Our wedding did not just begin on the Saturday morning, but from our first visit to Gondwana Game Reserve a few months before. Standing on the deck at Lehele Lodge, looking over the fynbos, we fell in love with the venue. The best, however, was when we saw the spot where our ceremony would take place. Along the drive there, we stopped to admire a lioness right next to the road. When we stopped and got out at the ceremony venue, it did cross our minds that this lioness would be pretty close to all of our guests come the wedding day! Although, we were told that the lions were not the ones to worry about; we should be more concerned about the herd of elephants joining the party as they would be a bit more difficult to lure away. The ceremony venue was breathtaking! A little clearing among the trees with amazing views of the hills and valleys of Gondwana. We were sold!
During that first visit, we were treated to an evening game drive with a wonderful game ranger, Delicious (who we asked for again during our next stay!) and were lucky enough to see the elephants, rhino, lions and hippo, among other things. That night for dinner, we were so impressed with the lamb shank that we decided then and there to serve that as the main dish at our wedding. We left after that night feeling so excited for our big day.
A week before our wedding date, the Gondwana Facebook page shared a photograph of the male lion standing right outside one of the villas, looking like he was about to walk right inside. Of course, we had to share this photo with our guests, and you can imagine the conversations that went on after that! On the wedding weekend, most of our guests arrived on the Friday night and Gondwana arranged a braai for dinner, with the most amazing sunset to start off the celebrations. Guests were able to arrange game drives for the Saturday morning, while waiting for the late afternoon ceremony. All our guests were transported to the venue in game vehicles (luckily, no elephants joined the outdoor party) and were able to enjoy cheese, crackers and champagne after the wedding ceremony. Then, to prevent boredom while the bridal party was taking photographs, the guests were ushered off on a surprise game viewing experience where the guests stumbled upon a lion kill in full view. Guests watched as the pride of lions devoured a huge Eland as the sun dipped behind the mountains! All of our guests were blown away with the experience, especially as some had never seen anything like this before.
Photo Credit: Devon Naude
The reception was held at Lehele Lodge and again, the sunset did not disappoint! The venue was so beautiful we did not even need much in the way of decor. The food was fantastic, and the whole day had been magical.
We decided to spend an extra night with two of our overseas guests, after the wedding. Again, we had the pleasure of going on a game drive with Delicious. For our sundowner trip, we followed the elephant herd for a while and just as we drove up an incredibly steep hill , the back tyre of the game vehicle experienced a puncture. One of the elephants decided our stationary vehicles bonnet was a good place to rest his trunk for a while. Being that close to such a giant creature – you definitely start to look for escape routes! But Delicious was good friends with the ellies and they stayed close to us for quite some time. We then drove just a few meters away to flatter ground to change the tyre (well, Delicious changed the tyre while the rest of us enjoyed some snacks and wine). The international visitors were quite amazed! It was a wonderful end to our trip.
Our wedding was not just one night, but a whole weekend experience for us and our guests, and one that has left us with such wonderful memories!