Showcasing beautiful weddings has to be one of the best aspects of our job (it’s a great privilege too, having couples entrust their most special moment to you!). This recent celebration is definitely one of our favourites. Vanessa and Gerhard Henning tied the knot in stunning (and meticulously planned) style at Shepstone Gardens just a few months ago. Everything, from their adventure-themed stationery and bright floral decor to the bride’s silk and Chantilly lace Renata Kuzak dress (don’t you just love the back detail?) is worthy of attention. But don’t just take our word for it. Scroll through Laura Jansen’s beautiful pics below and read Vanessa’s recollections – then get inspired for your own big day!

How did your groom propose?

We had booked a night away at the Riviera on Vaal and that evening at dinner, I was floored to see that a section of the restaurant extended to an outside atrium area. I love glasshouses and told Gerhard I thought it would be the perfect venue. Later – after hearing what I thought would be a perfect wedding song – we decided to explore the water’s edge. Gerhard insisted we sit on an embankment behind a boathouse, but it was so dark and isolated (with a ghostly mist rising above the water) that I started to feel anxious and imagined the worst dangers! Then Gerhard began reminiscing about our past year together, affirming our sentiment that we must be with each other forever – and suddenly he was on one knee with a box in hand, asking “Sal jy met my trou?” (“Will you marry me?”). After a jumble of “huh’s?” and “what’s?” I mustered an “Are you serious?” I had, after all, been mentally preparing for my impending doom! Once back in reality, however, my answer was a resounding “Ja!” (“Yes!”).

Tell us about the theme of your wedding.

When we discovered we couldn’t marry at the glasshouse atrium on the Vaal, Gerhard suggested Shepstone Gardens – his first choice from browsing the web. We found a room called “the glasshouse”, which is used for photos; a chapel with the most astounding glass dome and stained glass windows; and a soon-to-be-built glass greenhouse! Add gardens like Eden, decorative masonry, fairy lights and vintage-adorned rooms and it was clear we’d found our venue! Our “adventure of a lifetime” theme was inspired by a passport-style invitation that Gerhard spotted at The Wedding Expo (and the fact that we both love travelling). We incorporated elements of vintage travel into our decor (our confetti cones were antique maps printed to tracing paper, our table names were destinations we want to visit and the table seating plan was a scratch map with flags pinned to each of these destinations). We chose navy, hot pink, turquoise and gold as our colours, which worked well in our awe-inspiring floral arrangements (I had never seen hot pink pincushions before!). If it were not for the loving dedication of our parents, many of the day’s distinct features would not have adorned the venue. They made everything from the runners, serviettes, tablecloths and photo booth backdrop to the wooden easels and table name holders and even the guest fingerprint book and stationery box. We also organised games for our guests to play while the bridal party had their photos taken.

And the menu?

In keeping with our theme our caterers, Miya’s Catering, prepared a cosmopolitan menu that included a myriad of “east meets west” styles and tastes. Welcome canapés featured Camembert and fig wontons, brioche with cranberry-glazed duck and sliced kiwi, Moroccan-style lamb koftas with tzatziki and Thai-style butternut served with black sesame biscotti. The starter was halloumi and corn fritters on a bed of ratatouille. The main course offered a choice of beef fillet with brandy and mushroom sauce, thyme-roasted baby potatoes and mixed roasted vegetables; or rolled Parmesan-crumbed chicken filled with crème fraîche and spinach, served with baby potatoes and green beans. For dessert, guests enjoyed petite pavlovas served with fresh honey cream and seasonal fresh fruit; or dark chocolate pudding with a Lindt ball centre, drizzled with fresh cream and served with vanilla-macerated strawberries. Our wedding cake was a three-layer sponge of cherry, orange and lemon flavours, covered in white fondant with Carl and Ellie chair cake toppers (from the movie Up!). We also created a sweets station for guests offering macaroons, petits fours, wafer straws, love candy and Turkish delight.

What was the highlight of the day?

Our vows! At that moment we could feel our souls become one, our promises engraved on each other’s hearts, sealed with the bands of our endless attachment and the kiss of our everlasting affections.

Any special advice for brides-to-be?

Don’t sweat the small stuff! Plan your hearts out, but never lose sight of what the day is all about – your holy unification. If you feel overwhelmed and undecided, acknowledge it and deal with it swiftly, finding solutions together.

Little black book

Bridesmaids’ dresses: Ahmed Dajee of Atelier Dajee 083 781 3919; email (no longer involved in dressmaking)
Cake: Made by family
Coordinator/wedding planner: Naomi Lewis of From This Moment (Shepstone Gardens coordinator) 074 961 9861; email
Decor and flowers: Cecile Smith and Jolien Smit of Dearlove Weddings and Events 082 600 7952. Balloons from Heather Lock of Heather’s Jumping Castles 083 265 3372
Dress: Renata Kuzak ofRenata Kuzak Couture 082 600 1933
Entertainment: Andrew Nightingale of AJNtertainment 071 784 7206; email
Food: Chef Katsuhiko Miyamoto and Terry Miyamoto of Miya’s Catering 083 459 4818
Groom’s outfit: Khalique’s 011 783 2468 (Sandton), Stuttafords 011 879 1000 (head office) and Polo 011 883 6126 (Sandton)
Groomsmen’s outfits: As above
Hair: Candice Wyatt of Wyatt Hair 011 482 6111
Make-up: Done by myself with help from a family member
Marriage Officer: Pastor Trevor Hudson of Northfield Methodist Church 010 140 0210
Photographer: Laura Jansen of Laura Jansen Photography 082 881 0470
Stationery: Nadia Roodt of Creative Heroes 079 492 2532
Venue: Shepstone Gardens 011 615 4623/011 728 6738









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