Back in Easter 2016, I had the honour and privilege of photographing Graham and Louise’s Wedding in Karen. It was a sunny spring day as the couple’s family and friends descended on the bride’s family home in the rolling hills of Nairobi.
One of my favourite moments was at the end of the ceremony after the speeches had completed when the couple sang a traditional Scottish song while walking out in the cool mountains air. Guests began to congratulate couple as they came down the stairs with Graham holding Louise’s hand and everyone exploded into joy. It was so fabulous!!
To get the inside story of the wedding, I asked the bride a few questions about their special day.
How did you first meet?
We reconnected in Nairobi after being schoolmates years ago. Graham was visiting from his new home in Australia and in Nairobi for a friend’s wedding. It was instantaneous.
How and where did he propose?
In January 2016 in Uganda whilst with a big family of gorillas, Graham got down on one knee in the spur of the moment and asked me to marry him. After I said “yes”, he made me a ring out of jungle grass as we walked home.
What was the vision for your wedding?
As casual and simple as possible. Our bridesmaids were the colourful part of the wedding and everything else was chosen to enhance their beauty!
How many guests?
We had 180 in the end
Why did you choose your wedding venue?
An easy choice – it was in my childhood home where my Dad still lives. Every important event in my family has happened here.
Can you describe the ceremony and say what made it unique?
My brother built our ceremony stage himself and six layers of netting was removed from my wedding dress and used to adorn the pillars – yes there was a LOT!
The steps and bridesmaid’s seats were made from a tree that fell down in our garden and the bamboo posts holding up the canopy were also from our garden.
My Mother’s memorial in 1995 as well as my aunt and uncle’s wedding in 1992 were held in this same spot. Our friend is a priest and so was the ideal person to marry us.
Describe the reception, what made it unique/special:
Our reception was on my Dad’s front lawn where we spent our childhood playing badminton and croquet. The central tree still has a massive burn from one of my parents’ BBQs back in the day and we ate at tables outside my childhood bedroom. We even had our first dance on our family verandah.
It was a tight squeeze but this helped make the atmosphere incredible. We had an open bar, which had been made by my brother out of old shipping pallets, and our food was in stations; Sausage Station, Potato station, Salad station, Tapas station and Dessert station. I loved the casual approach which allowed our guests to eat as they wanted. The popcorn station was especially popular with the kids!
Can you describe the flowers used for your floral arrangements?
Our friend Stella makes dried bouganvillea confetti which we used for the aisle and then we just kept it simple with calla lillies in recycled blue wine bottles.
Our table cloths were crazy Kitenge colours, so there was no need of any other decor or fancy flower arrangements. The grounds of our home in the forest were just bursting with greenery and life, so provided the perfect backdrop.
What was the inspiration for your wedding cake?
The lady who looks after our beloved dog designed, baked and decorated our cake. It totally reflected her style and we loved it. Another friend, Pink Impala, custom-made our acrylic cake topper of a bride, groom in kilt and St Bernard dog.
Can you describe the favors for guests?
We made Limoncello for everyone from the lemons off our lemon tree (first time it’s ever fruited) in memory of my Grandfather who died 2 years ago. He bought my Mother our home in the 80’s and during the last 5 years of his life he loved a glass of my homemade limoncello after dinner.
We used this for our toasts and encouraged everyone to take a bottle home after.
Please list the designer of your wedding dress, and where your shoes and jewellery came from:
My dress was a Justin Alexander that Mitumba Art (Sonja Parkinson from Nanyuki) had customised with hand-painted guinea fowl feathers for someone else – I think it was 3rd hand for me!
The shoes were cowboy boots my cousin wore on her wedding day, and my jewellery was a pearl necklace and bracelet from Oceano (Harriet Patrizi).
The designer for the bridesmaids dresses was Annabelle Thom.
Who was the designer of the groom’s?
He wore his traditional Scottish Kilt which his father bought him for his 18th birthday.
What did you love most about your wedding?
That everyone enjoyed it as much as we did. It was overwhelming seeing so many happy, smiling faces of the people we hold most dear from all over the world and from such different aspects of our lives.
From your experience, what advice or tips would you share with other couples?
Enjoy your day and take time to experience it. You have worked on this for months, it’ll be great, don’t sweat the small stuff – it’s fine!
Focus on your budget early on and decide what you REALLY want to splurge on. For us it was the photographer and making sure we had nice wine and cold beers. Then try and stick to your budget, but don’t cut corners on important things like food in favour of silly things like matching ribbons and guest favours!
Do a welcome dinner/drinks with family, close friends and those that have travelled half the world for you. Give them the time they deserve as you probably won’t have much time for them on the actual day.
Definitely do a first look with the groom and with the father of the bride!
What do you think couples will get out of their experience with Maiafreia Photography?
Lola’s endless enthusiasm and energy and her absolute complete and utter dedication to getting every single photo just perfect. Everything looked unbelievably stunning due to her talent. You’ll have the most insane amount of amazing photos to remember the day for years to come – nothing can beat that.
What is your favorite love or inspirational quote?
Marry the one that gives you the same feeling you get when you see your food coming at a restaurant
Maiafreia are a Boutique Luxury Fine Art Photography studio based in Nyali, Mombasa. Our images have been described as chic style, romantic & elegant and owner Lola Kolyada has been ranked among the Top 8 Female Photographers in Kenya.