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Destination I Do
Friday, January 21, 2022

Adventurous South African Wedding

Words by Lauren Ertl
Photos courtesy of Mathias Fast
When it comes to choosing the most unique and adventurous location for a destination wedding, South Africa just might take the cake. Well, at least for Tanya and Alex it did! In fact, the couple specifically decided on a destination wedding because Tanya wished to return to the place she called "home" to marry the love of her life. The beautiful country also held great significance for Alex, a born and raised Californian, who visited there on his first trip out of America.



Q: Why did you choose to do a destination wedding?
A: South Africa has always held a special place in our hearts - the warm people, the stunning landscapes- and we always dreamed to share it with our loved ones. It also felt great to be able to give back to the many vendors in SA who continue to innovate and make us proud of our African roots.

Q: How did your family and friends respond to the decision? If any of them had a negative reaction, how did you resolve it?
A: A destination wedding can be hard for families to accept, as it means some family members and friends won’t be able to take part. Alex’s granddad who is over 90 for example couldn’t make such a long journey, and this was sad for Alex’s family and also for us. We made sure to organize an engagement party in California for the family who couldn’t make it, so all our loved ones there could take part in our journey. We believe it’s important to do something to be inclusive and to find a small way to thank those who can’t travel to your dream destination for the support along the way.  

Q: How/why did you choose the location/destination? Did you run into any issues specific to this destination and how did you resolve them?
A: South Africa was in our minds from the moment we got engaged. And we knew that the Cape is a very special place. Tanya grew up on farms and in the “bush”- the South African wilderness - so we wanted to go somewhere that felt close to nature. We also love wine - Tanya’s mom works in the wine business and Alex went to University near Napa - the wine country of California. With this in mind, the Winelands outside of Cape Town seemed like the perfect place for us - a mix of wild mountains and perfect vineyards and delicious wine! South Africa does present some challenges - we are used to German organization and despite having a super planner, small businesses do sometimes run on African time. We learned to have more patience and not to always expect immediate responses.  

Q: How would you describe your overall experience of planning a destination wedding?
A: We learned that you really need to trust someone on the ground to plan a wedding from abroad. Luckily we had an amazing planner in Jadee, and we felt in control through the whole process, even though we were thousands of miles away. Yes, there were hiccups, but with a few google sheets (Alex loves tracking tasks!) we stayed organized and worked through each one as it came up. We tried to always remember - enjoy the process. Even the small things that seem like annoyances are things you will only get to do once if you do it right, so enjoy every moment.  

Q: What were the travel logistics like for your guests? Did you run into any issues and how did you resolve them?
A: Wow - the travel! That was quite the feat. Alex’s family was denied boarding at the airport because they didn’t have a birth certificate for Alex’s 12-year-old brother, and somehow we missed that any travelers under 13 with parents need a certificate to enter SA. Luckily with a few new bookings, we got everyone over in time for the wedding, but that was a stressful morning. We learned to always check visa statuses and any travel docs in advance if you plan on bringing in a big international crew.

Q: Do you feel you spent more or less money by choosing to do a destination wedding?
A: Hard to say - we definitely got more for our money doing it in SA. With the exchange rate, we were able to make our money go further, but we did also go pretty wild and book a 5-day extravaganza. We kind of felt we had to do more since it was a destination and our family and friends came from all over the world to be there, and we likely would have only done one day if it had been a home wedding. In the end, having the whole week was totally worth it for us and it became a holiday of a lifetime for so many of the people we love in our lives.

Q: Overall, do you have any special advice you would like to share with our readers to help prepare them for their day?
A: Try and plan one trip a year before to go and see venues and meet your vendors. For example - Tanya did a hair and make-up trial, and it really helped ease any nerves and jitters to get the vendors trialed and booked in advance. It also helps build a picture and the excitement closer to the day, if you have eaten the food and drank the wine your guests will enjoy.



Vendors: Photographer: Mathias Fast; Wedding Planner: Jadee McGowan of Jadee x Watermelon; Ceremony/Reception Site/Florist/Cake: Babylonstoren; Stationery: Secret Diary; Hair and Makeup: Langaro; Gown Designer: Kaviar Gauche; Groom’s Clothing Designer: Monokel

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