Last year an amazing story came out of Monaco — Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich actually officiated at Didier Drogba’s wedding while Solomon Kalou and Florent Malouda served as thegroomsmen.
Yes, the most important thing at every wedding is to have the immediate people, relatives, the rich and even the celebrities. Everyone wants “special” people to attend his or her wedding such that it becomes the talk of the town.
A wedding is a ceremony in which two people are united in a marriage.
It is a lifetime event that attracts scores of people and this event is imprinted on people’s minds in such a way that one can live with the memories of it, each and every time dating back to the beautiful day.
It is also a time where gossipers take the chance of spreading rumors in the neighbourhood about the successes and failures of the wedding. On this day, there will be lots of food, music and everyone dresses accordingly.
The quality and quantity of food at a wedding ceremony, especially in our society, is a yardstick for a successful wedding.
But exchanging vows with a lover on a warm beach, listening to the waves crashing on the shore is a dream many people have and it is a stunning one too.
Unfortunately, Zimbabwe is an inland country, which means only few people can make it to coastal countries for a beach wedding.
However, there is a new phenomenon that has hit Zimbabwe as far as wedding venues are concerned. The concept of outdoor weddings is laying a strong grip among wedding couples in the capital as most of them prefer these gardens.
Gone are the days when indoor weddings used to rock, with couples booking expensive halls like Adelaide along the Harare-Masvingo Road and the famous hall at Pandhari Lodge, among many others.
NewsDay Lifestyle visited one of the venues that have become the talk of town, with people jostling for what they call “a wedding in paradise”.
About 30km East of Harare lies Acturus where such a garden lies — Zimbali Gardens.
Since its inception two years ago, Zimbali Gardens (Zimbali is a Zulu name which means valley of flowers) has become a haven for many as the venue is just a paradise.
The two-hectare piece of land has the best flora from indigenous to artificial species, flowing rivers with clean water, evergreen lawns, terraces and inselbergs.
These natural features have given the garden enough credit of being one of the best wedding venues as evidenced by the number of people booking for the luxurious natural venue.
In an interview in the garden, Daniel Saungweme said he had travelled all the way from Mutare to seek the hidden fortunes of the venue.
“I came to know this place when I was invited to my uncle’s wedding in April and after seeing this paradise, I vowed to tie the knot nowhere else, but at this place. That is why I travelled all the way from Mutare to book for my wedding.
“The quietness and natural background is so good and it is not surprising to see angels coming from every angle because this place is just like heaven,” he said.
Garden wedding planning can prove to be lots of fun.
If this setting is what many people are looking for, then couples must know that it offers the most sensual and also the most romantic location to enjoy this special day.It might be romantic, but money talks. On average, couples in the United States of America spend $24 066 for a garden wedding.
However, the majority of couples spend between $18 050 and $20 080 and this excludes costs for a honeymoon, gown and rings.
Zimbali Gardens goes for an average of $6 000 but this has failed to scare away couples who vie for the wedding of their dreams while exclusive wedding packages can go for as far as
Magret Chigumira, the functions co-ordinator of the garden, said they adopted the idea from South Africa.
“ We got this idea from South Africa after finding out that many weddings were taking place outdoors and it was lovely to see a couple exchange vows on the beach.
“We had already secured the Acturus stand so it became easy for us to transform it into a wedding garden so that Zimbabwe will catch up with the rest of the world.
“The vision is to create an exclusive and unique dream wedding by offering the best venue for couples.
“You know, in this world, its all about commercialisation so the idea materialised.
“Besides the venue, we also provide catering services, decor and chairs among other necessities or in other words we call it full hire.
“Because of the demand for our services, we are being forced to extend into themed parties as many people request the venue for their 21st birthdays and anniversaries, but in the meantime, we are just focusing on weddings only,” she said.
Garden weddings have hundreds of options for decorations.
“Your focal point can be a bridge in the distance, a fountain, an archway or even a pretty tree.”
“For example, if we start with the greenery, we choose a theme that incorporates greens, then we have an easy time of the decorations.”
“Lovely white flowers with lots of greenery are traditional wedding staples, but if the couple is less traditional, we will make it go with red roses or any flower one loves.
“The arch will look sparkling and be a great place which is conducive for one to hold the ceremony.
At Zimbali Gardens, we offer four packages and the prices depend with the number of attendees.
“Some have money while some cannot afford much. So these packages do accommodate everyone who wants to use our venue,” said Chigumira.