Oh la la, I have something really special to share with you today. I love everything about Marina and Milan’s opulent Centre for the Book wedding in South Africa.
The couple chose to hold their wedding reception at the Cape Town venue due to their love of literature. This incredible Edwardian library building provided an amazing backdrop for their fabulous wedding, and the gorgeous domed atrium of the central reading room created the perfect setting.
The venue lent itself perfectly to their styling, with long banqueting tables covered with beautiful burgundy crushed velvet tablecloths adorned with candelabras, glassware and pretty flowers. I love that Marina and Milan gave each guest an old book, tied with a velvet ribbon; perfect for their concept.
The couple’s style influenced everything about this wedding. Marina wore beautiful embroidered floral shoes, which looked amazing with her stunning white column dress with plunging back detail from Carina Le Roux. She completed her bridal look with a marvellous over-sized bridal bouquet of burgundy blooms and loose foliage.
It’s not often you see bridesmaids in black (although I love this look) or wearing shirts, but this is exactly what Marina’s bridesmaids wore and it looks fabulous.
Our thanks go to Michelle Du Toit Photography for sharing these amazing pictures from Marina and Milan’s fabulous Centre for the Book wedding. Enjoy!
I Realised I Was In Trouble
“I had an eye on her when we acted together in our third year, but she made it clear that she wasn’t interested. The next year we were in a small class for our honours in acting. I was the only guy in the group so could pick who I wanted to act with. She was the best actress and I wanted an excuse to get her alone, so I chose her to act with.
“The play we were in had a few kissing scenes which I would usually act in just a little longer than necessary. After a lot of coffees and running lines together, she always made sure there was another person present for some irritating reason. I realised I was in trouble. I was really in love.
It Would Never Work
“One day she was coming to rehearsal in the pouring rain. I still remember she on a green jersey on with a long white dress underneath her costume. She looked up with her huge blue eyes and greeted me with a smile. I kind of cracked and told a friend who said he wouldn’t tell a soul – he told her in a matter of two days. Nothing is confidential in the Drama Department.
“A few days after she told me we had to talk. She said she knew I had feelings for her, our friend had told her, but it would never work and we had to finish the play professionally. She got a lot of attention when we went out dancing, so I knew my only ‘play’ with her would be to act as if I’m okay. I got up as if to walk away and said as nonchalantly as I could ‘I understand. Oh well, it was fun feeling this way’, even though my heart was breaking. I started walking away and I heard her say ‘Milan, wait!’ Then I knew, I had her.” – Milan
A Joining of Two Communities
“I’m really not into minimalism; my aesthetic motto is ‘more is more’. When I pictured our wedding I was hoping for something opulent where our guests would feel really special. We both come from families who serve the Lord and who God has been faithful to, so we wanted to celebrate that. I was very mindful of the fact that it wasn’t just us getting married – it was also a joining of two communities.
“We married at the NG Kerk Tafelberg. It’s such a beautiful building with the most amazing organ. Neither of us are members of the NG Church but they graciously allowed us to get married there. It was really special getting married in a church with such a rich history. They were very accommodating and lovely to work with.”
Truth Steampunk Cafe
“We decided to have our pre drinks at Truth Steampunk cafe across from the church as Truth, for us, is synonymous with modern Cape Town. They were fantastic and the guests loved the informal experience of grabbing a coffee and snacks before the really formal reception.
“We adore Cape Town and wanted to get married in the heart of the city. We regularly roam the city streets and wanted our guests to experience something of our love affair with the city by going on a mini adventure to the different venues.”
Centre for the Book Wedding Venue
“We chose the amazing venue Centre for the Book wedding venue for our reception. I’m a playwright and big reader, and Milan is also into comics, so the ‘centre for the book’ was a natural choice for us. The building is amazingly intimate yet still has the grandeur suited to a banquet. I wanted a medieval-esque banquet, and even chose the food to hint at this – lamb shanks etc. I would’ve liked a pig with an apple in its mouth but apparently they don’t do those any more – anyway, that’s the vibe we were going for.
“We served our guests gluhwhein as they entered as it was (supposed to be) the coldest day of the year. Even though I’m teetotal, gluhwhein is special to me as my family always has this when visiting the Grahamstown Arts Festival. My mom always jokingly says this was where I gave my first kick as a baby in her womb, and this was also one of the first places Milan and I went on a trip together with friends. He had a lot of gluhwhein, I had a lot of coffee. It was magic.
“We asked Sylvia Mdunyelva, our favourite jazz singer, to provide live music for us at the reception. She is a legend and it was an honour having her play at our wedding. The atmosphere with her playing was electric. We entered the reception to her rendition of ‘Pata Pata’.”
Antique Crockery and Meaningful Books
“My amazing mom sourced our crockery. I showed her a picture of what I wanted and she ran with it. A lot of it was pieces my gran collected; she adores antiques, as do I. When I was a little girl she always took me to antique shops and taught me about the cups, what made them valuable, and checking the rims to see if the edges still have all their gold on them. She couldn’t make it to the wedding, she has Dementia, but I know she would’ve loved all the colourful plates and cups.
“We wanted our guests to feel welcome and special, so we tried to choose a book which had some significant meaning to them as a gift. My mom and I roamed many second hand book stores to find one for each of the guests. We wrote their name cards on old library tags from inside books which I bought on eBay from England, and we wrote each guest a note on them.
“We chose minimal stationery as it was more cost-effective and greener. It was basically just one booklet which was handed out in church with all the info guests needed. The seating chart, menu, hymns, program, map, parking info etc was all in one place.”
“When I had 15 minutes alone with Marina in the Company Gardens. We watched the sun set behind Table Mountain on a park bench just after the photos were taken and before we entered the reception. A homeless man volunteered to be our guard (I don’t know what he was protecting us from). I loved being alone with her.” – Milan
“We had a black tie wedding. Even though a lot of guests complained, grovelled or threw tantrums, some of my favourite moments were when some of the guests would come and tell me about their special dress or suit. They had stories to tell about their outfits like ‘this was my gran’s’, and ‘my father wore this blazer on his first date with my mother’. Some even said ‘Look I wore velvet for you, Marina’. I love velvet. I felt so touched that everyone had worn their best to celebrate our wedding.
“Also, the moment at the very end was very special. Milan took my hand and said we had to go – there was an Uber waiting outside the venue – a real city wedding moment. It was incredible knowing I’m going home with him and I never have to say goodbye again. I still have to pinch myself sometimes.” – Marina
It’s Not Just About the Bride
“I’m religious so I’d say pray a lot as this helps you focus on what’s important. Also remember that it’s not true that it’s just about the bride – it’s about a lot of people coming together. If you expect it to be about a community you roll with it if there’s criticism, and you protect and value your relationships which have to last long after the day is done.
“That said, be nice, nod and say thank you, and then do exactly what you want. I ignored a lot of well meant advice about tablecloths, bridesmaid dresses and make-up, and I’m so glad I did. Some of my favourite elements in the wedding were things not everyone agreed on or where I was told ‘that’s not done on a wedding’. Use tradition if it has meaning, but if it doesn’t make sense to you then leave it! I didn’t throw my bouquet or garter, and we didn’t cut a cake. No one missed it. Those things didn’t make sense to me so I left them out.
“Speeches are my favourite part of a wedding. A lot of people tried to shorten the amount of speeches or said the bride shouldn’t speak. I ignored this and I’m so glad I did. I got to honour my parents and grandparents, and I got to make a mini love declaration to my husband. Why can’t girls do that? Basically, do what you want but in a nice way.”
The Best of Both Worlds
“We had a coordinator on the day who took over the week before. We didn’t want a full on planner as I was fine with organising everything beforehand and wanted to make sure we got the right look. I highly recommend this as it’s affordable and the best of both worlds. A venue like ours has a lot of logistics as everything needs to be outsourced, and a coordinator does all of the deliveries etc so you can relax before the big day.
“Finally, don’t choose vendors because they’re famous or cheap, but because they can execute the look you want. Take the trouble to talk to past clients and get advice from newlyweds. This helped us a lot. Also, if you want something specific, don’t be afraid to ask. Milan and his groomsmen’s outfits were very specific and we asked for exactly what we wanted. However, flowers are very important to me and I see florists as artists who shouldn’t be inhibited. Give vendors a good creative brief – I used a lot of paintings instead of flower pins – and don’t be too prescriptive. I think the same goes for your photographer. If they have to focus on getting a list of shots on your Pinterest board they may miss the moments Michelle captured so beautifully.”
Photography: Michelle Du Toit Photography
Ceremony Venue: NG Kerk Tafelberg, Cape Town, South Africa
Pre-Drinks Venue: Truth Coffee
Reception Venue: Centre for the Book, Cape Town, South Africa
Coordination: Nu Experiences
Wedding Dress: Carina Le Roux
Groom and Groomsmen Suits: Moi Styling
Groom’s Bowtie: My Bro Tie
Make-Up: Ryan Neves Make-Up Artistry
Bar: Urban Tonic
Band: Sylvia Mdunyelva
Rings: Freerange Jewels
Tablecloth: Table Cloth Hiring Company
Catering: Malita Joubert Catering
DJ: That DJ Guy