Happy Re(unions) : Catherine and Alan Hope get married at Lion Sands
I first met Catherine and Alan in 2013 at a lodge I previously worked for as a guide. We got along wonderfully and experienced many amazing sightings together. In 2015, they returned with Catherine’s parents and, during their stay, Alan popped the question – and she said: “Yes!”
We have always kept in touch and, in early 2017, Catherine asked me if they could get married at Lion Sands, with me as their witness. What an honour! They wanted to keep the ceremony private and personal, and I was of course delighted to put her in touch with our reservations people. After (what actually took minimal) planning, they arrived at Ivory Lodge on the 28th of November. It was a slightly tearful, very excitable reunion as I showed them their home for the next few days.
Yet again, Alan and Catherine bought their good bush karma with them, and we were gifted some incredible sightings: of elephants playing in the river in front of their room; a pride of snoozing lions; not one, not two, but THREE outstanding leopard sightings; along with lots of colourful summer birds, and one of Catherine’s favourites, the ever-industrious dung beetles!
On their wedding day, we arranged a champagne bush breakfast for them where, just as the cork popped, we were joined by a huge bull elephant coming to drink at the pan. After a little down time, a few of the girly girls on our amazing team helped Catherine with her hair, and I zipped my friend into her simply beautiful wedding dress.
At 3:30pm, we arrived at the Inkwazi Deck – simply decorated, leaving nature to do the rest – where Catherine’s dashing husband-to-be Alan was eagerly, if a little nervously, awaiting her arrival. There to support him was my equally dashing tracker and friend Noel, who had been roped into the whole affair as Alan’s best man! The ceremony was short and sweet, and Alan and Catherine were pronounced husband and wife before 4:00pm.
To celebrate, we all ate some of the delectable cake – made by Ivory Lodge’s talented pastry chef Tiaane and served by the Rodnick, the couple’s attentive butler, who looked after them throughout their special stay – and went on a short game drive. We sat watching a few spotted hyena cubs play, before taking the couple to the spectacular Kingston Treehouse, in plenty of time for them to savour their first sunset as man and wife. The weather was kind and the sky did not disappoint.
We all had a good cry when they left the next day, but they are coming back to Lion Sands to celebrate their first anniversary next year. Another happy occasion we all can’t wait to share with this wonderful couple. See you soon Mr and Mrs Hope! Xxx
Words and images by: Kelly Oldaker