African Leaves is a trout lodge located only 20 minutes from Dullstroom, Mpumalanga.
It is nestled in a beautiful valley at the foot of the Zuikerboschhoek Bewarea and is the perfect venue for an intimate weekend wedding. African Leaves captures the essence of the Dullstroom Highlands and speaks to birders, trout anglers, or those searching for the peacefulness of the outdoors.
African Leaves are mindful of their surroundings and limit the number of weddings they do annually. An environment-friendly celebration approach means they do not permit décor items that are not biodegradable or reusable. In my books, it is a huge plus. Just because this is a once-in-a-lifetime event does not mean it must last a lifetime for the environment. I love that couples are becoming aware of this and finding ways to implement these conscious options into their lifestyles.
Some Tips on Getting Married at This Location:
- Two houses hosting a combination of 16 guests are situated on the property: the Oak House and Silo Lodge. Surplus guests stay in Dullstroom and make use of transportation by shuttles.
- The weather is a significant factor here, and nowadays, with the seasons a little mixed up, it is crucial to plan for anything.
What Time of The Year Is The Best?
Getting married here is all about choosing the right time of the year. Hence the name African Leaves, as each season has its beauty, colours and personality.
African Leaves describes the seasons as follows:
Summer – lush, green fields, abundant water, and a river that flows through the poplar forest.
Autumn – tranquil light breezes that sweep through the leaves of the Oak tree next to the Oak House.
Winter – cold, crisp air and drops of dew frozen on the pale grass fields. The warm rays of sunlight enter through the windows and the roof of The Hothouse.
Spring – rebirth, a gentle awakening of small water streams, with trout jumping from the mirror-like surface of the front-facing dam and still twilight sunsets.
Every season offers different colours, temperatures, sounds and light. As a wedding photographer, I recommend picking the in-between seasons. Springtime between August and September is excellent because the weather is mild and more predictable. Nature is still awakening, and the beautiful golden colours of the grass are the perfect reflector for skin tones.
Autumn, from March to May, is also a beautiful time. You still have some living colours, and thundershowers are mostly now at rest. The only thing to remember is a warm coat for the evenings.
You can read and see more of African Leaves here.
Meet the gorgeous couple!
Meet the beautiful Catrine and her dashing husband, Ryan! What a gorgeous pair of human beings they are. When I met them on their wedding day, everything was relaxed and cheerful despite the ominous weather looming over the mountains.
At the Oak House, the fellas were chilled and sipping some whiskey while Catrine and the girls were getting ready at Silo Lodge. The wedding day was all a go.
Catrine, her mum and bridesmaids happily popped champagne and enjoyed bits of the intermittent sunshine. Into her dress, Catrine made the big reveal. Everyone cheered in delight because she looked radiant! I couldn’t imagine a dress more perfect for Catrine. It was elegant and modern and hugged her body snugly—a match made in heaven!
Guests gathered at the ceremony spot overlooking a breathtaking view of the trout dam, the valley and beyond. It was all so magical.
As Catrine came down the aisle with her dad, the crowd were just in awe. It was such a moving moment.
Ryan and Catrine’s “roomie” of many years officiated their ceremony with genuine and kind words that evoked so much laughter and sincerity.
I love it when couples choose a path more authentic to themselves. Want to read more about keeping your wedding accurate to you? Read my blog post “Wedding Traditions: To Keep Or Not To Keep?” I think it can inspire you to make your wedding day more memorable than just another copy and paste.
From there, hugs, kisses, champagne, and laughter followed. Family and friends from afar reunited despite some facing muddy challenges en route —hats off to them. Guests sheltered from the storm and cosied up on the stoep to celebrate and get the festivities started. The rain did not dampen spirits, and we even had a 10-minute respite to steal some photos of Catrine and Ryan.
The reception overflowed with love and joy; everyone had a kind (and absolute LOL) word for the happy couple. Guests helped themselves to gorgeous bowls of mouth-watering and delicious food, thanks to Ivan from Toast.
What more do you need than great people, food, wine, and music? In my opinion, Catrine and Ryan had it all!
Some questions I asked the lovely couple:
Why did you pick African Leaves?
We chose African Leaves because of our strong personal and family connection to the farm. As a child, I spent many weekends and holidays there with my family, and later on with close friends. I introduced my now-husband to the farm years ago, and it was always our dream to tie the knot there. Moreover, the venue’s natural beauty and tranquil atmosphere perfectly aligned with our vision for an intimate, low-key wedding celebration with close family and friends. The staff were also exceptionally helpful and accommodating, making the planning process smooth and stress-free.
What was challenging about hosting your wedding here, and what was your biggest compromise?
The biggest challenge was dealing with the unpredictable weather, but the venue provided a great backup plan for an indoor ceremony and reception.
How did you choose your officiant? I remember it was a close friend of yours. Any words you can share that you will remember always?
We planned a non-religious wedding and aimed to create a ceremony that reflected us, our supportive families, and our close group of friends.
Instead of traditional bridesmaids, I chose my two younger brothers to play special roles in the ceremony. My husband’s brother stood by his side and spoke on behalf of his family. My brothers both walked down the aisle, ahead of my father and me. One of my brothers served as the ring bearer (and I have to shout out for the stellar job he did!;-)), while my other brother spoke on behalf of my family.
Our officiant was our dear friend and former ‘roomie’ (roommate of many years). We chose him because he’s been there since the beginning of our relationship. We wanted someone who could personalise the ceremony to our unique relationship.
What was the best LOL moment for you?
One of the funniest moments from our wedding was when I had to rush to the ceremony before the rain hit. My brothers and I were frantically running across a muddy lawn and jumping over puddles. With my wedding dress and veil, it was quite a challenge to avoid getting dirty. To make things easier, my brothers literally picked me up and flung me into the car like a sack of potatoes! Thankfully, a friend wrapped me in towels to prevent any mud stains on my dress. It was a ridiculous but hilarious moment, and we all laughed so hard. Despite the chaos, I made it to the ceremony unscathed, and it made for a great story to tell for years to come.
What memory do you have from your wedding day that you will never forget? What part of the day affected you and your relationship the most?
One of the most unforgettable memories from our wedding day was when I walked down the aisle. Seeing the faces of our closest friends and family looking back at me, with red eyes and tears streaming down their cheeks, was incredibly emotional. It was a beautiful moment that truly captured the love and support surrounding us. And when I reached the end of the aisle, my partner was waiting for me, and it felt like time stood still. Despite the rain and the chaos leading up to the ceremony, that moment made everything else disappear, and it had a profound impact on both of us, or friends/family, and all our relationships.
Any advice or words of wisdom you would give future couples planning their big day?
If you’re planning your big day, my advice is to focus on what truly matters: all the people who matter most in your lives. Remember that the day is about celebrating your commitment to each other, and not about impressing others or living up to societal expectations.
During the planning process, don’t forget to communicate openly and honestly with each other about your vision for the day, and don’t sweat the small stuff. On the day itself, take a few moments to soak it all in and appreciate the special moments with your partner.
It’s also important to remember that things may not go exactly as planned, but that’s okay. Embrace the unexpected and roll with the punches. In the end, what truly matters is the memories that you create.
Finally, my biggest piece of advice is to have fun! Your wedding day is a celebration, so make sure you enjoy every moment of it. Laugh, dance, and soak up the love and joy that surrounds you. It will be a day you’ll never forget.
Are you interested in me shooting your wedding? Just hop over to my “Get In Touch” form here, and I’ll write back soon.
All the loving hands that had a part in Catrine and Ryan’s wedding day:
Venue: African Leaves | Dress: Timeless Bridal Couture | Ring: Lorean | Catering: Toast | Hair & Make-up: Aimeé Warren | Planner, Co-Ordinator, Decor and Flowers: Alicia Greyling | DJ: Michael Evan Bower