A Budget Wedding in South Africa:
The venue, catering & music.
The venue: I tell you, it wasn’t easy to find a venue abroad - with only Google as your personal wedding planner. It’s a terrifying task. Your choices have to made just by looking at images on a screen. It’s like buying shoes without trying them on (I did that too). When you do finally find a venue that seems suitable, and you finally reach out to them for more information, you wonder if they’re billionaires or just too snobby for your custom, as they never pick up the phone or answer your emails. South Africa can be frustrating like that. Maybe it’s because we’re northern Europeans who storm around at 100 miles an hour that we get so frustrated. Maybe it's us and not them.
In any case, we actually only secured our venue a couple of weeks before flying out to SA for the wedding! It could have had even the most zen of brides pulling her hair out. Thanks to my mum…as she found the venue, which was the most beautiful rustic Lodge called ‘La Kruger Lifestyle lodge’. It's situated within Marloth Park, and was so close to everyone’s accommodation that they could even walk there. But I had a feeling the ladies heels and ankles would be reduced to smithereens by the time they arrived - due to the condition of the dirt roads. So we got everyone to drive all of 2 mins to get there.
It’s the perfect place to have a small, intimate gathering. We had a total of 29 guests, which fitted perfectly into the space we chose to say our vows.
To make life easier, the bridal party spent the night before the wedding at La Kruger, so that we’d already be there in the morning to get ready. And we were treated like royalty - the staff lit a fire for us to sit around, waited on us hand and foot and served us drinks continuously (yes I did worry about eye bags for the wedding morning). Especially the two best men, who arrived from Australia and England that day and were ready to push on through to the the morning. We sat down for an outdoor meal with beautiful green-tinted lighting and a relaxing ambiance…the sound of lions in the distance, baboons playing out ferocious domestic disputes and hyenas whooping…as the sun waned over the trees and crickets took over the airwaves. The meal was really impressive and they bent over backwards to cater for the vegetarians.
Catering: We were so glad - the food at La Kruger was incredible. They did all our catering too - organising nibbles and drinks for the guests, while my husband and I went off for our photoshoot. And the evening meal was delicious - my husband and mother in-law are massive foodies and they were both really pleased, so you can trust it was good. The choices of wine and champagne was excellent too, I’m no connoisseur when it comes to these things - if it’s wine and it’s drinkable then get it in me. But Spencer’s Uncle is a bit of a connoisseur, having run wine tasting tours for years, and he was suitably impressed (at least his glazed eyes suggested so), so you can rest assured that it was good.
Above images by Phonix capture
I can’t speak highly enough of this venue, not only because of its beauty, good food and good wine, but because of the staff too. Not only did they organise a lot (because this bride left everything to the last minute), but also because something unforgettable happened that night. Which leads me onto the music side of things.
Music: I searched high and low for a traditional African band to play for us on the evening of the wedding. You see, I had this romantic idea of sitting around a fire while a traditional African group sing and dance beautifully around the glow of the fire for us. That bubble was soon exploded when I heard of the rules of Marloth Park. This is one downside of getting married in a game reserve - if you’re a party animal that is. As there’s wildlife all around you and sound travels so far in the bush, you cannot have a band or play music too loud. And it has to be turned down or off around 10pm. It was a bummer when I found this out, especially because we love a boogie. Spence has the moon walk down and my mother in-law is the dancing queen herself, throwing her hips here there and everywhere the second she hears a beat. Of course, I understood why this rule was put in place and decided instead of moaning about it, we’d just have to have a fairly early dinner and party, that way by 10pm you’re ready to tone it down anyway. We ended up saving money on a DJ and opted for doing it ourselves. We sat down and created a play list on Spotify that would last 5 - 6 hours. Quite nice that way really, you only get the tunes you want.
La Kruger provided the speakers etc., so it worked out perfectly. However, I was still yearning for a talented African band to sing some traditional songs for us. Little did we know our dream was to come true. While being served our 2 course meal, I cheekily asked the waitress if she could sing. When we she said yes, I got even cheekier and asked if she wouldn’t mind singing us a number. The next thing we knew, she’d gathered all the African staff together and they sang us a few absolutely beautiful harmonised numbers. I couldn’t believe it; how can people be born with this much talent? No rehearsals and yet it was spectacular, as if they’d sung together for years. It really was an unforgettable surprise.
So now it’s time to let you now exactly how much all this cost:
Snack platters: £143
Buffet menu: £1,198
Open bar: £223
Plus other small extras.
Total invoice: £1,446 ($1,769)
Do bear in mind, this does not include the night we spent at La Kruger before the wedding, nor does it include the tips we gave the staff for being awesome.
- 3 steps to clearer skin & getting fit.
- Dressing the bride & bridal party on a budget.
- Surviving the Registry Office.
- Flights and car hire.
- Where to stay and what to do.
- The cake, flowers & decor.