Windmill Country Manors Early Bird 2015

Harare Wedding Venue Review – Raintree

Exclusive, up-market, top of the range. Designed for that dream wedding.

Ed: post updated 23 September 2012 for 2013 bookings

Harare wedding venue – Considered one of the top wedding venues in Harare and Zimbabwe as a whole, Raintree is a coveted wedding venue if you speak to most brides-to-be. It’s exclusive and up-market status has been confirmed by the hosting of numerous VVIP weddings ranging from relations to the Executive in government, celebrities and top business executives. During my review visit there I understood why this has been the case.

I include in this review pictures of Raintree venue as well as some downloads for your study.

To Raintree

To Raintree

Raintree is just an amazing extraordinary piece of land endowed with natural beauty that needed no man to modify. As you might be aware Raintree is located in the up-market neighborhood of Umwinsndale in Harare. The main road artery leading to Umwinsndale from town is Enterprise Road all the way to Chishawasha turn-off on your way to Mtoko or Murewa. My visit there was strictly by appointment keeping in tune with how things are done for any viewing. I give all the contact details you need at the end of this post.

Down the road to main entrance, undisturbed scenic views

Down the road to main entrance, undisturbed scenic views

The most amazing and breathtaking natural feature at Raintree is the Umwinsi River. This is a natural water feature that flows all-year-round with fresh water. It  flows coming as far back as Borrowdale through the property and out on its way into the vast wild, characterised by msasa woodlands.

The venue has a great waterfall feature which exhibits its maximum beauty in the rainy season when amazing white water overflows the rocks.  Even outside the rainy season, the river still flows beautifully without break. This is known in-house as the Raintree falls. It is this water feature that creates an amazing back-drop for your wedding ceremony.

The Umwinsi River, the main natural attraction at Raintree. Partially in view are the Raintree Falls

The Umwinsi River, the main natural attraction at Raintree. Partially in view are the Raintree Falls

Right at the Raintree Falls, the owners created under a tree a special reserved place for wedding ceremonies/church service. There are more than one areas you can pick from for your ceremony. Most venues in Harare have a single ceremony venue. This is a great plus for Raintree.

Raintree is the venue for the moment, it is likely to retain its status for a long long time to come despite the emergence of a lot more other amazing venues that we have reviewed here. I was taken around by the Events Co-ordinator. A professional and great communicator who made me understand clearly what the venue stands for.

We believe Raintree is among a few venues that will successfully fend off for sometime to come the decline that is spoken of in a September 2012  poll report by ZimBridal which you may download here ({title} ({hits})).

Right under this tree will your ceremony take place (if you wish). The back-drop is the Raintree Falls. The falls have a lot more water in the rainy season/peak season

Right under this tree will your ceremony take place (if you wish). The back-drop is the Raintree Falls.
The falls have a lot more water in the rainy season/peak season

At Raintree you can get amazing photographs as there is a vast garden and well manicured lawns all over the property that you can freely utilise. Apart from that , much of the length of the Umwinsi River within the property is also available to you for your photography.

This means the venue also offers the wild for your pictures and not only the gardens that many of us are used to and that most venues have. The management told me that on your special day, the venue is exclusively yours and it’s really up to you what, where and how you do your photos.

This wedding venue is extremely secure. It is literally hidden in the Umwinsndale savanna type woodland. It has capacity to host as many as 1000 people. I discovered that it has two main facilities to host your wedding. One venue has a capacity of up to 350 people which currently is a slab surface. There will be a permanently fixed marquee by the end of September 2011. The marquee will overlook the Umwinsi River – Update : The new marquee is now up ahead of schedule see the pictures here. This 350 capacity venue is a key location within Raintree that will give you and your guests closest access to the river and the beauty of the waterfall.

Right under this tree will your ceremony take place (if you wish). The back-drop is the Raintree Falls. The falls have a lot more water in the rainy season/peak season

The 350 guest slab. As from September 2011 a permanent marquee will be erected here. That structure you see in the background also houses the ablutions

update :- the new marquee is now up  see it here

Should your guest list be more than 350 people, you will automatically be shifted to a higher capacity reception area, as mentioned, of 1000 people. It’s also an excellent place to be, even though it takes your reception away from one of the main attractions at the venue, the Umwinsi River. Your reception will still be done at the waterfall backdrop right at the river or at yet another ceremony venue very close to the river. However, afterwards you and your guests will have to walk back a few meters to the higher capacity reception area for your reception. This is a very short distance of at most 50 to 70  meters.

The bride's changing room which comes with your Raintree package

The bride’s changing room which comes with your Raintree package

Raintree offers a room set-aside as the bride’s chamber where you or your bride can change.  It is very close to both the larger capacity reception area and the 350 guest marquee which is currently a slab (this will be an Alpine marquee for max 350 guests by end Sept. 2011). The venue offers well maintained ablution facilities which will have attendants constantly ensuring it’s clean and up-to-date right through your function. This means at no point will your guests walk into the restroom and find a mess as often happens at many other crowded venues.

Part of the garden for your photos, private residence in view

Part of the garden for your photos, private residence in view

When I arrived, I found the management waiting for me in the car park which is located in-between the two venue facilities i.e. one for 350 plus and the other for 300 people. I was  told this is the main car park to be used which can accommodate up to 300 vehicles. Should your guests have more cars, there is are other locations within the property which can be used to accommodate the reminder of the vehicles. This is rather a secondary packing alternative.

All yours for photography on your special day

All yours for photography on your special day

Should for any reason perhaps due to an out of the norm wedding with a lot more cars, there is always a secure additional parking space to be used just next to the property but outside the property. This is however hardly needed as in most cases all the cars will drive inside and be accommodated on the available designated parking areas.

More garden

More garden

Here comes the part that most people dread because of a desire to cut on costs – service providers. The good news is that to maintain its up-market status Raintree has to have a firm approach on this matter. The bad news is that it leaves little room for personally preferred service providers. What this basically means is that the venue does not allow most of your own service providers to do any service at the venue.

For every single service you will require at Raintree there is already an approved/preferred service provider in partnership with the venue. This begins with your tent hire. It’s either you go for Rooney’s or Specialist Hire. I asked the management why this was the case seeing this has always been my question. This time there was an even better response. To paraphrase, she said its all about capacity. It’s only these two companies in Harare/Zimbabwe at the moment who have the kind of capacity and quality that Raintree guarantees its clients.

After the installation of the Alpine marquee on the 350 guests slab in September 2011 (update:- marquee now up), you will essentially have your wedding at Raintree without needing to hire any tent perhaps save for smaller tents for serving food and for your bar and also your ceremony if necessary.

Umwinsi River

Umwinsi River

I posed for a while trying to bring up a name that would put a formidable challenge to the event coordinator’s notion, nothing came to mind so I left it at that (if someone is out there please email me for next time). Catering, decor, flowers, photography, DJ, sound system and so on are preferred to be done in-house for you by Raintree partners.

Generally no private equipment is permitted on the premises. This is a general trend across Harare venues and getting stronger by the day. Service providers working alone need to seriously think about getting into partnerships. I predict that future decent wedding venues will follow this path unless you lobby for a strong anti-trust legislation or policy with the respective authorities.

Catering is an important area,  it’s also a preserve of Raintree’s own chef in partnership. The venue  allows your special requests for certain foods, I can imagine based on cultural or religious considerations. The venue says “if you wish to bring in imported figs, preserves, cheeses, biscuits etc [they] are happy to accommodate your request”.

Now let’s talk about the money issues. I don’t know whether I should say brace yourself or relax. Perhaps I just need to say be yourself :) I talk more about the various options the cost of wedding at Raintree in this follow-up article called  How To Wed Great And Pay Less At Raintree . It is this post that I talk about the optional approaches you have at hand.

So this is what there is to say about Raintree wedding venue. There is still away to pay less than this if you read my other post How To Wed Great And Pay Less At Raintree .

Great service! Beginning with my first phone call to organise my visit there and the reception I received on arrival, it was professional. I give Raintree very high service ratings.

You may contact the Event Co-ordinator at Raintree using the instant email form below. The venue is a very busy place, you will need to place your booking very early.

Harare wedding venue – Raintree

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