Dreaming of a destination wedding? Here’s a South African wedding in Mauritius unlike any other!
When Jessica and Francois decided on Mauritius for their destination wedding, they wanted to make sure it wasn’t just another tropical beach wedding. So instead of starfish and seashells, Jessica designed a vintage beach wedding with lots of meaningful DIY details… including her gorgeous flower crown. This is a tropical island destination wedding unlike any other!
How We Met
Francois and I met at University of Johannesburg Law Clinic in Alexandra while studying Law. We were partnered up to assist under-privileged clients who came to the Law Clinic for advice. Francois said he could not believe he was partnered up with a pretty girl for a change!
After completing our studies and our clerkship to be admitted as attorneys, we travelled Europe for three months and moved in together when we came back to South Africa.
After seven years together Francois surprised me with the most romantic proposal ever! After dinner and a whole bottle of wine, he proposed to me in the rain on a bridge over a canal in Venice, Italy! I was so surprised and from then our amazing wedding planning began.
Why We Decided on a Destination Wedding
We decided on a destination wedding because we wanted something small and intimate with our closest family and friends. After a holiday in Mauritius last year, we chose Mauritius as our destination.
We arranged an affordable all-inclusive package for six nights for the guests with our travel agent and sent the invites out. We were blessed to have 47 guests at our wedding, some even coming all the way from Los Angeles, the Netherlands, France, Poland and Germany!
The Wedding Theme, Décor & DIY
I knew from seeing other weddings in Mauritius that I did not want the typical ‘cheesy’ beach wedding when everyone wears turquoise and you decorate your tables with starfish and seashells. I loved all the vintage weddings on the wedding blogs and decided on a vintage beach wedding.
For the invitations, our amazingly creative friend, Huibri from Sew Long, designed our girl and boy Dodo bird logo (dodos were indigenous to Mauritius before going extinct) which we had printed onto seed cloth tote bags that Francois and my Mom sewed for us. We also used the dodo logo on our menus, thank you notes and cake toppers. We bought white parasols and sunglasses from China Town in Johannesburg.
For name places, we went with enamel mugs with name tag stickers and mini blackboards with neon chalk for table numbers. My Mom sewed grey-blue striped runners for the tables and I bought Consol recycled glass jars which I filled with beach sand and fairy lights for table decoration.
The highlight of my wedding planning, apart from finding the most perfect San Patrick beach wedding dress from De La Vida Bridal Couture, was designing and making my flower crown. I enjoyed every minute of it and spent hours at the flowers shops selecting the false flowers and pinning every flower crown I saw on the blogs onto Pinterest. Yes false flowers! The reason I decided on false flowers was because the hotel confirmed that Mauritius did not have the vintage style flowers I liked. So I decided to make my own flower crown and bouquets in South Africa beforehand.
For gifts for the guests, Francois, Tina (my bridesmaid and best friend from Germany) and I hit the local market in Grand Baie, Mauritius to buy bottles of Green Island Rum for the guys and frangipani hair clips and colourful straw baskets for the ladies. These gifts were delivered to each of the guests’ hotel rooms the night before the wedding with their umbrellas and sunglasses while we were all at the rehearsal dinner. The guests loved their surprises!
The Memorable Moments
Our wedding had a personal feel to it – our guests came a long way to share our special day and we tried to treat them in as many ways as possible. Spending so much time with your guests beforehand makes your friends feel like extended family. Mauritius became our home for our extended family for that time and this made our wedding an intimate and personal celebration!
I’m sure all brides say this but our wedding day was really the most perfect and wonderful day! I would not have changed a thing!
When the guitarist started playing as my Dad and I walked along the beachfront towards the ceremony, I could not help the tears rolling down my face. As we walked down the aisle, I made a point of looking at everyone’s faces and taking everything in. I even paused during the ceremony to admire the turquoise sea behind us and the beautiful flower arch we were standing under.
I’ll never forget Francois smile when he laid eyes on me. He still tells me he could not believe how beautiful I looked : )
The setting was beautiful, the ceremony was on top of the boathouse overlooking the blue Mauritian sea, the cake cutting was on the terrace under the palm trees with a panoramic view of the sea, the reception was a beach BBQ right on the beach with delicious food and local musicians! And dancing at one of the hotel’s restaurants. We and our guests had the best time! And we sneakily planned a flash mob which we did on the dance floor just before Francois and I did our dance to The Killers “Sam’s Town” which was very special :)
A day after the wedding we all went on a catamaran trip, jumped off the boat and went snorkelling, anchored in a quiet turquoise water bay and had a BBQ on board. The next day most of our guests left to go home and Francois and I transferred to another hotel in Mauritius for a few nights for our honeymoon.
It was such a special time and I highly recommend spending time with and involving your friends and family a few days before the wedding and relaxing with them after the big day.
Advice for Destination Brides-To-Be
There are the advantages of a destination wedding. It felt like our wedding was spread out over a week and we got to share those precious moments with our closest and dearest people. Of course everyone one had to come down off the high of Mauritius when we got home but it was worth it!
The most important thing, besides your hair, dress and make-up, is your photographer. We had the most fantastic photographer, Chris Barry from Backlight Photography. I researched photographers in Mauritius and found Chris online. I liked his work and I went mad on Pinterest and pinned every shot I really wanted to have taken. I showed these to Chris before the day so we were on the same page.
Another tip is to have a videographer – this way you can relive your day over and over.
Lastly, the best advice is to take the time to take it all in. I did that and I can cherish my memories rather than feeling we need to do it all over again so I experience it one more time – not that I would mind!
If you are going to plan a destination wedding you’ll soon realise that there will be even less things that you can control on your wedding day! Our marriage officer was Mauritian and had such a heavy accent that when it came to saying the marriage vows, we could not understand what he was saying for us to repeat him! As Francois struggled along trying to decipher what he was asking him to say, I started to get the giggles and by the time it came to my turn, I was doubled over with laughter! After a few moments I managed to pull myself together and suddenly the tears started again! By that stage there was not a try eye in the house. There are some beautiful pictures of Francois gently brushing the tears off my cheeks.
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