Imagine standing on a rocky escarpment surrounded by family, friends and several colourful warriors. You’re looking down towards the plains, watching a family of elephants trundle towards the watering hole. It’s warm, but there’s a welcome light breeze from across the savannah, and really there’s only one thing on your mind. You’ve just said ‘I do’ to the love of your life and can’t quite believe that your wedding has been right here, in the heart of Africa.
You’re looking forward to celebrating with champagne as the sun slowly sinks below the horizon, and then spending your first night as a married couple in the honeymoon suite of your dreams. Which just happens to have an open-air bath overlooking the world’s most incredible panorama and is perfect for a spot of romantic star gazing. Maybe you’ll see shooting stars. But first there are game drives, dinner and dancing...it certainly isn’t an average wedding.
A wedding in Africa makes a lot of sense. Not just because of the superb scenery, warm hospitality and the fact you can go on safari at the same time. Getting married here can often be far easier and cheaper than doing it back at home, especially seeing as you can combine it with a African honeymoon.
Whether you fancy tying the knot in the bush, at a luxury lodge, up a mountain or on a beach, an 'Out of Africa' destination wedding ticks all the boxes. You just can’t go wrong with a combination of sunshine, sea and safari.
If you’re looking for some inspiration for your own wedding, we’ve chosen some of the best places in Africa to get married:
Saruni Samburu - Kenya
For complete seclusion in pristine wilderness
Everybody falls in love at Saruni Samburu in Kenya: with the landscape, with the people, and of course with each other (although if you’re getting married here you should already have that bit covered!). This luxurious and intimate lodge boasts some of the most dramatic vistas in Africa, and with the rugged landscape and warm Samburu hospitality this is a stand-out location for a rather unique destination wedding.
The ceremony can be held on top of the mountain overlooking the stunning landscape, or a traditional blessing can take place in a Samburu village with the participation of the elders, warriors and women.
Saruni Samburu is also perfect for a magical Kenya honeymoon, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a more romantic honeymoon suite. The private villa is perched on the edge of a rocky outcrop with a breathtaking backdrop of the Kalama Conservancy and is an amazing spot for a special candlelit dinner on your very own veranda. When you want to get out and about, there's the 'Samburu Special 5' to encounter, as well as walking safaris, star gazing, and even hunting for scorpions if that's your thing.
Governor's Camp - Kenya
For big cat sightings and ballooning over the iconic Masai Mara
The chances are that when you consider getting married in Africa, you're thinking of a bush wedding in the famous Masai Mara. If you're dreaming of a truly 'Out of Africa' destination wedding, then you can't go wrong with Governor's Camp.
Catering for both intimate and large wedding parties, Governor's Camp offers unrivaled ceremony locations, such as on the banks of the Mara river and out on the plains. Sunset ceremonies and candlelit bush dinners can also be arranged. Governor's Camp is luxurious and private, and the ideal choice for an iconic African bush wedding.
For something even more extraordinary, why not take to the skies and get married in a hot air balloon whilst floating serenely over the vast, wildlife filled plains of the Mara. Read our article here about what it's like to go hot air ballooning over the Masai Mara.
Ulusaba - South Africa
For top notch service and romantic indulgence in a private game reserve
Whether it's just the two of you, or you have your whole entourage with you, a wedding at Sir Richard Branson's private game reserve in Sabi Sands in the South African bush is a wonderfully indulgent and personal affair. You can choose to hold the ceremony in a grassy bush clearing, on the dam overlooking the hippos, or up at the lofty Rock Lodge which has stunning views at sunset (and is the perfect backdrop for a sunset ceremony).
The choice doesn't end there. At Ulusaba you can also tie the knot in a dry riverbed surrounded by jackalberry trees, on the wine cellar deck at Safari Lodge (which is very romantic at dusk), or even on a beach! Yes, there is a beach at the side of the dam, a very exclusive location for intimate weddings.
“Having planned and organised over 100 weddings, the Ulusaba team are experts in local touches and traditions to make a memorable wedding day. During the ceremony, which usually takes place against the backdrop of the African plains, couples can mark their union the traditional African way by tying their wrists together with dried grass. A favourite way to complete the vows is with a performance from our very own Ulusaba Choir, who perform traditional Shangaan wedding songs from the local predominant tribe, for whom song and dance is equal to breath. (Llané Langdon, General Manager, Ulusaba)”
The wedding feast can be set up out in the bush under the stars and surrounded by flaming torches; up on the deck of the treehouse suite which has superb views out across the dam (see if you can spot the hippos); or in the elegant yet comfortable lodge dining room which is open to the sights and sounds of the bush.
“After the ceremony, there’s no better way to get the party started than with a South African ‘Braai’ (barbeque) in the bush. A visit from the Shangaan Dancers is sure to get everyone on the dance floor and guests can even take part in the ‘Expression of Joy’ dance which is usually performed by the groom and his father after a tribal wedding ceremony. (Llané Langdon)”
Garonga - South Africa
For wedding nights spent on a romantic bush platform with candlelit bush baths
Garonga is a luxury safari camp in the heart of the Greater Makalali Private Nature Reserve to the west of the Kruger National Park. A place of tranquility and romance, Garonga is a beautiful choice for an iconic safari wedding in South Africa. The service here is superb and the staff look after you from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave as a happily married couple.
“Why should you get married at Garonga? As well as having an incredible natural setting, a wedding at Garonga is stress free, relaxing and affordable. We take the pain out of the organisation and do it all for you. We also have many great add-ons to the wedding package, including choir and dance group performances, private dinners and even a decorated safari vehicle. (Bernie Smith, Owner of Garonga)”
Your big day begins with a sumptuous breakfast and a relaxing massage to calm those pre-wedding nerves, with the sounds of the bush all around. The ceremony can take place out in the bush, or in a number of stunning locations at either Safari Camp or Little Garonga.
The excitement doesn't end there. Next up is a game drive with lunch and some bubbly to toast your new life together. Then you'll return to the camp and spend your first night in wedded bliss, where for added romance under the vast African skies, Gargona have something rather special up their sleeves...
“Don’t forget that at Garonga we offer a ‘safari for the soul’ so after the big day, you and your new spouse can indulge in massages, long baths in the Bush Bath and even a night alone out in the wild at The Sleep Out deck if you choose. A perfect wedding and honeymoon combo! (Bernie Smith)”
Four Seasons - Mauritius
For secluded ceremonies and tropical island celebrations
Fairy tales are real. How do we know this? Because we've seen the Four Seasons in Mauritius - it's the perfect location for an island paradise beach wedding. A haven of tropical greenery, stunning views and turquoise water, the Four Seasons is a secluded oasis on the edge of a sparkling lagoon over on the east coast of Mauritius. Weddings can take place at a number of beautiful locations across the property, including on the beach, under a gazebo on the golf course, or even on a catamaran. Newly-weds can then take a champagne cruise or a private Mauritius honeymoon picnic to celebrate.
The resort is ideal for your honeymoon too, with stylish villas and private pools, an award-winning spa and the Indian Ocean at your fingertips. Adventure or relaxation, it's your choice.
We asked the Four Seasons what makes a wedding here so special:
“Celebrate this special day on an island once said to have inspired heaven. Say yes to a happily married life on our Wedding peninsula overlooking the Indian Ocean, set against a backdrop of the rolling, green Mauritian mountains, or if you prefer, celebrate privately in the garden of your private Residence Villa.”
“For those seeking the ultimate seclusion, exchange vows floating on the turquoise lagoon on our Sea Cloud platform. Our team at Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita will oversee every detail of the planning stages and offer a tailor-made wedding according to your wishes. Ask our chef to create the bride and groom’s dream menu, take home a hand painted "Just Married" sign or embark on a newlywed photoshoot around the island. Find elements of the unexpected in everything we do.”
A rather unique option for your marriage ceremony is to hold it on the Ile Aux Cerfs, famous for its sandy beaches, beautiful lagoon and world-class natural beauty. If you're looking for something that stands out from the crowd that your guests will be talking about for years to come, then this is it.
“If you are planning on tying the knot on one of the most popular beaches of Ile aux Cerfs it incorporates taking a boat to the islet, saying your vows on a pristine beach then moving to your reception for a feast next to the sea. Our Wedding planner will give you endless ways to create your dream destination wedding with your loved ones present to help you celebrate.”
Breezes Beach Club and Spa - Zanzibar
For barefoot beach ceremonies and honeymoon paradise
If you're looking for a beach wedding with a difference, then the mystical spice island of Zanzibar is a beautiful and affordable choice. A luxury hotel on Zanzibar's beautiful east coast, Breezes Beach Club is perfect for the romantic African beach wedding of your dreams.
Set in beautiful, tropical landscaped gardens on a pristine and peaceful beach, Breezes Beach Club and Spa provides one of the best spots for enjoying sun, sea and sand. Its meticulously designed buildings, intimate and private dining and traditional décor create an elegant and unique atmosphere.
The ceremony can be held on a palm-fringed sandy beach overlooking the enchanting Indian Ocean, with gorgeous sunsets and light sea breezes making your occasion one to remember. And the best bit? You're already in a tropical island paradise ready for the honeymoon of a lifetime. Breezes Beach Club offer special honeymoon packages with romantic surprises during your stay, the ideal retreat to relax after your big day.