A wedding with a Vaal River view

An hour long drive to the Vaal River from Johannesburg seemed endless and the excitement could not be contained as we anticipated the celebration of my sister’s wedding. The sky was overcast and the wind was relentless but we were determined to commit to all the festivities.

A convoy of cars snaked along the N1S highway towards Bloemfontein. After driving through the Grasmere Tollgate the open road led the way to one of Sasolburg’s diverse venues. Situated on the banks of the Vaal River, Riverside Beach Club is a paradise for boat lovers and water skiers who have access to over 60 km of waters.

The 70 hectare nature and game farm also offers camping and lapa facilities for private functions. The largest Gemsbok lapa seating a maximum of 200 people was prepared to serve as the reception venue for my sister’s wedding. White draping with fairy lights covered the ceiling and the floor was covered with crisp white Tiffany chairs and white-clothed tables. Crystal centre pieces were delicately placed alongside pearl balls and mirrored flower boxes. This Gemsbok lapa was transformed to fulfil the bride and groom’s wedding dream.

A sign welcoming guests to the boat club appears along a narrow driveway leading to the main area of the farm. One can also see many rows of boat locker facilities. The club has one of the largestboat locker rentalfacilities on the Barrage Reservoir however; it is only members who have access to boat locker facilities that can enjoy more than 1kmof privateriver frontage and additional facilities. My uncle is one of these members and it is his boat that transported me, the bride and groom, the groomsmen and the bridesmaids across the river to the smaller lapa where anexcited congregation waited for the bridal party.

The lapa, called Springbok, resembled a chapel as a white carpet ran across the centre leading to the altar. The priest stood at the front alongside beautiful vases of white and yellow roses. A saxophonist led us in with melodic tunes before the entrance of the exquisite bride. At the end of the ceremony guests were led to the Gemsbok lapa while the bride and groom were photographed along the Vaal River.

Owners Ben and Sanet Smith had closed up the club for this special function however, the club usually packs up with picnickers and campers.

The river fills up with speed boats and water jets while a small swimming pool allows children to enjoy the sun. Campers have a designated area where they can set up their tents and park their caravans. Our day visit attracted a few bystanders from the camping spot as the music boomed from the reception lapa.

The club offers a restaurant and take-away kiosk however; we opted for the self-catering option which allowed us to be creative with the choice of foods and desserts. The waiters and waitresses of the club were efficient in taking orders for drinks as a cash bar was made available. The festivities continued till rattled campers pleaded for peace and quiet.

Weddings are just some of the exciting things that take place at the Riverside Beach Club. Members bring their families to relax, have sundowners and enjoy breath-taking views of the bushveld and the Vaal River. This pristine boat club is one of the few private destinations situated in the isolated pockets of the Free State made to offer a little bit of heaven on earth.

The Riverside Beach Club is a members only club. No casual day visitors are allowed.

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