Choosing your wedding venue will be one of the very first decisions you make as an engaged couple. You may even start with looking at Durban and Midlands wedding venues.
That is, after setting the date for the big day!
In our search for wedding venues back in 2012, we looked at only two – Netherwood and Providence. We wanted a venue in the Midlands because who doesn’t love the Midlands and we wanted somewhere that was elegant and unforgettable. Providence won hands down the minute we drove up the driveway and were welcomed on the lawn.
So I’ve put together a bit of my own advice from years of shooting at Durban and Midlands wedding venues, as well as some advice from Thorner Country Estate‘s Chey Stead (which, if you don’t already know it, is an amazing wedding venue just outside of Camperdown).
TIP NUMBER 1:
Choose a venue that fits the idea of what you want for your day. If you’re going with an elegant wedding with pretty, soft blooms and classic touches, go for a venue with clean, natural features that aren’t too overbearing. Or if you’re going for a rustic country vibe, choose a venue that suits that with its natural surroundings. If you’re wanting light and airy, rather than dark, look for big windows and light walls.
Visiting your prospective venues and then looking online at getting ready photos, creative session & reception photos will gave you an idea of how that venue and the light is used in photographs.
As a photographer, I love a wedding venue that draws nature in and a venue that has loads of light.
Unconventional can be a win too – so don’t be scared to explore various options (hotel, outdoor, church, bed and breakfast). Some of my favourite weddings have been under bedouin tents and fairy lights in back gardens.
TIP NUMBER 2:
“Consider accommodation, guests don’t want to have to drive home after the wedding and it’s vital that there is accommodation nearby. Another important factor is that the dance floor and bar are near each other, you don’t want the men standing around the bar on one end of the venue while ladies dance at the other end.” – Chey Stead, Thorner Country Estate.
“Make sure you know exactly what is and isn’t included in the venue hire, ask for a detailed list. Are barmen included in venue hire? Is there a surcharge per hour after midnight? Ask for a bar price list.”
Things to consider:
Is draping included?
Is catering in-house or does this need to be outsourced?
Is there a corkage fee?
Is there a day-after cleaning fee/ cut off time?
Most venues include cutlery and crockery, table cloths and napkins, chairs (with cushions), glasses and a few other options, so an additional cost may be to hire underplates etc that you may want for your reception to suit your theme for your day.
Also, remember the time of year when you plan to say I do may change the way your venue looks. Lush green trees may be bare. Some venues may have an album to share with photographs of the different seasons which will help you in deciding if your venue is the right one for you during whichever season you’re getting married in.
TIP NUMBER 3:
Consider where you want your guests to hang out while you’re having your photos taken after your ceremony. Thorner Country Estate has a beautiful big tree right outside their old stone chapel where guests mill about, snacking on canapés and merrily drinking during the 45 minutes – an hour that the bridal party are away. You don’t want your guests entering your reception venue too early, and most venues won’t allow this. Some venues have an indoor and outdoor option for guests and it may be a good idea to ask about plan b options in case of bad/cold weather.
“We strongly suggest substantial canapés after the church ceremony. Often, guests haven’t had lunch and canapés keep them going while the bridal party are having their photos taken.”
And importantly, planning a wedding can be an overwhelming and long journey, so it’s vital that you get along with the service providers you invest in.
“Form a relationship with the owner of the venue. If you can’t, then the venue isn’t for you. You want to be made to feel special and that you can contact her at anytime with any questions.”
Wedding dates get booked up fast, ensure you book your favourite wedding venue at last 9 months – a year in advance.
A few of my favourite Durban and Midlands Wedding venues:
Durban and Midlands Forest Wedding Venue Ideas:
- Providence Country Weddings
- Bellwood Cottages
- Haycroft Farm
- Crystal Barn Country Estate
Family – Just the right mix of chaos and love.
I absolutely loved this lifestyle session at the Linde family home. I arrived early with everyone still in their pyjamas and after coffee and some pigtails, we got to having fun, exploring the garden, play area, books, veggie patch and dad’s hammock.
Oh, how I know these photos will be cherished for years to come!
Where do I even start with these two?? Kailey first contacted me for her wedding at Granny Mouse Country House at the end of last year and immediately booked her wedding.
It was only later this year, that I finally got to meet Jaco and Kailey at a coffee shop. We immediately connected and I was so excited that these two were going to become one of my bridal couples!
Kailey is the kind of person that you fall in love with instantly – she’s kind and caring, heartwarming and graceful. Her beauty shines from the inside, out and it’s obvious why everyone around her simply adores her.
It’s no wonder she found her match in Jaco – who is the epitome of a gentleman with integrity, pride and love for those in his life. These two have the best hearts – and ensured all their guests, and service providers, felt appreciated and cared for.
Their day oozed with sophistication and heart, country warmth and Midlands magic. Granny Mouse never fails to impress with its rustic elegance and was the perfect backdrop for Jaco and Kailey’s day. I love the Granny Mouse Chapel and gardens so we used both as spots for their creative session, as well as the beautiful view of the Midlands from just behind the chapel.
Here are just a few of my favourites from their beautiful day!
Thank you to my assistant and special friend, Chloe from Dear Chloe Photography for assisting me and feeding my creative heart. <3
(PS. You can view their engagement session here!)
SHOW SOME LOVE:
Bride’s dress: Blissfully Bridal by Enzoani
Bride’s Hair and Make Up: Blend Hair and Make Up
Groom’s bespoke Suit: Cavalier, Melrose Arch
Flowers and Decor: E by A (Events by Anne)
Venue and Catering: Granny Mouse Country House
Cake: Smith’s Bakeshop
Pastor: Mark Price
DJ: KZN Wedding DJ
Wedding rings: Marion Rehwinkel Jewellery
There is so much I could say about this couple. But I’m going to save it for when I publish their wedding photos!
Jaco and Kailey arrived in Durban two days before their wedding in the Midlands, so the day before, we headed down to the beach to do an engagement shoot, and prepare them for their wedding day photographs.
I love this idea – and it was a great way for them to get to know how I photograph, and how they can get the best out of themselves during their wedging day creative session.
Being comfortable in front of my camera plays a huge role in getting the soft, romantic photos that I try to create – and I know that’s not always easy – being in front of a camera! But with gentle guidance and prompts, it’s easily achievable and soon the camera is all forgotten.
You can read my tips on how to rock your couple shoot here!
We ran, we splashed in the ocean, and we took photos on a beautiful rock overlooking the sea. And when we were done with that, Clinton and Carla got to have some fun with their two favourites – Glencoe and Snowy!
Carla has been following my work for the longest time, and has also shown the kindest support with lovely comments on posts. So it was so amazing to be able to have her in front of my lens and create magic for her.
When discussing locations, Carla wanted something that reflected ‘them’ and so this lookout point was chosen and couldn’t have been more incredible.
I can’t wait for their wedding next year, and get to create beautiful photos all over again!
With the new wedding season, comes the super busy engagement season right on its heels too so I thought what better time to talk about engagement shoots and how to rock your couple shoot?!
The new season starts next week for me, and I am so beyond grateful that my year has been booked out! It does mean sacrificing my weekends with C and Ella, but it also means I get to do what I love with some amazing people, and share in their happiness too.
For some (most) people, having their photo taken is downright unnerving. I completely get that! I can’t tell you how awkward I am in front of the camera! But whether you love it or hate it, there’s no better way to celebrate your engagement than with a couple shoot to remember this time of your life by.
Here’s a bit of advice I’ve put together to help you prepare, and make the most of your shoot!
WEAR WHAT YOU LOVE
Being YOU is the best way to get great photos. I can only capture who you are, if you be YOU. Wearing clothes that you are comfortable, and confident in, helps to make you feel more at ease in front of my camera. Keep it simple and clean.
PICK AN ENVIRONMENT THAT REFLECTS WHO YOU ARE
Whether that’s sipping on your favourite latte because you’re a coffee addict, or climbing up rock faces to overlook the sea, choose a location that encompasses your lives together. Surround yourself by what you love. Don’t have your shoot on the beach when you haven’t been to the beach in years! Or hate beach sand. Have your shoot WHERE YOU ARE. If that’s at home, get the kettle on, I’m coming over!
FORGET ABOUT THE PHOTOSHOOT
Forget about what you should be doing, and how you should be doing it, and just be you. If you’re shy, be shy. If you’re loud, be that. I want to keep your couple shoot natural and honest to who you are, and I can only do that if you’re being true to who you are. I shared an image of my daughter having tea with a plastic toy falcon, and people LOVED IT because it was an image of her, in her environment, as she is now, doing what she does now. I’m going to treasure this image forever.
IT’S A KIND OF MAGIC
This engaged feeling. This love. It’s a kind of magic. Embrace it and enjoy it. Spend the day doing fun things together. Take a break from wedding planning. So when it comes to doing your shoot, it’s not just something you’re ticking off your wedding to-do list, but rather another magical part of an already amazing day!
I promise to give you gentle guidance, so there won’t be any of that awkward ‘what do I do with my hands?’, but more natural laughing, sharing and creating. But it’s still up to you to bring YOU so I can capture you as you are.
Ready to start this adventure?