If I am brutally honest, I was somewhat reluctant to accept the booking from a lovely lady in Slovakia who wanted to escape Europe with her fiance and get married away from it all in Zanzibar. She said that it had always been her dream, from when she was a little girl, to see a photo of herself barefoot in a beautiful wedding dress on a white sand beach with azure blue sea walking off romantically into the sunset. Well, who was I to put her off?
From my rather selfish standpoint, I had been in my latest role in reservations at The Zanzibari boutique hotel for one day when the wedding enquiry came in. I was based for three months at The Zanzibari hotel with my husband David where we would live a few feet from the Indian Ocean for three months managing the hotel. Sounded like a great gig to me; waking up and sliding barefoot along the sand to a wonderful fresh fruit salad followed by Zanzibari-spiced pancakes prepared for me each day after a dip in the infinity pool. And all that was required of me was to answer a few sales enquiries each day. I agreed to booking the couple into a lovely Frangipane suite and said that we would take care of all the rest. I had exactly two weeks to sort things out….
I started to look into the legalities of getting married in Zanzibar for the lady in question and it, at first, looked like a complete minefield. Slowly however, things started to fall into place, as is often the way in Tanzania, “pole pole” (or “slowly slowly”) and by the time the couple were due to arrive I was starting to feel really excited about the wedding. I showed them to their base for the next week, one of our two Frangipane suites, and the bride-to-be burst into tears, thankfully with joy! In the weeks that followed I discovered that this was often the reaction of guests who are taken to this particular suite. Great start!
On the morning of the wedding, at the crack of dawn, we began dressing the hotel with flowers, an abundance of magenta pink and orange Bougainvillea and stunning white Frangipane - the aroma was just gorgeous. Once I’d checked the wedding official had actually left Stone Town and was physically in a car with our driver en-route to the hotel, I started to relax. The cake and wedding breakfast were ready and the Maasai were on standby. So off I went to check the bride & groom. The groom looked a little anxious but the bride looked cool and calm and absolutely beautiful. I told her that the chief Maasai would come and collect her and told her groom to go and wait for his bride by the ceremonial arch we had prepared.
We were all dressed up for the wedding and the staff and other hotel guests very excited to see the event roll out. After a few minutes we heard the first high-pitched wedding cry of the lead Maasai letting all in the vicinity know there was a wedding afoot - eight Maasai warriors formed the wedding guard to accompany the bride from her room to the ceremony.
After a wonderful ceremony, the newly weds cut their cake and with champagne in hand, strolled down to the water’s edge, eyes wet with tears of joy as they kissed in the spray of the surf before walking off into the stunning sunset. A wonderful romantic day.