PHOTOS Jac De Villiers & Joe / Dan Photography VIDEO Vision On Fire WORDS Jan Hendrik Van Der Westhuizen
Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen, chef and proprietor of Michelin-star restaurant JAN in Nice, recently tied the knot with his beau Grant Bacon on home soil. Their Babylonstoren wedding was a magical event.
From the window of the beautifully appointed Cape Dutch Manor House where we’re staying I look over Grant’s shoulder to where they are setting up the banquet table in the middle of the gravel driveway leading to the house. Glass chandeliers produce a tinkly musical accompaniment when a light south easter announces its presence, and I can picture the people who are close to us arriving all dressed up in their smart tuxedos and little black dresses.
As we were organising the wedding and had to decide what would get the yeah or nay, it was important for us to stay true to ourselves. Would arriving with 40 ducks be too much? You just trust your gut. And it doesn’t matter if you don’t tick all the “wedding” boxes; what matters is that you don’t afterwards regret not doing something you wanted to do. After a hearty breakfast – we have a long day ahead of us before the first canapés are served – we go for a leisurely walk through the beautiful gardens of Babylonstoren.
Watching our close friend Alwijn Burger working on the flower installations in the ceremony area, we are excited to see how months of planning are coming together. A few friends arrive to keep us company while we’re getting ready. Hanging behind the door are a Dior and a Valentino tuxedo, dark blue with soft satin collars, and a midnight-black bow tie for Grant and a white one for me. On a recent trip to Paris we decided to buy something for our wedding that would be a lifetime investment. Bottles of Champagne do the rounds and the chatter and excitement pick up. We join our guests for pre-drinks and we don’t have to take our leave, since we had our wedding portraits taken yesterday. There are copious amounts of bubbly, ciders, buchu beers and organic wines from the Swartland.
The canapés include pampoen koekies with cinnamon sugar, Serrano ham rolls filled with hang op cheese and fresh vegetables from the garden, aubergine caviar with Huguenot cheese and roasted macadamia nuts, smoked Franschhoek trout with salmon caviar on a squid ink crisp… We wanted to show off our heritage, and have things we love as well as things that made us who we are.
Dinner is served family style to encourage guests to stay seated and enjoy the company at the table until the first dance. For starters there is freshly baked farm bread, crisp salads, and smoked hot and cold oysters – hot with a white chocolate and Champagne sauce and cold with sour fig sorbet and fennel pollen. The main dishes include grilled line fish with preserved Eureka lemon dressing, leg of lamb slow-roasted with kapokbos and served with whole grain mustard and caper sauce, a whole suckling pig roasted on the fire with star anise and sage, and a savoury caramelised apple tarte tatin with sesame and black salt brittle.
The first dance is a surprise: a flash mob inside a flash mob. Our dance lessons have been a good investment too. We move the flower installations from the ceremony area to the late-night piano bar – what would have gone wasted the rest of the day is given a second purpose. Here, guests linger until the early hours. The celebration continues at breakfast. It is an opportunity for every one to reflect on the wedding stories, dance moves and precious memories that have been made and that Grant and I will cherish for the rest of our lives.
A LITTLE BLACK BOOK FOR AN EXTRA-SPECIAL WEDDING
- Food: Maranda Engelbrecht of Babylonstoren
- Coordination: [kraak] wedding and event coordination
- Technical design and lighting: Something Different
- Ceremony flower installations: Alwijn Burger, aka BLOMBOY
- Wedding photography: JOE | DAN Photography
- Videography: Vision on Fire
- Personal styling: Your Style by Jessica, Dawid Kriel of Institute Aesthetic and Wim van Zyl of WIM Coiffeur 021 439 6131
- Music: Jack Parow, Karen Zoid, Sound Image Band, André & the Swingers and Dorette Roos
- Dance choreography: Devon Marshbank 082 413 0205
- Beverages: Moët & Chandon Champagne, Graham Beck wines, Fleur du Cap wines, De Wetshof Estate wines, Org de Rac wines, Loxton Lager, Sxollie ciders and Rémy Martin Cognac