There’s nothing quite like the magic of a safari wedding. Exchanging vows against the spectacular beauty of the African landscape, surrounded by family, friends – and sometimes a passing animal friend or two. South Africa offers a number of incredible venues for safari weddings, and some of our favourites are right here in Kwazulu Natal! Positioned just a few hours from Durban airport, they’re ideal for a luxury game lodge wedding, whether it’s a large-scale celebration or an intimate destination elopement. But planning a bush wedding has its own set of logistical challenges (something we specialise in solving!). Here are my top safari wedding tips to set you on the right path.

Start with your guest list

The size of your guest list will have a major impact on the venue you choose. For example, if you’re planning on having a large party, you’ll need to ensure you are within reach of enough accommodation for everyone. Different game lodges also have very different options in terms of reception spaces. This will help you narrow down your South African safari wedding venue options much more efficiently.

Choose your wedding date carefully

South Africa’s seasons are opposite to those of the UK and US. Weather is also very localised, so it’s important to research the weather before you choose your wedding date. The winter months are ideal for Kruger and the Lowveld, as the weather is dry (albeit colder than the summer) but the game viewing is particularly good. If you choose a warmer time of the year, malaria is another factor to consider for these areas (especially if one of your party may be pregnant). Anti-malaria drugs are recommended in high risk areas from October to May. Luckily, the weather is great all year round in KwaZulu Natal, besides the summer rains (which can be unpredictable). The risk of malaria is also much lower here, making it the obvious choice for a safari destination wedding.

Always have a back-up plan for your wedding ceremony

As your wedding planners, we handle all the logistics of your safari wedding, but there are two aspects we can’t control: wild animals moving into your chosen setting a day or two before the event, and the weather. If you’re planning an outdoor ceremony in the middle of the bush or in a river bed that’s well traversed by lion or elephant, try to include a portion of your budget for a contingency plan and keep a few extra ceremony ideas up your sleeve just in case. It’s also important to manage your expectations, so try to keep this in mind.

Don’t wait to start planning

As with any destination wedding, it’s important to give your guests as much advance notice as possible. It’s also a good idea to book your venue well in advance, especially if you want to book a game lodge exclusively for your safari wedding. This is because most game lodges have deals with international tour guide companies which book the lodges months in advance.

Make a (long) weekend of it

One of my biggest safari wedding tips is to make sure you give yourself enough time to really enjoy the experience. This includes sharing morning and afternoon game drives with your loved ones, enjoying the luxury facilities, and just spending quality time together! You don’t want to feel rushed.

Keep the decor simple and elegant

The visual centrepiece of a safari wedding is always nature itself. You don’t want to take away from that by overcomplicating your wedding design. Keep things simple and chic, and let the setting do the talking.

Don’t forget to budget for additional costs

Careful budgeting is essential when planning a safari wedding. It’s important to consider additional costs – both to you, and your guests. For example, flights, visas, vaccinations, rental cars, accommodation, safari tours, conservation levies, and extra rangers (should you be planning a wedding ceremony in the middle of a Big 5 game reserve). When choosing your venue, remember that the more remote it is, the more expensive it may be to get all your suppliers on site, and to pay for their accommodation.

Combine your wedding and honeymoon

One of the best parts of having a luxury safari wedding is that the honeymoon can start straight away! You can also split your honeymoon between bush and beach, and enjoy a few lazy days soaking up the sun on our beautiful coast.

Hope you find these safari wedding tips helpful! If you’re looking for more advice and guidance, or are ready to take an experienced South African destination wedding planner on board to make your safari wedding dreams come true, get in touch!

Top image by Bright Girl