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Real Weddings

Photos From a Charitable Couple Who Got Married in Africa


By a show of hands, who has ever dreamed about taking their wedding budget and going rogue by blowing it on a completely selfless cause? We all may have entertained the idea of it, at some junction, but ultimately decided that a wedding rife with ‘all the stuff’ was by far the most befitting.

The notion of giving back and paying it forward with your nuptials is always an option, but truthfully the appeal of a wedding with all the bells and whistles just overcomes us - and we find ourselves accumulating more and more ‘things’ that aren’t quite necessary for our special day, but that we just need to have to feel whole.

Well, we just heard about a wedding between two people who can honestly say their charitable dreams came to fruition with their big day. Of course, not every couple could throw caution to the wind and deliberately drop their wedding funds to finance an East African mission trip. But these two did it in the most dignified and fulfilling way, and we’re hoping their story can have a domino effect on so many more soon-to-be-wed bleeding hearts.


It’s as simple as this. While contemplating their future wedding and everything that would follow, California lovers, Meylia and Neal, decided to forgo the tradition of a big wedding and do something that made a difference and meant something more to them. Instead of orchestrating an affair fettered by florals, first-class food and fanciful decor, they chose to fly to Tanzania and bring along a few of their friends to bear witness. Since Meylia’s parents were heavily entrenched in charitable organizations there, it just made perfect sense to venture to Tanzania and tie the knot amidst their philanthropic pursuits.

Over the course of just 10 days, the pair and their guests visited orphanages, Maasai schools, and centers for the deaf and disadvantaged, and saw to it that their wedding money was put towards a much more benevolent cause.

Luckily for us, before starting out on their trip, they commissioned travel photographer and film ambassador for The Village Voice and Buzzfeed, B.A. Van Sise to come along and document it all. He didn’t have all that much to go on, only having met the couple for the first time after touching down in Tanzania, but let’s just say he killed it. Like, actually slayed with his sentient, emotional and flat-out flawless finesse behind the lens.


What we love the most about their real wedding is the fact that, yes, they spent the majority of their trip paying it forward, but in doing so really walked away with the richest experiences. The couple, too, didn’t abandon a wedding entirely. They had a safari styled wedding shoot complete with insanely-gorgeous traditional+ceremonial clothing made by amazing artist elders in the villages. And the photos were just stunning.

Add to it, a few candid and unreal shots of the couple hugging it out, surrounded by animals, and it was the epitome of a whirlwind wedding. Something that Meylia, Neal, B.A. and the rest of the wedding guests will never ever forget.


And that’s the point of a wedding anyway, right? To have and to hold (the memories), from this day forward, as long as you both shall live?

WOW. Our minds are blown 🤯 🤯 🤯. Check out some more of this incredible gallery, and get to know the photographer behind it all, because he is SO. GOOD. All photos courtesy of B.A. Van Sise

Really, we don’t think you can top African photoshoots… Check out this amazing sun-soaked engagement sesh on the beach in Cape Town and this incredible bohemian garden wedding on a farm in South Africa.

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PhotographersB.A. Van Sise