If an intimate boho wedding in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands is your cup of tea, then settle in for the Real Wedding blog that tells the story of Matt and Juls’ perfect day…

Marriage Meander: Please tell our readers who you are and how your love story began?

We are Mathew and Julia Ballantyne. Matt is a commercial diver, he travels around the world with his career and I am a teacher at a local school.

I first caught sight of my hot ‘jock’ in High School, back in 2008. With his blonde wavy hair and blue eyes, I thought he was absolutely gorgeous! Throughout High School we were in completely different friendship circles and didn’t really get to know each other well. To be honest, I was petrified of talking to him and he thought I was stuck up and snobby.

When Matt and I were finally in the same place at the same time again, he picked me up and took me on a breakfast date to Piggly Wigglys, naturally I was already impressed because going out for breakfast is my absolute favorite.

Fast forward 4 years, add some long distance phone calls between Costa Rica and SA, and here we are today: husband and wife!

Marriage Meander: How did Matt pop the question?

(Julia) Matt planned a special weekend away for us at Tugela River Lodge in the central Drakensberg. When we arrived, he was so eager to go for a hike that we had hardly put our bags down and off we went trekking up a mountain with our fur baby, Marley.

We had almost got to the top when Matt said he was going to get Marley some water. I was grateful because by this stage it honestly felt like we had run up that mountain. I had a suspicion he was up to something because of the way he was acting but tried to stay oblivious to it all.

When I looked again, Matt was on one knee, ring box in hand and speech on the go. It was all so overwhelming and exciting at the same time. After the smooching and cuddles we looked around us and noticed that we were surrounded by a herd of giraffe. It was such a special moment. One I’m sure we will both never forget.

Marriage Meander: Your wedding incorporated some very special and sentimental details. Please tell us more about those.

Historically the Ballantyne surname originated from Scotland.  Mathew’s father who has passed on unfortunately, made a request in Mathew’s younger years that he have bagpipes played at his wedding.  So that was my little surprise for Matt and our guests on the day.

The sound of the bag pipes surely did make all our guests tear – including Matt. The song of choice was the Highland Cathedral.

Marriage Meander: You chose The Barn Owl in Curry’s Post, KwaZulu-Natal Midland as your venue. Tell us more about the venue and how it suited your theme.

Put simply, “The Barn Owl is so us” and will forever have a place in our hearts.  Our theme with no restrictions was BOHO and we chose a natural and earthy colour palette of beige , cream , sage green and pastel peach, which perfectly matched the ‘Boho’ theme we went for.

Our wedding day started off chilly and overcast, keeping our guests huddled together in groups. The Barn Owl had arranged for wood fires to be scattered around the venue but we didn’t mind the nip in the air because we didn’t want to be hot and sweaty in our outfits!

The weather started to clear up during the day which made the warm colours in our décor really pop! What an amazing change of lighting when the clouds moved off and the afternoon sky turned blue, blessing us with the most incredible sunset.

Marriage Meander: I love the story behind your wedding decor. Tell our readers how your decor details came together.

So Matt and I spent 7 months prior to the wedding accumulating Pampas grass from all over the Underberg area.  In fact, one day, Matt spotted some growing wildly along the highway in Kloof under a bridge and he set out to harvest it.  By the time he got back to the car he had cut his leg, slipped and rolled down the embankment and got himself full of mud, all beside the open freeway. Let’s just say that our floral arch and aisle grasses were well worked for. But then, who wants to buy decorations when you can create memories whilst gathering them yourself! 😉

Marriage Meander: Tell us about your outfits

(Julia) Part of my dress was made from my mother’s wedding dress and the lace on the veil also came from her wedding dress. Shona & Belle made my gown and veil and incorporated  these sweet and sentimental details into the design. My grandmother made the garter and it was a light blue. My bridesmaids wore pretty sage green dresses by Lulus.

Matt and the groomsmen wore sage green bow ties and light brown Sebago Dockside shoes. Their suits and smart shirts were from Zara for Man & Gant.

Marriage Meander: Tell us about some of the ‘biggies’ (your non-negotiables) and most special moments on your wedding day?

(Julia) Something that was very memorable for me was Matt’s speech & our beautiful sunset photo shoot with Laura Jean photography.

Other key things included Matt’s brother, Lucan, officiating the wedding as he is part of the Leadership team at Rivers church in Durban North; Live Music by Lance Goldman, Matt’s stepfather. And of course , having Bagpipes played whilst leading the walk down the aisle.

Marriage Meander: Were there any family traditions involved in your wedding day?

We observed a moment of silence & lit a candle in memory of Matt’s father, Pierre, his uncle, Barry Wentzel, grandmother, Cora Wentzel, and my grandmother Jean Cornelius.  These were very important family members in our lives and they will forever be greatly missed.

Marriage Meander: What is the best advice you can offer to other couples starting out on their wedding planning journey?

Don’t drop a fortune on a day that lasts only 9 hours.  Pick your own flowers and make memories with your husband whilst doing so. Spend time designing and recycling things like brown bottles for table décor etc. We did this and saved so much money. We have watched friends and family spend unnecessary money on items you can create at home, or doing things like picking bunny tails on a walking path near a river. Yes, your wedding day is important and you want it to be perfect. But don’t buy your wedding, make it!! You will thank me later.  Of course, some things (like lawn games etc.) may need to be bought or hired.

And remember to eat! Matt and I barely ate that day and when we got to our cottage after our wedding, we ate 2 big burgers and chips.

Marriage Meander: Would you do anything differently?

We would not change a thing. Our day was perfect and just how we planned it.

Matt and Juls, we loved this little insight into your ‘perfectly you’ intimate boho wedding celebration! Thank you for sharing your insights and experiences with Marriage Meander.  We wish you (and sweet Marley) many happy newly wed adventures.

Vendors List

Ceremony and reception venue: The Barn Owl
Photographer: Laura Jean Photography
Videographer: Momentohmori
Décor: Function Flare
Bouquets (if different from above): Flourish at Spence & Mae (Shongweni)
Wedding Day Coordinator: Family
Caterer: The Barn Owl
Cake: 3 Tier Carrot Cake by The Barn Owl
Live Musician: Lance Goldman
Wedding dress supplier: Shona & Belle
Shoes: Sweet peas
Hair and make-up: Brenna Paige
Stationery: Self Made
Marriage officer: River’s church DBN North
Bridesmaids’ outfits: LuLu’s (USA)
Suits & Smart Shirt: ZARA for Man & GANT
Bridesmaids’ accommodation: 360 @ Mission House
Groomsmen’s accommodation: Mulberry Hill
Honeymoon accommodation: Honeymoon suite at Cranford Lodge