When most people dream about tying the knot in the Western Cape, thoughts invariably drift to two things; nuptials in a quaint chapel among the vines on a wine farm, or perhaps more globally celebrated, saying “I do” on Robben Island on Valentine’s Day.

But does one really have to travel that far to have the perfect wedding day? And is it possible to do all the planning - including finding your dream dress AND the ideal romantic venue - within walking distance of your office in Cape Town’s CBD?

The answer is “yes”, according to Oh So Pretty Wedding Planning’s Linda Brown, who says she is increasingly tasked by brides with finding creative wedding locations that tick all the boxes as far as romance and magic are concerned, but that are easily accessible for local guests and close to hotels for those who are traveling.

“Cape Town’s CBD is filled with great modern wedding venues,” says Brown. “It’s incredibly safe, there are numerous modes of transport in and out of the city that don’t involve getting behind the wheel after the 10th toast at the reception, and you’re spoilt for choice as far as guest accommodation is concerned.

“That aside, you don’t have to ‘settle’ for a venue in the CBD. There are some truly spectacular spaces in which to both say your vows and have a fantastic celebration afterwards with your loved ones.”

Brown says a good place to start making your venue wish list is with the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID), which knows the CBD inside out and is able to offer advice on desirable venues, as well as “one stop” essential services leading up to the Big Day.

Venues

Among the CCID’s top venue tips for both the ceremony and the reception are:

  Castle of Good Hope: Cape Town’s iconic colonial fortress has 16 venues to choose from – from the small Pasque De Chavonne room to the very large rear courtyard. The front courtyard is available for welcome drinks. You also get to choose from an extensive food menu and entertainment options, including a full military orchestra. Photo op: the Castle of Good Hope has a fascinating history and its grounds will lend a unique old-time feel to a classic wedding.Corner of  Darling & Buitenkant streets | www.castleofgoodhope.co.za, 021 787 1260.

•  The Grand Daddy Hotel: A rooftop wedding at The Grand Daddy hotel gives you exclusive access to the Sky Bar and the opportunity to spend the first night of your honeymoon in the Airstream Trailer Park. Photo op: stay on the rooftop and take your pictures with the Central City skyline as your backdrop, or go down to cosmopolitan Long Street with its Victorian townhouses. 38 Long St | www.granddaddy.co.za, 021 424 7247.

•  Taj Cape Town: Five-star luxury is what you get at Taj Cape Town. Banqueting rooms on the first floor can accommodate anywhere from eight to 80 guests. The Reserve, adjacent to the hotel, is a grand venue for up to 400, while The Vault below it is more suitable for intimate weddings of up to 40 guests. Photo op: the magnificent St George’s Cathedral is across the road, as is The Company’s Garden, which is home to numerous iconic landmarks, including the beautiful rose garden. Wale St | www.tajcapetown.co.za, 021 819 2000.

•  Cape Town International Convention Centre: The flexibility of its building and numerous venue options allow the Cape Town International Convention Centre to accommodate a diverse range of functions. It offers two wedding packages, which include decor items. Photo op: take your photos amid the financial district’s contrasting buildings. Imagine North Wharf square, with its water feature, and you as the centrepiece. Convention Square, 1 Lower Long St | www.cticc.co.za, 021 410 5000.

Scouting out the band

But finding the perfect wedding location is just the first step.

According to the CCID, if you want to book a DJ or band it’s always best to listen live first. Café Mojito, at 265 Long St, and The Waiting Room (up the road at 273 Long St) are intimate places to chillax and soak up some sounds – and they regularly feature both well-known and lesser-known (ie potentially more affordable) artists

Finding the perfect dress

Perhaps most important, though, is THE DRESS. Choices are buying prêt-à-porter or having one designed especially for the day, and both options are available in Cape Town’s Central City, says the CCID. Among the best places to shop are:

• Lace Bridalwear: This boutique has a variety of lovingly selected original and runway-inspired dresses, and hands-on style consultants are there to help you chose the one that will make you look and feel fantastic on your big day. Cartwrights Corner, 17 Adderley St | www.lacebridalwear.co.za, 021 461 4216.

• Hendrik Vermeulen Couture: Hendrik Vermeulen opened his flagship store in the Cape Town CBD in 2012. He produces custom-designed wedding gowns, which have appeared in the likes of Fair Lady Bridal Magazine. 79 Hout Lane, www.hendrikvermeulen.com, 021 424 1686.

• KLûK CGDT: KLûK CGDT has a selection of ready-to-wear wedding gowns or, if you prefer something that will definitely stand out from the crowd, they can create a couture outfit just for you. 43-45 Bree St | www.klukcgdt.com, 083 377 7780.

• Kobus Dippenaar Atelier: Dippenaar launched his Anna Georgina wedding gown range in 2012 as a tribute to his mother. His aim is to make haute couture available to every woman – especially on the one day every woman wants to look her best. 60 Loop St | www.kobusdippenaar.com, 021 423 7810.

Don't forget the groom

One can’t forget the groom and his entourage, though. There are great off-the-rack options in Markham, where you’ll find full kit including stylish pocket squares and tie bars at 60 Adderley St, or Romens where the groom is guaranteed to find everything he needs here for the big day – from the suit to underwear and shoes – with a range of brands to choose from including Pierre Cardin, Carducci and Carlo G.

Cape Town’s CBD also boasts several top-class tailors for making up wedding outfits or tailoring them to fit beautifully. Among the CBD’s tailors are Mr S Price Tailor: 201 Long St, Tailors Alterations: Strand Tower, 66 Strand St, District Six Tailors: 8 Canterbury St and Mohammed’s Taylor Alterations: 93 Loop St.

Have a signature cocktail

A top tip from the CCID if you’re keen to take tailoring to the nth degree, splash out and have your very own unique cocktail designed for the wedding reception. The mixologists at the Shaker Bar School can whip up a virgin or alcoholic cocktail that will match your theme and colour scheme, and keep your guests talking for months afterwards. Find them at 235 Bree St, 021 422 1574.

Getting the right ring

The months before the Big Day that are crucial, according to Brown, who says there is nothing more important than having a properly scheduled planning calendar.

“More often than one would imagine in the million details that are involved in planning a wedding, some of the most important things are forgotten until the last minute, like buying the rings. You need to factor choosing the right rings into your wedding plan around four to five months ahead of the date, to ensure they’re made up or altered in time. There can be no greater disaster than a wedding in which the rings aren’t there, and getting married with substitute, temporary rings will definitely put a damper on the day.”

Depending on what you’re looking for, there are several places to search for the perfect rings in the Central City, according to the CCID. Among them are:

• Prins & Prins, which will make a ring to your exact specifications. Huguenot House, cnr 66 Loop & Hout sts | www.prinsandprins.com, 021 422 0148.

• Coeval, that combines modern style with classic elegance. 5 Protea Assurance Building, 96a St George’s Mall | www.coeval.co.za, 021 424 1183.

• Olive Green Cat if you’re looking for something that is slightly more outrageous. 76 Church St | www.olivegreencat.com, 021 424 1101.

Setting up a wedding planning calendar when you start preparing for your big day isn’t difficult, but it’s essential to keep track of everything like when to book the venue or order rings, says Brown.

“You can always enlist the help of a wedding planner who’ll manage the process for you, but if you’re keen to try it yourself, there are numerous resources and guides to help get you started.”

Brown suggests reading the CCID’s latest City Views newspaper for tips on setting up a planning calendar that will leave bridal couples able to enjoy every second of their wedding day, instead of sweating last-minute details. City Views is available online.

For more information on Oh So Pretty Wedding Planning visit their site

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