Heidi and Jack’s travel plans to Tanzania were two-fold: not only did they hope to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro during their trek with Thomson, but they also wanted to exchange rings while they were on the mountain. Much to their surprise, however, their simple elopement plans quickly developed into an impromptu wedding ceremony, complete with officiant, best man and many new friends in attendance. To top it off, Kili’s iconic LavaTower served as a breathtaking backdrop to their special wedding. Heidi and Jack shared their story with us; read it below.
The IMAX film inspired us to do the Kili trip. As the date approached, we decided this would be the perfect elopement trip. Our original plan was a simple exchange of wedding rings on the mountain.
We’d been with our trekking group for a couple of days but hadn’t shared our idea until we got to the Londorossi gate. It all started when fellow trekker and nurse from the Mayo Clinic, Kim, asked how long we had been married. We laughed as we showed her the rings we were carrying around our necks and told her our plan to elope on the mountain.
Kim asked if she could tell the rest of the group, and from there, everything took on a life of its own in the most fantastic way. Lou, another hiker in our group, was a minister who said he would be honored to do a small ceremony for us. The ceremony he designed was simple but beautiful, just what we wanted. Seasoned trekker and the oldest person in our group at 70, Jim, volunteered to walk me down the aisle. Our head guide, Wilfred, served as Jack’s best man. Wilfred later told us via email, that when he told his wife this story, she didn’t believe him!
We decided to have the ceremony at Lava Tower so everyone could be part of it – and what a community wedding it ended up being! Our Thomson group, plus another Thomson group and the combined staff, collected before dinner for our wedding. The ceremony was magical, personal and touching, in the most incredible setting.
After the ceremony, all the porters gathered around us to sing traditional Tanzanian wedding songs containing advice on how to take care of each other now that we were husband and wife.
We have a wedding guest book signed by almost 100 people, none of whom we’d met two weeks before. Everything was just perfect. Thanks to the joy and participation from everyone traveling with us, we definitely had the wedding we had always dreamed of that we never knew we could have!