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
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!
While the rain poured down, love and the joyful sounds of singing raised the roof on Thobeka and Thobezweni’s wedding day.
Everything from the beautiful location, sparkly fairy lights to Thobeka’s A M A Z I N G McCarthy Wolff wedding dress was just a pleasure to photograph and Nats and I loved every second.
Thobeka and Thobezweni are two of the world’s warmest and most loving people who ensured everyone at their wedding was thought of, cared for and having a good time. When the rain finally stopped us photographing, we rushed back to the reception and were met with more entertainment and cheering.
We quickly sneaked off for five more minutes out over the dam.
Thank you Thobezweni and Thobeka for sharing your special day with us – we loved photographing it! <3
Show some love:
Venue: St Ives, Midlands Meander
Bride’s Dress: McCarthy Wolff
Bride’s Make Up: Zee Ntuli
Groom’s Suit: Kurt Geiger
Decor: Intwenhle creations
Cake: The Frost Goddess
Marriage Officiant: Reverend Norman Raphahlela
I met Craig and Chantelle in a coffee shop, and immediately liked them. And when I heard how much DIY was going into their wedding at Hilton Bush Lodge, I really liked them!
I love DIY. And I love when brides take their ideas, whether that’s from their own imaginations or loaned from an idea on Pinterest, and interpret that idea into something magnificent.
THAT is what Craig and Chantelle did.
They took family heirlooms, family recipes, creative ideas and fresh approaches and they created a wedding that is every DIY bride’s dream wedding. Every little detail was thought of, and Chantelle went out of her way to ensure every person in attendance knew they were loved.
THAT is what I love about photographing weddings. And that’s why I loved photographing this one so much.
Here’s a little peek into all the love from their wedding day. x
Show some love:
Venue: Hilton Bush Lodge
Hair and Make Up: Make Up by Charelle
Bride’s Dress: VIP Brides in Hillcrest
Marriage Officiant: Warwick Nelson from Dream Ceromonies
Decor: Bride and family and friends.
Suit hire: Johnson’s Suit Hire
Bouquets and flowers: Gordon Stuart Landscaping Company
They say the first three years of self employment are the toughest. While this year has certainly been tough, it’s been an adventure that I would continue to choose, year after year.
This time last year, I shared my lessons from my first year of self employment (Tanya Jacobs Photography is actually 5 years old this year). You can read that post here.
I read it last night and I had to chuckle. While some of the lessons still apply now, there are so many more in my second year.
So here they are.
Real, honest lessons from my second year of self employment.
Master your workflow
I don’t have this down just yet, but I was forced to streamline my processes and get my workflow into some sort of arrangement when I was shooting back to back weddings and juggling late night editing, while being a mom and wife. Life with a busy toddler in the house and a business to run can be so hard, and yet, so rewarding.
It’s okay to be a mom first
I love spending mornings with Ella doing art classes, horse rides, ice skating or attending Baby Bright Stars or Clamber Club. So that’s what I do – I schedule mom hours into my day and I schedule work hours into my day. I’m a mom first, and that’s my most important role.
Believe in your worth
We all struggle with stuff. Confidence, habits, jealousy… Me? I struggle with believing in my worth. But with some mentoring and self teaching, I’ve worked through this and you know what… I’ve got this! I believe in myself. I believe I’m worth my prices. I believe I offer my clients a fantastic service and quality and I deserve to charge what I feel that’s worth. If you don’t believe in your own worth, how can you possibly expect clients to?
Give your clients an experience they’ll love
I’ve loved this – researching and refining my packages, my service, my offering to offer the very best of me and my products to my clients.
Forget about the likes
Facebook and Instagram are basically forcing you to think this way – unless you’re advertising with a bajillion Rand each week. Forget about the number of likes and the hearts. They’re not an indicator of how well your business is doing or how good your work is.
Be real. Like, Real, real.
I’ve received the most heartwarming interactions and connections with people online when I’ve shared openly, and honestly. I shared about my mom/entrepreneur struggles and other moms shared back. We joined forces and united and pushed each other along. I’ve found a tribe and I like my tribe. A lot.
Love your industry friends
I’ve been so fortunate to have amazing support all around me, and that includes the support of industry friends and colleagues. They were there to fall back on when I needed to rush to my mom’s side when she was in ICU and they were there when I hit an all time low in my career when I disappointed a client.
Which leads me to my next point…
Mistakes. They’re going to happen and they’re going to effing hurt.
Badly. But you have to, HAVE TO, get up and try again, no matter how hard it is. Mistakes in business are hard lessons that need to be learnt.
Community over competition
Sharing work you can’t take on, and sharing with people who believe in community over competition, is one of the most rewarding ways to help another person’s business grow. Choose community over competition, every time.
Set your intentions
If you’re going to succeed – succeed.
If you’re going to step up – step up.
If you’re going to do it – do it.
Intention is everything.
Invest in yourself
I’ve spent hard earned money on investing in courses, books, holidays and guides, all to better myself and my business. Investing in myself and my knowledge has been worth every cent.
Burn out is real.
Very real. There were days when I didn’t know how to face my workload and be a good mother and wife. Learn to help yourself, and learn when you need to reach out for help. Back to back weddings, no normal life balance, and a non-sleeping baby in the house is a recipe for some pretty ugly crying.
Completely un-photography related, but it was so necessary for me to function properly and to try regain control of my own balance. By sleep training, I mean sleep training Ella. 😉 It took her 21 months to finally sleep a straight 8 hours. Two nights ago, she pulled a 12 hour nighter with me (we had just arrived home after almost 23 hours of travelling). Sleep is important and Ella is a champ!
With every shoot, comes experience.
Your portfolio will grow, you’ll learn to co-ordinate your work to show only what you love, and want to shoot, and you’ll grow with time. Enjoy the journey.
Daniel and Megan’s wedding had everything that I love about weddings in the winter in the Midlands.
Warm winter light? ✓
Love and happiness all around? ✓
A beautiful bride, both inside and out? ✓
A couple who write their own heartfelt vows? ✓
A bride who walks into the chapel, on her father’s arm, to a song that reduces everyone to tears? ✓
A choreographed first dance that breaks out into a flash mob! ✓
I arrived at Providence, Midlands Meander (where I also got married in 2012!) excited to photograph Dan and Meg’s beautiful day and left feeling so full of love and gratitude. What an amazing day!
From Megan’s incredibly moving entrance into the chapel, to the way Dan looked at Megan, to the way the guests filled the small chapel with the most AMAZING hymn, to the way everyone just beamed with love and warmth for this couple… Everything was just perfect!
Thank you Daniel and Megan for letting me photograph your wedding day, and making me feel so welcome. I hope you enjoy this sneak peek and reliving the happiest day of your lives.
Tommie and Kim travelled to Durban from Ladysmith for their engagement session, so we hit the beach and soaked up some of that last beautiful light for the day.
I’m so crazy about shooting at this time of the day on the beach and just love these photos! Tommie and Kim said they were nervous – but they both did such a great job! They’re such a gorgeous couple, and so perfect for one another, that I think I’m in for a real treat when I photograph their wedding later this year.
Enjoy this peek into their engagement session! x