Traditional dancers celebrate a happy union at Jaci's Lodges ©Yolandi du Plessis
Behind-the-scenes at a bush wedding with Lauren Perry - General Manager at Jaci's Lodges
With the wind in our faces and a cloud of dust behind us, I moved through the winding roads of Madikwe Game Reserve with Emma and Michael - a very excited couple who were looking to tie the knot at Jaci's Lodges.
We rounded the corner and there it was - a gigantic fig tree with a wide open space beneath it. After walking around to plan the layout, we headed back to the lodge with great excitement as we had found the perfect spot for their wedding ceremony. A discussion ensued about how they envisaged their big day, then I started to get the ball rolling.
I spent the next few days booking a photographer, a florist, a hairdresser, a minister, a representative from Home Affairs, and a group of traditional dancers. After everyone had been confirmed, I headed to chat to the lodge's chefs about the wedding cake and the menu options, and I asked our fantastic maintenance team to build a pergola. That, in a nutshell, brings me to the wedding day.
Armed with a water cart for the dust, the pergola, bags of leaves for creating an aisle, and chairs and tables, my team and I headed out early in the morning of the big day to set up. And while we were busy taking care of everything, the photographer and the hairdresser were working hard at the lodge with the wedding party.
It was a beautiful day and not a cloud was in sight. After we had finished, we headed back to the lodge for the final preparations and to collect the flowers, champagne and canapés. I then set off a bit ahead of everyone to wait for the first game viewer carrying the guests to arrive. It was quite a sight to see such smartly dressed people climb out of a safari vehicle, but that’s what a bush wedding is all about. Once everyone was seated, another safari vehicle then arrived with the bride.
While the ceremony was in progress, guides kept a lookout at various spots in case any of the Big Five chose to make an appearance. But although the whole area was full of elephant spoor in the morning, they didn't return.
After the ceremony, the traditional dancers performed, while the photographer captured all the beautiful memories. The reception dinner was then waiting at the lodge, so everyone headed back to the beautifully decorated dining area where the cake was cut, and the rest of the evening was spent celebrating!