You’re planning the dream honeymoon and wedding. You want a destination with stunning landscapes, romantic hotels, great cuisine, perfect weather and loads of culture. And let’s be honest, you want to look good on Instagram. Where would the ideal place be? We have a suggestion: South Africa.
Around sixteen million people visit South Africa every year. It’s such a versatile destination. You can have a safari wedding, a big city wedding, a beach wedding or a Winelands’ wedding. You can also have a bit of everything. It’s easy to spend two-weeks in South Africa without feeling bored, making it easy to combine your wedding and honeymoon in one trip.
Can gay couples get married in South Africa?
Yes, of course. Under the 1994 constitution, gay rights were enshrined in South African law. Gay marriage was introduced in 2006 – several years before it was legalised in many European countries.
You can have a full, legal wedding ceremony in South Africa. You’ll be obliged to stay in the country for four days before your wedding and you must meet the minister before the ceremony. As a foreigner, you’ll need a “Letter of No Impediment to Marry” from your embassy. Supposing you’re a divorcee, you’ll need to provide proof of termination of your previous marriage or marriages (get you). Gay couples can marry in South Africa with the same rights as straight couples. The only difference is that a religious or civil officer reserves the right to refuse on “moral” grounds. This shouldn’t pose any problems. What gay couple would want their vows to be solemnised by someone who’d been coerced into performing a ceremony they didn’t believe in? We have great contact with the best gay-friendly hotels and lodges in South Africa, so you’ll have no trouble on that score.
Unlike in Mexico, you won’t need to do blood tests before you marry. Sadly, Mexico won’t allow you to get married if you or your partner is HIV positive. The legal rigmarole of marriage is much easier to navigate in South Africa than many other countries.
Getting married in Cape Town
Cape Town is the most cosmopolitan city in Africa and the region’s de facto gay capital. Table Mountain looms over the city. It makes for quite a dramatic backdrop. When you ascend Table Mountain you’ll be greeted with some of the finest views in the world. You can take quite spectacular wedding photos with the mountain in the background.
One of our favourite wedding destinations in Cape Town is The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa. It’s a luxury seafront hotel in a secluded setting near Camps Bay. The hotel has its own wedding coordinators so you’ll be in safe hands. It’s one of the most popular wedding venues in Cape Town for both gay and straight couples. You can get married in the hotel’s gardens surrounded by uninterrupted views of Table Mountain. It’s a 20-minute drive from The Twelve Apostles to the V&A Waterfront.
Combining South Africa with Mauritius
Supposing you’d prefer a twin-centre itinerary, combining South Africa with Mauritius is ideal. It’s just a four-hour flight from Johannesburg to Mauritius. You can enjoy the cultural buzz of Cape Town, pursue the Big Five on safari and then unwind on a perfect beach in Mauritius (ideally while staying at a luxury hotel like Sugar Beach). If you combine these destinations, your trip will begin in South Africa and end in Mauritius. Both countries are popular to visit throughout the year, although you may wish to avoid the rainy season in Mauritius from December to March.
Mauritius is the top luxury island destination in the Indian Ocean and it’s an excellent choice for a honeymoon. As well as boasting world-class luxury hotels, it’s a dream destination for foodies. The One & Only Le Saint Geran has a Michelin-starred restaurant that emerged as part of a £41 million refurbishment. You can also try classic Mauritian cuisine on the southwest of the island at Le Chateau de Bel Ombre. There’s more to Mauritius than hotels, food and beaches. You can explore the buzzing capital of Port Louis, take a hike in Black River Gorges National Park and, if you’re feeling daring, ride an ATV to the waterfalls.
Safari weddings in South Africa
No trip to South Africa is complete without a safari adventure at one of the major parks. Pursuing the Big Five through the bush is one of the major bucket list experiences. You come face to face with the most spectacular wildlife on earth. South Africa has many of the finest luxury safari lodges in the region. Enjoying a bottle of champagne in your private hot tub with giraffes and zebras strolling by is quite an experience. In short, a safari wedding in South Africa is impossibly romantic.
The eastern Cape is malaria-free so you won’t need a malaria jab. If you intend to get married at Kruger National Park you will need a jab and this can have side effects. You don’t want to be decked out in all your wedding finery and feeling nauseous, do you?
Kruger National Park is vast: roughly the same size as Israel. It’s the most famous park in South Africa and it offers many unforgettable safari experiences. If you’re confident you won’t have any side effects from the jab then head for Kruger National Park. If you’re not so confident then the Eastern Cape is the place to be. It’s also much smaller so you’re guaranteed to see the Big Five as the game is more concentrated. Shamwari Private Game Reserve is a great choice for a safari wedding in South Africa’s Eastern Cape.
A Winelands wedding in South Africa
Wine lovers will want to taste South Africa’s finest. It’s roughly an hour and a half drive from Cape Town to Franschhoek in the Western Cape. This is the gastronomy capital of South Africa. It’s full of charming Dutch colonial architecture. Franschhoek’s wine culture derives from the Huguenots – Protestant exiles from France who were welcomed to the Cape by the Dutch. They brought their French winemaking expertise with them and it has flourished to this day. You’ll want to explore the gabled homesteads of Franschhoek and take a tour of the wine estates.
If you’re planning to get married in the Winelands, Babylonstoren is a great choice. Founded by design guru Karen Roos, it combines the classic Dutch colonial aesthetic with a modern twist. It’s surrounded by some of the finest private gardens in the Winelands.