Wedding Day Prep: Behind the Scenes


Over the last few weeks, with the experience of my own wedding still fresh in my mind, I figured I'd put together some thoughts I've had around the flow of the day that could potentially help you while you plan your wedding. This is from the perspective of the wedding couple with some insights as a photographer. If you've just found this article, you can link back to the previous ones, here: 1. Wedding Planning – Imagine the Day

2. The flow of the day – The Wedding Timeline

3. Traditions - Something old, something new

In the first post about the Wedding Day, I mentioned that it was June when we decided that we'd be getting married in Cape Town, in December - That meant we had 6 months to decide on, well everything. We'd done nothing.

Ashton told me that she wanted the wedding colours to be Teal and Gold - So perhaps, I'd done nothing and she'd been planning quietly. Hmm. I was sold on the idea and within a few days we had been in touch with Susan Brand to get a customised Save The Date designed - We had to let international guests know that if they wanted to spend Christmas in Cape Town, we'd be having a wedding too.

So we expected house guests for December and considering I'm a wedding photographer, I had weddings to photograph in November and December & Ashton had wedding cakes to bake..... There was no ways we could be messing about with our wedding arrangements at the same time. Suddenly, our 6 month window to get everything done, had been shortened and we had a new goal. The Bester Wedding needed to be organised and shelved by the end of October.

Our venue offered the services of an independent co-ordinator, San-Marie and she was an amazing help through the process. She helped us finalise the menu, arranged a tasting and offered advise on what they were able to source for us to turn the venue into exactly what we wanted it to look like. Attica were sourced for outdoor furniture to create a festive atmosphere for guests while we were having our photographs - The same furniture was moved into the courtyard around the dance floor later in the evening to carry through the homely feel. It worked a charm.

The main logistics were in place and Ashton began working on the decor.

As luck would have it, Ashton's ring tone at the time was Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zero's, "Home is wherever I'm with you". Her phone rang one evening and we kind of just went, let's make that the theme of the wedding? So that's what we did. We took various lyrics of the song and used them in our Save the Date and Invitations, as well as with many decor items used throughout the day.

Of course, since Ashton creates beautiful wedding cakes - She wanted to create one for our wedding. The cake was amazing and deserved a little platform to be displayed on, so we contacted JS Promotions to put together a balloon wall as the backdrop to the sweet table Ashton had dreamed up and designed. Those images were beautifully captured by Claire Harries on the wedding day.

Everything else was crafted from start to finish long before December. In fact, from June to October, our dining room and study become a little factory production line - Things to be spray painted, cut, glued, dried, sorted and when it was done it was stored. This is an extract from my speech on the day.

"We're here... It's our wedding day.

The planning and preparation has been interesting - Since we knew December was going to be very busy for both of us... We agreed to get things done in advance. That was a great game plan, and for the most part ran really smoothly.

As with any plan, there were of course a few obstacles along the way. The occassional tantrum. Huffing. Puffing. Rolling of the eyes, outright kicking an screaming. Tears. So many tears. But as always, you were eventually able to calm me down and assure me that everything would be OK. We did what we needed to and got on with it.

I want to publicly state that every single bit of decor you'll see today, every piece of paper, wood or fabric that was spray painted, dipped, glued and pinned was done so by the beautiful Ashton Bester.

Our dining room has been a chop shop for what seems the longest time. Jacks Hardware in Edgemead has had a bumper year - Their spraypaint sales have gone through the roof and I think it's been worth it. My love, thank you for your hard work. Your hours of dedication. The venue - It looks amazing."

This is a glimpse of things behind the scenes: Darren Bester Photography - Behind The Scenes_0001.jpg Darren Bester Photography - Behind The Scenes_0002.jpg Darren Bester Photography - Behind The Scenes_0003.jpg Darren Bester Photography - Behind The Scenes_0004.jpg Darren Bester Photography - Behind The Scenes_0005.jpg Darren Bester Photography - Behind The Scenes_0006.jpg Darren Bester Photography - Behind The Scenes_0007.jpg

The Study - Once things were finished, they were packed here. Darren Bester Photography - Behind The Scenes_0008.jpg Darren Bester Photography - Behind The Scenes_0024.jpg Darren Bester Photography - Behind The Scenes_0023.jpg Darren Bester Photography - Behind The Scenes_0010.jpg Darren Bester Photography - Behind The Scenes_0022.jpg Darren Bester Photography - Behind The Scenes_0009.jpg Darren Bester Photography - Behind The Scenes_0011.jpg Darren Bester Photography - Behind The Scenes_0017.jpg Darren Bester Photography - Behind The Scenes_0014.jpg Darren Bester Photography - Behind The Scenes_0012.jpg Darren Bester Photography - Behind The Scenes_0013.jpg

About ten couples stayed in the same guest house as us (the day of the wedding) so we put together a little care pack for them: Darren Bester Photography - Behind The Scenes_0015.jpg Darren Bester Photography - Behind The Scenes_0016.jpg

The Friday before the wedding, our families and Ashton's best friend Rachel and her fiancé Staff joined us at the venue to set everything up: Darren Bester Photography - Behind The Scenes_0018.jpg Darren Bester Photography - Behind The Scenes_0019.jpg Darren Bester Photography - Behind The Scenes_0020.jpg Darren Bester Photography - Behind The Scenes_0021.jpg

  Red Dot Media captured the day in film for us. Click play below if you'd like to give it a watch:  

Our photographer, Claire Harries of Claire Harries Photography, and her 2nd shooter Nicole Krummacher did a stellar job on the day and the memories we'll frame and forever treasure can be found on Claire's Website. Hop on over and take a look at the day as it unfolded.   I hope these blog posts shed some light on the thought process I'd recommend when planning your wedding and I hope you are able to take a few useful tips from them.

The very best advise I can give you though, is to just enjoy the day. Focus on the moments - They really do go by so quickly. No matter what's happening, have a positive outlook. Laugh. Smile. Say Thank You. It's an amazing experience if you open yourself up to it. Of course it can feel like work at times. Things need to be done, you need to hustle, you need to get through the formalities, the family pics, the bridal party pics, the couple pics, the first dance, the speeches, all the traditions (or at least the ones you choose), and then you get to spend time with your guests. Soak it all in.   When the final song plays and the lights are switched off, you'll leave with your new spouse. On your new adventure. So, while planning a wedding is fun, it's more important to plan for a marriage :)   I wish you the best of luck with the remainder of your plans and would love to hear from you if you found this useful or have any questions. Drop me a line at or feel free to leave a comment below.