If you’re hoping to find an extraordinary yet budget-friendly location for your dream destination wedding, then you’re probably thinking the words “destination” and “budget-friendly” don’t mix. Well, do we have some great news for you – the beautiful country of South Africa is your one-way ticket to your dream (budget-friendly) wedding abroad! To fill you in on all things South Africa, we spoke to Colin Cowie, a native South African and luxury party planner to the stars!
So… how do we get there?
Airlines fly directly to Johannesburg from New York City and Atlanta with no stops! Capetown is a quick 2 hour flight or a long, but incredibly scenic train ride!
How does South Africa as a destination compare to other countries financially?
There’s never been a better time, financially, to plan a wedding in South Africa. The South African rand’s current, and unfortunate, junk bond status makes South Africa a very favorable destination for a wedding. The average wedding cost in South Africa is about 75,000 rand for 80-100 guests, which translates to less than 6,000 American dollars! For a more high-end wedding, the price can reach upwards of 130,000 Rand, which still puts you under $9,000! Try to find that in the states!
We found that to put on a high-end wedding in Mexico for 3 days, the same budget allows us to go to south Africa for 8 days with 4 days on safari at really good quality safari lodges and 4 days in cape town.
Could you suggest any wedding venues?
When one is looking for a wedding venue there’s nothing quite as romantic as vineyards like Delaire Graff Estate!
I would also recommend to anyone the Boschendal Winery with its gorgeous 300 year-old farm house and picturesque scenery.
If you’re looking for a small reception of up to 100 guests, you absolutely must consider the Vergelegen Wine Estate. For a venue name meaning “situated far away,” I assure you, you’ll feel right at home.
Lastly, the expansive grounds of the Babylonstoren gardens contain everything a couple could ever want in a venue. The estate contains an 8 acre garden which is divided up into 15 sections, all containing a diverse collection of trees, flowers, vegetables, fruit and even a prickly pear maze!
How’s the vino?
South Africa boasts a rather extensive wine region with everything from the most state of the art contemporary style to the most traditional Cape Dutch style of vineyard. Not to mention the scenery: The vineyards around the cape are some of the most beautiful places to have a wedding! Sitting at the foot of some of the most beautiful mountains you’ll ever see, they are beyond gorgeous!
Because of the favorable exchange rate, wine is very inexpensive in South Africa and with over 300 years of winemaking history, there’s a grape for everyone. The country’s signature wine is Pinotage, which is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut. If you’re considering a South African destination wedding, this is the taste of the land you’ll need to include.
Anything else to drink besides wine?
Big trend alert: Gin is the new thing. Gin is to Johannesburg and Cape Town what vodka and tequila are to the United States and Mexico!
How can couples incorporate South African cuisine in their wedding? What even is South African Cuisine?
South Africa is known as the Rainbow Nation. It’s not surprising that the Rainbow Nation features a fabulous rainbow cuisine!
What does this mean?
Long before the popularized fusion cuisine of East meets West, you had amazing kitchens in South Africa brought over by the Dutch, the French Huguenots, and the Indonesians who brought rijsttafel. Then you had the German settlers, the African tribes’ influence, the Portuguese colony out of Mozambique and the largest population of Indians outside of India! Put all of that culture together, and you get what’s uniquely known as Cape Malay cuisine. Because South Africa was the watering hole of the spice route, they had access to the world’s greatest spices. As a result came these really flavorful Cape Malay dishes.
Let’s talk decor. What type of flowers are available in South Africa?
There are no shortage of flowers: floral and fauna. One of my favorite flowers, the national flower of South Africa, is the Protea. The King Protea is a very beautiful flower. It comes in various shades of pink, cream and white as well. I love a king protea as a single flower bouquet, or as the focal point in a centerpiece!
What is there for guests to do while they’re in South Africa?
Because of its location, Africa is sort of a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Be sure to send your save the date very far in advance to give your guests time to book safari or other trips before or after your event!
Capetown is arguably one of the most beautiful cities in the world. You can do wonderful things outdoors like take a hike up Lion’s Head, or take a cable car trip up Table Mountain. For those who want to discover some of the history take a boat ride and visit Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated.
There’s a very happening food fusion cocktail cuisine around the waterfront in Cape Town. The Victoria & Alfred waterfront is host to some of the most amazing restaurants and daytime activities to go and see.
Anywhere you’d suggest for some relaxation?
If you don’t want to be in the hustle and bustle of Cape Town, you can find quieter spots in the Eastern Cape, Port Elizabeth, East London and all the way up to the tropical side of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.
How can couples make sure their trip is a healthy one?
The great thing about South Africa right now is that it’s Zika free, and in the dry months (End of May to Early September) malaria transmission is low enough for the medication to not be recommended for you and your guests!
How is the production quality in South Africa?
Because South Africa’s climate is so favorable (similar to California’s), there tend to be a lot of movie, TV and fashion shoots. As a result, there are great production services and reliable vendors available. Every chair, table and linen you have in the US, you can also find in South Africa! It’s a very sophisticated group of creative people to assist you with your special day.