When we receive real wedding submissions, we sometimes have to say no, because we have other features in the pipeline that are similar in style. So when we received a Star Wars themed wedding, and I had to turn it down – I don’t think the photographers believed me when I said ‘I’m terribly sorry, but we already have an epic Star Wars themed wedding waiting to be blogged.‘ Well THIS wedding is that bad boy, and it’s a REALLY good one…
Sometimes ‘themed’ weddings just get it bang on – they aren’t over done, they aren’t like a set from a West End musical, they’re just Really. Good. Fun. And Mike & Jay’s super relaxed day gets it just right. I’m not sure how they’ve managed to combine the tropics with Star Wars, but on a visual level it TOTALLY works and it clearly worked on a practical level too, as I don’t think I’ve seen such a happier, relaxed bunch of guests at a wedding. Their venue, the rather aptly named, Freedom Cafe looks like a great place to hang out too.
Mike & Jay: The lead up to our big day involved much driving around and deliberation in where we were going to find a venue that really captured what we are about as a couple. We were also very keen to use the venue to generate some of the inspiration for the day so that the concept and place ran together. This meant that the venue was critical. We visited many a venue, that while very pretty, were quite traditional and placed a huge emphasis on the more feminine elements that make up wedding – we’re talking a lot of pastel shades, lace and taffeta – clearly this was not going to work for us! Factoring in the time and season and considering that many of our guests were traveling from far, we wanted to be central and have an outdoor brunch wedding – not only did this allow us to show off our city but our guests could enjoy a quick visit to the beach while in town. Freedom Café was the perfect fit for us, urban but relaxed, which accommodated a relaxed, “kuier” style reception while keeping it masculine.
Although heading in to Autumn, Durban remains tropical year round – underpinning our want for an outdoor wedding. The bold and edgy urban venue really framed this. Working with the opportunities presented, we linked the soft, tropical, Durban feeling to the strong architectural/urban identity of the place, and threw in a little Star Wars too. Emphasis was on keeping it local and timeless – a tropical La Dolce Vita. We also held a Party for folding origami – this gets your nearest involved and makes them part of the process – we ended up folding over 100 TIE-fighters and X-Wings which were used to decorate the table and strung up in rows.
Again, linking to the context, we wanted tropical but with minimal fuss and maximum effect – we didn’t want to go all Preston Bailey on this! We were clear from the beginning that we would stick to a couple of large sculptural floral elements per table, broken up by simple bold foliage in basic, cylindrical vases: considered and composed but simple and masculine. We carried this conceptual approach through to the buttonieres and corsages at a micro scale and the grooms’ featured our Star Wars theme. We had several donors for the leaves and bought the more unique pieces from Fresh Flowers in Morningside, a bit of tricky one because they are wholesalers and you can only buy what they got from the market that week. Bunches, while apparently random, were pre-snipped and prepped on the day before so that on the day, set-up by our very accommodating friends and family was a cinch.
We wanted a spiritual, rather than religious, ceremony but finding an accommodating officiant (who you get on with) even in a city as large as Durban was rather tricky. Eventually we found a lovely lady who could help. We kept the ceremony itself brief but impactful as we have been to enough weddings to know that a 3 hour long affair wouldn’t do! Inspired by couples who described the rush between Ceremony, Photos and Venue as being chaotic – we chose to have our ceremony under a huge tree in the park adjacent to Freedom Café, and do our photos in the surrounding lanes. This way, no one needed to drive around, and we didn’t disappear for hours while having photos taken. Pinterest had helped in providing us with outdoor ceremony ideas and we settled on choreographing a circle of our loved ones to bare witness to our vows. This also eradicated the need for anyone to choose a side, or walk down an aisle. Same sex weddings have the opportunity to break traditions and create their own.
Because of the brunch style we held back on a dance floor and DJ and went with a pre-ceremony session from a local musician (Aden Hinds). This amazing guy helped us to keep it local and honest by playing a superb unplugged set, a mixture of some of his bands recorded numbers and some requested pieces – live music really does set the tone.
Freedom Café specialises in whipping up sumptuous easy eating snacks and meals. We discussed what we were looking for with Lucy and she proposed a menu of expertly crafted, seasonal eats and canapés – our only pre-requisites were that they be delicious, easy eating and seasonal – NO BUFFETS!
In building on the themes already gleaned from the overall concept for the day – we wanted to keep the look clean, classical and fresh. When there are two Grooms it is a little challenging to ensure that the outfits complement each other while not matching or competing but the selection of a simple pallet and clean lines does help. Jay’s fixed requirement was to wear his late father’s waist coat to the wedding, although this needed some serious alterations as he was 6 feet tall. Finally, we didn’t want any “single-use” clothing as for us the items are more meaningful if they have a life after the big day.
The Wedding Party
Although we had a group Pinterest board and WhatsApp group set up to co-ordinate the clothing, our wedding party all went out independently to find their outfits. The only guidance we provided was for the ladies: light, summer dresses in a green to blue range; and for the men: button up shirts and formal slacks in the blues and browns. The drivers for the choices were to keep it tropical, fresh and to dress in clothing that they are comfortable in – the best photos are of people when they are comfortable.
What really drew us to Knot Just Pics was their incredible collection of photographs online – I know that sounds silly but they really do capture the most exquisite moments. We are not for traditional portraiture – while this may float some people’s boats we prefer photographs which tell a story. Andy and Szerdi’s photography is strongly influenced by their travels and consequently is more journalistic/narrative in nature. This is exactly what we were looking for – we wanted a story to be told, not an album to be filled.
You can lose sight of the fact that it is your day too, when you realise the majority of the effort is to ensure your guests are happy. So we did have to remind ourselves that the wedding is primarily for us. Although Jay likes his schedules, on the day, the plan becomes a guideline and you have to set it free and allow it to unfold. To spread the work load we had the best-lady (Anthy), maintain a wedding blog for updates and the travel registry (mikejaywedding.wordpress.com). And our MC (Mikes sister) Ursula took charge of the ladies hair and make-up arrangements because we had no idea what goes into that. Not to mention the help we received for the Origami.
Our officiant recommended that we don’t ban guests taking photos because, in her experience, it really can be a mood dampener. So we asked the guests to please stay out of the way of the professionals, but to tag their photos on Instagram with #mikejaywedding2015 so we could see the day through their eyes.
Lastly for additional wedding help, there is a candid site for Grooms called “The Plunge” which is very handy.