incidentally, one of the things on their checklist was to plant their first tree, on the day after their wedding, even if it was just outside the gate of the venue, however, whilst they were discussing their wedding plans with the Sweetfontein team, unexpectedly they were asked if they wanted to plant an olive tree in their garden.  Gazing at each other, they immediately knew that this is where their “magic” would be happening for their special day.

This couple like to do things differently, they did not opt for an engagement shoot and usual invitations, they instead wanted to supported a local artist, Kaal Konyn, he made an animated sketch of them which they used as their invitation, and they then created a website and used this for all the communication with their guests.

The vision they had for their day was just to enhance the raw beauty of the Karoo.  They wanted their guests to be in awe of the venue, the décor, the food and most of all the Karoo itself and for their guests to be more appreciative of the Karoo and its people.  They both agree that their guests would visit Sweetfontein again, just to interact with the humble and down-to-earth people.  Their guest said that they didn’t expect the hidden gem and could understand why they chose to get married there.

Regarding their décor, they decided to give the Sweetfontein team free rein to do what they thought fit. They selected the colours, flowers and even the layout of the tables in the reception hall which all turned out spectacularly. They both 

wanted to get married in the field by the prickly fig tree, and the Sweetfontein team made their dreams come true. They built a white platform in the field, hung a chandelier under the beautiful tree, and unpacked white chairs.

The reception hall was breath-taking with the way that the succulents were hanging in rows from the ceiling with fynbos flowers and the long Karoo grass in between. Only white candles finished the look on the tables.

They requested that all their guests wear white and as it is quite a difficult colour for men, they were asked to wear chinos. Francis said that she loved that they all obliged, and it made their special day beautiful and that she would highly recommend this for any wedding.  

Francis had her gown made by a designer.  Her mother chose the style of the gown in a traditional white colour, but when she tried it on, she felt like something was missing, and that was when her designed suggested placing bright red embroidered flowers on the one side of the gown, as if she was walking in a field and the colourful flowers got stuck to her gown, it was the perfect suggestion. Getting married in the Karoo called for comfortable flat shoes, and if possible, something hardy because of the dust, so Francis opted for gorgeous real leather vellies, a truly South African shoe worn by most of the farming community.  High heels were completely out of the question at this rustic venue.

Wiehan waited for Francis in an olive-green suit at the pulpit. His suit complemented the colour of the Karoo. With the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown they had to postpone their wedding from April to October 2020 and Wiehan was seriously worried that his suit was no longer going to fit because of all the homemade banana bread he ate during lockdown.

Jeniffer from Shalom Beauty in Bloemfontein did my hair and make-up. “It only took her nine hours to curl this thick bush of hair!” Exclaims Francis. 

I am a very plain-Jane in the jewellery department, thanks to Instagram I have managed to find this company Jeanne & Co and they make beautiful bridal accessories and jewellery.

The entertainment highlight was the music artist Herman Kleinhans who performed at their wedding, Francis says he was amazing and later after a few Glenfiddich 12 year whiskey’s everyone had a “jol”. “Some of the guests wanted to perform with Herman, and he was happy to play the tunes on his guitar. This really made a lasting impression and made our wedding a memorable event, speaking of whiskey, for our toasts we only served Glenfiddich 12 year whiskey and Beyerskloof Synergy wine. These are our favourite beverages and therefore we decided not to serve Champagne”, beams Francis. 

For their wedding favours, Francis bought Maverick and Jane gourmet popcorn. The flavours were birthday cake, Belgium chocolate, melktert and salted caramel. All the guests said it was a delicious treat and enjoyed every morsel.

If there were any surprises or anything that went terribly wrong or perfectly right on your wedding day Franics responded with the following: “Yes, Wiehan arranged a surprise for me and invited Herman Kleinhans as the guest artist for the reception. The two also specially wrote a song for me moments before the wedding.  We danced so much to Herman’s music that we forgot about the DJ. For the rest of the wedding planning everything worked out perfectly. We didn’t have enough time for family photos which is a bummer but overall, we didn’t have any issues.”

 Describing the highlights of her wedding, Francis said that the entire weekend was a complete highlight.  Their guests arrived on the Friday and left on the Sunday and she enjoyed everything in between.  Some other highlight included the moment she and her mother walked down the aisle in the rustic karoo field and when she  saw Wiehan, noticing that his eyes were shining with tears as he waited in anticipation, wondering what she was going to look like is a memory that will live with her forever. They hosted a welcoming Karoo Braai on the Friday evening and Francis recalls that the floodgates of heaven opened that night and they all experienced the biggest rainfall in the drought-stricken part of the country in an entire year. The next morning, they witnessed an unforgettable African sunrise which felt like it was amazingly fresh after the much-needed rains. She recalls all the laughing, socialising, and enjoying the vibe around the pool with her loved ones. 

Francis says that they were very blessed to have found this hidden gem in the Northern Cape and that they feel proud to be South African and to call this beautiful country their home.  Their friends and family all say that they will never forget their epic and unique wedding day.