Jess & Lara – An Intimate Wedding at Robberg Nature Reserve

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Jess and Lara finally met each other on 25 May 2018. The word “finally” is appropriate because a mutual friend suggested that the two would make a good match more than a year prior. The word “finally” is appropriate because, by the time Lara walked into a bar on 25 May 2018, Jess had canceled six dates with Lara. This is a fact that Lara is quick to mention when anyone asks how they met and a fact Jess is quick to counter by explaining all the reasons she had to postpone.

The word “finally” is also appropriate because both felt it took them a long courageous journey to arrive at that bar. Or, rather, at that place, at the right time to allow them to meet the right person. From the moment they caught each other’s eyes, a familiarity and a knowing traveled between them. That sense of belonging only grew and that bar which happened to be called Sorrows introduced the opposite into both their lives: Unbridled joy.

Though it took them a while to meet, it was all very simple – and oh so wonderful – once they had. On 25 May 2019, Lara proposed to her favorite person in her favorite place. Robberg Nature Reserve in Plettenberg Bay. On the famous Garden Route in South Africa’s Western Cape. As if to celebrate their engagement, a pod of dolphins appeared in the bay beneath them and then. Remarkably, an otter walked out of the sea onto the deserted beach. For both Lara and Jess, it was the first otter they’d ever seen. And so, with champagne in their hands, the two ran down the walkway to get a closer look. That effort cost them some champagne, but it earned them a precious few seconds on the beach with the otter. Jess shouted, “I can’t believe we’ve just seen an otter.” And Lara responded: “We’ve also just got engaged.”

The next day, they had an engagement shoot with the extremely talented Sharyn Hodges Photography. Though they wanted to soak in their engagement and the special time in their lives, the urge to start planning was fast-tracked because they knew Sharyn’s diary books up quickly. They got to chatting and promptly settled on a wedding date: 2 May 2020.

As for so many couples, 2020 had other ideas for them. Jess and Lara were forced to postpone the wedding and decided to push their celebration out to February 2021. But they also agreed that they didn’t want to wait until 2021 to get married. As soon as everything lined up – family, lockdowns, travel restrictions – they started planning a smaller celebration for 2020: An elopement.

When Lara was a young girl, she wasn’t like others who had quite clear ideas of what they wanted for their future wedding. But Lara did have a clear idea about one detail: She wanted to get married on Robberg Nature Reserve. On hearing this, her mom questioned how everyone would get there (it being a peninsular involving a thirty-minute hike to a remote beach). Lara didn’t have an answer to this conundrum.

Then 2020 stepped in and said, “hold my bouquet.” It turned out, Jess and Lara didn’t have to worry about getting “everyone” there. They just had to worry about getting twenty-four of their closest people there.

Their florist, marriage officer and makeup artist, went to extraordinary effort to make Jess and Lara’s vision come true. Of course, so did Sharyn, but Robberg is her second home, and so for her, the walk was just like any other week. Jess and Lara were also grateful to have Carmen, the videographer, there to capture their celebration.

The couple used “The Fountain Shack” as their base to get ready. It’s a simple overnight hut in an incredible setting that hikers book to stay the night on the exquisite reserve. Their intimate and personal ceremony took place on the beach some distance from the hut, and they continued the festivities with dinner at Lara’s family home.

Sharyn’s photographs speak to the love, joy, intimacy and remarkable setting of their ceremony. They had so much fun shooting with Sharyn that Jess and Lara got back in their dresses the next day for a newly-wed shoot at another stunning venue: Emily Moon.


Photography by Sharyn Hodges

Catering Dee’s Catering
Dresses Sadie Bosworth Atelier
Florist Eco Zest
Jeweler Anna Rosholt, Pitchulik
Make-up Wilna Allpass
Marriage Officer Wim Vermeulen
Planner Elope Cape Town

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Dancing With Her acknowledges the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of this nation. We acknowledge the Dja Dja Wurrung people whose Land on which our company is located and where we primarily conduct our business. We pay our respects to Ancestors and Elders, past, present and emerging. Dancing With Her is committed to honoring Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples unique cultural and spiritual relationships to the land, waters and seas and their rich contribution to society.

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