One Couple's Flower-Filled Destination Wedding in Johannesburg, South Africa
Chloë Benson and Shayo Olumide first met as teenagers in 2001, but it wasn't until more than a decade later when they bumped into each other as adult's as a mutual friend's housewarming party in 2013. They quickly hit it off and dated for three years until Shayo surprised Chloë with a treasure hunt-style proposal to remember in May of 2016.
After dropping her off at her dad's house under the guise of having to head into the office, Shayo sent a driver over to pick up Chloë. "He handed me a little message in a bottle saying, 'Our first date,' so I asked the driver to please take me to the Intercontinental Hotel where we had dinner on our first night out," the bride explains. There, she ran into Shayo's siblings who proceeded to hand her another bottle, this one with a note that said, "Our first kiss." That led her to his old bedroom in his parent's house, but her boyfriend was nowhere to be seen. Instead, she found a clue saying, "Where we first met," so she went to the site of the housewarming party where they reconnected and found Shayo in a room filled with white roses and one final bottle.
"He handed me the last message in a bottle and it said, 'Marry me?' I couldn’t breathe!" she remembers. "Shayo went down on one knee with the ring, but I can't remember a word of what he said." What she does remember, though, is gleefully saying "Yes!"
The couple spent a year planning their April 22, 2017, destination wedding in Johannesburg, South Africa (the pair calls Lagos, Nigeria home!), but the entire party was one to remember. "Our first holiday together was to South Africa," Chloë explains. "We loved it there, and when it came time to choose where to get married, it seemed like the obvious choice."
The couple chose Summer Place, a classic estate in the heart of Johannesburg, as their wedding venue and worked with the team at Spending Wedding Company to bring their dream of an elegant garden wedding to life. "Shayo and I love the outdoors. We love exploring when we travel, and we love nature," the bride says. "We wanted our guests to experience this in a glamorous way."
An Unexpected Dress
Before Chloë went wedding dress shopping, she was certain which designer she'd choose. But when she tried on gowns from her original favorite while in London, she was disappointed. "Every dress from the designer I thought I wanted all seemed to be too risqué and I couldn't decide what I liked," she says. She tried on a few more gowns, including one her sister chose by a designer that the sales associate mentioned was a South African native. She liked it, but not enough to buy it that day. "I left the shop even more confused."
On her next shopping trip, this time in Johannesburg, the sales associate noticed she was drawn to wedding dresses by Kobus Dippenaar, the very same South African-based designer she had tried on in London. While she loved many aspects of each dress, nothing was entirely perfect, so she asked if it would be possible to meet with the designer. "Less than five minutes later he was in the salon and he started sketching a custom dress for me in his office," the bride says.
She ended up wearing a one-of-a-kind dress from the designer, which she accented with a matching veil and a bouquet of white roses. A rosary, which was blessed by the couple's reverend, was wrapped around the handle of the bouquet.
Upon arrival, guests were given boxes with a custom diffuser from Dr. Vranjes, a jar filled with homemade Peri-Peri sauce made by the couple's caterer, and Patchi chocolates. At the reception, women were given scarfs to help them keep warm and everyone had the opportunity to have a caricature drawing made.
Ladies in White
So Much Style
A Garden Ceremony
The bride and groom really wanted a garden-inspired ceremony, and the team at Splendid Wedding Company delivered by way of this stunning setup. They lined the aisle with green runners and the couple wed beneath an arch of white gladiolus and green amaranthus.
The ceremony itself was incredibly personalized. "Shayo and I picked each hymn ourselves," the bride says. Although they didn't write their own vows, they did ask Chloë's older sister to perform a reading.
"I Now Pronounce You..."
The couple shared the happiest first kiss beneath their stunning floral canopy.
Bringing the Outdoors In
To meld the couple's vision of a garden wedding with their grand ballroom space, Chloë and Shayo's planners created a floral installation of gladiolus and aramanthus. The neutral blooms hung down towards elegant white tables. To keep the look chic, white linens, dinnerwear, and arrangements of Kenyan garden roses were studded with gilded vases, lanterns, and cutlery.
To ensure the entire space was cast in a warm glow, suspended gold lanterns were tucked into the flowers. As the evening grew dark, tea lights lit the space.
Old photos of the couple throughout various stages of their lives decorated the table numbers. "We wanted the wedding to be very personal," the bride says. "We're both very thoughtful people and wanted our guests to feel like they were part of our journey."
Take Your Seat
Each guest found their seat thanks to a calligraphed floral place card from Chrystalace Stationery. Wooden placemats and copper chargers rounded out the elegant tablescape.
When guests sat down for the reception, they were first treated to a taste of South Africa courtesy of Jem Catering. Everyone was served a compilation plate featuring local standards like tempura prawns and mussels infused with mushrooms. For dinner, everyone chose between herb and sundried tomato crusted fillet of beef or pan-seared fish with lemon and coriander cream.
A Sweet Ending
The wedding cake was designed to look like a tree, with C&S engraved in the "bark" fondant. "That was inspired by one of our first dates," the bride explains. "We went walking at the Lekki Conservation Park and climbed the Tree House and engraved our names in it." The inside was equally as impressive as the design—guests dug into slices of fruit cake filled with salted caramel.
For those who didn't want cake, there were other options, too. Mini tiramisu with brandy and dark chocolate, vanilla crème brule topped with burnt sugar shards, New York-style mini cheese cakes topped with strawberry compote, and mini pavlova filled with raspberry and passion fruit coulis were also on hand.
After the newlyweds shared their first dance to a mash-up of Sade's "Kiss of Life" and Anthony Hamilton's "Best of Me," the DJ switched the music over to "Now That We Found Love" by Heavy D and the Boyz and everyone flooded the dance floor.
Photography, Rensche Mari
Videography, Orpen Film Co.
Venue, Summer Place
Event planning, flowers, and rentals, Splendid Wedding Company
Catering, Jem Catering
Bride's wedding dress and veil, Kobus Dippenaar
Shoes, Christian Louboutin
Engagement ring and wedding bands, Frost of London
Groom's attire, Frank Bespoke
Bridesmaids' and flower girls' dresses, Something Peridot
Groomsmen's attire, Kimono Kollection
Ring bearer's attire, Calvin Klein
Stationery and calligraphy, Chrystalace Stationery
Cake, Kelly Jayne Cakes