More and more brides and grooms are choosing to share their vows not in the confines of a building, but rather outside, with nature itself as their backdrop. Beside a river, in a garden, between mountains, or under a forest canopy, wedding venue trends for 2017 and 2018 advocate for natural scenery. So if you’re thinking of enjoying the most special day of your life at an outdoor location, Kristan Wood has done the research and found the most stunning garden, forest and outdoor wedding venues in or near Gauteng.
The Nutcracker Venue
15 kms outside the town of Parys and 1 and a half hours drive from Johannesburg, The Nutcracker Venue is situated in the heart of the Vredefort Dome – the site of the largest verified impact crater on earth. It’s as if the stars came down to declare love right here. With exquisite fauna and flora, The Nutcracker Venue brings a luscious, rustic, countryside feel, perfect for something formal, relaxed, or even a picnic-style event. Included in the venue hire is a picnic area, open-air venue, and the outdoor ceremony (or a chapel, if you prefer). And for the reception, timeless vintage metallics marry beautifully with weathered wooden furniture pieces, with neutral as a basic to accommodate for any colour scheme.
For guests looking to prolong the magic of their wedding day, The Nutcracker Venue specialises in turning the occasion into a weekend – with only one wedding hosted at a time, parties are able to comfortably arrive on the Friday and leave on the Sunday. So there’s minimal stress, and extended pleasure.
Location: Schurwedraai Farm, Parys
Services offered: Accommodation, on site catering (tailor the menu to your requirements), staff, personal assistance from the day of enquire to the day of departure
Guest Capacity: 60 – 160 pax
Reminiscent of an enchanted garden straight from a fairytale, Shepstone Gardens is teeming with greenery and hints of the 20th century. Located in the heart of Mountain View, Jozi-based brides won’t need to travel far to experience a wedding of dreamy proportions. The main house is part of a unique time in Johannesburg’s heritage and, built from local quartz estimated to be 350 million years old, both the bridal party and guests will feel like royalty amidst their own lavish castle.
The open-air Glass Marquee allows either the ceremony or reception to be as intimately part of the garden as possible, while also sheltering everyone from the elements. And though you’re immersed in the foliage, the venue is marked with a sense opulence: elegant chandeliers, golden accents and grand pillars simply scream luxury. Depending on the bride’s level of required support, the venue offers either a full wedding planning service or just on-the-day coordination.
Location: 8 Hope Rd, Mountain View
Services offered: Wedding coordination, in-house DJ, staff, and a list of preferred wedding suppliers including catering, decor, photographers and more
Guest Capacity: Up to 200 pax
Everwood Country Weddings Estate
Nestled in the tranquil gardens at Nooitgedacht near Muldersdrift, Everwood is just a 30 minute drive from Sandton. And with only one venue on the premises, Everwood offers brides complete exclusivity for their special day.
A picturesque open-sided chapel sits amid leafy gardens with a magnificent, long-distance view over the open country to the north. Naturally covered with ivy and flowering creepers, it is an utterly memorable space to say your “I Do’s”. And if ever you needed the perfect backdrop for photographs, Everwood’s outdoor venue is dotted with large trees, shrubs, flower beds and gorgeous water features. The onsite cottage ruin makes for still memories with a rural, vintage ambience. The bridal suite is also available for a convenient and romantic stay-over option, but it also offers a large, sunny area for the bride and bridesmaids to get ready in, with refreshments and snacks included.
Location: Plot 138, Nooitgedacht, Muldersdrift
Services offered: Catering, wedding coordination, bridal suite
Guest Capacity: Up to 250 pax
In The Woods
In the Woods Wedding venue is set amongst trees that are over 60 years old. Only a 15 minute drive from OR Tambo International Airport and a 10 minute drive from Bedford Centre, it’s a location that is close by while still offering the magic of seeming to be in another world. Walking around the site, there is an untainted country feeling, and the venue is sure to make the dreams come true of those who’ve always imagined a wedding in a forest-like setting.
Two beautiful chapels are available to choose from, one of which is open-aired, built with the rustic remains of stone-like ruins. With wooden bridges, enchanted forest pathways and a natural unmanicured waterfall, a wedding at In the Woods oozes with nature, fantasy and myth.
Location: Water’s Edge Estate, 72a Rietfontein Rd, Primrose, Germiston
Services offered: Venue, 2 chapels, bridal dressing room, minister, in-house DJ, draping and decor service, wedding coordinator
Guest Capacity: 120 pax
Valverde Eco Hotel
The natural beauty of the landscape and the view over the Elandsdrift Valley serve as a perfect backdrop for weddings at Valverde Eco Hotel. With the property’s gardens, colourful flowers and fountains, every wedding is a spectacular occasion filled to the brim with natural elements and stunning photo opportunities.
Situated in the Muldersdrift area, Valverde has two unique wedding venues to select from, each with its own separate entrance gates – guaranteeing privacy for your function. Both can cater for garden ceremonies, morning weddings or picnic weddings. Selecting the King’s Hall comes with the Jasmine Chapel, which overlooks the Elandsdrift Valley and Renaissance garden. Its wrought iron features, wooden pews, red carpet and entrance arch make it an ideal haven to share your vows. While the Olive Lapa and its Vista Chapel allow for impressive views over Elandsdrift Valley. But what’s really fantastic about this spot is that they offer a money back guarantee on your booking for a month, and your guests receive preferential rates on hotel rooms.
Location: Beyers Naude Ext., Plot 5, Lammermoor
Services offered: Accommodation, catering, decor, wedding coordination
Guest Capacity: Between 20 and 250 pax
Diamond 4 Estate
Visiting Diamond 4 Estate is to experience vast open fields, soft breezes in the grass and colourful sunsets. Found just outside Muldersdrift, the venue staff specialise in creating and planning for a day that is both to the bride’s taste and stress free. If you’d like to invite every person that you and your groom know, you’ll be happy to find that Diamond 4 is one of the few venues in South Africa that can cater up to 800 people, with their catering services ready and able to provide a variety of alternative food types, such as traditional or modern Indianor vegetarian. In the case of Halaal requirements, you’re welcome to bring in your own caterers.
Venue hire of Diamond 4 includes a number of added extras to make the day especially memorable: you can opt for the inside or garden chapel, incorporate a touch of magic with bubble machines, and there’s even an indoor play area and outdoor jungle gym to keep the kids safely occupied while the adult guests mingle.
Location: 73 Bartlet Rd, Honingklip, Muldersdrift
Services offered: Dressing rooms for bride and groom, complimentary bridal suite including breakfast basket, standard decor and lighting, catering, staff, wedding coordinator
Guest Capacity: Between 80 to 800 pax
Faircity Roodevallei Hotel lies on the banks of the Pienaar’s River in Pretoria, surrounded by a nature reserve and a bird sanctuary. The Hotel is renowned for its tranquil country setting within easy reach of Johannesburg and OR Tambo International Airport.
With both indoor and outdoor venues, it provides a natural setting surrounded by perfectly landscaped gardens for memorable events. The unique Garden Chapel has a breathtaking view of the Pienaar’s River and is the perfect setting for a romantic outdoor ceremony. Sunbird venue is perfect for an indoor ceremony or in the event or rain and, with its charismatic thatched venue with large windows, looks out to the beautifully manicured gardens. Cormorant Terrace, the indoor reception venue, boasts extensive windows as well which offer spectacular views of the great outdoors. While Kingfisher Terrace, more suitable for intimate events, is the ideal semi-outdoor wedding reception venue that offers a natural and airy feel with exposed wood beams and thatched roof, ultimately flowing out into the lush garden.
Location: 81 Kameeldrift Weg, Kameeldrift East, Pretoria
Services offered: Standard decor, staff, menu tasting prior to wedding, complimentary room for bride and groom for 2 nights, complimentary groomsmen dressing room
Guest Capacity: Up to 180 pax
Combining classic design, elegant décor and harmonious ambience with sheer joie de vivre, the character of Summer Place is generous rather than rich, welcoming its guests without overwhelming them, inviting them to linger a while longer.
Set in the exclusive Suburb of Hyde Park, the venue is set in classically landscaped gardens surrounding an extravagant water feature where sparkling fountains splash around a magnificent bronze sculpture. The style of architecture and proportion of the buildings are in such harmony with the rest of the property that indoor and outdoor spaces flow naturally into each other, adding to the sense of serenity. Summer Place also offers menu options suited to your preference and budget, and in impeccable style too: matched with crockery, table appointments and fine quality linen, your special day is carefully taken care of by a diligent, closely-knit team.
Location: 69 Melville Rd, Hyde Park
Services offered: Full wedding coordination, standard decor, secure parking, audio visual equipment
Guest Capacity: Up to 350 pax