Tie the knot in these exquisite South African wedding destinations…
The only wedding appurtenance more important than the officiant, and perhaps the bride’s gown is the venue. Because if you have sweeping vineyards, endless ocean horizons, lush, verdant gardens, or the humming African wilderness as the multi-sensory backdrop to one of the most important days of your life, you could get married in a ramshackle barn and still have the most enchanting recollections of your union. And so, with that in mind, here are some of the country’s most beautiful locations in which to tie the knot!
Wine farm weddings
Head into the food and wine capital of the Cape for a celebration staged against a dramatic backdrop of rolling vineyards and rugged mountains. Babylonstoren’s centuries-old Cape Dutch farmyards offer a historic yet contemporary and versatile wedding venue complemented by the rich, seasonal bounty of this estate’s famous food gardens and award-winning wines. For accommodation (and a pre-ceremony spoil), there’s Babylonstoren’s hotel and spa, while the ceremony itself can either be held under towering oaks by a stream or in the mysterious House of Shadows at the bottom of the garden.
Farm-to-table food, picnics under ancient oaks, wine-tasting in historic manor houses, resplendent food gardens, and luxury accommodations, all tucked into the fynbos-carpeted foothills of the Simonsberg Nature Reserve: could one ask for a more beguiling wedding venue? The historic Boschendal Wine Estate offers a blank canvas for couples to fulfil their wedding vision, from small, intimate gatherings to spectacular all-out celebrations. There are several unique spaces to choose from, both indoors and out, complemented by the estate’s fine repertoire of wines, food, and luxury accommodations.
The perfect blend of history, Winelands scenery, contemporary design, award-winning wines, and one of the best culinary teams in Stellenbosch, Hazendal Wine Estate is another stellar option for a Winelands wedding venue. There is a suite of boutique settings, whether couples are after an opulent ceremony in the Grand Hall; an alfresco celebration on the sprawling lawns in front of the homestead; a striking and sophisticated garden setting upon water in the Hazendal Pavilion; or The Glasshouse venue, in our opinion on of their most exquisite offerings. After the ceremony, there are delicious fine wines and gourmet-style food to be enjoyed in the Avant-Garde Restaurant and the wine tasting lounge.
Steenberg Estate, Constantia
The Cape’s oldest farm, Steenberg Wine Estate, offers a truly picturesque point of marital embarkation for any couple, with its oak-shaded Cape Dutch homesteads, manicured multichromatic gardens, and breath-taking vistas of the Constantia Wine Valley. The lawns in front of the original manor house or the villa heritage buildings are the ideal outdoor spaces for a ceremony, after which guests can head into one of Tryn Restaurant’s stunningly appointed private rooms for a delicious sit-down meal or, for larger parties of 50 to 100 guests, a standing canapé-style reception.
Weddings with an ocean view
Sky Villa Boutique Hotel, Plettenberg Bay
A short five minutes from the Garden Route town of Plettenberg Bay, the five-star Sky Villa Boutique Hotel offers a wedding venue that is an exquisite blend of visionary interior design, luxury amenities, and warm hospitality, all of which are complemented by panoramic views of the Indian Ocean, Keurbooms Lagoon, and Tsitsikamma and Langkloof Mountains. Generous terraces, a pool, and surrounding gardens round out the offering of the Sky Villa Boutique Hotel, a jewel in the crown of the Cape Summer Villas collection and the perfect stage for the union of two people in love.
The Oyster Box Hotel, Durban
Located above Durban’s Umhlanga beach, where the Indian Ocean laps at the KwaZulu-Natal coastline, The Oyster Box is the ideal five-star venue for couples after a seaside wedding experience. This family-owned hotel offers all the luxurious amenities and facilities you could require for your ceremony and reception, with an experienced team of wedding planners and events professionals to help you fine-tune the day’s festivities according to your precise vision, no matter how wild (or subdued).
Twelve Apostles Hotel, Cape Town
Picture this: the sun burning its way westwards, setting fire to the horizon and the Atlantic Ocean, the susurration of the waves as an aural backdrop, and, behind you, the regal countenance of the Twelve Apostles Mountain range. This is the sumptuous experience offered by the five-star Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa, which caters to intimate nuptials and lavish celebrations. They even have dedicated wedding coordinators to help you plan every detail, from the perfect menu and wine list to bespoke flower arrangements and eco-friendly confetti.
Shepstone Gardens, Johannesburg
Considered one of South Africa’s top event venues, Shepstone Gardens is quite literally a fairy tale location for weddings. There’s the striking and elegant Glass Marque, with its marbled floors and chandeliers; the enchanting and atmospheric Grand Hall bedecked in glittering fairy lights; the on-site Chapel with its intricate stone walls and stained-glass windows; and, for outdoor ceremonies, the Natural Arch, embraced by gardens with views of the Joburg skyline. These gorgeous venues are complemented by a team of design experts dedicated to helping couples realise their dream wedding.
The Alphen Hotel, Constantia
Described as a “17th-century historical treasure”, The Alphen Hotel is a stunning wedding venue resplendent in kaleidoscopic gardens, ancient oak trees, and historic architecture. The rolling lawns can accommodate up to 150 guests for an outdoor ceremony and reception, while the understatedly stylish Incognito Bar or the private dining rooms of Blanko Restaurant are perfect for indoor celebrations. Naturally, being located in the heart of the Constantia Winelands—famed for its stratospheric calibre of food and wine—it’s not only your romantic union your guests will long remember this day for!
Weddings in the wild
Gondwana Game Reserve, Herbertdale
If it’s a safari wedding you’ve always dreamed of, Gondwana Game Reserve is a must-see venue, with its beautiful natural setting and comprehensive bouquet of luxury amenities, attentive service, stylish contemporary interiors, and gourmet cuisine. Located in the heart of the Garden Route, this private game reserve offers exclusive and authentic safari-style weddings, complete with luxury lodge and villa accommodation, Africology spa treatments, and exhilarating game drives of the region’s rich diversity of antelope and Big Five animals, birdlife, and flora.
Thornybush, Kruger National Park
Say “I do” beneath the towering boughs of wild fig trees while enveloped in the spiced-fragrance wilderness and a cacophony of indigenous birds. This is the incredible, once-in-a-lifetime wedding experience offered by Thornybush at the world-renown Kruger National Park. This 14,000-hectare private nature reserve has four luxurious lodges, accommodating groups of up to 70 guests, and provides an intimate and uncrowded Big Five wildlife experience, whether you’re striking out at first light or going for a spot-lit night drive!
Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, Walker Bay
Immerse your wedding party in the pristine nature of the southwestern Cape coast at Grootbos’ five-star eco-lodges. With its prime location on fynbos-carpeted hills overlooking the whale-watching haven of Walker Bay, the 2500-hectare Grootbos private nature reserve is truly a spectacular venue in which to tie the knot; one that made Conde Nast’s “Best Hotel in South Africa” Gold List in 2022. There are unique lodges and private villas that blend harmoniously into the surrounding nature, world-class amenities, welcoming hospitality, delicious cuisine, and fine Cape wines to accompany your celebrations.