Tying the knot in South Africa

30 March 2006

Imagine tying the knot on a beach of white sand, or in the African veld as the sun goes down. More and more couples from the United Kingdom and Europe are finding that South Africa is an attractive destination for the wedding of their dreams.

Wedding season
Almost a quarter of British couples who married in the last two years chose to tie the knot overseas, according to a recent survey by UK firm Direct Line Home Insurance.

This is more than double the number reported a decade ago. The same survey revealed that more than two million people were recently invited to an overseas wedding.

“Affordable airfares, a sense of adventure and the drudgery of British weather mean that overseas weddings are more popular than they have ever been,” according to company spokesman Simon Ziviani.

Cape of weddings
Cape Town is a popular choice for the world’s hopeless romantics, and the city’s wedding planners are rising to the challenge providing increasingly popular outdoor weddings.

Lat year there were 8 000 weddings in Cape Town during the “wedding season” from September to March, more than half were for foreign couples according to Pam Black, author of Under African Skies, a guide to getting married in South Africa.

Planners in the city offer romantic ceremonies on Cape Town’s white-sand beaches, in the vineyards of the wine farms or even on top of Table Mountain.

“A really lovely, lavish wedding in South Africa can be had for £7 000 to £9 000 (about R75 000 – R100 000), including things such as a string quartet during the ceremony, flowers, limousine, food and wine for 100 guests, band and wedding dress,” Black told the UK’s Sunday Times. British couples could spend about £16 000 (R175 000) on a similar ceremony at home.

Beach wedding
“I’ll never forget walking barefoot along the bougainvillea-strewn beach with my dad, seeing Nick standing, waiting for me in the gazebo above the waves and thinking ‘This is the most beautiful day of my life’,” said Adrienne Gabriel, who recently married on the KwaZulu-Natal beach.

“For the 100 or so people who came, flying to Africa wasn’t much more hassle than going to a normal wedding in the UK,” Gabriel added.

“One travel agent organised all the tickets and accommodation and recommended holidays for those who wanted to see a bit of the country afterwards.

“It was a trip I don’t think anybody will forget.”

Planning ahead
Wedding planners recommend a year’s planning, so that friends and relatives can make the necessary travel arrangements, and to plan if they’d like to see a little more of the country while they’re here.

For foreigners planning to marry in South Africa, the wedding official requires the photo- and green-stamp pages of your passports, as well as a signed affidavit stating the dates and places of birth of the bridal couple.

South Africans are respectful of all beliefs, and whether you’re Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or atheist, you’ll be able to find someone to preside over your ceremony.

And while the vows can take place on the beach, or in the veld, South African law requires the wedding register to be signed under the roof of a venue that has a valid, registered address.

SouthAfrica.info reporter

Using SAinfo material Want to use this article in your publication or on your website?
See: Using SAinfo material