Of all the different love stories out there, it’s the ones that begin with chance meetings that warm my heart the most. Leah and Mark just happened to meet on a safari in South Africa’s Kreuger National Safari Park, so it seemed only natural their wedding day would be filled with nods to travel and, of course, the safari. Sarah Goss Photography, Loxodonta Events, and Pollen Floral Art was the dream team for this fun wedding!
From the bride, Leah: Mark and I both love a good adventure. So naturally, an adventure is what brought us together. We met, by chance, on a safari in Africa in early 2012. I was living in Cape Town, South Africa and he in the middle-of-nowhere, Angola. I was on a safari holiday with my family, and a mistaken reservation landed Mark at the same lodge as us – for just a day. Although my parents immediately befriended the nice young man traveling alone, I didn’t think much of him at the time. Just 24 hours after meeting, we parted ways, exchanging only emails… almost as an after thought.
A few weeks later, he reached out and we began chatting nonstop by email and text message. We decided we’d like to meet again, this time on a remote island off the coast of Kenya. After a magical weekend together, we knew this was it. Defying Africa’s slow internet, regular power outages, and rural work assignments, we spent the next 2 years living and working on separate continents (me: Africa, him: Australia), but meeting in faraway places all around the world and growing our relationship. Mark proposed just after we moved to Texas in mid-2014 to finally be together, and we quickly decided we’d like to host an intimate, colorful, and loving wedding in the beautiful Hill Country outside of Austin. We wanted our small wedding to reflect our deep happiness and adventurous love story, and to be a vibrant celebration of our dearest friends and family.
We got creative and used pieces of our love story throughout our wedding: safari blankets to keep our loved ones warm during the outdoor ceremony; each dining table was a country we’d visited, with our actual visa entry stamps displayed; a box full of postcards we’d mailed back and forth during our time apart; South Africa’s national protea flowers in my bouquet; small safari animals as place names… We had brilliant fun incorporating all these creative personal touches in to our amazing day. Mark and I wrote our own vows with the help of our incredible officiant, and the promises we made to each other that day to nurture, deepen, trust, listen, support, encourage, dream and explore were born out of how we grew together despite the physical distance between us. Our wedding was more magical than we ever dreamed possible. We both cried many happy tears, felt like we were floating all day and still can’t stop smiling knowing the rest of our lives will be an adventure… Together!
View all images from this wedding in the gallery
From the photographer, Sarah of Sarah Goss Photography:
When you pull up to the venue, you already know this wedding was meant to be an adventure. Tucked far away in the Hill Country, Leah and Mark found the perfect place to say I do. A new industrially inspired BnB, it served as the perfect location for an outdoor ceremony and a open air reception. Leah and Mark’s love story is one for the books. Chance brought these two together in Kreuger National Safari Park in South Africa. Only someone like Mark would Safari alone and Leah (well, Leah’s parents) adopted him one night over dinner and the rest was history.
The outdoor ceremony took place beneath a large Live Oak with elegant and colorful strips of ribbon and fabric hanging between the trunks. Beautiful wooden chairs sat side by side waiting for guests from around the world to occupy them. The back row of guest chairs were decorated with the same beautiful ribbons. When the breeze blew, the ribbons floated on the air. Guests signed postcards for the bride and groom as they arrived and found their dinner seats on a vintage map. The welcome table was decorated with whimsical travel details and hints of African Safari. Cozy blankets and fun safari themed tissues were available for the guests as they made their way to their seats. The ceremony was filled with emotion as guests from near and far joined in to help the couple begin their marriage. After the I Do’s, guests mingled together while delicious appetizers and drinks were passed around by Royal Fig Catering. The guests began making their way to the reception which was beautifully arranged, featuring Leah’s details and fabulous styling by Loxodonta Event Coordination. Each table was named after a country that the couple had visited together. On the back of each table name, the visas and tickets that the couple had while there. Wild blooms were the center of the tablescapes. Whimsical little gold animal figurines served as the name holders on the table. At each place setting, A menu along with a personal note written by the bride herself awaited each guest. Paper lanterns hung from the ceiling and Candles, votives, and patio lights provided a romantic and inviting ambiance. A live band, the Royal Dukes, serenaded guests through the ceremony, dinner and had everyone dancing into the night. Their family style dinner was provided by Royal Fig. Guests pass the meals amongst each other and enjoyed their time together. Desert was in the form of sweet cupcakes and cake pops. The meal and the decor truly reflected the couples style completely. Laid back, easy going and fun!