One Couple's Breathtaking Destination Wedding in Kenya
There was a third riveting presence, besides groom and groom, at the June 17, 2017, wedding of Grant Kretchik and Lance Williams: the majestic backdrop of Kenya. Grant and Lance had long cherished the African country and its tendency to transform moments—large or small—into events that completely transcend expectation. This was certainly the case with their 2015 engagement. The New York– and L.A.–based couple (Grant created and runs a BFA acting program, and Lance is a marketing consultant) had visited Kenya regularly for nearly a decade to collaborate with wildlife-conservation charities via a fund Lance had inherited from his aunt. So Grant chose a favorite clifftop there to propose. "I got two rings, and I asked some local friends to leave them at the top of the hill," he says. "I expected them to watch from afar, but after my proposal, they broke into tribal dances; next thing, we were lighting a ritual fire with two sticks, there was elephant dung (a symbol, according to the local Samburu tribe, of a bountiful and blessed life), and we danced around the fire until well after sunset. It was magical."
They held their wedding in Kenya with the hope that their loved ones, too, would experience a bit of that magic. And as the wedding day unfolded, the country certainly delivered: During an early-morning game drive, the grooms and their guests encountered leopards—a rare sighting even for seasoned safari-goers. "People thought we had arranged it somehow!" says Lance. After they returned to the lodge for brunch, a tower of giraffes joined them—and guests fed them their favorite treat, oranges, by hand. Later, as Lance and Grant took pre-wedding portraits, a herd of elephants wandered into the frame. "This was really special, because Save the Elephants is one of the biggest projects that we work with and support," says Lance. And as the sun set and vows were exchanged, the couple were serenaded by a choir of friends from the Samburu and Maasai tribes, who also blessed them with another ritual fire that burned into the evening. "We knew that if we put a plan in motion, Africa would just take over," says Grant. "Nature outdoes itself, if you let it."
The Stationery Suite
A custom raw-silk folio by Regas held the invitation and a booklet of wedding and traveling details.
Quite the Adventure
Guests were treated to several "game drives": early-morning and -evening trips in Land Rovers to spot wildlife. Impala like these are a common sight, while leopards and lions are more rare.
The couple's mothers escorted them down the aisle at the ceremony. Lance's mother wore an Oscar de la Renta caftan with beaded trim and Grant's mother wore a floral appliqué gown by Theia. Lance and Grant, both in Tom Ford Made to Measure tuxes, had complementary lapel pins fashioned from a vintage diamond necklace that belonged to Lance's grandmother.
With these Rings
Sung with Meaning
The couple's friend (and wife of Grant's best man), Andie, a performer from New York City, sang "The Rose" during the ceremony, to honor Lance's late aunt and uncle. She wore a vintage Leonard Paris gown that once belonged to his aunt.
Lance and Grant became enamored with a pair of trees that, while no longer bloomed or leafed out, beautifully framed the conservation area beyond them. They had the trees festooned with fresh roses by Uhuru Flowers to set up a natural altar for the ceremony.
The group assembled on a hilltop for the ceremony, which was presided over by a good friend. Lush, tonal roses graced the trees marking the site.
A group of colorfully dressed Samburu and Maasai women sang welcome songs to greet guests at the ceremony site.
A ritual fire-starting marked the transition into an African ceremony.
A Group Photo
Everyone posed for a group portrait and Champagne toast post-ceremony.
There were 40 guests at the wedding, a small enough group to seat everyone together at one massive table. In the center was a striking centerpiece of roses and lanterns
The Place Settings
Women from a local tribe hand-embroidered names on all the cloth napkins, keepsakes that doubled as seating indicators. The lion was an icon used throughout the couple's wedding imagery.
Kenya is one of the world's leading exporters of roses, and their abundance was evident all over the wedding, from the many blooms to the petals strewn on all the tables. Besides a wedding cake, brownie bites and lemon bars were kept near the dance floor for refreshments in-reach whenever needed.
The couple's first dance was to Elvis Presley's "Can't Help Falling in Love" with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. "Some of our local Kenyan guests were unfamiliar with the concept of a first dance," says Lance, "and they were blown away by how moving it was."
Flowers, décor, and custom napkins, Catherine Crookes of Uhuru Flowers
Photography, Mia Collis
Grooms' tuxedos, Tom Ford Made to Measure
Wedding rings, Dream Gems Corp.
Aircraft charter, Kasas Limited
Carpet for ceremony site, Maison K
Leather ceremony book, Raika
Officiant's dress, Badgley Mischka