Family, royalty and other close friends gathered under the spectacular sunset skies of the South African bush last week to see filmmaker Sam Branson, son of Virgin tycoon Sir Richard, marry stunning actress Isabella Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe in a romantic and emotional ceremony which took place amidst five incredible days of celebration.
Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, Isabella”s youngest sister Cressida Bonas, who is romantically involved with Prince Harry, singer Natalie Imbruglia and physicist and TV presenter Professor Brian Cox were among the 140 guests who gathered at Sir Richard”s awe-inspiring private game reserve of Ulusaba to see the couple tie the knot.
! was also fortunate to receive an invitation and is therefore able to bring you every joyous, colourful and heartfelt moment of the wedding of the year.
Determined that their guests should experience the full magic of a place that has totally captured their hearts, the bride and groom, who met seven years ago and share a passion for nature and wildlife, organised a host of African-themed treats during the five-day celebrations, such as sunrise safaris, bush Olympics, bongo lessons and themed fancy dress parties, ahead of an emotional sunset wedding service.
“There”s something about being so close to nature that just makes you feel alive,” Sam told !. “You”re connected to nature at its most raw; you’re in the animals” environment and you”re very aware of that and that”s what’s so exciting about the place.”
“To me, going on safari is one of the most incredible experiences you can have,” agreed Isabella, who is known to those close to her as Bellie. “So for our families and friends to be able to share in something we love so much as part of our wedding celebrations is wonderful.”
Arriving for the wedding service on the arm of her property magnate father, John Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe, Isabella, 33, was a vision of elegance in a lace ivory gown by designer Monique Lhuillier.
“The ceremony was so emotional and beautiful,” Princess Beatrice told ! afterwards. “Sam did so well not crying – but none of the rest of us can say the same. There was hardly any point in wearing make-up.”
For a full report of the celebrations, interviews and wedding album, see this week”s !