Cape Town is fast establishing itself as one of the world's favourite marriage cities of the world, with resultant financial benefit in the region of R 100 million per annum to the Mother City and its environs.
Wedding Tourism has been identified as the newest tourism niche market for Cape Town, and is as yet an untapped market with a fantastic potential for growth.
What is South Africa's loss in young girls leaving for London to au pair or work in a pub for a year has become its gain, as these girls fall in love with a British lad, get engaged, and plan their wedding to be held in Cape Town.
These weddings attract between 50 and 100 international guests from the United Kingdom, friends of the bride and groom who are able to afford to take a one or two week break. Typically these guests may have been interested in visiting South Africa, but may have been concerned about reports of crime. Attending a wedding means that the accommodation is organized for the wedding guests, as are outings, nights out at restaurants, and sightseeing trips prior to the wedding. Instead of a one day celebration, the wedding becomes a week long party.
A wedding can generate anything from R 700 000 upwards in accommodation, gifts and souvenirs, restaurant meals, car hire, as well as the wedding ceremony itself.
Receptions are typically held in traditional Cape Dutch venues, either in Cape Town or in the Stellenbosch winelands.
Cape Town is also an attractive wedding location for brides and grooms from the United Kingdom and Australia and New Zealand, being the central point in which family and friends from these countries can meet and enjoy their weddings most economically.
Not only does Cape Town offer a most beautiful setting to a summer wedding , compared to the grey London weather, but it also is becoming increasingly less expensive as the Rand depreciates against the pound sterling.
Wedding guests visiting Cape Town for the first time are usually so taken with the Mother City, that they are confident enough to come back on their own in future.
To assist London-based brides and grooms in planning their weddings in Cape Town from a distance, Chris von Ulmenstein (in Cape Town) and Merryl Wyatt (based in London, previously from Uitenhage, who got married in Cape Town in 2000) have formed Cape Town Weddings (website www.capetownweddings.com).