March, 2017

Your heart is set on your dream wedding, walking down the isle surrounded by African wildlife freely wandering the vast open plains within the scenic Safari African Bush, alongside all your beloved family and friends. You have searched countless hours on the net for the perfect venue to host this dream safari wedding but, find yourself torn between far too many of them, as there are so many amazing venues to choose from. As a seasoned planner, I like to call these venues “boxes to tick” venues. I usually suggest to all my couples, narrowing your favorite venues down to three, but once you have done this, where to from there, right? With most of our clients being abroad and living outside of South Africa, they sometimes don’t have the opportunity to take the time out to endure countless trips up to South Africa to conduct site visits and supplier meetings. They trust us to guide and assist them with making such a huge decision, a decision that can make or break your dream wedding, finding YOUR perfect venue, that ticks all YOUR boxes.

Below is a list of some “boxes” to think about when deciding on your Perfect Safari Wedding Venue:

How many guests am I looking at realistically hosting?

When it comes to a Safari Wedding, guest count really is a major deciding factor. Most of the Luxurious and exclusive Safari wedding venues only host between 2-10 guests, some up to 20, whereas some of the more commercial safari wedding venues cater from 60 guests up to a maximum 120. If you know for sure that the majority of your guests are coming from abroad and treating your wedding as a African Holiday, try making sure of the seriousness of these guests attendance. When it comes to destination weddings, like a safari wedding, we always advise our clients to have their confirmed guest list rsvp cut-off date at least a year before the actual wedding date. I know this sounds crazy, but realistically this gives everyone whom has committed their “yes” in attendance to financially prepare themselves for the African Holiday they have been dreaming of for years.

Is the venue a Malaria free zone, and is it advised for guests to take malaria precautions?

Yes the African bush is incredibly beautiful and somewhat intoxicating, but so are some of the critters living there. Make sure you have done thorough research when it comes to Malaria Free Zones, and whether or not informing your guests to take extra precautions concerning the particular Zones and their risk factors. In high-risk areas (Kruger Park, northern parts of Limpopo and northern parts of KwaZulu Natal) the use of anti-malaria drugs is recommended from October to May.

Can the venue accommodate all my guests, and if not how far is the nearest accommodation?

If the venue you have fallen in love with can only accommodate 10 of your 60 guests, this is a potential logistical nightmare you do not want to leave for last minute. It is advisable to settle on a venue that can accommodate all your guests at the same location, but if your heart is set on one that can’t (because it is possible and has been done before, with success) just be prepared to include a dedicated shuttle service within your wedding budget. Most accommodation so far out in the bush, generally do have their own branded shuttle service, which you can arrange with them to assist you, but make sure you also obtain a few private shuttle service company quotes in order to make a solid financial decision at the end of the day.

How much of the weekends bill are you willing to fit?

The idea of having all your guests staying alongside you during your wedding weekend is great, but just how much of the entire bill are you willing to take on. Of course this is all up to each couple and essentially boils down to their overall wedding budget. In the past some of our couples have offered to pay 10% of the total weekend accommodation bill on behalf of their guests, having each guest pay for the remaining, as well as all their own beverage consumption throughout the stay. Other couples, with smaller guest counts, have in the past decided to pay for the whole wedding groups accommodation. This really is all dependant on you as a couple, but just always bare in mind that venues of this nature do require a block booking deposit, which is usually conducted by the bridal couple themselves. Should you wish guests to pay for their own accommodation they will need to call in or email the reception and reference the block booking number or wedding. For each guest that confirms their booking with a deposit, that amount then gets allocated to your total wedding account, which essentially then gets allocated to the wedding food and beverage bill. However should you block out the entire hotels rooms, in anticipation of having the lodge exclusively, and only 70% gets booked out by guests, you will be liable for the remaining rooms. But do not fret, as we usually recommend allocate these rooms to suppliers like, Photographers, Videographers and hopefully your Wedding Planners.

Does the wedding fee include safari tours or is this at an additional rate?

What’s a Safari Wedding without the Safari, right? Most venues will have included up to two daily safari tours within the accommodation prices but, should you have guests not staying at the same Safari Lodge or Hotel, just make sure you have taken into consideration the cost per person for Safari Tours only. Another thing to bare in mind are, costs not included within the daily accommodation rate such as conservation Levy’s and staff gratuity.

A safari wedding is not the most conventional wedding venue to host your wedding guests, and yes it does take a little bit more work to plan the logistics but, it is a location that will have you walking away after your wedding weekend completely in awe of the grace and beauty Africa holds. You will not ever regret an African Safari Wedding; you will only wish you could do it all over again the next weekend.

Written by Candace Allan

Absolute Perfection