When it comes to planning a wedding, many people choose to escape from it all instead, jetting off to faraway lands to host the most romantic day of their lives. Kenya is no exception to this rule. A rose-blushed desert filled with rolling sand dunes and sweeping savannahs; where could be more romantic than Eastern Africa? Populated by shaded acacia trees, sprawling grassland and sacred indigenous tribes, a wedding here has a lot to offer beyond the norm.
With countless Kenyan hotels now offering ‘bush and beach’ combinations – amalgamating game viewing with picturesque coastal beaches – there are plenty of options to keep couples happy.
Here are five of our favourite spots where you can make that everlasting leap beneath pink-streaked skies…
1. Elephant Pepper Camp, Masai Mara
With its own privately managed conservancy stretching north of the Masai Mara National Reserve, Elephant Pepper Camp is one of the most rustic and romantic places to get married. Surrounded by local lion prides and packs of cheetahs, couples are invited to host their wedding in the wild. A bespoke safari-style experience, weddings are tailored to couples’ wishes. Services can be anything from a private ceremony following an early morning game drive to an enormous 3-day extravaganza. Drawing weddings to a close, sundowners are offered in the camp’s luxurious honeymoon suite; a plush tent overlooking panoramic scenery of sweeping savannahs.
2. Kipungani Explorer, Lamu Island
Reached by boat from Manda Island, Kipungani Explorer offers couples a slice of deserted island paradise. Nestled on the southwest tip of Lamu Island, between wild mangroves and a private beach stretching across 14km of powdery white sandy, this secluded escape oozes romantic appeal. With oceanfront wedding ceremonies being favoured, couples can say ‘I Do’ facing the softly lapping waves of Kipungani Bay. Adding to the captivating ethnic mix, matrimonial accompaniments include a traditional Masai warrior dance, a guard of honour performed by local tribesmen or a sunset dhow cruise around Lamu Island. Moving seamlessly into honeymoon mode, Swahili style eco-lodges scattered around the island are bedecked with freshwater showers and lofty verandas.
3. Mara Bushtops, Masai Mara
Surrounded by rugged African bush and rummaging wildlife, Mara Bushtops is as idyllic as it sounds. Home to 12 luxurious lodges, draped in sumptuous swathes of canvas and tantalizing leopard print rugs, the décor makes an instant impression. Finished with secluded verandas, reclining deck chairs and private plunge pools, and the draw of Mara Bushtops is complete. With wedding packages covering all the nitty-gritty detail, right down to buttonholes and bouquets, couples can instead focus on their resounding love for one another amongst an unmatched setting.
4. Flamboyant, Diani Beach
A beach famed for its tropical vegetation and clear coastal shores, Diani Beach is a scenic spot for a wedding in Kenya. Tucked 35km south of Mombasa, this private residence invites couples to marry beneath shaded gazebos and swaying palm trees. With only 10 en-suite bedrooms in the entire property, wedding parties can take over the whole resort and enjoy a sense of total seclusion. End the night on a high in a candlelit coral cave, enlisted to create an unforgettable reception venue.
5. Sarova Lion Hill, Lake Nakuru
A conservation-driven game reserve encased by protected park-land and roaming wildlife, Sarova Lion Hill provides an exotic backdrop for a wedding day. With 67 luxury lodges and 3 private suites wrapped around picturesque Lake Nakuru, each chalet provides panoramic views of the surrounding wildlife. Attracting a seasonal fleck of pink flamingos too, this waterside setting is a protected area for foraging creatures. After a ceremony on the game reserve grounds, newlyweds can explore the adjacent euphorbia forests or tuck into a private picnic at Baboon Cliff.