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Top 6 Places for Small Weddings in Africa

Africa has played a pivotal role in two of the world’s most enduring and endearing modern romances. When screen goddess Elizabeth Taylor and her great love Richard Burton decided that they couldn’t live without each other following their first divorce, they married for a second time at Kasane in Chobe National Park in Botswana, Liz posing with her flawless 70 carat pear-shaped diamond engagement ring and an adorable cheetah.

Thirty-five years later, in 2010, Prince William chose the rustic Rutundu Log Cabins (which are accessible only by helicopter or on foot) on the remote slopes of Mount Kenya to present long-time girlfriend Kate Middleton with Princess Diana’s iconic sapphire and diamond engagement ring. More recently, Go2Africa travellers Polly and Donny McKay celebrated their nuptials with a Masai-inspired celebration at Sarova Mara in Kenya, complete with warriors singing traditional songs and a ‘good omen’ rhino crossing their path on their way back to their honeymoon tent!

Top 6 Places for Small Weddings in Africa - Masai-Wedding-CREDIT-Neate-Photos
Maasai warriors at a traditional wedding ceremony (Neate Photos)
Top 6 Places for Small Weddings in Africa - Polly and Donna McKay
Polly and Donny say ‘I do’ on the Masai Mara

The wild spaces and endless skies of Africa remind you about what's important in life - a good reason why weddings and proposals are so popular here. In Africa, you are relieved of your daily worries and free to reconnect with what inspires you, so it's only natural for travellers to get back in touch with the fundamental human experience of love, respect and affection. It may well be all the fresh air that gives you the sudden insight that the person beside you is actually the perfect partner for you! Whatever it is, Africa overflows with romantic moments to share with the one you love.

Older couples and second-time-arounders top the list for travellers booking intimate weddings (often just the two of them) and combining the ceremony with a bucket-list vacation. After a lavish family wedding at home, other couples choose to mark their nuptials with a vacation ceremony or adventurous African honeymoon. More and more lodges are geared to facilitate these celebrations and happily arrange honeymoon suites, complete with bubbly on ice and a wedding cake to share in the glow of new love beneath an African sunset. Here are a few of our favourite places for small weddings in Africa:

Top 6 Places in for Small Weddings in Africa - Camp Jabulani
Celebrate with a sunset elephant-back safari at Camp Jabulani

#1 Camp Jabulani - Kruger Park

In elephant courtship, the male and female intertwine their trunks to show their affection for each other. Ellie lovers will adore getting married at Camp Jabulani at the Kruger National Park, where they can indulge in the unique experience of elephant-back safaris and elephant guests - the bride might need to watch out for a curious trunk nibbling her bouquet! Jabulani is a Zulu word that means ‘rejoice’ and that is exactly what couples do here.

#2 Bartholomeus Klip - Cape Winelands

If you prefer to being closer to a city like Cape Town without giving up the rural ambiance, a working farm like Bartholomeus Klip in the gorgeous country town of Riebeeck Kasteel is ideal. Located amid rolling fields of wheat, indigenous fynbos (a heather floral kingdom that is unique to the Western Cape in South Africa) and endangered renosterveld (a hardy indigenous vegetation - ‘renoster’ means rhino in the Afrikaans language), Bartholomeus Klip offers the rugged beauty of a rural setting within an hour's easy drive from Cape Town. Consider a posy of beautiful, feathery proteas – South Africa's national flower - for your bridal bouquet, picked fresh from your wedding location.

Top 6 Places for Small Weddings in Africa - Bartholomeus Klip
Bartholomeus Klip is nestled below the spectacular Elandskloof mountains
Top 6 Places in for Small Weddings in Africa - Protea
A gorgeous protea bouquet

#3 Elsa’s Kopje - Kenya

Lion lovers will want to head to Elsa’s Kopje in Kenya's Meru National Park for their celebration. The lodge is named after Elsa, the orphaned lioness who was handreared by conservationist and novelist Joy Adamson. The lioness became a global icon for the rights of wild creatures in Joy's bestselling book -  and hit movie - Born Free. Elsa’s Kopje is built on the site of the Adamsons’ original camp and infused with the tranquil spirit of a by-gone era. Begin your wedded days with breakfast served in the midst of golden savannah after watching the sunrise on a thrilling dawn game drive, and welcome each magical evening soaking in your spacious tub with its endless views over the Meru plains.

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Classic game viewing at Elsa's Kopje
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Dinner for two in the golden savannah
Top 6 Places in for Small Weddings in Africa - Elsa's Kopje
A sunset toast to the happy couple overlooking the Meru plains at Elsa's Kopje

#4 Asanja Africa Camp - Serengeti

The Great Migration has rightly been called one of Nature’s most dramatic spectacles: hundreds of thousands of wildebeest journey across thousands of miles to reach fresh pastures. Along the way, calves are born, predators are faced, and treacherous rivers are crossed. It’s a natural phenomenon that is much like the path of true love - it never runs smoothly, and there is a healthy dose of sour with the sweet! Asanja Africa Camp is perfectly poised on the Serengeti to make the most of the migration. Each tented suite is named after a specific element of Maasai tradition - our favourite suite is Enkiama, the marriage ceremony tent. Weddings are extremely significant in Maasai culture and the tent is adorned with deep red hues to signify unity and stunning Imasaa, the beaded decorations made especially for weddings.

Top 6 Places in for Small Weddings in Africa - Enkiama Marriage Ceremony tent
‘Enkiama’ at Asanja Africa Camp, the tented suite inspired by Maasai marriage ceremonies

#5 Ngorongoro Crater Lodge - Tanzania

Ngorongoro Crater is a natural wonder that will take your breath away! The world’s largest intact caldera from a long extinct volcano, Ngorongoro is home to about 26 000 wild creatures who live within the safety of the caldera walls. With a gentler climate than the surrounding plains, the crater floor is lush with pastures and mineral-rich springs. It is one of the few wild places in Africa where you are likely to see the Big 5 in a single game drive. At Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, wedding ceremonies take place on one of three decks, each with spectacular views over the crater below.

Nearby Lake Manyara is home to tree-climbing lions and the Lerai Forest is renowned for leopard sightings. What better place to forge a lifelong bond than in a setting that has been unchanged over millennia? Imagine saying 'I do' while standing on the rim of the crater, a Maasai guard of honour watching over you, and the natural beauty of the wilderness unfolding around you.

Top 6 Places in for Small Weddings in Africa - Ngorogoro Crater Lodge
Ngorongoro Crater Lodge on the edge of the crater makes an utterly romantic setting for a small wedding

#6 Vamizi Island Lodge - Mozambique

They say that couples who play together, stay together and Vamizi Island Lodge might be one of the ultimate playgrounds for divers, snorkellers and kayakers. A whale-shaped isle in Mozambique’s Quirimbas Archipelago, Vamizi is drenched in sunshine and provides a sanctuary for samango monkeys, coconut crabs and over 110 bird species. Its tropical waters are home to one of the world’s Top 10 dive sites - Neptune’s Arm, where you swim through cathedrals of Gregorian coral with whales, dolphins, turtles and over 400 species of fish. After an elegant, barefoot ceremony on the beach, step over the threshold of your private villa with its plunge pool, outdoor tub and romantic beds wrapped in fluttering white mosquito nets. If you’ve ever dreamt of being cast away on a paradise island with the one you love (and a generous measure of world class service), Vamizi is an ideal setting for you...

Top 6 Places in for Small Weddings in Africa - Vamizi kayak
Vamizi: a tropical paradise for couples who play together
Top 6 Places in for Small Weddings in Africa - Vamizi dhow
Romantic sunset sailing in a picture-perfect dhow

Like any journey, the help and advice of an Africa Safari Expert makes all the difference so chat about your expectations with your travel advisor and check the paperwork you'll require for your nuptials well ahead of departure. Making or renewing your vows is a moment you'll always treasure. Celebrating your love in an African setting means making moments you'll never forget.  

Written by Angela Aschmann and Donyale MacKrill. Connect with Angela on Google+.

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