The South African bush has become the ultimate destination for romantics. There is a special magic to a bush wedding, with spectacular sunsets, unspoilt wilderness, abundant wildlife, and top facilities and service.
Wedding venues in the bush are plentiful and diverse, with options in almost every province each offering their own unique take on wedding offerings that make your special day just that much more magical. There is nothing more enchanting than being serenaded by the sounds of the bushveld as you say your vows under an African sky, with the ambiance of wilderness all around you.
In South Africa, bush weddings are popular with nature lovers and those with a sense of adventure – and the ‘want’ for bush weddings have become increasingly more in-demand as gatherings and weddings have been limited to smaller numbers of late. Intimate wedding gatherings, with a small select group of people have become the select choice of celebration as opposed to that of the modern day big, over the top, 150+ people gatherings in the heart of the winelands or city centre.
There is a wide choice of bush wedding venues in South Africa that cater for small- to medium-sized groups. These include five-star hotels and lodges, intimate farm settings and outdoor venues where nature provides all the décor you need.
We caught up with Gerhild Cuje-Jakoby, Manager of White Lion Lodge in the Klein Karoo, who dishes on details on why bush weddings are a must.
Why in your opinion are bush weddings so popular?
Personally, I think it is the most romantic and natural way to get married. The bush offers a unique ambiance, an outdoor setting and a look and feel that you don’t get at a normal venue.
What makes the White Lion Lodge a unique wedding destination?
For small weddings it is the perfect place to be, right in he heart of nature. We try and make the couple’s day as special as possible. As the lodge only caters to 8 people, the entire experience becomes very personal, and attention is paid to every detail.
What elements do you offer that makes their wedding day special?
We offer a very personalised service with personalised decor, a wedding ceremony that will take place somewhere special in the actual nature reserve, as well as a wedding lunch served in the reserve or a dinner under the Karoo sky. The Lodge is booked only for the wedding group and they have exclusive use of the facility.
Are the rates the same for weddings or do you charge a special wedding package?
We do not have a special wedding package, which is what makes us unique, we simply charge our unusual rates for booking out the entire lodge. We are in close contact with the “wedding” planner to make the special day as unique and ‘different' as possible and also as close to their expectations to ensure we give them the perfect wedding day that they’ve always dreamed of.
Where does the ceremony usually take place?
It can take place anywhere - this is totally up to the couple. Most couples like to have the ceremony somewhere in the reserve, enjoying the wide open spaces in a total natural environment.
So what makes a bush wedding so unique?
It’s something different, something memorable and something unique. For the ceremony itself, you can choose a deck overlooking a waterhole or riverbeds, or a romantic spot under trees on the banks of a river, or the actual lodge itself which usually boasts picturesque views. You may want to also consider a rocky outcrop with views of the bushveld that stretch as far as you can see, or a bush clearing, or perhaps even a small outdoor chapel that lodges have erected for occasions as such – bearing in mind your safety, the wild animals that roam the area as well as the terrain. Hosting a wedding in the bush can be elegant and chic, but consider guests’ comfort when deciding on the dress code as it may be extremely hot and humid.
For the wedding reception, lodges that offer “safari-style” weddings are well equipped to provide breakfast, lunch and dinner for you and your guests. This may include a traditional braai, a sit down dinner or an intimate boma; or an outdoors elegance dining experience under a starry sky around a crackling fire, with lions roaring in the distance. For a lodge like At the White Lion Lodge, you can enjoy an intimate wedding up to 8 guests with an incredible hospitality and set up a wonderful reception inside the lodge or make use of the outdoor space for a more natural look and feel. Less is truly more when it comes to décor. Strategically placed faerie lights, simple table settings and minimalistic décor is all you need to turn a bush venue into a magical space.
BEING AT ONE WITH NATURE
Whilst the wedding is the first and most important priority, being surrounded in nature can bring along a sense of calm, reassurance and restoring energy. Being able to take in the sights, smells, sounds, surroundings and surety of nature, it will make your special day that much more magical. This will also play a role in the overall theme and décor of your wedding, with a combination of contemporary décor mixed with Karoo sandstone, timber, thatch, and hues of Karoo slate making up the lodge’s building material. Natural yet sophisticated in its own way. With the absence of artificial light, typically generated from town and cities, stargazing in an areas such as the Karoo is amongst the best. Few things in life are as pleasant as sitting around a campfire on a warm summer night and gazing skyward at the tapestry of stars overhead. The cares of the day-to-day world can seem as distant as those flickering points of light.
Much like any trip to a nature reserve, your wedding package is sure to be filled with excitement, wonder and nature-filled activities. Spend an afternoon and a guided and educational game drive, followed by cocktails by the pool, or even an afternoon spent in the library with a good book. Some lodges offer additional services such as day walks, spa’s or even daytrips to your local community.
With unique glass and thatch suites, each boasting a spacious bedroom, dressing room, full bathroom and its own outdoor shower, your guests are sure to experience a true wilderness retreat that takes them out of their daily routine and the hustle and bustle of city life, and into an unforgettable world of peace and serenity.
LESS STRESS AND LESS EXPENSE
Fabulous wedding destinations are also usually equally-fabulous honeymoon destinations, and so the ‘wedding and honeymoon combo’ is born – a two-in-one destination that will cater to your every “big day” needs.
When you combine the two you are generally dealing with one venue and often one specific contact at that venue, so ultimately that leads to less stress and less expense. Destination wedding venues also sometimes offer cost effective packages with thrown in perks. These may include a cake, bouquet, massage for both bride and groom, a private dinner for the married couple or even complimentary champagne.
Choosing a destination wedding and honeymoon venue, such as a bush wedding, is also a great way of, or maybe even a good excuse of being able to tick off one of those bucket-list locations you’ve always wanted to visit and its highly likely it will be on your guests’ lists too.
For more information, visit https://www.whitelionlodge.co.za