Lauren and Peter are from the UK and have always dreamt of coming to Africa. And on this occasion, it was even more special as they decided to make Lions Sands their elopement destination.
Getting married at home was on the table for them; after everything Pandemic related, the closest date would be December, but this was a difficult time for many of their friends and family as they had family obligations over this time. So they went back to the drawing board.
Because celebrating such a momentous day without friends and family to share it with them was bittersweet, they decided to throw out all the “norms” and go with their hearts. They knew they wanted to create a unique experience echoing their values and love for each other.
Best yet, they planned to have a party when they returned home. Yay, for “next days”!
They reached out to me, and we decided to plan their special day with some photos of them getting ready. Lauren would meet Peter at the bush altar with a short drive through the reserve.
Along the way, elephants and their little ones greeted us. And it made the drive even sweeter. Being in nature, surrounded by everything known and unknown, makes one more aware and present. The altar meeting was such a heart-stirring moment – joyful and emotional, and Lauren and Peter exchanged their vows in the shade of the beautiful Sausage Tree.
Lion Sands, surrounded by the African bushveld, is truly a unique place and experience. Situated on Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, they are home to the southern hemisphere’s highest and most diverse concentration of wildlife. The wildlife roams freely between Sabi Sand Game Reserve and the Kruger National Park, separated only by the Sabie River.
The More Family Collection focus on creating enriching life experiences, whoever you may be. They are warm yet discreet, and your stay there is exclusive and luxurious.
Lauren and Peter were fortunate to spend their wedding night in a spectacular More Family Collection treehouse, suspended between the wild bushveld and the stars!
After the “You may kiss the bride”, we popped some champagne and sliced their wedding cake, ensuring we were on guard for the little hands and feet of the local vervet monkeys. As cute as they are, it is always better not to assist them in forming bad habits.
Once done, we hopped onto the game-viewing vehicle and took a drive. Stopping at a few beautiful spots whilst our game ranger stood guard, it was the perfect atmosphere to take in the sights and sounds surrounding us. Some giraffes also came near, curious to see the newly married couple.
Following our drive, the couple returned and were welcomed to the lodge with a special dinner and celebration by local dancers and singers.
Some questions I asked Lauren and Peter:
1. Why a wedding in South Africa and in the bushveld?
We had always dreamed of doing a safari and when we saw Lion Sands online we fell totally in LOVE! and couldn’t imagine spending our special day anywhere else! We love the outdoors, nature and calming spaces and South Africa just gave us all of that and more!
2. What was the most challenging part concerning having your wedding at Lion Sands?
Having absolutely no idea what to expect! We put our full trust in a team to pull off our dream day from the other side of the world having not seen the venue or even knowing how it would work!
3. The biggest thing you had to compromise on?
Even though we chose to do this together, we compromised on having our family and friends there for the day! We would have LOVED for them to experience South Africa, the bush, Lion Sands but it’s a big trip and we couldn’t have expected everyone to budget for this!
4. What memory do you have from your wedding day that you will never forget? What part of the day had effected you and your relationship the most?
For us, it was the peace, calm and beauty! We won’t forget how truly happy and at peace we felt during our wedding day… We both realised that day that that’s how we want to spend the rest of our lives, finding peace and beauty in the world!
5. What was the funniest moment on your wedding day?
Ahhhh the little monkey dipping down and stealing the sandwich! Clever little guys! The food was delicious so I don’t blame him!
6. Any advice you would like to give future couples who are getting married abroad/in South Africa?
We would say – DO IT – we have memories that will last a life time and we’ve seen, tasted and experienced things that are beyond words! It truly was the most romantic, emotional and stunning experience of our lives and we’ve fallen totally in love with South Africa. If there’s a place that you’ve always wanted to visit, why not plan your special day there!? It feels like one adventure lead us to the adventure of the rest of our lives.
Other venues that come highly recommended:
Misava Safari Camp is a real gem. Small and intimate with a setting in the Klaserie Drift Private Game Reserve with boundless African plains spreading beside the meandering river. What better way for this adventurous couple to celebrate their life together than by embarking on a post-vow Safari Game Drive with champagne and cake naturally part of the deal?
Chitwa Chitwa, with its uncomplicated yet spacious rooms, are divine! They house modern accommodations with decks and private plunge pools overlooking the magnificent bushveld. They cater to various preferences, from going for a workout in their gym before the ceremony to traditional dancing that ends the exciting game drives.
Return Africa is the ultimate African Safari at the Pafuri Tented Camp in Northern Kruger. They offer African escapes in various locations and are the ideal place to host your ceremony. Because they situate alongside the river, there are endless opportunities for fantastic animal sights, and you can hear the hippos nearby.
Monwana Game Lodge is named after the Monwana River that runs through it and is the lifeblood of Thornybush Private Nature Reserve. Thornybush forms part of the Greater Kruger National Park as it removed its fence only five years ago in February 2017. Of the twelve lodges in Thonybush, Monwana is its newest.
The rooms are perfectly curated to merge nature and luxury. It also has a beautiful spa, all kitted for the best relaxing and rejuvenating treatments. There are many options and spaces for breakfast, lunch or supper and their menu has an excellent range for anyone.
Although any time in the bushveld promises to be magical, certain months take preference. Here’s why:
Between March and May: In the pre-winter or winter, the veld is dry, and the deciduous trees turn brown and drop their leaves. Sights are picturesque as everything seems golden in colour – a perfect match for skin tones and beautiful photographs. Pleasant temperatures make for warm days, low humidity and virtually no rainfall, and dipping night-time temperatures. You can easily spot the animals frequenting waterholes and rivers.
Between September and November: Temperatures are higher with a wet summer season. Birds come out to play, and baby animals are everywhere during spring.
A smaller wedding simplifies traditional marriage celebrations and leaves you with everything that matters to you. Your wedding day is about you, your partner, and those closest to you. You remove the add-ons to make way for the unforgettable. As a photographer, I treasure part-taking in the lasting memories of any intimate marriage celebration.
Lauren and Peter, it was an unforgettable experience. You two are gorgeous, and I am sure this is a day you will never forget.
Are you thinking of planning your own intimate Safari wedding? Contact me today.