What is ‘Rustic Elegance’ and How Do I Get the Look?

Having an outdoor wedding by a lake midsummer? Or how about an autumn affair with perfect views of the colorful mountains? Then take full advantage of your outdoor landscape by planning a perfectly rustic and elegant wedding! Rustic weddings are casual in nature, cheerful and relaxed. The elegant part kicks in when you create an ambiance that is charming but still very put together. Don’t be afraid to mix and match – but keep it coordinated by designing within your season, location, theme and color palate.

Here are 10 simple ideas to expand your imagination for a rustic and elegant wedding:

1. First, assess the season and location of your wedding. Fall lakeside weddings, like the one I helped plan last September took advantage of gorgeous autumn colors back-dropped against Lake Winnipesaukee: burnt orange, gold, navy blue, periwinkle and burgundy. A summer beach wedding would inspire a totally different color palate. Establish your design parameters (season, location, theme and colors) and let your creativity work around them when designing the complete look.

2. Don’t be afraid to mix different patterns. One of my clients is forgoing rented dishware in standard white. She has opted to ask family and friends loan her plates within a certain color scheme to mix and match on the family-style dinner tables she has planned for a farm wedding next June. The mix in different patterns and shapes will make for a unique and personal table setting.

3. Think mason and jelly jars, glass pitchers and galvanized buckets as centerpiece holders for all of the locally grown flowers! Tie an eclectic look together with the same ribbon throughout.

4. Why not display escort cards in a birch wood box with home-grown grass and littered with mini-daisies/aster (summer) or acorns (fall)? It’s easy and very cute!

5. Fairy/strung white lights are inexpensive and elegant. Drape them along the edge of your tent and around trees.

6. Sparklers are also great for photos and incredibly festive to bid farewell to the happy couple.

7. Use mini chalkboards to display different food stations for a buffet-style wedding. The look is very sweet with farmer’s market appeal.

8. Set up a fire pit to be ignited as the night wears on. Have a pretty serving station nearby stocked with marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolates for do-it-yourself s’mores. The perfect snack after a long night of dancing.

9. Expecting the weather to be crisp on your wedding? Keep guests warm with mulled wine or hot toddies during the cocktail hour.

10. Think back to family traditions that you can incorporate in your reception. One of my clients paid tribute to her grandmother by setting up a camp-themed candy table that mimicked the variety shop she had when the grandkids were young. A beautiful portrait of her grandmother was printed in sepia tones and featured in a distressed white frame.

No matter how large or small your guest list, your outdoor wedding can be as memorable and sentimental as you want to make it. The sky’s the limit in terms of design elements. Just be sure to keep it natural, charming and simple.

Wedding Photographer and Wedding Venue – Tips For the Bride and Groom

Often the ‘bride and groom to be’ approach me in the very early stages of their wedding planning and are undecided on their wedding venue. I often get asked the question by these young couples looking to get married, whether or not the wedding venue makes a difference to the wedding photographs. There is no simple answer to this question – it is actually yes and no.

As a professional wedding photographer, I have been to many wedding venues in Johannesburg, many of which have truly breathtaking surroundings. It is for that reason that I say ‘yes’ to the above question, because obviously a beautiful wedding venue such as the many wedding venues in Muldersdrift (namely Oakfield Farm, Glenburn Lodge, Avianto, Moon and Sixpence, Gardenworld, etc) have both beautiful landscapes and gardens in which to take unique wedding photos.

I got married at a wedding venue called Glencove which is part of Glenburn Lodge that I absolutely loved (and still do – I am such a sentimental fool…) because the gardens and the chapel and the whole setting is just so intimate and romantic….. I just love it!

One of my favourite wedding photographs is one where my husband and I are standing on the bridge over the river, looking into each others eyes and the lighting is just beautiful. It is the perfect setting for the perfect wedding photograph and it completely captured the moment. Having said that, I think any photo where my husband & I are looking into each other’s eyes would be special to me, regardless of the background or the lighting or the setting. It is precisely for that reason, that I also say ‘no’ to the question about wedding venues making a difference to the photographs.

Well that, and also because a good photographer can usually work around most settings and find ways to make the photographs beautiful and unique. A good wedding photographer captures the special moments and the emotions of your wedding day and the setting shouldn’t make a difference to any of that.

The most rustic, basic venue can make for beautiful and unique photographs. Likewise for an ultra-modern supposedly ‘unromantic’ setting…. Obviously, depending on your photographer and the kind of style of photographs you prefer, many photos can be very clichéd so be sure to choose your photographer and your wedding venue accordingly.

All in all, I always recommend that you choose a venue that you feel comfortable with, that you resonate with and that you really love, for no rational or logical reason – but simply because it feels good to you. Trust me, when you feel good, the photographs will show it and you will be the most beautiful bride and groom in your own unique way. I wish you the wedding of your dreams and photos that you will cherish forever!

Benefits of Having an Autumn Wedding

Many couples getting married dream of a fall wedding when autumn is at the peak of its colorful spectrum. There are many advantages to having a wedding in autumn. For one thing, you don’t have to schedule around your friends’ and families’ vacations. An autumn wedding provides a chance to employ an array of fabulous ideas for décor, food, fashion and more.

Here are just a few to consider as you plan your upcoming nuptials. You can work with your wedding planner and event venue to find the right ones for you.


Unique wedding venues can be the perfect backdrop for a fall wedding. Explore the endless options and you’ll find a variety of legendary locations. Your guests can enjoy the colorful foliage and flowers, and you can throw in some strategically-placed hay bales and pumpkins for extra ambiance. The flower girls can even make their entrance down the aisle on a hay wagon if the couple chooses. Fall foliage also makes the perfect backdrop for wedding photos. An autumn wedding provides a great opportunity to look beyond the usual event spaces.

If the reception is outdoors, make sure that you have a cozy place for guests to stay warm, filled with lanterns, fireplaces, and blankets. If you are having a tented reception, you may want to consider space heaters to keep everyone warm. Just be careful of the fire and safety hazards associated with all of these things, and ensure that the event venue allows them, and has appropriate safety precautions. An inexpensive but stylish blanket for each guest or couple to use during the reception would make a unique and useful wedding favor.


Begin the autumn theme with the invitations. Use seasonal stationery for invitations and reply cards – perhaps something laser-cut with a pinecone, tree or leaf motif. Martha Stewart Weddings suggests enclosing a paper leaf with the invitation for guests to write well-wishes to the couple, which can then be displayed festively at the reception.

You can carry your invitation theme through to the wedding programs, place cards, and escort cards, perhaps adding touches like mini-pumpkins and apples to hold them. Cedar wedding programs and place cards also add a lovely rustic touch.


Warm colors like chocolate and wine are popular colors for fall bridesmaids’ dresses. Some brides choose subtle orange or other rich fall colors. Why not get some light wraps as a gift for your bridesmaids in case it gets chilly as the day turns into evening? A pop of color can transform a dress that will be appreciated by all.

Grey or brown suits are popular fall colors for the groomsmen and ring bearers’ tuxes, with colorful cummerbunds and ties. Why not have boutonnieres of acorns and oak leaves with colorful bows?


Many autumn weddings make use of pumpkins as baskets and centerpieces. Some people even paint them to match their color scheme or use seasonal fruit for place card holders. Pinecones are also popular decorations, as are wreaths. Lanterns make a nice addition to the décor, and help provide heat as well. Decorate with lanterns, candles, pumpkins, leaves, and gourds for a perfect fall look. Why not have a grapevine arbor, or one made of flowers, vines and berries in autumn tones?

If you are having an October wedding, you may choose to go with an orange and a black color scheme. Just be careful to keep it subtle and elegant-unless you really want to make it a Halloween-themed wedding.


The bride and her bridesmaids can carry bouquets accented with greenery, and flowers with rich colors like orange, yellow, and red that accentuate their dresses. Instead of traditional baskets, flower girls can carry small decorated pumpkins down the aisle.

Fall flowers, foliage and vegetables provide an infinite variety of options for centerpieces. A centerpiece of branches, suspended candles, and seasonal flowers can be stunning. Woodsy centerpieces with branches in tall vases add a natural feel.


This is where you can really take advantage of the season, both in the dinner menu and the desserts. Pumpkin or squash soup can be an excellent first course. Hot cocoa, apple cider, s’mores, and candied pecans all make delicious and warm treats. If there will be children there, you may decide to have a trick-or-treat candy buffet.

Wedding Cake

There is no end to the ideas for decorating your wedding cake to match your autumn theme. You can use real or chocolate mini-pumpkins, or decorative leaves which are elegant, pine cones, and berries. Just Google “autumn wedding cakes” and you’ll see that the ideas are boundless.


You can provide your guests with mini-maple syrups, apple cider mix, packets of seedlings, bottles of apple butter, or jellies or jams to remember the day. Pumpkin-spiced soaps are also a festive favor. How about a table with wrapped caramel apples for guests to take home?

These are just a few ideas. Autumn weddings can be as unique as the bride and groom. Go online and get more ideas, and then work with your event planner, venue, and caterers, all of whom probably have even more ideas. Autumn can be a dreary season for some people. There’s nothing like a beautiful, warm autumn wedding to brighten up the season!