By Douglas Carew

Tony Leon will marry his sweetheart, Michal Even-Zahav, on Sunday evening at the Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town before heading off on an "African honeymoon".

The bride-to-be and the leader of the Democratic Alliance met nearly nine years ago, and the couple, who recently moved into a house in Newlands, Cape Town, have been together since 1996.

The future Mrs Leon will be accompanied to the chuppah (canopy under which a Jewish marriage ceremony takes place) by her teenage son Etai and daughter Noa. Her niece Lee will be their flower girl.

Interviewed at the Mount Nelson on Friday, the striking brunette said Rabbi David Hoffman would conduct the ceremony in the hotel's Garden Room.

The reception for 170 guests would take place in the ballroom. She said family, including her mother Bianca and sisters Dana and Amit, had flown in from Israel. She was keeping mum about the rest of the guest list.

"It is a private event and we are unable to share that information with the world."

Asked if she had a wedding co-ordinator, she laughed and said: "You're looking at her."

Even-Zahav said friends and family, including future mother-in-law Sheila Schulz, had been very helpful and so had the hotel's banqueting staff.

Details of the wedding dress, designed by Cape Town's Sandy Likiadopolis, are also a closely guarded secret.

She said mischievously: "Tony doesn't even know what it looks like. He keeps guessing but gets it wrong. What I can say is that my family love it."

Leon and Etai will wear black suits and ties by Fabiani.

The menu will be a combination of international cuisine, including traditional English roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, and Middle Eastern flavours with pita bread, tahina and humus.

"The hotel was extremely accommodating when it came to the menu," Even-Zahav said.

There will also be a huge dessert table, and the cake will be a croquembouche, a pyramid-shaped French wedding cake made with puff pastry, cream and "angel hair" spun sugar syrup.

"It will also have lots of chocolate and strawberries," Even-Zahav said.

The couple will spend their wedding night at the Mount Nelson and remain in Cape Town for a few days to see friends and family who have flown in from across the world.

Then it will be time for the honeymoon in Zambia and Zimbabwe. Even-Zahav said she was looking forward to the trip: "I have never seen anything of Africa except South Africa."

Relaxing in the cool hotel lounge, she was confident she would take the pressures of being married to a very public figure in her stride.

"I am not the one who has been elected to public office, and people are very nice in South Africa. Even if they recognise me and want to chat, there is never a problem. I believe that if you keep it natural, it's fine."

Misty Blue will provide live music at the reception, but would there be dancing?

"Absolutely," Even-Zahav said. "It's going to be a party!"