How amazing was it to be back at giraffe manor?! Just over a year later I was able to head back to this amazing place, this time with my husband by my side (almost a year married for us too!) who was the best assistant ever! We also managed to take a little bit of time out for ourselves too! So this blog will be about this amazing wedding as well as what we got up to in Nairobi.
Having the opportunity to head back to this amazing place with Graham meant that I wanted to show him the amazing places I went to last time as we have never done anything like this together. As well as being able to experience new parts of Nairobi and create new memories. Being able to travel for my job is amazing, last year was so intense with 12 destination weddings that it meant it became quite full on. So having this year with a normal amount of travel meant that we could really enjoy the process again.
Before heading to Giraffe Manor I wanted to show Graham a whistle stop tour of some of the bits I enjoyed last time. So we booked onto a day trip with a tour guide to experience the elephant orphanage at the David Sheldrick centre, giraffe centre, Karen Blixen Museum and bead factory. This gave us such a great experience of the supper that is given to endangered animals from natural forces as well as poaching. Graham had also not seen the giraffes up close so heading over to the Giraffe Centre before the wedding allowed him to see how they interacted and fed before we got into photographing them for the wedding day.
The next morning was check in day at Giraffe Manor. Oh how amazing it was to be back! Giraffe manor is set within 12 acres of private land and 140 acres of indigenous forest and home to the Rothschild giraffe. The manor has long been part of the breeding programme for this once highly endangered species of giraffe, which the programme has successful managed to grow their numbers in the wild. When you get picked up by the Giraffe Manor team- it really is such a luxury experience. They look to create that feeling of unique exclusivity. The manor is tucked away in its own little haven with the newer retreat section proving the options of the pool and day rooms. They really have tied that new bit of architecture into the space quite well. This was present when I went in 2022 but with the original trip being 2021 this would not have been built yet so I was one of the first to see it in full season in 2022.
After checking in and being shown to our room. I headed over to say Hello to Ida and Lasse. This amazing couple had booked me after seeing that I had been here before, knew the staff and giraffes and was able to blend into their intimate day. Having been to Giraffe manor themselves they knew it was the place to be able to have their micro wedding. Having been legally married back home they decided to do a ring exchange, and symbolic ceremony with vows for their parents and daughter. Such a intimate day.
They both did not want too much coverage So we decided on a 6 hour package. Normally my coverage is continuous and I do not split packages. But as this was a destination wedding with me staying on site (this is a rule of the manor as they do not have outside vendors unless the space is privately hired to maintain exclusivity for guests) so we decided to do 3 hours for the wedding day as this are so intimate and then 3 hours for the morning with breakfast with the giraffes before check out.
After saying hello, graham and I settled into our room as well as scouted around to see what had changed and to help decide where the ceremony set up might be. We could do this anywhere on the grounds so we were deciding if we wanted to main manor house as the backdrop or potentially the retreat. After scouting I decided that it was best to keep close to the manor as we would be going straight into afternoon tea with the giraffes so wanted to be close to the action. The couple were also staying in that section of the manor so it was nice an easy for Ida to get down the stairs as well as shaded light so no one was burning in the sun. A completely lovely backdrop. Everything was kept simple with the chairs done in a small half moon shape and to then allow Ida to walk to the the set up with the giraffes in the background watching it all unfold!
While Ida and Lasse got ready, this time was private for them while they also had lunch. Lunch for guests is served on the main terrace which is such a lovely courtyard. With water served in their famous giraffe jugs which I bought last time I was there! Graham and I took this time to relax, have lunch and get ready for the next phase to start. Once lunch was done I make sure my kit was ready and took some establishing shots before heading upto Ida. On route I photographed Lasse doing his final changes to his vows and we did the tail end of getting ready for Ida.
As this was such an intimate day Graham was assistant for the day rather than photographing too much. As the ceremony was so intimate we decided I would shoot this solo and Graham would just manage any staff who might want to come out the door. Luckily everyone was radioed ahead of time as to when then ceremony was happening so it went without a hitch! The ceremony was so beautiful with them both exchanging heartfelt vows and their daughter being right in the centre of the action!
Ceremony done it was time for a few family photos and then time with Kira on the swing. This was right in time for the Giraffes starting to head over for afternoon tea. They are such intelligent creatures and know when to head over to get their tasty treats before bedtime. Tea and cakes are also put out so Ida and Lasse’s family started to enjoy these while I captured natural moments. It was then time to look at getting some could photos with the giraffes and family. Not an easy thing to do! I remembered this challenge well from last time! It all varies baed on which giraffe has come over and how you can then pose the couple. Some giraffes are more comfortable around people, others tend to be quite food orientated so might give a little head butt. But you need to be very careful when you do and not turn your back! This means when there are my couple and giraffes also either side of me it is tricky to know where to stand! As I need the balance of good light as the lawn gets direct sun, so I need to think about my angels, I need to pose the couple ALL while placing myself in a space where I wont get head butted by a giraffe! It was a challenge and really helped with Graham managing the space so I could work, doing some candid photography of the family and feeding the more adventurous Giraffes to take them away from me so I could work in a space. Hey.. its not everyday he gets to feed Giraffes and call it work!
As the light was beginning to fade, we got the last bit of daylight over by the pool area and they skipped back with Kira to enjoy a private dinner with the family. Graham and I then headed upto the room to relax and then head down for dinner. Dinner was again in the courtyard where they had set up with candles and mini fire pits. So it was lovely and warm. We were able to get head up for an early night to enjoy our amazing shower and room ready for an early rise with the giraffes.
During the morning the giraffes come to the windows of rooms that have the option with windows and balcony’s, ours did not so we headed down to the breakfast room to greet the giraffes. We fed then in the courtyard before the couple and their family came down and then it was all go. Everyone taking in turns to fee and have photos. As well as us photographing the natural interactions. It was then time for breakfast before the giraffes then came through the windows. The couple needed to quickly pack the last bits before getting on an internal flight to Sala’s camp which is another in the safari collections portfolio as well as the manor. So we said our goodbyes and just like that the giraffe manor wedding was coming to an end.
Graham and I had one last hour where we did another little walk around the manor and ground. Taking stock of how lucky we are that our lives takes us to such amazing places. We did a quick game of jenga on the lawn and had a drink on the terrace. We then brought our bags don before the manor had a car waiting to take us to our next hotel. Saying goodbye to the giraffe manor a second time was quite bittersweet. I am unsure when I will be back. Hopefully something in the future. I would also love to head to Salas camp for a wedding as well as a full blown African safari wedding!
That afternoon we went to the animal orphanage, where we could see all animals that had been rescued followed by an amazing dinner at our new hotel. Our final day saw us have a mini safari in Nairobi national park. It is the smaller of the parks so it would be great to do a safari in Masai mara for example. But we were quite lucky with what we did see. Lions, zebra, giraffes, wilder beast, crocodiles, variety of birds and antelope. As well as something our driver said was often quite hard to see- we witnessed two female lions take down a solo wilder beast. It really is quite shocking and mesmerising at the same time! We then had to make our way to the airport or our flight home.
Kenya was a fairly short trip, but we packaged a lot in ans witnessed some amazing sights! Dont forget, I can be a Masai mara wedding photographer, safari wedding photographer and salas camp wedding photographer! Haha just ask.