The setting

The name of our shoot “Sand Forest Stories’  has its roots in the unique coastal sand forests in northern Zululand. Four-star Hhuhluwe River Lodge, the host venue for our shoot, is an intimate forest lodge with sweeping views of Lake St Lucia.  If you fancy the idea of a bush-themed destination wedding in KwaZulu-Natal and your numbers are between 30 – 120 guests, is Hluhluwe River Lodge on your shortlist? It should be!

Choose the perfect ceremony site under the forest canopy, and use the pancake-level grassed lawn in front of the main building for a marquee reception. The food created with love in the HRL kitchen is sublime, and the close proximity of False Bay offers a breathtaking option for your Creative Shoot, if you are looking to capture unparalleled sunset shots at the waterfront.

The lodge offers onsite accommodation for 32 guests and lots of nearby guesthouses to cater for your overflow guests.

Newly weds appreciating the view over Lake St Lucia

The aesthetic

The idea was to use authentic African elements but to give them a modern twist. Rowena from the Floral Team created the perfect balance between natural neutrals and lush servings of magenta, blush and blackberry. It was really exciting to work with this palette especially since the 2023 Pantone Colour of the Year is Viva Magenta. One of my favourite design elements was the welcome flower box that Rowena customised especially for this shoot.

Bush styled wedding tablescape with deep plum and dusty pink tones

Handmade by Janine introduced delicious texture and layering in the flowers and foliage, on-trend leather envelopes, and recycled paper, which was complemented by the macrame placemats and hanging plant holders by Lani Macrame.


Grace of Bakes wove our colour scheme and macrame textures into her stylish 2-tier wedding cake, which was taste-tested and approved by the team after the shoot was done! 🤭

The attire

Georgia is an exquisite blush 3D floral lace dress from Bella Bride. I just love the boned sweetheart bodice and corset back. Her ballgown skirt in Spanish Tulle is accented with with lace detail. Worn so beautifully by our model, Zandre. Our groom model wears a burgundy suit from Belle & Bravado with a stylish floral pocket liner created by The Floral Team. I love this as an alternative to a boutonniere.

Bride in 3D Floral Lace Dress and Groom in Burgundy Suit

The second dress we showcased at our styled shoot, also from Bella Bride, is called Alya, and boasts a full and flowing Organza skirt, lace bodice and lace-up back. Our groom’s second outfit is a 3-piece brown suit from Belle & Bravado.

The lingerie

As part of a ‘mini shoot’ within a shoot, we packed some sexy lingerie from @elintimateskzn and headed to the honeymoon suite at Hluhluwe River Lodge with our models, Phil and Zandre, from Irenes Models. It was pure magic working with a real-life couple as there were some pretty intimate scenes and the fact that Phil and Zandre are engaged and madly in love made the chemistry between them that much more tangible. We don’t often have such steamy visuals on our page so enjoy… 🔥🔥🔥

Model wearing feathered lingerie

The collaborators

I am ever grateful to these creators for helping me tell these Sand Forest Stories:

Venue Hluhluwe River Lodge
Florals & Decor The Floral Team
Photos Ruby Jean Photography
Stationery Handmade by Janine
Cake Grace of Bakes
Hair & Make-Up Dios Gracia Makeup Artistry
Dress & veil Bella Bride
Lingerie El Intimates
Suits Belle & Bravado
Models Zandre & Phil from Irenes Models
Macrame Lani Macrame
Planning & coordination Marriage Meander