How to Plan a Safari Wedding: The Complete Guide

A safari wedding is truly magical, but it comes with a number of logistical challenges. Here’s everything you need to know about planning a safari wedding.

By Monica Mercuri

Safari Wedding
Photo by Carretto Studio

The First Look ✨

  • Be aware of seasonal considerations in your safari location around the time of your wedding, since much of your wedding will be centered on the outdoors.
  • While it’s important to map out much of the guests’ entire two- to three-day weekend to make the most of their short time, make sure to include some optional downtime.
  • Take time to enjoy yourself, and even consider making it a safari honeymoon.

There’s an intoxicating magic to a safari wedding—exchanging vows in the unrivaled beauty of wild, surrounded by loved ones. Imagine gathering a group of your nearest and dearest in one of earth’s most enchanting settings to experience its offerings together, and then layering a wedding celebration on top of it. It’s the whole wedding package.

That said, planning a big day in the bush comes with its own set of logistical challenges. It’s important to engage a planner who is both well-versed in the region and experienced in navigating the coordination required to pull it off. For a safari destination wedding (or safari wedding theme) you will never forget, read on.

Your Guide to Having a Safari Wedding Photo Credit // Shutterstock

Look to Africa and Beyond

Africa may be the obvious place to start your search for the perfect safari wedding venue, but your wedding day safari experience can be found in many places around the globe. Including:

  • Africa

  • Bušveldas (or Bushveld)

  • Tanzania

  • India

  • Brazil

  • Australia

Start With Your Guest List

The size of your wedding can significantly affect your safari wedding options. If you want a larger wedding party and guest list, you’ll need to make sure your venue(s) can accommodate all of your guests, from ceremony to reception. “Many lodges are only able to host a limited number of guests, so depending on your group size, you will want to select lodges that are close enough to each other to allow for joint gatherings,” says wedding planner Kim Zabriskie of The Wedding Collab.This also allows some variation in price point to accommodate the respective budgets of your guests, though keep in mind that you will have to manage getting guests to and from their respective lodges for group activities and events (which can be its own fun adventure, traveling through the African bush along dirt roads in safari vehicles).

Choose the Date of Your Wedding Thoughtfully

There are several factors you need to be aware of when scouting out the ideal special day. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Weather. South Africa's summer, for example, runs from about December to March, but the dry, colder months of May to October are the best time for animal sightings.

  • Diseases. The risk of diseases such as malaria is also higher during certain months compared to others.

Wedding Planning and Logistics: Step by Step

For most of your guests, this is likely their first trip to the bush—and likely a long way from home. Help make this a smooth trip for everyone by providing logistics and information ASAP. Including:

  1. Notice of the wedding date (at least six months in advance)

  2. Arrival and departure dates

  3. Transportation details

  4. Vaccination suggestions/resources

  5. Visa requirements

  6. Appropriate attire

  7. Suggested packing list

Highlight the Local Flora, Flavors, and Sounds

Safari themed weddings provide the opportunity to get endlessly creative with invitations, welcome bags, and daily room drops that incorporate local items and inspiration. Some of our favorites include:

  • Table decor. Use elements from the local environment like grasses, reeds, and succulents that reflect your surroundings. These items are practical, beautiful, and often economical.
  • Local music and performances. Incorporating local music and performance into the celebration is another fun way to transport your guests into their temporary new world. An African children’s choir performing the ceremony music, for example, is a spectacular alternative to the usual Canon in D.
  • Bonfire braai. Host an outdoor bonfire and grill for your welcoming party or during the wedding reception.

Keep It Simple With Decor

You’ll never be able to outdo nature in terms of sheer beauty, so why even try? Don’t detract from the natural splendor with overcomplicated wedding design. Keep things simple and chic, with neutral colors and plain textures, and allow guests to be stunned by their surroundings.

Have a Back-Up Plan for Your Wedding Ceremony

Two things even the best planners can’t control: the weather and animals moving into your wedding setting. If you’re planning an outdoor ceremony in an area popular with animals, try to reserve part of your budget for a contingency plan and have a few Plan B ideas at the ready. Keep a flexible mindset and manage your expectations.

Take Time to Enjoy Yourself

Give yourself ample time to enjoy your dream wedding and safari experience. Join your loved ones on game drives or at private game reserves, savor a sunset toast, and enjoy any amenities. Many safari wedding venues are experts at treating couples to an experience of a lifetime. After finding the perfect safari lodge, you can truly bring your best wedding ideas to life. Consider prolonging the magic even further and transitioning right into a safari honeymoon.

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