There is something magical, almost fairytale-like, about a wedding in the African bushveld. Perhaps it is the rustic setting or the sounds of birds chirping and animals calling in the background.
Bush weddings can be simplistic or lavish and are perfect for those couples who want a small intimate ceremony. The planning of the wedding is handled by the staff of the lodge and every detail is taken care of, from arranging a minister and cake to flowers and champagne. It is the perfect way to celebrate your lifelong partnership with friends and family and get an early start on the honeymoon.
There are several lodges and camps across South Africa that can arrange a bush wedding but here are our Top 5 destination picks which will host a wedding that will have your guests talking about for years to come.
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Ulusaba Private Game Reserve nestles in a private area of the Sabi Sands – a neighbouring reserve of the world-renowned Kruger National Park. There are several venues to choose from when hosting your wedding at Ulusaba but here are just some of the favourites.
The Lower Deck at Rock Lodge offers the most spectacular views and is the perfect setting for an afternoon wedding, with the sun setting as the backdrop.
The Mabrak Dry Riverbed at Safari Lodge is a picture perfect location with its surrounding African jackalberry trees.
At the far side of Xikwenga Dam near Safari Lodge is an area called ‘the beach’ which offers an exclusive spot for small weddings.
The Grassland Spot is tucked away in the bush and is ideal for large weddings and bush dinners.
Whether you want a Marimba band, gumboot dancers or a choir, Ulusaba will make sure you get the wedding of your dreams.
Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve nestles in the Sabi Sands which is known for its incredible Big 5 sightings, particularly of the big cats. Each of the lodges on the reserve is luxurious and unique in design and offer world-class service and cuisine.
Selati Camp hosts weddings on the deck near the pool overlooking the Msuthlu riverbed or alternatively at a clearing in the bushveld.
Bush Lodge hosts weddings out on the deck overlooking a waterhole and open plain or alternatively at a clearing in the bushveld.
Little Bush Lodge hosts weddings out at a clearing in the bushveld while Earth Lodge has the ceremony in the foyer in front of the gorgeous water feature.
The reception is then held in the lodge boma areas or terraces where themed dinners can be arranged.
The staff at Sabi Sabi ensure that every aspect of the wedding is taken care of, from the minister to the photographer, hairdresser and videographer. The only thing you have to do is arrive and enjoy your special day.
Madikwe is a lesser-known game reserve in South Africa that offers an exceptional Big 5 safari and some of the country’s most luxurious lodges. Madikwe Hills is a particular favourite for intimate bush weddings and honeymoons, accommodating a total of 24 guests.
The wedding ceremony is held in the bushveld or on the main deck of the lodge and includes traditional Tswana singers at the ceremony, a single layer cake, 30 minute massage for the bride and groom, garment pressing, locally sourced flowers, South African Methode Cap Classique sparkling wine for the couple, assistance with makeup, and a wedding gift.
The lodge prides itself on its meticulous attention to detail so you can rest assured that every aspect of the wedding will be discussed and organised, including the minister, photographer, and hairdresser.
With daily connections to Port Elizabeth from all major South African airports, Shamwari Private Game Reserve is very accessible and can accommodate up to 70 guests in seven luxurious five-star lodges.
The ceremony is hosted in a private bush venue before proceeding to one of the lodge boma areas for a romantic candle-lit dinner savoured beneath a canopy of stars.
The wedding package at Shamwari includes a dedicated wedding coordinator, a Christian minister, legal fees, wedding venue set-up, three-course meal, game drive sundowner drinks and snacks for the wedding party, two-tier wedding cake, complimentary glass of Method Cap Classique to toast the couple, one complimentary in-room spa treatment for the couple, ceremony flower arrangement, bridal bouquet for the bride-to-be and one bridesmaid, buttonhole flower for the groom and his best man, professional photographer to capture the occasion, hairdresser and make-up artist for the bride and bridesmaid, and sole use of a game vehicle for the wedding couple on the day of their wedding and the morning after.
Phinda Private Game Reserve is a hidden gem on the northern coastline of KwaZulu-Natal. The Big 5 reserve boasts five breathtaking luxury lodges that are unique in location and design.
Phinda can host weddings for up to 122 guests, with the ceremony taking place either in a dining area, a rocky outcrop with views of the bushveld or out at a bush clearing.
The reception takes place in one of the outdoor bomas where dinner is served under the stars or alternatively on the dining deck of the lodge with the bushveld as a backdrop.
The wedding package at Phinda includes sundowners and snacks for the wedding party, a wedding cake, local branded beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), dinner for the wedding party, sparkling wine in the couples room, a wedding gift, and a private vehicle to transport the wedding party to the ceremony venue.