A trip to the Free State may not sound as sexy or exciting as kayaking in KZN or sipping cocktails at the 12 Apostles in Cape Town, but believe it when we tell you that the Free State is fast becoming the go to “destination wedding” spot with its picturesque flat, grassy plains, Maluti Mountain foothills and iconic Vaal River
So who better to expand on this than a serial/repeat wedding goer? Leading Venues Contributor, Carly Ritz has attended a dozen weddings this year. She weighs in…
“If you want to invite someone living in Johannesburg to a new or different wedding/function venue then why not have your wedding in Jozi? Or so the joke goes amongst the blasé types who have attended destination wedding after destination wedding much to the horror of their credit cards. The truth is that most of us do love an excuse to get out of town and let our hair down but it’s time to go somewhere new and without breaking the bank. So with its proximity to Gauteng, country side feel, competitive pricing and good weather, it looks like the Free State could be the new province of love.
A particular favourite when it comes to wedding venues would have to be the Nutcracker Country Retreat in Parys. FYI: the name which translated from Afrikaans is Paris, was given to the town by a German surveyor who had taken part in the Siege of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War and the location next to the Vaal reminded him of Paris on the River Seine. An early indicator that it too might become a place of love – who knew then?
The Nutcracker Country Retreat is the perfect weekend wedding getaway. With accommodation that sleeps up to 30 guests (there is plenty more accommodation along the route) and a one wedding one weekend policy, you can rest assured your wedding experience will be bespoke, personal and memorable. Other top notch venues include Lavender Hill Country Estate in Bethlehem and Die Groen Akker in Bloemfontein
There are of course other things to do in the Province other then get married or attend a wedding. These include a visit to the Free State National Botanical Gardens, a culinary experience to write home about at one of the many eateries in Clarens or a game drive along the Gariep Dam
Another special spot to visit is the Sterkfontein Dam Nature Reserve situated to the south of Harrismith. Close to the Drakensberg Mountain nature reserve, the reserve offers campsites and hiking trails and a large variety of fauna and flora.