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  • Marinda

Love in Swahili - Destination Wedding Zanzibar

Updated: Feb 27

Steeped in diverse culture, Zanzibar sets the backdrop for immense romance.

It seems there are so many hidden memoirs of Arabian princesses and their tales of running from arranged marriages, freeing themselves and running towards true love on a distant African spice island.


The Island envelopes you with the most interesting blend of cultures, from free-style- Island living, Omani, Indian and Arabian fingerprints embedded in the solidity of Africa and Swahili tribesman. The ease with which these elements and people blend left me in awe and breathless.


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When the beautiful and joyful Jay and Emily chose this setting as their destination wedding and contacted us via Xanadu Villas and Retreat, we were over the moon! I felt so privileged to coordinate and design this exotic love celebration. Jay and Emily are from Canada and decided to elope to Africa with about 20 of their close friends and family for a whole week at the extremely luxurious Xanada Villas and Retreat. The careful design and perfect balance of natural elements and unique design makes this a palace that exudes tranquility, luxury and secret expectation. Eileen's very keen eye for detail makes you realize this place was designed straight from her heart. The setting encapsulate your imagination making it very easy to believe you too can be a princess.



Jay and Emily also entrusted me with the planning of all the elements, as they booked both the venue and Saffron without meeting us in person or seeing the venue!

As this was our first wedding in Zanzibar, extensive research went into finding the best service providers on offer to partner with for the wedding.

Emily sent me her mood board and we planned their wedding over email, planning sheets, Pinterest Boards and many fun and creative phone calls. There no flower supplier in Zanzibar and so we communicated with Jay and Emily ahead of time that all floral elements would be foraged from the surrounding tropical gardens.

Luckily, Zanzibar is so rich in beautiful tropical blooms and foliage's and we had some great contacts who opened their gardens for foraging. We combined tropical treasures with the spices and aromas that the Island is so famous for. Fresh Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ylang-Ylang, Saffron, Cardamom and Star Aniseed in combination with halved coconut shells, sea shells and tropical blooms. Bliss!


The setting for this week-love-celebration was just soooo lush, luxurious and unique and both Jay and Emily and their guests were treated like royalty! On arrival guests received a beautiful hand made Zanzibari bathrobe, cocktails and champagne. Guests could finally relax after their long flights from Canada.



Xanadu's management and staff made sure no expense was spared and everybody involved delivered with exceptional 5 star service and true African warm hospitality and charm! Think long idyllic sunset cruises with freshly made pina-colada's (the barman makes the coconut cream fresh from coconuts grown on the property)


It was invaluable to host a varied display of very relaxing experiences for both the couple and their guests. The wonderfully opulent Xanadu Spa is set on the beach and time just disappears in there. All these pre-wedding festivities left the couple ultra relaxed and excited for their wedding day.


As the wedding day approached Emily got dressed in the Presidential suite and with all hands on deck the preparation for their day flowed together like the tunes of a well directed orchestra. Harmonious and sweet...

The staff were so excited as this was the first ever wedding held at Xanadu Villas and Retreat. I loved every second of doing this wedding and working at XANADU for Jay and Emily. The chefs prepared an unique, creative and tantalizing menu handpicked by the couple incorporating all the guest dietary requirements.



The ceremony was held on the beach, island-style and celebration drinks and gourmet canapes was served straight after. The guests loved every minute of the local band, Mapanya, and with the private beach setting guests tried some African-moves with the amusement and belly-cramping-laughter of all involved!

The reception was held at the exquisite pool area, underneath African skies. The intimate, private and romantic setting under the stars set the mood for a truly heartfelt, once-in-a-lifetime and very sentimentally-sacred love celebration. Oh the stuff of long forgotten Arabian princess memoirs. Every element worked together to encapsulate the couple in an undiluted state of bliss, and a night that they would never forget.


I will never forget this wedding and am so extremely grateful that I could be part of Jay and Emily's celebration. This couple touched my heart and their joyful, loving and compassionate hearts towards people are so beautiful to experience. We bless you and know the journey you are going to have together is going to be filled with adventure, unconditional love and the truest form of companionship!



The Team:

Wedding by Saffron Full Wedding Planning, Decor and Flowers.

Venue, Ceremony, Accommodation, Drinks, Catering and Excursions: Xanadu Villas and Retreat

Andrew Morgan Wedding Photography was the photographer and it was an honor to work with this very talented man.

Zanzibar Dollhouse (Khaytham Turky) was chosen for Emily's, her mother and mother-in-law's make up.

Mapanya band got ALL the guests dancing during pre-drinks and was a huge hit! Incredible band and to have them on the beach was incredible!