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A Real Fairytale

Wedding of Johara Cruz and James Mortensen

My phone rang!

I still remember waking up to a call from Joe Lobo the owner, of Swiss Hutte, a local restaurant, asking me if I was available to speak to a lady regarding her wedding. I was informed that the restaurant was the venue so I agreed and noted the phone number that was passed on to me. I made the call and as they say the rest is history.

I got to speak to the bride-to-be, Johara who gave me the details of her requirements. The brief was an intimate ceremony with very near and dear friends followed by a Champagne Brunch. The colour scheme she had in mind was Red and White. I told her that I would revert with a quote and the concept in a day's time.

Truth be told I had just got home from the hospital the day before all this and I was in a pretty weak state but I was very motivated to start planning. I touched base with the restaurant owner to ask him to share a few photographs of his property and he obliged.

The recce was set up a few days later and by then I was feeling strong enough to set out across town for the meeting. As I walked into the restaurant I took in the layout, the colour scheme and the overall ambience. Wood featured strongly in the decor and the stone floor had an earthy charm to it.

Johara came in and we had a pleasant conversation. We were joined by her fiancé James and her daughter Nessa. We all sat down to go over the details of the wedding. While we were in deep discussion there was a heavy downpour but Johara said that it would not rain on her wedding day. A friend of hers who worked in the meteorological office had stated that it would not so she said that she was sure that it would not.

L-R James, Johara, Nessa, Leeza & Joe ( Covid precautions in place & an umbrella too)

I dived into the production the next day. Since a small number of guests were being invited it was necessary to seat them correctly. Johara and I worked together to sort out the seating chart. I had already begun the design work for all the floral arrangements and the print related requirements. As we were still facing the challenges and outcomes of Covid I knew that everything had to be ready well in advance as nothing could be sourced at the last minute. Johara was very clear about the timeline and that aligned perfectly with the way I like to work.

How the fairytale came to life

In order to have everything ready by 10:30 am we had to start work at 6 am at the very latest. D day arrived and the weather held and we were relieved especially since we had loads of fresh flowers that had to be creatively put together in arrangements. We used the area outside the restaurant to work. It made sense to do this so that the inside would not get messy.

The production plan was to start with the Bridal bouquet, the bar decor, the centrepieces and then the stands. The moment the floral work was over and the work area cleaned we were able to set up the welcome table with the seating chart and the hand sanitisers which were for the guests.

The Bridal Bouquet

I was very particular about the Bridal bouquet and I wanted it to stand out. Exquisite lilies, chrysanthemums and roses were selected and as the style was a cascade I was careful about the placement of the flowers. The ivy and small leaves leaves were perfect for this style.

Pic 1 - Making the Bridal Bouquet

Pic 2 - Johara being lead in for the Ceremony

Pic 3 - Johara and James

The Decor

Red glass votives with vanilla fragrance tea lites were set in the middle of the centrepieces. Red roses and white chrysanthemums were offset by the delicate gypsophila in the centrepieces. I made sure that each centrepiece was the same size and shape. Since there was not much space on the tables (there were of varying sizes and shapes) I had the tables named alphabetically and the letter for each table was inserted into the centrepiece arrangement.

The Floral at the Bar Counter had ivy at both ends that looked lovely between the realities set in glass tea lite holders.

A grand 6 feet tall arrangement of fresh flowers were set in an asymmetrical style at the entrance to the restaurant.

Red glitter heart cutouts with red carnations and gypsophila were attached to white satin covered rings.

The Event Planning & Preparation

The name cards, menu and seating chart were printed. Each name card was carefully folded and prepared.

Tip - Have the name cards sorted against the tables in advance

This tip has always come in handy and it did so here too. A white table top easel was the right choice for the Seating Chart

The Challenge

The issue that I wondered how to fix was the colour and style of the bar counter. It had an aqua-teal shade for the bottom and the metal fixtures that secured the solid wood top to the base. I knew that one of the ways to work around this was to place a very large floral arrangement in front of the bar counter to draw focus away from the color and fixtures.

The Centrepieces & Name cards

Since the fans were put on, in addition to the air conditioners, we had to ensure that the name cards would not fly away.

Chris' Tip - To secure the name cards to the centrepieces insert discarded floral stems into the floral foam which is at the core of the arrangement.

Thanks to Chris for this effective solution!!! It added charm and also presented each of the centrepieces and name cards as comprehensive arrangements.

In case you are wondering, we lit the tea lites 10 minutes before the first guest arrived.

The Wedding Cake

The colours of the cake complemented the colours of the wedding decor. The vibrant red handcrafted flowers cascaded down the side of the cake that had been completely decorated with the self embossed initial "J".

I am so happy that this beautiful moment was captured - Jo and her daughter Nessa

The Ceremony

It was impressive to see the guests wear their masks during the ceremony. All eyes were fixed attentively on the Pastor who lead the ceremony.

Candid and cute capture at the time when James was about to place the wedding ring on Johara's finger

The happy couple turn their attention to the cake!

True joy! This shot is the most candid of them all. It certainly makes you want to know what they were laughing about.

Thoughtful Gesture

A wedding in December has a certain charm of celebrating love and joy and this wedding was no exception. Johara and James decided to gift their guests a customised handmade pouch that had a rich plum cake. The pouches were in lovely prints and there is no denying their utility value. These pouches were made by "Ideas for women" which empowers destitute women so purchasing the pouches was the right thing to do.

The Couple

Johara and James - the newly weds. A real fairytale!

Invariably at each one of the events I do there is always a photograph of me climbing up a ladder or on top of a table, fixing the decor or aligning the arrangements. This time round you only get to see my much loved brogues on the floor while I was on the counter fixing the hearts!

Creating and setting everything up was a wonderful and enjoyable experience. We raise a glass to Jo, Nessa and James and wish them a wonderful life together.


Leeza A. Harris

p.s. It did not rain that day :-)

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