SUNDAY TIMES - The Moment: Vanessa and Ryan's country-chic celebrity wedding
Sunday Times Weddings By Thembalethu Zulu, 2014-11-21 18:09:24.0

The Moment: Vanessa and Ryan's country-chic celebrity wedding

These two are in it for the long haul: she's an endurance athlete & he likes to jog 250km across deserts.

'A Mutual friend introduced us at the Knysna Oyster Festival. We haven't spent much time apart ever since," says Vanessa Haywood, model, actress - think District 9 - and endurance athlete.

Three years on from the day they met, Vanessa and renowned trail-runner Ryan Sandes were engaged.

Ryan was the first athlete to win all four races in the 4 Deserts Series staged in Antarctica and the Atacama, Gobi and Sahara deserts - each one a six- to seven-day ordeal spanning about 250km.

The couple were married on October 25 in a country-chic themed wedding inspired by Vanessa's farm-girl origins in Ohrigstad, Mpumalanga.

Sandes grew up in Hout Bay, the son of Frankie and Chris Sandes. His father owns a construction and joinery company.

"Vanessa is one of the most caring and supportive people I've ever met. She has a great sense of humour and always makes me laugh," Ryan says.


As the bride arrived at Durbanville's Nitida Wine farm with her bridesmaids, the ceremony arch blew over and broke into pieces. Some cable ties, a hammer and a few nails later, the arch was like new again.

The unflappable wedding planner, Victoria Jackson, made sure the bride was blissfully unaware of the hitch, telling her they were "just sorting something out".

"I was involved with the whole process," says Vanessa. "I had a lot of things handmade, and painted and sewed many of the goodies myself. A few of my amazing girlfriends also helped out, making heart-shaped confetti, ribbon serviette rings et cetera."

Guests included the bride's sister, 5FM newsreader Kim Schulze, and Absa Cape Epic founder Kevin Vermaak. Another guest, Samantha Gash, had on the same day just finished a 2000km run from Pietermaritzburg to Stellenbosch when she joined in the festivities.

After the ceremony, while the newlyweds were busy with their photo shoot, lawn games such as Giant Jenga, croquet and corn-in-the- hole kept the guests entertained.

There was also a "harvest table" with snacks and pre-drinks chilled in a bathtub. At the reception, guests had fun hitting and breaking open a heart-shaped piñata (below) filled with glow sticks, candy and confetti.

"We were the last to leave our wedding - we had the most amazing time with our friends," says Vanessa.


The wedding by numbers:

175: Number of guests

16472km: How far a pair of Vanessa's wedding shoes (flats) flew from San Francisco to Cape Town

60: Number of bottles of MCC and wine consumed

479: Days from "Yes!" to "I do!"

2:30am: Time of departure of last guest


Who did what:

Photography: Anja Aucamp Photography

Bridal gown: Hendrik Vermeulen Couture (

Groom's suit: Ruald Rheeder (

Wedding bands: Ansia Jonck (

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