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Finding my stolen horses in Lesotho

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Bring My Horses Home.

This is a story of how my two stolen horses were rescued and recovered from deep inside of Lesotho.  It’s a chapter in my life which highlighted my strengths and reminded me of the deep connection I once shared with my equine companion; A stubborn, yet gentle chestnut pony named Ginger.

Growing up together.

I remember like it was yesterday.  As a little adventurous girl waking up before dawn; the farm, nestled in a valley still asleep.  I would sneak out with a slice of bread and a bridle to fetch my pony, Ginger.
In the cold morning air we would be off on a brisk trot down the valley and finally up the hill where the sun was waving its good morning rays to the waking farm.

Ginger was a gift from my uncle on my 9th birthday in 1996.  A young, confused little 3yo colt arrived on the farm.  At 14hh, much smaller than the working horses, his wide eyes and bushy red mane didn’t exactly steal my 9yo heart immediately. He had a choppy stride, not the most comfortable seat, a stubborn streak, but a big and willing heart.

As a young steed, Ginger was nothing but trouble.  A master at opening any gate, he often had the whole farm up in arms at midnight, when he thought it the best time to visit the other horses for a rendezvous under the starlight. He was a handful to say the least.

With patience Ginger grew up with me.  Tolerating getting his hair braided, tangled, washed and groomed.  Never a horse who really cared much for rubs and hugs, but always excited when taken for a swim in the dam.  His love for water has always been our most favourite bonding time after a long ride along the farm, exploring every inch of every hectar.

In my high school years, I was introduced to Arabian horses and after some hectic saving I bought my first registered Arab mare. I registered with the SA Arab Horse Society and had a small Arab breeding stud for a few years with another mare and stallion on lease. After finishing University in Stellenbosch I secured a job abroad, so I decided it best to sell the Arabs, but I kept the last filly born in 2010. This little filly, named after her Grandmother, was Anisa. She was kept both for sentimental reasons as well as her beautiful, curious temperament.

By this time Ginger was way in to his teenage years and was the grumpy old grandpa gelding used to wean the babies. He was good at teaching the foals manners without hurting them as well as keep them company. In hindsight this means he filled a parental role to Anisa and has been her only companion after her mother and siblings were sold. The two horses are therefore quite close.

The Theft.

I currently spend the majority of my days in Cape Town, where I am based as a professional photographer.  With Ginger now being retired at 26 years of age, I visit him on the farm several times a year since my career makes my schedule quite flexible.
It was coincidence that I was in the Free State to cover 3 weddings when I also found out that I had to get unexpected hip surgery scheduled for 26 June. My stay in the Free State was therefore prolonged and I see now how this was a blessing in disguise.

On the morning of 23 June, the groom who is the horses’ primary care giver since my parents moved to Bloemfontein due to safety concerns on the farm, gave us a call to report the horses missing. He had tracked their hoof prints along with 5 sets of human shoeprints for 10km before losing them when they crossed a steel bridge over the Caledon river and disappeared on a tar road. He walked all the way to town, which is on the border of Lesotho, to report the matter to the police who did not give him much guidance or help. As soon as we got the news we drove straight to the police station.

Frustration started to build when it took 4 separate visits to the Police station before they finally agreed to let us open an official case. Police officials only visited the farm more than 24 hours later and disregarded important and crucial evidence left on the scene.  My trust and faith in the officials’ competence started to dwindle due to the way the matter was handled.  For some reason they refused to question everybody present on the farm during the event of the theft and a key suspect whose footprints were a 100% match to those found alongside the horses’ hoofprints, were merely let go since he was underage.

I was however determined to locate my horses so I made a Facebook post with photos of my two horses offering a reward for their safe return. It wasn’t long until their photos went viral and people from all over the country started sharing the mission to find them.  Trying out every possible way to locate my horses, I asked for people with drones to please come and help us search from the air.

The next day two people with drones came out to help search the surrounding area from the sky. Due to the fact that my confidence in the  authorities’ competence have dwindled, I decided to hire a private investigator and I started a Facebook page for the two horses which spread like a wild fire. We searched the area from the sky for hours without success. We approached the local sheep and cattle herders in the surrounding mountains and in my broken, limited Sesotho skills asked them if they had seen the horses? One of the sheep herders was busy trying to rescue one of his newborn lambs who wouldn’t suckle and as I tried to help him and tell him about the horses, he recognized me from many years ago as a child, when I bought a young filly from his son and thus was eager to help us out. I got briefly excited when he confirmed seeing two horses matching the description of my two ponies, but my heart sank when he confirmed that the horses were taken in the direction of Lesotho. It is common knowledge that once an animal crosses in to the vast, mountainous country of Lesotho, it is almost impossible to ever find them again.

With a heavy heart we drove to the Tsupane Boarder Post to spread the word about the horses.  There I met a kind and willing Police Officer from Lesotho.  He could hear in my voice how dear the horses were to me and promised me that he would do everything in his power to help bring the horses home.  Over the next few days he kept reassuring me via Facebook Message that his informants were out searching every day.

Knowing that my surgery lay ahead and that I was physically limited to go and search for my two beloved horses, the worry was growing strong and fast inside of me. This is when I knew I had to get a private investigator on the case both in South Africa as well as in Lesotho.

People from all over the country sent messages of support, offering help, searching with me and keeping an eye out.  Many times this would cause heartache when people who meant well, sent photos of dead, starving or abused horses to me, asking if it wasn’t possibly my ponies.  Knowing that they were only trying to help, I knew that I had to face the reality that there was in fact a chance that my ponies might end up that way. With the help of a Sesotho speaking childhood friend who grew up on the farm with me, we translated a Facebook Sponsored post in to Sesotho and targeted the nearby Lesotho towns and surrounding areas to spread the word.
The post gathered many comments and shares and among them there were countless racially charged comments from local Lesotho people, however there were many more who saw my plight to find my two ponies and who were willing and wanting to help.

3 weeks went by with not much news; many leads that ended cold or were false.  The private investigator in South Africa visited the farm and questioned everyone present the day of the theft.  They uncovered many leads which the Stock Theft Officers didn’t really care to look at and my serious determination to solve the case started to sink in to everyone present.  People started realizing that I was not planning on giving up and that I will do whatever it takes to uncover the truth.
I had my surgery in the meantime but it was so far from my mind that I did not even notice most of the pain or discomfort.  The hours before the surgery I lay in my hospital bed talking to the private investigator and following up with the police.  I did not have time to even think of the discomfort – I just wanted my horses home.

I wished there was a way I could tell my two ponies that their mom was coming for them. That they should stay strong. I was so worried about Ginger, who by now is 26yo and has lived his whole life showered with love on the farm. My heart was broken knowing he was being ridden with his arthritis joints after being retired for years already. I was weeping for Anisa who I know was probably separated from Ginger shortly after being stolen and that she would become anxious without him. I was sad knowing they were starving with the limited access to food and water in the rough, mountain terrains of Lesotho during its harsh winters. I wished the thieves could have at least taken Ginger’s arthritis supplements with him to ease the pain.

Landi Groenewald Photography

Photo by: Johann Latsky

14 days without news finally got to me and for a brief moment I thought I lost hope.  I considered accepting the fate of my two horses and moving on. But all the thoughts of their well being in harsh Lesotho kept motivating me to never give up. After 23 years of loyal devotion to his little rider, I could not give up on Ginger in his old day. It was my duty to do everything to find him after he kept me safe for so many years.  Every day I kept following up and calling around to find out anything new.  The Private Investigator from Lesotho drove to Bloemfontein to come see me and discussed possible options and ways to help the case. Informants were also working alongside the Lesotho Police to track down the trial of the horses.

On 11 July I received a phone call… the call I’d been waiting on for days. Ginger had been found! I received a photo from the Tsupane Police Officer confirming it. I couldn’t believe it! I burst out in to tears knowing that it should be so much easier to find and track Anisa as well. Half an hour or more later, I received the second message from the same officer with a photo of Anisa found in Ribaneng – a small village in Lesotho. Both horses found on the same day! They have travelled over 200km on foot within 19 days.

I posted the happy news on Facebook and asked for people with a horsebox and loading knowledge for assistance.  Lots of people following the story offered their assistance and help.  I however received a phone call from the South African Stock Theft Unit telling me to remove the question asking for help since they will be the officials loading the animals.

Landi Groenewald Photography

Photo by: Johann Latsky

The Rescue.

The next morning, we left Bloemfontein bright and early to go fetch my ponies. A videographer friend who initially helped to search from the air with his drone, came along to document the happy reunion so that all of South Africa who has been following the story, could share in the moment we were reunited.

But the day did not go by without its difficulties.
Since I was on crutches following my surgery, I was unable to drive so my father took the role as driver.  Being required to identify my horses we were requested to accompany the SA Stock Theft Officials at the loading.  When we entered through Van Rooyens boarder post, both the videographer and I were only stamped on the South African side at departures, and not stamped at the Lesotho immigration office as entering.  We told the Stock Theft officer that we are required to stamp in to the country, to which he told us that as long as we are with him, we are safe.  We explained that it really is crucial for our passport stamp history to reflect accurate travel itinerary, but we were not stamped in to Lesotho which would lead to further complications later that same day.

When we arrived at Matelile police station where the horses were taken to the previous day, I saw both horses together. Tied up separately a few meters apart. They had no access to water or food. I whistled and both horses’ heads shot around and neighed. I was on crutches, so I first hopped over to Ginger. Anisa, being a feisty Arab is prone to being skittish so I didn’t want to scare her by approaching her first while on crutches. While I was standing at Ginger and putting his halter on, Anisa kept calling and giving little nickers. I then slowly hopped on over to her. Gave her a small bit of bread (their favourite treat) and let my father and an officer help with taking off the halter she had on and replacing it with her own. Being on crutches made it hard to handle the horses.

 The Loading.

Ginger was unsure of the horsebox, even though he has been in one a few times before in his life. The excited shouts and laughter from the local people about the events made him nervous and unsure. Being on crutches it was hard for me to led him in and reassure him as he kept resisting. Luckily, he is such a bombproof gentleman that with a bit of pushing and guidance from behind, he was in the box.

Anisa’s loading process was however tragic. I was not allowed to load her due to my own injuries, but my advice on how to load her and the methods that should be followed to calm her down, were all ignored. Arabian horses in general, although very attention friendly, are very hot and skittish in temperament. Sudden movements or sounds can spook them dramatically and I kept warning the officers and helpers about this. My worst loading fear came true when I saw her jump up in the air and straight in to the door latch. A deep cut ripped in to her chest and blood started flowing rapidly. I knew I had to stay calm but it was very hard and naturally I flipped after witnessing the very thing I kept warning against.  The SA Stock Theft Officers told me, with finger pointing in my face, that they will no longer “help” me to load the horses and that I should do it on my own.  This after I initially organized my own loading team and trailer with skilled horse owners and was told by officials that it will not be allowed.  I felt powerless to my bone from the frustration and anger that was building, since these very officials described their duty to do their jobs as “helping” me and doing me a “favour” after I was refused to bring in my own loading team and my advice on how to load my own horse was ignored which resulted in serious injury.

I left my crutches and took control of my horse. With my painful operated leg I led her away from the box to try and calm her down. I gave the lead rope to the videographer who came with us to capture the reunion and ran to my car where I had an ice-cold 5L bottle of water. I quickly rinsed the wound with the hopes that the cold water would slow down the bleeding.

The small miracle.

The whole day my phone wouldn’t connect to roaming services in Lesotho and I was previously unable to make any phone calls, whatsapp messages or connect to data, but when I tried again at that moment, it finally connected by itself which allowed me to make a phone call to our vet in a panic. She sadly informed me that she is not allowed to enter and work in Lesotho as a vet since it is another country. She was also not in the area that day.

I started panicking because the bleeding wouldn’t stop. The vet said she organized ACP calming syrup and a painkilling injection at Ladybrand Animal Clinic. Being the only other person with a passport and drivers licence, the videographer had to stop filming and jumped in to my car to make the long journey to Ladybrand, going via Maseru Boarder post which took hours.  The videographer struggled to get through the boarder post because he did not have a stamp entering in to Lesotho from that morning.  He got threatened to be arrested, have his video equipment confiscated and being fined for being in the country illegally. After much hassle, he finally managed to convince the officials at the boarder post that this was an emergency and they let him through.
The police officers decided to go on lunch for the entire time the videographer was away while we waited on the medical supplies.  This meant it was only my dad and I left with a dehydrated, old horse boxed since early morning and an agitated, injured hot blooded Arabian. We ourselves had no access to drinking water, food, lavatories or shade and my newly operated leg was starting to throb from having to manage an injured horse without my crutches. This was possibly the longest 4 and a half hours of my life, waiting for the medical supplies.

In that time I managed to calm Anisa down. I sat on the ramp of the box and just stayed there with her, talking to her. I moved in to the box gradually little by little every 10 – 15min. She followed me calmly in to the box several times, but as soon as her hind legs would step in, she would reverse out again. At one point I finally had her in, but there was nobody there to close the ramp behind her since all the officers were away and my dad could not possibly close the ramp quickly enough by himself. I felt defeated knowing she had to be evacuated immediately for medical care, but knowing we were stuck there with no help.

With my phone battery dying rapidly whenever connected to roaming, which also depleted my data bundle at a rapid pace, I connected to Facebook to update everyone waiting in anticipation.  I asked for help loading.  I made sure to mention the exact location, the situation and the nature of the injuries as well as the crucial fact that my battery is dying and that people should please only contact me if they can physically come and help.
With the great amount of people following the story, it created a bit of a dilemma.  I received 100’s of whatsapps (depleting my data and battery further) asking unnecessary questions like “Where are you”  or “You need to evacuate the horse.” or  “Apply honey to the wound”  The majority of the messages and calls received were completely unhelpful since I stated the exact location in the Facebook post already and being in the middle of nowhere in Lesotho I had no access to the miracle remedies people were so eager to give advice on.  I knew that these were all people just trying to help, but in the heat of the moment they caused so much damage since the people who were actually able to come and physically help us, were unable to get a hold of me since my phone died due to all the unnecessary calls and messages.

The videographer finally returned after 4.5 hours of driving as fast as he legally can. The officers only arrived back shortly before the videographer did, after I made a frantic phone call to the Provincial Head of Stock Theft in Bloemfontein. After we administered the emergency medication, Anisa climbed in to the box like an angel!

And finally… we were on our way back home!

The horses traveled over 200km on foot.

The stolen horses traveled over 200km on foot.

Back Home.

We arrived on the farm way after sunset at around 19:30. We unloaded the horses. The vet could not perform any surgery at that time of night due to limited light and the amount of stress already sustained by both horses. We were so grateful that it was a rather cold night with frost which helped to stop the bleeding.

The next morning before sunrise I went straight to their paddock and my heart just melted in to another puddle of tears when both horses greeted me with happy nickers and whinnies.

The vet arrived bright and early and got to work immediately. She first gave Ginger an overall check up, listening to his heart beat and intestinal sounds. He was severely dehydrated and malnourished and had a urinary tract infection, but the vet was not too worried about his condition and was confident that he would make a full recovery.

She then started to mend Anisa’s wound. Due to the wound already being more than 12 hours old, some of the skin already died. But she did her best to save as much of it and stitched the wound shut from deep inside to out.

We got a massive donation of 12 bales of lucern and 12 bales of teff from our neighbour and both horses were slowly put on a recovery diet. Anisa bounced back to her old condition in no time. Ginger’s condition started picking up as well, but at a much slower pace. After 10 days he was slowly introduced to concentrates again and his joint supplements were reintroduced to his diet after 2 weeks in order to not put too much stress on his kidneys in the beginning.

Both horses are now safe, microchipped and have made a tremendous recovery. They are under 24-hour surveillance while their stall door will be fitted with an alarm and camera to guard them at night.

At Ginger’s old age, it was decided that he will be happier to stay on the farm where he grew up, instead of being moved down to Cape Town where I live now. The move to a new climate and environment and smaller paddocks would be extremely stressful on his body and mind.  We therefore decided to increase the security on the farm rather than move him.

Anisa has gotten her African Horse Sickness Vaccinations and is ready to apply for a movement permit and travel passport, however we are not making any hasty decisions since we would hate to separate the two horses from each other.  We would therefore rather try to prevent the events from repeating themselves by putting other security measures in place instead of disrupting their lives with more traveling.

Perpetrators Unknown.

I have royally irritated the SA Stock Theft officers that were on the case, due to the fact that I have reported the initial way the case was handled, as well as the numerous errors that were unnecessarily made, to senior members of the force. As a result, they have refused to give me any information on exactly who has been arrested.  To this day I still do not know who stole my horses or how they knew about them.  I do not know how or exactly by whom they were found, although I do know that it was not by the SA Stock Theft unit or their informants, but rather the kind and helpful Lesotho Police Officer from the border post who promised me on that first day that he and his informants will do everything in their power to locate the horses.  Due to the fact that it is a cross border case and because SA Stock Theft is keeping their lips sealed on how my horses were stolen or found, the Lesotho officer has not been able to give me any information pertaining to the details of the recovery.
As a result, I have not been able to pay out the reward since I have not received this information and am not prepared to hand over the reward to SA Police officials.

I was informed on 07 October 2019 by SA Stock Theft that a trial will take place on 12 November 2019 in Wepener Magistrate’s Court.

I would like to thank every single person who followed their story and who prayed and wished for their safe return. I truly believe that the universe listened and brought them home after hearing a whole country’s prayers for their safe return.  Everyone who contributed to the search, rescue and recovery in any way – I know that somewhere in life, the favour would be returned to you.  May you all be blessed and your pets and animals live long happy lives.

Massive thanks to Carl Viloria from The Spiffy Chap, for helping to search from the air with his drone and documenting the entire rescue operation and compiling it in a very professional diplomatic manner.  Without you coming along that day, I’m not sure what we would have done without someone being able to drive all the way to the nearest vet for medical assistance. Thank you!

Daniel Polaki

The Private Detective from Lesotho was also one of the kindest most genuine people I got to meet during this entire situation.  Always being calm and rational.  Always thinking about new solutions.  I truly met a great friend.

 

Onwards and Upwards!

I’m looking forward to the day I’ll be back in the saddle again.  I have my whole career to be thankful for because of my old Ginger pony.  Read more about how my love for my equines pushed me in to a career as photographer by clicking here.

And lastly: Such a big thank you from the bottom of my heart to Jacki Bruniquel who came all the way out to the farm and spent 3 wonderful days documenting the bittersweet images a few weeks after the recovery.  Ginger is still struggling to gain weight again at his old age, but slowly and surely we’ll get there again.

Horse Portraits by Jacki Bruniquel

Photos by: Jacki Bruniquel

 

 

Northcliff Wedding – Sunell & DelaRey

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Northcliff Wedding.

This Northcliff Wedding was nothing short of a celebration of people, friends and family.  Sunell & DelaRey planned the whole weekend to the T.  Family and friends came from all over South Africa and gathered together for a hearty dinner on the Friday evening.
The next morning we all woke up bright and early to start the day.

 

 

Service Providers:

Photography: ORGANICTALES 
Assistant: Warren Melnick
Make-up: Karlé Potgieter Mud Studio
Venue: Aan-die-berg NG Kerk

zastron wedding

Zastron Wedding – Nelda & Riaan

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Zastron Wedding.

Many people are unaware of the beauty which lies within the Free State.  This small and intimate Zastron wedding, with only the closest family members, took place on a farm close to Lesotho border.  Read their story below.

How did you meet?

We met at crossfit. Being a guy, the first thing that attracted me to Nelda was how beautiful she is. My friend and I were sitting in the gym, my back was to the door, and he said I might like what just walked in. It then took me about three weeks to build up the courage to ask her on, what I thought was a first date. To Nelda it was merely: going to support our friends. As time passed, I became more attracted to her driven nature as well as the way that she could be very gentle and caring.

 

How did the proposal go down?

It was a complete failure. I had planned a weekend away to propose. Nelda, being Nelda, quickly figured out what the weekend was for. Then, the ring wasn’t completed in time and I had to manage expectations. The ring was ready the day after we got back. I told her I had to work late and went to pick up the ring. I got home with Nelda in her pajamas on the couch. After all, I am getting married to a human being with normal flaws, so why not propose to the REAL version of Nelda? The version that I love most.

Make-up and Hair by Lizel Voigt.

Lizel Voigt, my sister in law made sure I looked beautiful on our special day. She knows my style – I wanted to look like myself with just a touch of make-up and a plain, natural hairstyle. She did an amazing job!

A Joss Couture Dress.

Joss from Joss Couture made my sister in law’s dress which was beautiful and I decided to ask her to make mine as well. Joss Couture is absolutely amazing. She immediately understood the type of dress I wanted; plain but elegant. We made changes from the original design as the dress progressed. For example, initially I didn’t want long sleeves, but during one of the fittings we were playing around with some sleeve ideas and I loved how the lace looked on me. We changed the design to long sleeves – it was an autumn wedding after all…

 

Plain and Elegant Style.

For us it was meant to be as simple and elegant as possible. We wanted our closest family members and dearest friends to enjoy the day with us

Who were the caterers of the event?

Hanri Goosen from Onder die Akker’was in charge of the food. Hanri is famous in the area for her culinary skills. The highlight of the lunch was definitely the ice-cream with little surprises in it.

 

Any advice to other couples still in the planning process?

Let the experts do their thing. We have asked Claudia van Niekerk to help out with the flowers and decorations. I only gave her a vague description of what the tables should look like; minimalistic but classy. She then showed me a couple of options and I made a few basic decisions – the rest I left up to her. One of the memories I have is seeing the table for the first time and how impressed I was.

The Photography Experience.

To get all the photographs taken, Landi Groenewald had to travel between five farms:  one where the bride got dressed, one where the groom got dressed, one where the ceremony was held, one where the lunch took place and finally the farm where I grew up for the couple’s photos. Landi went the extra mile (literally) with a smile. We are so lucky that Landi was available that weekend and would recommend her professional services to anyone.

Describe your wedding day in ONE sentence.

Riaan – It was the most amazing, love lived day of my entire life.

Nelda – A beautiful autumn afternoon under the shades of a big oak tree in the company of loved ones

 

Service Providers:

Photographer: Organictales

Dress: Joss Couture

Venue:  Onder die Akker. – 079 515 7638

Flowers: Claudia van Niekerk – 082 378 4397

Make-up & Hair:  Lizel Voigt

 

Bo-Kaap Wedding

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Bo-Kaap Wedding.

George and Charlie had the most elegant, yet relaxed atmosphere at their wedding.  Opting to have their nuptials at their own residence in the famous Bo-Kaap of Cape Town.  All their closest friends and family spent the afternoon an evening with a glass of champagne, an oyster bath and casual pizza delivery style dinner.  Enjoy this unique and magnificent gallery.

Pepper Tree Wedding – Juandre & Riette

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Pepper Tree Wedding.

Juandré & Riette met each other while attending and completing a course offered by their church.  They became fast friends and although Riette initially asked Juandré to help her with some restoration  work at her house, the fella couldn’t help but fall for her irresistible smile and bubbly personality.

Light Up My Heart.  A Romantic Proposal.

Juandré really went out of his way to prove his romantic side when he lit hundreds of candles to form a pathway.  The candles started from the bedroom and led Riette to a big circle of candles outside in the garden.  In the middle of the circle of light, was Juandré.  After lots of happy tears, he got his answer!

Bridesmaids and Google.

When it came time for dress shopping, Riette pulled in the help of her wonderful bridesmaids and the internet!  With a few searches of photos and ideas they quickly knew what shape and style the dress should be.  A visit to Bridal Emporium and the magnificent dress was ticked off the list!

Juandré & Riette’s advice to other couples:

“Our advice to other couples is to take in as much on your wedding day, as you will not believe how quickly it goes by!”

 

 

Service Providers:

(please do not copy or screenshot images from the site.  A downloadable link will be provided on request)

Photography – Organictales – www.organictales.com

Flowers – Room of Bloom – www.roomofbloom.co.za

Dress – Bridal Emporium – https://www.bridalemporium.africa/
die woud wedding photographer

Die Woud Wedding – Leigh & Werner

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Die Woud – Caledon.

I met Leigh & Werner a little over a year ago.  I was delighted to find out that Leigh shares my passion for horses and riding and when the time came to do their engagement shoot, she naturally requested we add her horse, Peanut as the main feature.  Fiance Werner welcomed the idea of not having to feature too much himself.  Since meeting these two, I really feel honoured to have walked this journey with them.  Their wedding day was nothing short of spectacular.

Die Woud Venue.

We really wanted the wedding to not just be a singular day, but more of a weekend away for our guests, as we knew we would have a lot of guests from oversees and wanted to capitalize on time with them. So our venue search was focused on areas outside of Cape Town. Die Woud was an easy choice – the moment we went to see it we knew it was where we wanted to get married. The main attraction (besides the breathtaking venue!!) was that Die Woud offers pretty much everything in-house, so you don’t need to deal with a million other suppliers. Their food was incredible, their staff fantastic, and the venue coordinator, Leandre is just amazing and made the whole process so easy.

 

Cindy Bam Wedding Dress.

Cindy Bam actually made my matric dance dress for me 10 years ago! So I knew I wanted her to make my wedding dress. Cindy Bam is incredible, not only did she make me a dress beyond anything I could have wanted, but she is just such a warm, wonderful person, too.

Cape Town Wedding Photographer.

Photography for us, was very important, as that is the one thing you have left after the wedding has come and gone. Landi and her second shooter, Ronel were fantastic! They were so discrete and not imposing at all.  Most of the time we didn’t even know they were shooting -which, for awkward people like us is a big win!  Landi, also was an immense help in setting up a timeline (and sticking to it) for our day. We would also like to thank Taun Healy from Blue Owl Media for coming on board at the last minute to capture our day as well!

Shout Music Company.

We organised both our Jazz Trio for pre-drinks and our DJ through the Shout Music Co.  We cannot even begin to recommend them enough! DJ AJ was fantastic, to the point that he was borderline harassed by guests when he packed up after 1am.  Dan Shout who runs the company was also so helpful and easy to work with, and it felt no effort at all and suddenly we had the perfect set up!

The most memorable moment of the day.

Leigh – it might sound a little silly in comparison to the other “big” moments of the day, but for the last 2 songs of the night, Werner and I were all wrapped up in a blanket and we danced together and watched as our friends were having the biggest jol, with so many smiling faces around us. It was was one of the only “quieter” moments we had together on the night, and it just ended the whole celebration off perfectly for me.
Werner – To be honest, the day went by soooo quickly! There were many memorable moments, however if I had to pick a single one it would have to be looking onto Leigh walking down the aisle. That’s the exact moment I realised “This shit is real”.

Leigh & Werner’s advice to other couples.

Food. Booze. Music. If those 3 things are covered, really no one besides you are actually concerned with anything else. It’s silly to say “don’t stress” because there will be stress at some stage of the planning / setting-up process. But, if you have the right support crew in place, it makes it so much easier. My bridesmaids and family really made a massive difference! Also, an on the day coordinator should be a pre-requisite, you don’t want to be doing anything on the day besides enjoying every moment.
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Service Providers:

Please do not copy, lift or screenshot from this page.  A downloadable link to all photographs will be made available soon.  Thank you to all service providers who contributed to this beautiful day.
Venue: Die Woud
Photography:  ORGANICTALES WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER
Assistant: Ronel Strauss
Videography: Blue Owl Media
Dress: Cindy Bam
Hair accessories: Kathleen Barry
Bridesmaids Dresses: Hoiden
Jazz Trio and DJ: Shout Music Co.
On the Day Coordinator: Have and to Hold.
Lighting: Lekker Trou 
Flowers and Decor: Mom of the Bride
Photobooth: Booth Central

Die Woud Wedding – Chrisna & Phillip

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Die Woud.

~’n Afrikaanse Hoofstuk.

Die Ontmoeting:

Ek en Phillip het mekaar einde Februarie ontmoet, 6 April het hy my uitgevra en 27 Desember het hy my gevra om sy vrou te word. Hy en my ma het saam gekonkel terwyl ek niks vermoed het nie. Ons gesin het die dag besluit om almal wit aan te trek, n piekniekmandjie te pak en die sonsondergang oor die Vrystaatse vlaktes te geniet op my ouers se plaas. Min weet ek dat Phillip my om die hand gaan vra!  Hy en my Ma het alles haarfyn beplan.

Die geduldige man:

Ek was oorspronklik aangetrokke tot my man se vermoeë om my te laat skaterlag tot die trane loop.  Vandag waardeer ek sy sagtheid, deernis en geduld waarmee hy my hanteer.

Die spontane vrou:

My Chrisi-pop se onmenslike mooi aura wat sy uitstraal het my totaal en al tot haar aangetrek.  Dit is so heerlik om saam met haar te wees en sy is altyd so gelukkig en spontaan.

Die Rok:

My Ma het eendag vir my gesê, “Sussie, kom ons kyk trourokke as jy die vakansie Vrystaat toe kom.”  Ek het op ‘n bruidswinkel se webtuiste na rokke gaan kyk en dadelik verlief geraak op n rok. Ek het die rok gaan “stalk” op pinterest en daardie vakansie toe ek die rok gaan pas, toe pas hy perfek! Die rok word toe bestel en 5 maande later, toe die rok uiteindelik in Suid-Afrika arriveer, is die rok hopeloos te groot en heeltemal die verkeerde kleur! Dit was 2 weke voor die troue en almal het namens my gestress.  Ek was egter rustig! Hoe opwindend?! Shopping so kort voor jou troue! Ek het n paar afsprake gaan maak, en op die tweede dag van my soektoeg by Cindy Bam opgeëindig.  Daar hang my rok! Amper presies soos my oorspronklike rok, net nog mooier!  Die rok het my boonop soos ‘n handskoen gepas!

Haarstyl:

Sanmarie Botha se talent het my droom vir die perfekste haarstyl laat waar word.  Ek is versot op die haarstyle in die rolprent, “Gone with the Wind.” en wou graag my troue se styl daar by laat in val.  My hare het heel dag gehou en mooi gelyk en a.g.v Sanmarie se handewerk was ek glad nie bekommerd dat dit sal uitsak nie.

 

Formele Troudag:

Ons troue was formeel. Ons wou n regte ouwêreldse, spoggerige troue hê, waarop almal hul blinkste skoene kon afgestof. Ons wou gehad hê ons gaste moet mooi voel en die aand se mooi geniet.  Om vir ‘n dag in ‘n ander wêreld in te stap en jou mooiste uitrusting te kan aantrek. Baie troues is deesdae baie informeel en mense het nie so gereeld die geleentheid om spoggerig aan te trek nie en dus wou ons vir ons gaste die geleentheid gee daarvoor. Ons troue was kristal, Swart en Wit. Wat anders pas tog beter by n “black tie event” as swart en wit? Ek het my hele lewe gedroom om eendag onder bome te trou en laaaaang tafels te hê! Toe ek Die Woud sien, toe weet ek net; Dis waar ons gaan trou! Dit was die eerste en laaste venue wat ons gaan kyk het.

 

Spesiale oomblik:

Die oomblik wanneer jy mekaar vir die eerste keer sien is onbeskryflik mooi en intiem.  Om mekaar se hande te vat voor jou naaste vriende en familie wanneer die rustigheid oor jou neer daal en jy besef – die oomblik en person vir wie jy jou lewe lank gewag het, is hier.

Die Fotograaf:

Landi Groenewald van Organictales het so baie moeite ingesit.  Sy het ure se beplanning aan ons tydlyn verleen en ek kon altyd op haar knoppie druk as ek raad nodig gehad het.  Sy het soveel geduld gehad en ons op ons gemaak laat voel, wat vir ons baie belangrik was.

As ons iets kon verander:

Hou by jou program en vergeet van die gaste wat laat opdaag.  Dis jou dag en onnodig om vir hulle koms te wag.  Dit sit jou hele program agter en veroorsaak ‘n groot gejaag.  Doen jou ding en bogger die res!  Moenie dat iemand jou grootste en spesiaalste dag bederf nie, net jy kan dit toelaat.

Advies:

Geniet elke oomblik!  Mens beplan soveel maande aan die groot dag en in ‘n oogwink is dit alles verby!  Kry ‘n goeie fotograaf en videograaf – die visuele oomblikke is als wat jy oor hou van jou spesiale dag.  Belangrikste van als – hou by jou tydskedule!

Kalahari DJ:

Phillip is versot op musiek! Van toeka af vertel hy my van die Kalahari DJ wat die gehoor so goed kan lees.  Musiek maak of breek beslis jou troue!  Jy kan nie net ‘n playlist aanmekaar sit en laat waai nie. ‘n Goeie DJ het die talent en vermoeë om te sien hoe die gaste reageer en wat om te speel om almal op hul tone en op die dansvloer en gelukkig te hou.
Daleen word toe ingevoer al die pad van Upington af! En glo my, die partytjie was vuur en vlam tot op die laaste nippertjie!

Gedig:

Dit was begin Februarie toe my hart terug roep Wes-Kaap toe. 
Ek het al vergeet hoeveel beter wyn in die Boland proe.
Een somersaand bevind ek my op my vriendin se plaas, 
my hart was weer rustig en onstlae van die geraas. 
Die buurman nooi ons toe na ‘n plaasbraai by die dam. 
Die samesyn was sonskyn en ‘n vuurtjie vat toe vlam.
 
Aanvanklik het ek die vuur probeer vermy, 
want die seun van die plaas was nogal arrogant volgens my. 
Die seun van die plaas het ‘n boodskap op Facebook gestuur. 
Ek het steeds niks daarvan gemaak nie, 
maar die geselskap was ‘n plesier. 

Kort daarna was ek oppad na die Vrystaat. 
Twee vriende het getrou. 
Ek het gedink ek gaan saam met die man wat my hart vir jare vas kon hou.
Min wetend dat hy op die nippertjie sou laat weet hy kan dit nie maak. 
Die seun van die plaas, het my toe by die lughawe kom haal.
Nooit het ek geweet dat ek eendag sy vrou sou raak. 
Hy het my hart gevat en hom stywer vasgehou, 
en kort voor lank, op my ouers se plaas, het hy my gevra om met hom te trou.

~C. Mouton Burger

 

Diensverskaffers:

Liewe Diensverskaffers.  Vreeslik baie dankie vir julle elkeen se bydrae tot Phillip en Chrisna se huweliksbevestiging.  Sonder julle kennis en talent sou ek nie hierdie mooi foto’s kon vasvang nie.  Daar sal binnekort ‘n webskakel beskikbaar gestel word om foto’s af te laai vir gebruik.  Vir nou, deel asb hierdie blog skakel op sosiale media tot die aflaai skakel beskikbaar is.  Liefde, Landi.

Fotograaf: Organictales

Rok: Cindy Bam

Venue: Die Woud

Grimering: Mariette Conradie

Hare: Sanmarie Botha

Videograaf: Alleta Francina

Troukoek:  Birdcage

Skryfbehoeftes:  Rob Signs

Tafeldoek:  Bloomprints

Blomme: Marlize Mouton, Maria Delgardo en Chrisna Mouton Burger

Dekor: Chrisna Mouton Burger

Papier blomme tydens Seremonie: Moody Affair

Blomme van onthaal, handruikers en blommekranse: Maria Delgardo en Marlize Mouyon

Blommemeisies se rokke: Hezanne Viljoen

DJ: Daleen Burger

Spyseniers: Die Woud

Diamant Estate Wedding – Erik & Juliana

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Diamant Estate Wedding

~A Modern French Chapter.

A Modern French Wedding.

The style of our Diamant Estate Wedding was classical, soft and romantic with a Modern French touch. I guess the inspiration came from my love for the story behind vintage things and the classics of the 1920 era, Château’s in France, coupe champagne glasses and beautiful soft classical gowns.

 

Why did you choose your venue?

Other than the feeling of “this is the one” we both felt when Erik and I walked on to the cobbled stones at Diamant Estate, the venue had everything described in the style of the wedding. The ancient history dating back to 1692 with the vintage characteristics, but yet still modern in a way that gave me that modern French touch that I was looking for.

 

 

Service Providers:

(Please do not lift, download or copy images from this site. A downloadable link to the full gallery will be provided to you)

Venue: Diamant Estate.

Cape Town Wedding Photography:ORGANICTALES PHOTOGRAPHY

Dress: The Wedding Boutique

Earrings:  Trouver Jewelry and Watches

Bridesmaids dresses:  Lola Wild

Makeup: Mia’s Makeup

Hair: Devoted Hair Salon

Décor and flowers:  Iets Niets

Catering: Red Pepper Catering

DJ & Sound: John The Frank

Wedding Cake: The Birdcage

Diamant Estate Wedding – Sara & Morgan

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Diamant Estate Wedding.

~The Manor House Chapter

The Meeting.

Morgan:
Sara and I met on flight BD772 on Saturday the 17th October 2009. We were each returning to London from Cairo after separately travelling to Egypt with different friends.
My trip had been slightly traumatic and included being scammed into buying fake perfume in Cairo, unnecessarily riding camels (instead of taking a bus!) to the pyramids, being detained by the Egyptian army for several hours at a military base in Suez, getting lost and arriving at the Israeli border during the night and bursting an ear drum whilst diving in Dahab. Sara has been far wiser (as usual) and booked a guided holiday that went fantastically.
Sara found me speaking to a friend in the aisle and the three of us sparked up a conversation. She had only recently arrived in Europe and was eager to share her contiki adventures whilst we tried to impress her with our own recent  stories from Egypt. We chatted for the entire flight before sharing contact details when it was time to return to our seats for landing.
I was initially drawn to Sara since she was always up for an adventure. Over time I realised that she was an extremely kind and compassionate person which makes her a wonderful companion. It also doesn’t hurt that we have many similar tastes in terms of food, travel, music etc.
Sara:
Morgan’s story about how we met is 100% true! It was one of the most interesting flights ever. I remember thinking these guys were really funny, and their misadventures in Egypt sounded like something out of fiction, so very impressive! Morgan did well despite being barely able to hear me with his burst ear drum. When it was time to leave them, I remember watching them walk through the border together, and hoping that I would get the chance to see him again. He has said he was doing the same thing, and hearing him say that on our wedding night made me realise how lucky we are.
Over our years together I have been constantly drawn to Morgan, and as our time grew, he has pulled me closer. He is kind, loving, and respects me for who I am. He says I’m up for adventure and that’s true, but he has always been the one searching for our next little trip, and sometimes I can take some convincing to go along for the ride. It is because of him that have I learnt to ski, scuba dive, drive a car, climb a mountain, ride around Asia on a scooter, and perhaps most exotic of all, go to Cuba on whim without really knowing what to expect. I have him to thank for bringing out the best in me, and I love that we are going to have a whole lifetime together to keep adventuring. He is my best friend.

 

The Proposal.

Morgan:
The proposal went down terribly! I had known for several years that I wanted to propose to Sara and despite usually being impatient I planned it thoroughly. On a holiday home over Christmas I discussed my plans with my parents and my father very kindly gave me the stone from his mother’s engagement ring. I returned to London and found a jeweler to commission a bespoke ring in time for our summer holiday to Corfu. Unfortunately the ring wasn’t quite ready on time but it was our final trip for the summer and after consulting a few of my female friends I decided to proceed without the ring! After arriving in Corfu I planned to pop the question at a romantic little restaurant on a jetty over the ocean. On the afternoon that we were due to have dinner there we found ourselves sitting alone at a restaurant overlooking a beautiful beach called Agios Gordios. Sara commented on how perfect the setting was and I spontaneously decided to do it then and there! Unfortunately I didn’t drop a knee and had no ring so she initially thought that I was joking! It wasn’t exactly smooth sailing but she said yes and shortly after we had a celebratory drink with my brother and his fiance.

 

Sara:
The proposal was not a fairy tale! I had no idea Morgan was planning to propose. I had for years (despite not thinking it would happen) prepared what I would say if he ever proposed to me and I can say that I said none of that!

The beach was beautiful. Turquoise water, steep cliffs and it was virtually empty apart from us, perched on a sand dune watching the sun set. I can see why he threw caution to the wind! After I said yes and apologised for not taking him seriously, I thought about everything I wished I said, and later, I said it all. I think we both felt better after that. The next few days were surreal, and spending those times with Damian and Thomas made it even more special. When we got back to London, many of our friends also shared their own proposal stories… as it turns out, it NEVER goes to plan!

The Rings.

Morgan:
Sara’s engagement ring is a bespoke design that uses my grandmother’s diamond as it’s main feature. We decided to get matching wedding bands that were made from the same material as the engagement ring. We found a local jeweler in London to provide these but when we went to visit Sara thought that I looked stressed out about the process. When we left I admitted that I had had a terrible headache in the shop explained my facial expressions. Nevertheless the rings turned out perfectly!

Sara:
My engagement ring is important to me. Morgan’s family gave him the diamond from his grandmother’s ring, which is very sentimental. From that moment, I felt like I had been trusted with an important responsibility. On top of that, Morgan had designed the ring in secret, and I admire him for his resolve to do that. It ring is beautiful, I love it, and it’s an honour to wear a family heirloom. Our wedding bands are very simple, owing to Morgan having a very bad headache while we were in the shop, so designs were decided swiftly. Ultimately, the simplicity is exactly what we both wanted

Diamant Estate Wedding.

We fell in love with Diamant Estate on our first visit. The whole venue is fantastic but we were drawn to the Manor House and the lovely lawn overlooking Paarl. We couldn’t have been happier with our choice and it would seem that our guests agreed since many commented on the venue during the wedding day.

Peter Smallbones, a priest from the Claremont Baptist Church, officiated. Peter’s wife works with my mother who suggested that we consider him. We chose him because he was known to the family and also because of his very relaxed and friendly demeanor.

Mon Amour Events – Jessica Thiart.

Morgan:
We found Jessica Thiart of Mon Amour Events through our friends Mike and Antonia. They had a lovely wedding in Stellenbosch and couldn’t stop raving about Jessica so we asked for her details and met to discuss our plans a few days later. We really couldn’t rate this service highly enough! Jessica was instrumental in every aspect of the event and we never could have done it without her. It was especially useful since we are based overseas. We especially liked her consistently  calm demeanor which allowed us to enjoy the day to the fullest!

Sara:
We approached Jessica from Mon Amour Events for her business card at our friends, Mike and Antonia’s wedding. We loved the wedding in Stellenbosch, and after months of indecision on where we would be married, we finally knew it be possible in South Africa. From the very beginning Jessica was perfect for us. Extremely organised, and patient with us being far away, she did an amazing job of organising our wedding. People always say things go wrong on your wedding day…that is not an option if Jessica is on your team!

Cape  Town Wedding Photographer.

Morgan:
We found Landi and Organictales through a recommendation from my dad after he had seen some of her work online. We really liked her style and thought that it might be a small way that we could include my dad in our planning. We met Landi for a coffee and her service ever since has been absolutely phenomenal. She is incredibly professional, responsive, organised, relaxed and passionate. We knew that the photos would form an import part of our memories of the day and are so pleased with the beautiful pictures from Organictales!

Sara:
Morgan’s dad suggested Organictales after his love of horses led him to gorgeous shot of girl and horse which was taken by Landi. We had already been offered a list of photographers from our wedding planner, but we both liked the creativity of Landi’s photographs and also thought we could include Morgan’s dad in the planning by choosing his suggestion. It was the right decision. Landi is a professional. I loved her commitment to getting a shot right, and importantly as someone who is by default uncomfortable in front of a camera, she did her best to make me feel comfortable and beautiful. I’m sure our wedding photos will capture the happiness of the day

 

Service Providers:
(Please do not copy, lift or download images from this site. A Downloadable Link will be made available to service providers to download images soon)

Venue:  Diamant Estate

Photography: Organictales
Assistants:  Anje van Dalen  &  Graham Richardson

Coordination and Planning: Mon Amour Events

Catering: Red Pepper Catering

Lighting: Authentic Planning

Flowers: Bouwer Flowers

Live Entertainment: Angelo and Jane

DJ and Sound: Music 2 the Max

Diemersfontein Wedding – Quinton & Nicole

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Diemersfontein Wedding.

 

How did this story begin?

We met by a lagoon by the light of a bonfire. Quinton first heard my voice and I first saw him him dancing.
When Quinton decided to propose, he took me to the beach front where we had our first date. The first time we went out, Quinton didn’t realize it was a date. This time, it was me who was surprised!

 

Tell us about the style of your wedding, your dress and the story behind the rings.

Family was the most important element of our wedding at Diemersfontein Wedding Venue. The most important thing was that all our guests had fun – and the smiles all round by the end of the night were the best thing we could have hoped for!!
My mom made my dress with the most amount of love. She bought the lace for the bodice in Amsterdam! In regards to the rings, Quinton consulted with my best friend on the design of my engagement ring! It’s one of a kind!
Our wedding rings reflect our individual personalities – Quinton’s being charcoal Tungsten and mine matching my rose gold engagement ring.
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What was the most memorable moment of the day?

Giggling at the pulpit. We couldn’t help ourselves – it was the craziest, most unbelievable moment sitting there with each other.
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How did you experience your Photographer’s services?

When we finished our couple’s portraits with some time to spare,  Landi from Organictales said “Wait, before we go… Do you see that light there? You up for a last few extra photos on that hill?
Quinton said to me: “I absolutely love that she’s making so much effort!
We were in such good hands for the whole entire experience.
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Any advice to other couples still in the planning process? What was the most difficult and what really helped?

Make sure that you both have the most fun!
What really helped was our parents, specifically Nicole‘s mom, who made so much effort over the course of the year to make sure everything was perfect. We couldn’t have done any of this without them.
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Tell us about the Honeymoon!!

We opted for a mini-moon in Simonstown, as we both needed to be back at work the week after the wedding. It was spectacular – we saw some penguins, ate some amazing seafood and really just enjoyed each other’s company.

 

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Service Providers:

Please do not copy, download or screenshot images from this page.  A Downloadable link with the full album will be made available soon.

Venue:  Diemersfontein Wedding Venue

Photographer: Organictales

Dress: Bride’s Mother

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