This California Couple Threw a Garden-Inspired Wedding in South Africa

Real Weddings

When Fran Le Chat first met Maytal Sharifi at a charity event in 2011, she knew she wanted to set her up with her son, Brannon Phillips. "She asked me to show Brannon around Los Angeles when he was in town for a visit," remembers Maytal. One visit turned into many and after a year of long distance dating, Brannon surprised Maytal with a proposal — in her sleep. "He managed to slip the ring on my finger without me knowing," she says. "As you can imagine, I woke up in complete shock!"

For their December 21, 2014 destination wedding, Brannon and Maytal invited 155 people to Cavalli Wine Estate and Stud Farm in Cape Town, South Africa for an outdoor ceremony and reception with plenty of local-inspired details. "Choosing Cape Town was the easiest part of the planning process," says the bride. "We love the landscape there and even rented cheetahs to take pictures with us. The proceeds went to help the endangered species in the area." Read on to see all of Nikolai Polzenhagen's incredible photos of their celebration.

Inspired by the ever-chic Grace Kelly, Maytal tried on hundreds of dresses before she settle on her dream gown, a strapless Monique Lhuillier with a statement back. "It blew me away," she says.

She accessorized the classic sheath dress with an embellished headband, a simple veil from David's Bridal, and Betsey Johnson heels.

Maytal let her bridesmaids pick a pale pink dress in any style they liked. They each carried a small bouquet of ivory and blush roses mixed with fynbos, a South African wildflower.

After a ballerina danced down the aisle, Maytal walked aisle arm-in-arm with her parents to meet Brannon at the altar, where they exchanged vows in a traditional Jewish ceremony overlooking the African grasslands. "We absolutely love the outdoors and wanted to have our wedding under the African skies," says the bride.

After the ceremony al fresco, the party moved inside the modern space for a three-course meal of salmon, lamb, and coconut panna cotta.

Long farm tables were decorated with garlands of roses, orchids, tulips, daffodils, and peonies.

The couple couldn't decide on one cake design, so they cut into two different red-velvet confections.

For their first dance to "At Last" by Etta James, the newlyweds enlisted the help of pro choreographer Adele Blank, a judge on South Africa's "So You Think You Can Dance." "She is an absolute genius and we enjoyed every minute of our lessons," says the bride.

After a night of hard-core dancing, Maytal and Brannon set off for their honeymoon at Anantara Medjumbe Island Resort & Spa, just off the coast of Mozambique. As for planning advice, Maytal says this: "Stay true to what you envision for your wedding!"

Venue & Catering: Cavalli Estate || Wedding Planner: Celebrity Services Africa Events || Officiant: Rabbi Greg Alexander || Bride's Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier || Veil: David's Bridal || Shoes: Betsey Johnson || Hair: Kavanagh Hair Design || Groom's Attire: Hugo Boss || Flowers: Flowers & More || Invitations: The Letterpress Company || Music: Rus Nerwich || Wedding Cakes: Lindt, Myatt Cafe & Chocolatier || Rentals: Visual Creations, StreetWires || Cheetahs: Cheetah Outreach || Photographer: Nikolai Polzenhagen

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Want more destination wedding inspiration? Then check out another couple's South African I do's in the video below.

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