10 Spots to Tie the Knot

Are you thinking about a country wedding? Tie the knot on a wine farm, in a castle, at a dam or in the bush… These are 10 top spots to host your special day.

Valverde country hotel summer dam

1. Muldersdrift – Valverde Country Hotel, Gauteng

It’s the magnificent gardens with birds and lilies on the dam, small waterfall, extensive lavender fields, year-round blooms and features like pillars and arches for stunning wedding photos that, for me, make Valverde Country Hotel a perfect wedding venue. Additionally, the management of this large lodge in the Cradle of Humankind near Krugersdorp, has nuptial ceremonies down to a fine art; no detail is overlooked. Although Valverde is only a short drive from Joburg or Pretoria, it feels right out in the country. There are two chapels – one in the gardens that can seat up to 500 guests, and with superb views, and a smaller, covered one reserved as back-up in case the weather gods prevent the ceremony from taking place outside. The hotel has 25 rooms (and there is plenty more accommodation in the vicinity) including two bridal suites with four-poster beds and other romantic spoils. During the day Valverde offers free shuttles to nearby Lanseria airport. In short, this is wedding planning made easy. – Fiona McIntosh

010 591 6840, [email protected], www.valverde.co.za

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2. Mpumalanga – Flycatcher Castle, Graskop

The grand Flycatcher Castle in Graskop is decadent and fun. Built by its eccentric owner, sculptor Manie Connoway, the boutique hotel, with its grand pillars, landscaped gardens, fountain and gilt eagle over the entrance, doubles as a gallery displaying Manie’s creations and his eclectic collection of antiques, magnificent doors and artwork. There is an on-site wedding chapel and two honeymoon suites – one elegant and traditional, in the style of the other luxury rooms, and one alternative. But it is very alternative and may not be to the taste of all newly-weds – check the website for details before booking. Even if you’re not planning on getting married, Flycatcher Castle – which offers a touch of humour in an otherwise rather conservative area – is well worth a stop-over if you’re in the vicinity of Blyde River Canyon. The rate includes breakfast and a beautifully crafted four-course dinner (bring your own booze) served in a romantic, candlelit dining room decorated with ostrich feathers. – Fiona McIntosh

013 767 1114, [email protected]www.flycatchercastle.com

1 Wedding Venue Towerbosch

3. Western Cape – Towerbosch, Stellenbosch

Towerbosch, on the Knorhoek Wine Estate in the heart of the Stellenbosch Winelands, is a particularly special venue. From the moment you drive up the road lined with white rose bushes to the beautifully designed venue, you’ll be wooed by its charm and romance. The decor is simple yet elegant and both the little chapel and the reception area are integrated into a pretty garden, ideal for photos. Delicious treats emerge from the kitchen; Towerbosch was crowned Eat Out’s Best Country Style Restaurant in South Africa in 2013 and scooped Best Wedding Venue on a Wine Farm at the TopVendor Wedding Awards 2014. And after a great party and a few glasses of Knorhoek’s superb wines under the belt, the bonus is that you don’t have to drive – there’s plenty of accommodation at Knorhoek Country Guesthouse, a short stagger up the road, including a honeymoon suite, two luxury self-catering cottages, several en-suite bedrooms and one self-contained family suite. – Shaen Adey

021 865 2958, [email protected], www.knorhoek.co.za

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4. Limpopo – Mopani Rest Camp, Kruger National Park

There is nothing quite like a secluded bush wedding in the heart of our flagship national park, surrounded by your closest family, special friends and wildlife. With two venue options to choose from and a conference facility as back-up in case of rain, the Mopani Rest Camp in the Kruger National Park is the perfect choice. Just over 7km out of the rest camp you will find the Mooiplaas picnic site. It overlooks the Tsendze River and is perfect to seal your love with a kiss and celebrate as the sun sets on a beautiful day. If you prefer a tamboti canopy to frame the scene, pick the Ndzopforini bush braai site. Decorations, benches and chairs are included in the price for both venues, but extras such as tables, food, crockery, cutlery, lighting and welcome drinks can be arranged with Mopani restaurant. Mooiplaas can accommodate 80 guests while Ndzopforini can host 150 people. All guests can be accommodated in the rest camp and the newly-weds are treated to a complimentary champagne breakfast. – René de Klerk

013 735 6535/6, www.sanparks.co.za/parks/kruger/camps/mopani/

NewHouse Farm3

5. KwaZulu-Natal – NewHouse Farm, Winterton

If a farm-style wedding is your idea of bliss, NewHouse Farm in the Central Drakensberg might just be the answer. Built for the farmer’s daughters’ weddings, it is easy to see that this wedding venue has been developed from the bride’s point of view. With vistas of the mountains and farmlands, and overlooking a beautiful dam, the wedding site is pure rural charm. The venue is elevated for a marquee, with a wooden walkway down to and along the dam, ending in a covered deck, perfect for the ceremony. Guests are seated on a grassy slope overlooking the dam, with traditional farm-wedding hay bales as a (seasonal) seating option. Everything else you would want or need for your wedding can be arranged, from catering to music – and you might even be able to organise the tractor for a bridal entrance with a difference. There are also a number of beautiful sites in the area for wedding photos, including an old stone mill. There is no on-site accommodation, but Winterton and the surrounding area has loads of options. Three that I would recommend are Rose Cottage (www.rosecottagebnb.co.za), The Bridge Hotel (www.bridgelodge.co.za) and Swallow’s Nest (www.swallowsnestbnb.co.za). – Stephen Smith

083 631 1226, [email protected], www.newhousefarm.co.za

3 Wedding Venue, Minas, Shaen Adey

6. Limpopo – Mina’s, Magoebaskloof

Mina’s, in the misty mountain forest of the Magoebaskloof, is a charming arts café and farm venue perfect for a rustic country wedding. Ceremonies are held outside under large, shady trees with stunning views down the valley. Guests sit on straw bales or logs draped in pretty white cloth, ribbons and flowers, while the couple exchanges their vows. The in-house farm kitchen is renowned for delicious meals served in the renovated stone farmhouse. Accommodation is available in the secluded cob cottage, cabins and private campsite on the farm, but there is plenty of accommodation in the area, so guests can dance away the night before retiring. The farm is beautiful year round, with St Joseph’s lilies blooming in summer, cosy fires in winter, blossoms in spring and autumnal leaves making for stunning photos. – Shaen Adey

083 980 8433, [email protected], www.minas.co.za

jan harmsgat se Agerplaas Taken by Elza Roux (5)

7. Gauteng – Jan Harmsgat se Agterplaas, Cullinan

This wedding venue in Cullinan, east of Pretoria, is for a different kind of wedding. It started as a shed with only a roof but owner, JanHarm Vorster, began to get creative and fill in the wall space with all the collectables he has been gathering since a little boy. It gave him great joy to use all the tin mugs, pots, bottles and biscuit tins and embed them in the walls. Even an old sewing machine is built in. The venue can hold 60-110 people and, with 10 churches in Cullinan or the outdoor Junkyard at Rust in White next door, which belongs to JanHarm’s partner Pieter Vosloo, there’s a great choice. Gastehys JanHarmsgat, his upmarket B&B, is situated close to the wetlands and offers four unique rooms. Extra accommodation can easily be arranged in the town. – Sue Adams

082 255 2465, [email protected], www.janharmsgat.co.za

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8. Western Cape – Geelbek Restaurant, West Coast National Park

Langebaan Lagoon creates an idyllic backdrop for a wedding at the Geelbek Restaurant. This historical Cape Dutch building overlooks the tranquil waters that are home to vast numbers of water birds. The setting is even more beautiful between August and September as the landscape is transformed by spectacular flower displays, adding bursts of colour to the landscape. You can say your vows in a 100-year-old church on the beach in Churchhaven, a small white-washed village in the park, while the Geelbek Restaurant can accommodate up to 200 people. Geelbek will assist with wedding co-ordination, catering, decor hire and flowers. The bride and groom can enjoy a romantic midnight picnic on the beach before retiring to the honeymoon suite with candles, chocolates and flowers. Wedding guests can be accommodated in the nearby Duinepos chalets that offer 11 self-catering units (www.duinepos.co.za). – René de Klerk

022 772 2134, [email protected], www.geelbek.co.za

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9. KwaZulu-Natal – iNsingizi Lodge & Spa, Mid-Illovo

This lodge and spa on a 400-hectare, private estate is set in the craggy hills of Mid-Illovo, conveniently between Pietermaritzburg and Durban. I recently attended a wedding there, and the bride arrived by boat to the chapel that overlooks the big farm dam. iNsingizi has accommodation for about 48 guests and we were fortunate to have booked a charming, little, thatched chalet. There’s also a delightful honeymoon suite. Wedding menus can be customised to ensure the bride is thrilled with her selection of dishes. The brownies here are legendary as is the chicken and prawn curry. The lamb, slow-roasted with rosemary, is a popular choice for mains.The on-site spa is a wonderful spoil for bridal couples and before leaving for home, I made a detour and indulged in a luxurious treatment – the perfect end to a wonderful weekend. – Olivia Schaffer

083 414 1932, www.insingizi.co.za

Bosduifklip wedding4

10. Western Cape – Bosduifklip, Lambert’s Bay

Bosduifklip is rather special. The award-winning outdoor restaurant and wedding venue is tucked under a massive rock overhang on Albina Farm, just 4km inland from Lambert’s Bay. A popular combination for brides and grooms is holding the wedding ceremony on a beautiful Atlantic beach at Lambert’s Bay, followed by a reception feast at Bosduifklip. But many couples choose to do it all at the rocky outcrop. The rustic setting is spectacular and unique and can accommodate up to 150 guests – open-air on the rock ledge overhang, or under a roofed area, where you can dance in the firelight beneath the stars. From the foot of the massive sandstone slabs overhanging the rough-hewn, wooden tables, guests have a vista of rolling countryside with the Jakkals River running through it. The buffet menu at this licensed venue offers a local fusion of traditional slow-cooked Sandveld cuisine and fresh seafood, and there is ample accommodation for guests in Lambert’s Bay (www.lambertsbay.co.za). – Keri Harvey

084 703 8311, [email protected]www.bosduifklip.co.za

For more idyllic countryside location ideas, see Weddings in the Wild.

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