Top Tips for a Safari-Inspired Wedding Theme

Published by Claire Gould on

Golden hour wedding photography by Becky Harley

A guest article by our friends at Truly Experiences

Whether you have the budget for a destination wedding or want to keep it closer to home, safari-themed weddings are all the rage at the moment. There’s just so much you can do with a safari theme and something so romantic about the African bush!

It may be that you’ve never been on safari (hopefully, your wedding theme is symbolic of things to come!) or that a trip to Africa was an absolute dream travel experience.

Either way, we’ve got plenty of creative ideas to help you turn your wedding into an African wilderness wonderland.

It All Starts with the Invites

Protea wedding invitation by PumpkinWeddingDesign on Etsy

Protea wedding invitation by PumpkinWeddingDesign on Etsy (affiliate link)

Your wedding invitations are your guests’ first clue as to what they can expect on your big day. Whether you’re planning to post traditional paper invitations or go the increasingly popular E-invite route, you can get your creative juices flowing when you design your invites to align with your theme.

There are so many possibilities, but florals like proteas or bold animal prints are sure to be a dead giveaway if you really like to make a statement. Think leopard spots, Nguni hide, zebra stripes, elephant hide, and so forth. No tiger stripes if you truly want an African safari theme, though. (Good luck finding a tiger on the African plains.)

For something subtler, you may opt for rough-textured card or sustainable seed paper, with beige, white, olive green, and golden yellow hues in your colour scheme. Alternatively, you can look to the printed fabrics worn by the people of Africa for inspiration. The vibrant geometric designs worn by the Ndebele of South Africa are especially beautiful.

The silhouette of the baobab tree is an iconic African image that you may want to incorporate into your invitation artwork. Other quintessentially African images include southern Africa’s Big Five, which include the lion, leopard, African buffalo, black rhinoceros, and African bush elephant. An outline of the African continent could also be a nice touch.

By the way, you can apply all of these design ideas to your wedding website, if you have one, and your décor.

Choose a Venue in Keeping with the Theme

Even if you’re not able to have a destination wedding in the actual African wilderness, you can still choose a venue that lends itself to your safari theme.

Golden hour wedding photography by Becky Harley

Golden hour wedding photography by Becky Harley

There are several lodges in the UK that offer a safari-like wedding experience, complete with a collection of southern African wildlife, right in your backyard. Using one of these venues will mean that you don’t have to make much of an effort to create your theme, since everything you need will already be there. The event coordinators at these venues are also bound to offer a wealth of useful tips for creating your safari theme.

Try Port Lympne, Yorkshire Wildlife Park or search online for ethical zoos in the UK

Port Lympne wedding photography by Kent wedding photographer Benjamin Toms – tap to see the full wedding

You could even stop by a few of these places while you are venue shopping to source theme ideas, regardless of whether or not you end up actually holding your wedding there. While you’re at it, visit the websites of wedding venues actually in Africa for some added inspiration.

Keeping your theme in mind is important even if you don’t use a wedding venue that offers the actual safari experience. In this case, you should look out for rustic spaces, with distressed wood trimmings and simplistic décor – a suitable blank canvas waiting for your personal touch. That is, unless you’re going for a more “Out of Africa” type of theme, in which case a Georgian or Victorian estate, livened up by your safari décor, would do nicely.

Pick Your Piece of Africa

Remember that the African continent is vast and its vegetation, wildlife and people are varied. To ensure an authentic recreation of a real-life African safari, do a bit of geography homework first. The African safaris typically depicted in cinema are usually set in the southern and central eastern parts of the continent.

Regions famous for safaris include Kenya’s Maasai Mara, South Africa’s Kruger National Park, Botswana’s Chobe National Park, Tanzania’s Serengeti, and Namibia’s Etosha Pan, among others.

Each of these locations is characterised by a unique combination of flora, fauna and local customs. Of course, you can combine elements from various regions to create a more pan-African feel. Just be careful of tacky clichés and always remain respectful of local cultures. In any event, researching these places is sure to provide you with plenty of inspiration for your safari-themed wedding.

Create a Safari for the Senses

Our most memorable experiences are not only visual. Transport your guests to the Savannah, Serengeti or Skukuza by recreating the scents, sounds and flavours, as well as the sights, of the African wilderness.


All of the suggestions we made for your wedding invitations can also be included in your décor and even the wedding party’s attire. Use fabrics like hessian and canvas, with patterns inspired by African wildlife or tribal prints. Copper, pewter or wrought iron are appropriate selections for metallic décor elements.

Subtle accessories might include leopard-print footwear for the ladies, veldskoen shoes for the gents, and traditional African beaded jewellery. Your décor could feature mosquito netting, ethically sourced ostrich feathers, faux animal hide rugs, rock art, photographs of African animals and landscapes, and natural African faux flower bouquets and table dressings, to name but a few.


For a truly authentic safari experience, include a background audio track of distinctive animal sounds – like the musical bray of the zebra, a lion’s roar, the trumpeting of an elephant, the sizzling whisper of the cicada, or the longing call of the African fish eagle – interspersed with the rustling of grass or the rumble of a passing thunderstorm. You’re sure to find an appropriate soundtrack with a quick internet search. You can even incorporate traditional African music into your wedding playlist.


To recreate the smell of a safari, you can spritz your table linen or use scented candles with earthy, smoky and woody scents. Ideally, your floral décor would include African plants – like wild camphor, gardenia, buchu, pelargonium, wild rosemary, confetti bushes, wild jasmine, asparagus fern, and wild basil – with distinctive natural aromas. Do be aware of sustainability though: importing flowers means a huge carbon footprint. Sometimes a few key faux flower stems which you can keep are the more ethical choice.

If possible, an actual bonfire can generate that authentic smoky smell, while also providing an excellent source of mood lighting. Also, if the chef is cooking up a feast of African cuisine, the smells drifting in from the kitchen will certainly help to complete your guests’ safari experience.


Top off the safari experience with a menu of classic African dishes like fragrant spicy casseroles, tomato bredie, melktert, koeksisters, mosbolletjies, apricots in brandy, potpie, or a vegan peanut stew, depending on how adventurous your taste buds are feeling!

Now, you’re ready to tie the knot – safari style!


Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.


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