The Offbeat Bride: Carmen, Linguist (and Tribesmaid)

Her offbeat partner: Grant, Civil Engineer

Date and location of wedding: Bonamanzi Game Park, Hluhluwe, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa — June 16, 2013

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: As many of our friends and family were going to be traveling across South Africa to attend our wedding anyway, we turned it into a destination event, and spent the entire weekend relaxing and partying with our family and friends in, arguably, the most beautiful area of our country. It was lovely having our friends camping with us, and being able to share this special time with them.

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Grant and I are both proud South Africans, and we both love the outdoors, so it seemed a natural choice to get married outdoors in the Bushveld. We chose an amazing game reserve, Bonamanzi Game Park, that has a beautiful ceremony venue on an island.


My mom made my dress and fairy wings, and I made my bouquet and the groom and groomsmen's boutonnieres. My bridal party and close family members wore beaded corsages made by a local company that makes beads out of recycled paper. Most of our wedding was in support of local craftsmen.


Our reception was also very proudly South African. Most of the décor was made by my mom and me, and in the end we only hired the tables and chairs. We had always envisioned having potjie pots (metal pots used to make potjie, which is a South African stew) as centrepieces, and so we had log slices in the centre of the tables to support them. We also had wheat decorating the tables. Not only did the wheat add to the “African” feel of the room, but it also features in Grant's family's coat-of-arms, making it a symbolic choice.


Our starter was a biltong and mushroom soup, and the main course was a lamb potjie served in the pots at the centre of the tables. My mom made and decorated our wedding cake and bought us the cake topper which is now an ornament in our lounge. Instead of champagne for toasting, we gave each table a bottle of Amarula.


We also had kiddies' tables and babysitters, so that children could play and draw to their hearts' content in close proximity to their parents. The kids had a blast, and it was so much fun sharing our day with our little loved ones as well as the adults.

Our ceremony programme was also an activity book, with many games for guests to play during the cocktail hour and reception. My mother-in-law made beautiful pens as favours for our guests as well.



Tell us about the ceremony:
The ceremony was on a small island, and many antelope and a crocodile wandered quite close to us to witness the event. There were benches set under the trees as seating. Our ceremony was a traditional Anglican one, and our officiant, Janet, is a close friend of ours and a wonderful lady. She kept the ceremony simple and true to us, and she did all she could to make it special. Grant's sisters read for us, and the readings were two Bible passages that hold a great deal of meaning for us.



We were inspired by a few previous Offbeat Brides and used a hollowed out Harry Potter book as a ring book for the ceremony (I'm a huge Pothead), except we used Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for the ring book, and had the chapter heading “The Wedding” at the opening. My ring is a beautiful eternity ring, and Grant's is a tungsten ring with a mahogany inlay.


We also had a wine box ceremony, and my uncle made our wine box as a wedding present to us. It is now on display in our lounge.


Our biggest challenge:
The biggest challenge was juggling our lives in the months leading up to the wedding. I was studying and working full-time, and had five exams in the three weeks before the wedding (I wrote the last one four days before the wedding). It took a lot of delegating and familial support to make the wedding happen, and we all thought that I'd be a stressed-out wreck by the time the wedding rolled around. In the end, it was not at all stressful, and I found the process to be a relaxed one. A lot of the crafting that I did for the wedding was left until the last minute, but we got it done!


My favorite moment:
I think that the most meaningful part of our day was when my stepdad played “Canon in D Major” on the guitar as my dad walked me down the aisle. It meant so much to me to have both my dads involved!


We had so much fun doing our first dance, which was a simple foxtrot, and it was great for Grant to show off to his family and friends (he has only been dancing for a year or so). After that, the evening was magical, with children and adults partying with us on the dance floor.

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My funniest moment:
The game reserve has a crocodile enclosure, and a few days before the wedding we noticed a crocodile roaming around freely. As there were quite a few children attending the wedding, so I queried the safety of the crocodile with the staff at the reserve. They said that crocodiles do not like the noise and smell of people, so there wouldn't be a problem. As the crocodile had been fed recently, and was not due for another feeding, he wouldn't be at all interested in people.

During the ceremony, the crocodile joined our guests on the ceremony island, and watched the entire proceedings with his mouth wide open. Needless to say, it freaked quite a few people out, but they must really love us because they all sat through the entire ceremony anyway!


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Comments on Carmen & Grant’s weekend getaway “crocodiles on safari” wedding

  1. Yay for a South African wedding! This all looks so simple and elegant. Love the potjie decor (a practical option too, with it being used to serve the meal). You looked exquisite and I am so stealing the idea of being seated during the ceremony. Glad the croc didn’t take more of an interest in your wedding!

    • Thanks so much for the kind words! YES to the seating during the ceremony! Our officiant suggested it, and I am now so glad that she did because I was giddy by the time I reached the “altar”, and standing through the ceremony could have been disastrous!

  2. I love the simple beauty of it all! The homemade touches turned out great, and it’s extra cool to use the food (pots) as the centerpieces!

    • Thanks so much! I have to admit to failing to mention in the write-up above that the food-centrepiece idea was my husband’s! It was honestly the most awesome thing he added to the planning, and saved us so much hassle trying to sort out ornamental centrepieces!

  3. Okay, that first photo… amazing! I love the natural framing and the warm romance of the sun through the branches. Second, I love it when brides get married with wings on… because I got married with fairy wings. Woot!

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