Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Destination Wedding Locations: Kenya, Africa

Tired of the Caribbean? Looking for something more exotic? How about a safari wedding in Africa? Let's be honest here—a wedding in Kenya is not for everyone. The main appeal will be for wildlife enthusiasts and travel connoisseurs.

Wedding Logistics
Kenya requires a three-business-day residency before you can get your marriage license. Documents needed include a birth certificate and proof of a divorce (if previously married). There are no medical tests, and tour companies such as International Ventures (mentioned below) will arrange for document processing.

Local Bridal Customs
In addition to the standard wedding that comes as a part of International Ventures package, you can also hire a local children's choir ($95) or chukka drummers ($180.) The wedding ceremony can be held in a thatched chapel with a view of Mount Kenya. One interesting local wedding tradition: the bride and groom often have their wrists bound in grass as a symbol of their commitment to each other.

Best Time to Go
The peak season is May through mid August. Another peak season runs from December to January 15. Prices vary a small amount from high to low seasons.

Costs, Accommodations, and Getting Around
International Ventures offers an eleven-day safari wedding package for $2995 per person (low season) or $3245 per person (high season). Included in that price is round-trip airfare from New York, all meals except in Nairobi, game park entrance fees, and assistance in applying for wedding license. The wedding ceremony is held at the plush Mt. Kenya Safari Club resort and includes a wedding cake and complimentary suite upgrade. (Extras include a photographer $230, video $460, string quartet by river $690, horse-drawn carriage $50).

As for the safari, you will be flown over wildlife sanctuaries and driven out to view the African game in the area. The tour company offers different levels of "experience," ranging from "mobile quality tented safaris" (the least expensive) to "classic luxury tented" outings. The most expensive are the "premier lodge safaris," where guests stay in lodges during the outings instead of tents.

What Makes it Special
This is truly a one-of-a-kind experience. Each tour is limited to a small number of participants. In addition, the tour company makes a small donation for each tour to one of several wildlife conservation programs in East Africa. And how many of your friends can say they were married on safari in Africa?

Insider Travel Tips
Be prepared for the lengthy flight—a whopping fifteen hours from New York to Kenya via a direct South African Airways flight.

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