The Western Cape’s wine estates in Paarl, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Wellington are all favoured wedding destinations, well-known for their exquisite vineyard settings, set against a backdrop of mountains.
In the past, a typical South African wedding hosted at a wine estate would include about 120 guests, but current socially-distanced celebrations (known as micro weddings) have skinnied the number down to 50 or less.
During the strictest lockdown, aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus, wedding and other plans were disrupted and events came to a sharp halt. However, a number of wine farms and event spaces have reopened and couples are once again celebrating their weddings in the Winelands, on a smaller scale.
‘Let’s get married, people!’ is a call posted to social media by Trunk Events – a wedding and event planning company owned and run by Tracy Bradford – to encourage couples who are eager to tie the knot to make hay while the sun shines (i.e. get married while lockdown restrictions have been eased).
Passionate about wedding celebrations, Tracy shares the reasons that she feels that it’s safe and appropriate to get married in the Winelands and mark the momentous occasion with a small circle of friends and family.
"Farms like Belair Pavillion in Paarl offer outdoor, open-air facilities and the inside venue has a regular capacity of 220, which means that there is more than enough space for socially distanced wedding receptions for 50 people," says Bradford.
To ensure compliance and peace of mind, safety protocols include: capturing the guest's contact-tracing details on confirmation of attendance, masks are worn, temperatures taken on arrival and alternate parking bays are used to make room around each vehicle. A single chef caters for the guests and there are plated menus so that there is no touching of food.
"Guests are seated at tables in family bubbles which are well-spaced and each table has its own dedicated waiter," says Tracy. Any glasses or utensils which need replacing are swapped out for new ones. There are also no food trucks or deliveries on-site, as one would have at a restaurant.
One of the advantages of having a smaller wedding is that the bridal couple can save on the cost of catering and decor and yet still enjoy a magnificent and memorable day in the Winelands while supporting those who earn their income as florists, wedding photographers, caterers, event planners and the venues themselves.
Some of Tracy’s recommended wedding venues include Zorgvliet Wine Estate, Landtskap and Nooitgedacht Wine Estate (with its beautiful gardens and the manor house) in Stellenbosch, Ashanti in Paarl, Domaine Des Anges in Franschhoek and Bakenhof Wedding Venue in Wellington.