Backyard Farmyard Karoo Wedding – Cara + Matt

Cara mailed me way back in 2010 to ask if I would shoot their wedding in the Karoo. She threw in a few words about her wonderful fiance, the wide expansive Karoo and her idea of having a community family orientated wedding and I said “hell yes“. Over a 2 year period we have chatted back and forth while Cara planned her wedding from New Zealand. Yes, Cara and her now husband Matt live in one of the greenest rainiest countries in the world and yet Cara originally comes from the very dry and brown semi desert of South Africa.

There were so many things I loved about this wedding, the chickens and dogs running around, Cara’s gorgeous dress, the colourful bunting (which Cara sewed herself), the extra blue Karoo skies, the huge landscapes, the cute little Karoo houses, the fact that the wedding was in the backyard of their family farm house, the brown sheep …. I could go on and on. Most of all I loved all the people …… Everyone was just so hospitable and lovely and seemed involved in some way.

Cara and Matt thanks for picking me. I flipping loved our time with you!!!!! Huge thanks to everyone for being so wonderful to us (especially your folks).


Venue: Mount Melsetter, my parents home.

Hair: Auntie Pat at Salon Vogue, Middelburg.

Make up: A gift from several friends: Our neighbour, Rene van der Walt, a bridesmaid, Kara Bunde-Dunn and my sister-in-law, Angela Ferrar.

Church flowers, bouquets and button holes: Church flowers were done by friends, Anne Pitout (the priest’s wife), Patty Lees, Lois Crighton and my mum, Candy Ferrar. Bouquets and Buttonholes from Leana’s Florist in Middelburg.

Flowers at the Venue: Our neighbour, Wendy van Lingen was head flower lady. Her husband Andrew did the toast to the Matt and I, the bride and groom. Wendy, Anne Pitout, Patty Lees and Lois Crighton got up early and arrived at Melsetter at 6 in the morning on Saturday to arrange the flowers. They kept them in the cool room until just before the ceremony at the church. Most of the flowers were ordered from Johannesburg through Leana’s Florist in Middelburg and the greenery and some others came from Wendy’s garden.

Wedding Decor: Naartjie and Cheryl Moss from Bedford did the marquee and the draping. They hired us the tables and chairs, the tablecloths and chair covers, the rose bowls and candlabras etc.
Wendy van Lingen lent us the wicker underplates.

Andrew and Wendy lent us their dance-floor. Just before their daughter’s wedding in April 2009, their entire avenue of pine trees were blown down in a windy storm after heavy rains. In true Temple Farm style, Andrew made a dancefloor and various other wedmin bits and pieces from the pine trees. We only had to pay to have the dancefloor sanded and varnished.

The chair-tie ribbons came from Wrap-Co, Australia. Again, a friend (Nishanthi Gurusinghe) got them while she was there, then she posted them to me in New Zealand, then I shipped them to the farm.

The tea-towels (which turned out to be small bath towels!) were bought on sale from Briscoes in New Zealand. We bought them for our engagement party then we had them embroidered. I can’t even remember where we had them embroidered, somewhere in Palmerston North, New Zealand. It was a loooong time ago!!

I made the bunting! The colours were inspired by the movie, Monsoon Wedding. I wanted the bridesmaids to wear colours that suited them and that they felt good in so I tried to choose colours that would suit them (personality and colouring) within the ‘jewel-tone’ range. My friend Steph asked me to take care of her sewing machine as she was moving to Melbourne. With it’s service at the Bernina Shop in Hamilton, I got a free lesson. I needed it! From February to July I was sewing triangles. It was good to have such a big project as Matt sat his final surgical exams in May so I was kept out of his hair upstairs sewing while he sat downstairs submerged in notes and textbooks! I shipped them to the farm in about September/October and then in the last few weeks in the run up to the wedding, my mum, my aunt Lisa, Shirley and I were pinning and sewing the triangles onto the ribbons. We called our sewing time, our ‘sweat shop hours’ – you know how hot the karoo is in January!!

The colourful straws and the party props at each place setting were from Etsy. I chose them and Kara bought and brought them for us as a wedding gift!

The luggage tags were bought online. Holly, my brother Guy’s girlfriend got them for us. I bought the letter stamps from Kikki K in New Zealand and together, my cousins Olivia, Lilian and her partner, Lolo, my sister-in-law, Ange, Holly and I stamped the M & C on the back. We also all made and stamped the confetti cones.

Katryn and I pruned the roses in the garden and collected the petals for the confetti. Everybody on the farm was charged with the task of turning the petals every time we went for a swim (which was often!).

The jars were collected by neighbours far and wide in the preceding months. Then brothers, bridesmaids, sisters-in-law were roped into cleaning and tying ribbons etc. They also collected the sand from the river for the clear 2L cooldrink bottle candle-holders that lit the parking and garden.

Brides Dress: Matt chose it for me! It’s a Reem Acra ‘Narcissus’. I bought it online from a bridal shop that was selling up in California and had it shipped to my host parents, Jane Carter and Duane Anderson’s house in Minnesota. They then bought it over to New Zealand when they visited in October. They’ve been to South Africa before and thought they’d rather visit us in NZ so we could spend some time together. Then it came to South Africa stuffed in our suitcase and was dry-cleaned, mostly to get the wrinkles out in Johannesburg. (Exclusive Drycleaners in Rosebank – they have a reputation for being the best when it comes to beaded gowns.) My friend, Fran Laidler picked it up and my uncle Dave’s partner, Shirley Finnemore then personally chauffered it to the farm. This involved sneaking it into the cockpit with the pilots, carrying it, arms out-stretched between airport to car etc and her son, Rupert sitting with it in the car while she ducked into Exclusive Books to pick up a present for Dave. When Dave saw it, he thought it was her dress so he said, “Isn’t that a bit over the top for the karoo?” What a story!

Bridesmaids Dresses: Oonagh, Olivia and Jo had theirs made in East London, Durban and London respectively. Kara wore a dress from a department store in Lincoln, Nebraska. She trawled shops and online stores for months beforehand and a few weeks before she left for SA, she found it on the sale rack and bought it for US$50! Karla wore my dear friend Sam’s dress. It’s a beauty – made by Ricochet, a New Zealand designer. Ironically, Matt asked Aaron, Sam’s husband, to be his best man but Aaron is in the midsts of his plastic surgery training programme and Sam is now 7 months pregnant. They live in Auckland, NZ so they were not able to be at the wedding. It was nice to be able to have their ‘presence’ acknowledged in the form of Sam’s dress. That was my something borrowed and something blue too by the way!! The flowergirls’ dresses were from Farmers, a New Zealand department store. I bought them on sale in January last year and mailed them out to the girls. Poor things had to wait a whole year before they got to wear them!

Groom’s Suit: An online order! Tailor-made by ‘Suitopia’ based in Sweden but made in Vietnam. The world is a global village indeed!

Venue: St Barnabas Church, Middelburg Cape and my parents home, Mount Melsetter, Middelburg Cape.

Cake: Adrienne Southey, my super talented neighbour and second-cousin. She came back from her job in Abudhabi especially!

DJ: Ian Visagie from Bloemfontein.

Wedding Coordinator: Group effort! My mum, who was back and forth from the UK where she does part-time work nursing. Anne Pitout (Jubilate), Wendy van Lingen and myself. Thank goodness for emails!

Dave Henderson, Matt’s dad married us. He was supported by our great family friend, Reverend Canon Fred Pitout.

As a wedding present, our wedding invitation was designed by Dave Craig in Palmerston North, New Zealand. We just had to pay printing costs. He helped us realise our ideas of a passport invitation. The stamp, signed by us both, is a scanned copy of the visa stamp I got the first time I visited New Zealand when Matt and I decided to get back together for good!

Anne Pitout and Patty Lees sang ‘Love One Another’ while we signed the registry and my cousin, Justin Southey played the music in the church and at home on the ‘stoep’ (porch) while we were out getting photographed amongst the prickly pears! Sandiswe, Dennis and Julia who live and work at Melsetter organised some friends from a neighbouring farm to sing in the church before we arrived and as all of us girls walked down the aisle. This was such a moving part of the ceremony. When I got out of the car and heard their voices, my heart caught in my throat and my arms tingled with goosebumps in spite of the 40* heat. We wanted to pay each of them but Sandiswe came to me and explained that it was their gift to us so please could we not pay her and their choir….

My school friend Angie Lake (Angela Jane) made the bridesmaids earings and sent them over from London and my earings were bought online from Stephanie Browne, Australia.

Second Shooter: The wonderful Natasha Schoeman