Saying I do on safari

Your Guide to Africa

Lauren Dold


Weddings and honeymoons in the bush

When people think of eloping, they often dream of white sandy beaches, azure turquoise waters and swaying palm trees. But there is another way to say I do, away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, that doesn’t involve getting sand in your dress and having lobster-baked tourists gawking at you. Welcome to the safari wedding – an intimate, exclusive, and ultimately, hopelessly romantic escape just for two. You can say your nuptials with backdrops of savannahs, teeming with zebras or elephants drinking from a waterhole, continue your celebration with world-class African cuisine served around the fire or picnic style near a river with hippos as company.

A romantic safari experience

We recently invited three of the world’s top wedding planners to discover the Wilderness experience. The aim? To share with them the secret we already know – that getting married on safari may just be the best way to say I do.


In the words of Harper’s Bazaar’s Top Wedding Planner in the World, Michelle Norwood, “Just picture it: spending the day exploring the bushveld on a private game drive, seeing exotic wildlife for the first time alongside your sweetheart, and then retiring to world-class amenities. I mean, I can’t think of anything more romantic. Honestly. That experience takes the wedding cake.”


So, what is it about a safari wedding that is so hopelessly romantic? Perhaps it’s saying I do barefoot with your toes in the warm African sand, stopping for a G&T in the middle of the nowhere as the red African sun slowly disappears over the horizon, or gazing out at a canopy of stars in one of the least polluted skies on Earth. Maybe it’s running a bubble bath on the deck of your private suite, or could it just be about simply switching off, and connecting, really connecting, with the one person you’re about to spend the rest of your life with.




Hopelessly romantic

Michelle explains, “I believe love should feel natural and never forced. And what’s more natural than raw, untamed nature? For me, sitting around a crackling fire in the middle of one of the largest conservation centres in the world, enjoying local delicacies, and returning to a warm safari tent is hopelessly romantic.”


Leslie Price, who is also included in Harper’s Bazaar’s list of the Top Wedding Planners in the World, agrees, “There's something hopelessly romantic about losing yourself in nature and the thrill of discovery.  Being immersed in an environment unadulterated by technology gives couples an opportunity to slow down and reconnect.”


Laurie Arons, recently selected by Vogue as one of its ultimate wedding planners, echoes these sentiments, “The raw beauty of the remote landscape and the natural symphony of sounds that fill the air each day allow a person to truly disconnect from everyday life and fully immerse themselves in the Wilderness experience. Within this immersive environment, people can truly connect to each other as well as their surroundings.”




Private safaris just for you

The great thing about a safari wedding with Wilderness is that you’re guaranteed a private event away from the prying eyes of any onlookers. The exclusivity of our Wilderness camps, with some as small as only three suites, means that you can book them out for your entire group. The only gate crashers to your celebration may be a herd of elephants.


“For the right couple with an intimate group of up to 24 guests, a safari wedding provides an unforgettable backdrop and an opportunity to create memories of a lifetime with your closest family and friends. The common space at these lodges is thoughtfully and tastefully designed. The food and service are sophisticated, the accommodations are luxurious, the staff is gracious, and the sunsets are spectacular!” says Leslie.





You can also book private game drives, barge cruises, hot air balloon rides, quad bike safaris and helicopter trips. Venture out on safari with just your nearest and dearest, and dictate your days on your own time, stopping when and where you want, for the wildlife encounter of a lifetime, or for secret dining experiences in the wild.

Dining experiences to remember

Weddings and events are largely made, or not, by the quality of the food. And here at Wilderness, your meals are bound to be one of the highlights of your special day. Whether you prefer a lavish sit down on the deck under twinkling lights, a feet-in-the-sand picnic on a dry riverbed, simple casual dining with pizzas and bar snacks, or a lively evening with traditional cooking around the fire with plenty of dancing and singing, we’ll make it happen.


When asked about the thing she’d remember most from her trip, Leslie Price replied, “That's a tough question. My first thoughts were of the private barge luncheon at DumaTau and the helicopter ride to lunch at Mombo, but I'd say my favourite moment came during our last night at Jao. The staff surprised us with an evening around the fire pit it was such an incredible cultural experience! We had the opportunity to enjoy a traditional African banquet with flavours and ingredients steeped in ancient tradition. Before dinner, we sang songs and danced around the bonfire with our staff from the village, who were so welcoming.  I'll treasure that memory of dancing around the fire forever.”



For Laurie Arons, her most cherished meal also stood out, “It’s hard to pick a favourite moment from my time in Africa, but I’ll always remember having lunch on the floating pontoon at DumaTau, where we witnessed a crossing of over 40 elephants. Just awe-inspiring.”

Not just weddings

And we’re not just talking weddings here. Honeymoons, anniversaries, vow renewals, birthdays, or even corporate celebrations, the team at Wilderness is on hand to help you plan any special event.


Leslie says, “A safari is the perfect backdrop for any milestone celebration, whether it's a honeymoon, anniversary, vow renewal or birthday.  It's a bucket list trip for most people, offering excitement and adventure, an opportunity to learn about nature, experience new cultures, and at the same time, to immerse yourself in luxury, relax and disconnect from daily life. It's the whole package.”





And Michelle agrees, “I think a safari is a great way to celebrate any milestone because it’s an unforgettable experience. When we truly love someone, that’s always what we strive for, right? To make something truly amazing and unforgettable. Well, this is it. You don’t have to do anything. Just get to this magical land. The rest is taken care of. From hot air balloon rides over game reserves to open-air jeep rides that bring you up close and personal with some of the world’s most exotic wildlife (and your sweetheart), your African safari will be a memory like no other.”

Travel with peace of mind

And she’s right. Here at Wilderness we’re all about seamless, trusted travel. With industry-leading logistics support, our own airline, a multitude of camps, and on-the-ground assistance we’re here to help at every step of your safari and event planning journey.

Where should I host my celebration?

Now that you’ve decided a safari celebration is something you want, the biggest challenge will be deciding where. With Wilderness you’re spoilt for choice. So, we asked our wedding planners their favourite destinations for an intimate event in the bush and here were their top picks:


Wilderness Vumbura Plains – “For its exquisite décor and breathtaking natural beauty. This luxurious lodge has private verandas and stunning views at every corner.”


Wilderness DumaTau – “The water view took my breath away and I loved the layout – it offered the perfect transition from ceremony to cocktails and dinner, all with a water view and a built-in firepit where you could listen to hippos sing.”


Wilderness Little DumaTau – “This would make an ideal wedding venue, with its serene waterfront location. And on a practical level, there are other camps nearby to house a team of wedding vendors.”





In Laurie’s words, “What better way to begin the next phase of your relationship with your partner than to experience something so beautiful, powerful and lifechanging?”

Let’s plan your next journey


When we say we’re there every step of the way, we mean it, literally. From planning the perfect circuit, to private inter-camp transfers on Wilderness Air, and easing you through Customs. We’re with you on the ground, at your side, 24-7, from start to finish. Ready to take the road less travelled? Contact our Travel Designers to plan an unforgettable journey.