Real wedding: African dream

Real wedding: African dream
Richard and Martin travelled to Ulusaba Private Game Reserve, where the team planned the perfect day for them

For Martin and Richard, their wedding was a very special and private affair incorporating wild nature, a wonderful local choir and amazing vistas over the South African landscape

Photography: Virgin Limited Edition

Martin and Richard knew they wanted a very special location for their wedding, which was designed as a private and intimate destination celebration. Having met 12 years earlier at college, while studying fashion design and an art diploma respectively, this was the couple’s opportunity to enjoy the trip of a lifetime and to set the seal on their relationship.

Real wedding: African dream
For Richard and Martin, this was the trip of a lifetime and a chance to experience a very special landscape rich in wildlife

The choice of South Africa was for its family ties, but also for the opportunity to get close to nature. Richard says: “Martin’s father was raised in South Africa before moving back to the UK when he was in his late teens. His father always spoke fondly of his childhood memories and time spent in Africa. We wanted to visit and experience this magical place for ourselves”.

With the country chosen, it was just a matter of finding the perfect spot. And here the allure of South Africa’s wild landscapes became the draw. “Richard is a keen photographer with a passion for wildlife so the thought of going on a safari was an absolute dream,” says Martin.

Real wedding: African dream
Martin has family roots in South Africa, while Richard is a keen photographer, so Ulusaba ticked every box for a destination wedding

When the couple discovered Ulusaba Private Game Reserve – part of the Virgin Limited Edition collection of properties personally selected and owned by Sir Richard Branson – they knew they had found a dream wedding location. Set within Sabi Sands Game Reserve, a 13,500-hectare paradise in the South African bush, Ulusaba is on the edge of the Greater Kruger National Park and is designed as a small and peaceful retreat with 21 rooms and suites across two authentically African lodges.

There are superb wildlife spotting opportunities for the ‘big five’ and a wide variety of other species – there’s even a hippo watering hole right on site – and breathtaking views to the distant Drakensberg Mountains. Alongside the safari drives and walking safaris, the resort offers a spa, superb food and a well-stocked wine cellar of South Africa’s finest vintages, so perfect romantic setting for an unforgettable stay.

“The wedding was planned to perfection – within minutes of arriving at Ulusaba we felt welcomed and part of the family”

Real wedding: African dream
There are superb wildlife spotting opportunities at the reserve – the wedding was even attended by a group of curious wild onlookers

With Ulusabi booked, all Richard and Martin had to do was pack – their wedding arrangements were in the capable hands of the on-site team. They had chosen a date in November, which is a good time to visit as it’s midway through spring in South Africa and lovely weather comes pretty much guaranteed. They were both overawed by the beauty of the place when they arrived, and say that the welcome they received was very special. “We were greeted by the amazing Anel. She planned our wedding to perfection and instantly put us at ease. Within minutes of arriving we felt welcomed and part of the family,” says Martin.

They had chosen to get married at Kings Rock – one of a number of stunning outdoor locations at the reserve just made for a wedding ceremony. Wearing smart suits and waistcoats, and with toning floral ties and fabulous buttonholes featuring apricot roses and vivid blue flowers, Richard and Martin swapped rings overlooking what they describe as: “breathtaking scenery”.

Real wedding: African dream
This is an area renowned for Shangaan songs and a local choir serenaded the newlyweds

While this was an intimate wedding, it wasn’t entirely private as a curious band of monkeys turned up to act as impromptu witnesses. During their ceremony, there was a wonderful choir from Ulusaba – the locals are renowned for their beautiful singing and the choir performed traditional Shangaan songs to celebrate the moment. Then, perfect end to a perfect day, the newlyweds went on a private game drive to experience more wonderful animal encounters in this wild and precious African landscape.

Real wedding: African dream
After the ceremony the newlyweds went on a private game drive to experience more of this rich landscape

Richard and Martin planned their wedding with Virgin Limited Edition, which offers weddings and honeymoons at Ulusaba Private Reserve. For more information, visit


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