This is when the African blog returns, and Pamuzinda steps back into the spotlight.
Or at least weddings at Pamuzinda and Chengeta (our lodges) do, because I hope to show you over the next couple of weeks just what we do when we host a wedding here.
And, as an added bonus, I intend giving the girls a fashion tip which may just change the way the world dresses for special occasions! I have to admit I am astonished no-one has ever thought of this before.
So - weddings.
We recently hosted a wedding for 270, and we had 80 people staying with us for 4 days in the build-up to the ceremony. As we only sleep 32 at Pamuzinda and Chengeta respectively, and 20 at Shumba, the folk moved between the lodges for meals.
This was our Breakfast Buffet center-piece for a breakfast for 80 . . .
The fruit salad was served in the watermelon shaped like a swan, and our chef spent considerable time carving the pumpkins - even engraving the name of the host onto one. The wedding was for an Indian bride from Zimbabwe who was marrying a Caucasian groom from Australia.
And because the Brides' family were Indian - the whole week-end consisted of vegetarian food throughout.
On the Cold Buffet we served fruit salad, 2 yogurts, scones, croissants, bran flakes and corn flakes, fruit juices and teas and coffee.
And a special pat on the back for anyone who can tell me why we have the picture of 2 lions on the wall that we do?
Obviously the picture is there to deter monkeys from stealing fruit from the buffet.
And, yes, it works!
Because we were serving 80 people instead of our usual 32, we also set up a second buffet station on the deck overlooking the river . . .
Did you notice the reflection of the trees in the water?
With guests in-house for 4 nights, the hosts provided lots of entertainment such as Game Drives etc, and they also arranged for dancing girls to come from Harare and provide an open-air spectacle early one evening.
We set up a stage on the grass, waited for the moon to appear over the horizon, and the girls did their thing to the sound of our lions roaring and the crickets going crazy in the background. The lighting was provided by candles in paper bags.
A rather special occasion for our Australian guests I think?
As previously mentioned, the entire week-end consisted of vegetarian food, and a specialist caterer came from Harare to provide for parts of the meals. I thoroughly enjoyed tasting their food - with the exception of the red stuff in the bowl which actually had a warning label on it! (You can just see the warning folded on the side of the bowl).
How hot does something have to be if you consider it necessary to warn people from India about it? Sheesh.
I didn't taste it, but tricked my assistant into gulping down a teaspoon-full of the stuff.
He took a while to recover!
On one of the evenings we put on a 'Mongolian BBQ' overseen by a Cape Buffalo for the Indians and Australians who were in Zimbabwe for the wedding.
A truly intercontinental occasion!
We took our gas rings from the kitchen, and flash-fried julienne of vegetables with sauces and spices - each plate being constructed by the guests from a selection of raw ingredients.
But the purpose of the gathering was a wedding - and so the time came to prepare the marquee, with the smell of incense heavy in the air.
Every wedding we host looks amazing, and this was no exception . . . .
I hope you noticed the serviettes in the wine glasses which have been fashioned to look like birds?
This was very much part of the theme - something I shall come back to.
Just look at the wedding cake!
A peacock - with the tail made up of individual cupcakes - each carefully painted with edible gold paint - which unfortunately my little camera couldn't quite pick up.
But it was stunning!
And now to the reason for the length of this blog - the fruit and vegetable carvings which accompanied and decorated the wedding feast.
These were amazing, and I shall feature a few of them here - purely because they appeal to the hotelier in me!
They were carved by a specialist fruit-and-vegetable-carver who came from Harare, and who spent the entire night before the wedding in the cold-room - quietly carving. Our chef provided the buffet carvings featured earlier, but he was too busy preparing food to be able to carve for the wedding itself.
and again - showing just how delicate the petals of the watermelon rose were . . .
And vegetables . . . .
Amazing stuff!! The carving below is constructed from a complete watermelon:
So - back to the wedding itself.
Somehow they managed to create a purely Indian feel to a wholly African setting. Garlands of flowers, rampant elephants, and rose cascades all contributed:
Then the question was - 'How should the groom arrive'
Well, we didn't paint them, (and their ears were a little big), but our little family provided their usual delivery service with aplomb . . .
Here are some of the ladies waiting to welcome the bride and groom to the marquee - their distinctive dresses and the garlands of flowers behind them all very much part of tradition & culture. And as mentioned previously, the bird theme was followed through in the bright, colourful and shimmering saris that all the ladies wore.
Again, my little camera tried, and you get some idea of how stunning the ladies looked, but nothing like seeing them in real life.
Kind of like you can never photograph our carpet of stars in the sky at night - just doesn't work.
But I tried . . .
There was an amazing array of dresses - the saris of India.
While the photo below again does justice to the colours, it loses the sparkle of the sequins and gold thread used so much in their clothing.
They literally shimmered in the sunlight like a flock of exotic parakeets.
And I failed to photograph the best one - a midnight-blue with silver beading and miniature sequins
So a whole lot of exotic sights, sounds, and flavors.
Which brings us neatly to the fashion advice I promised at the outset.
My chance to set the fashion world alight - even though I won't get any credit for it.
A most unexpected sight was the Australian ladies (from the grooms' family) - dressed by their Indian counterparts . . . in saris.
So my advice to all ladies out there is this - if you want to make an impact, to really, really cause a stir, arrange for an Indian lady to deck you out in a sari. Because the oriental dress on a Caucasian woman really does work:
Again my little point-and-click fails to do justice, but something to think about? Tough to dance in, to be sure, but what an impact!
A fantastic wedding and the next few blogs I will devote to our weddings.
Because (in my humble opinion) I think the team at Pamuzinda and Chengeta have got this wedding thing sorted! We put on a pretty good show in conjunction with the bridal family - right here in the wilds of Zimbabwe.
Have a great day!