After some really lovely Autumnal sunshine it’s really rather dreary out isn’t it? All the more reason to transport you all to a gorgeous wine farm, Quinta de Sant’Ana in Portugal. Dominique and Phil had the most beautiful wedding, the lush greenery and decor for both the ceremony and the reception is spectacular. And I love the fact the pair had a “first look” – such a sweet moment.
Dominique’s gown is stunning, as if it was literally made for her and the backdrop of the bright yellow brickwork of the location buildings just says “summer”…..also the cakes though. Because, why just have one when you can have more?
Dominique The Bride: I was not one of those brides who saw one or two dresses and fell in love. My Mom flew over from the US to go dress shopping and we were determined to find my dress before she was scheduled to fly home a week later. 45 (!) dresses later I finally found it and I couldn’t have been more pleased. One of the things I am really glad I spent time on was creating a wedding dress inspiration book to bring to dress shops. I cut out pictures of dresses with elements I liked, incorporated fabric swatches with different textures, and had a few sketches of different silhouettes. By showing the sales assistant my book, they were able to bring me dresses that fit elements of what I was looking for which made the process a lot easier.
As soon as I started looking at wedding dresses I was drawn to dresses with a lot of texture. One of the first dresses I tried on was a mermaid style dress from Essense of Australia. I fell in love with the dress and the fabric, but the corset went down so low I could hardly sit down. I was ecstatic when I found another Essence of Australia dress with a sweetheart neckline in an easier-to-manoeuvre trumpet style with the exact textured skirt I was looking for. Although I tried the dress on in another store, I ordered it from London Bride UK because it was easier for me to get to for fittings and the staff were just amazing when I tried on dresses there.
Because I am quite tall anyway and wanted to be comfortable I was always going to wear flats. My Mom found me a pair of rose gold ballet flats by Yosi Samri (bought from Jane Brooklyn) that were incredibly comfortable and so pretty.
Both me and my Sister’s makeup and hair were done by Joana Moreira. I loved the look she created and my hair went perfectly with my dress.
Our wedding rings were custom made by Bedazzl London in Hatton Garden. Phil had my engagement ring made there so when we went to buy our wedding rings we knew exactly where to go. I wanted something a bit more unique so Martin created a ring by twisting two pieces of 18k rose gold to form a rope design. Mine and my Sister’s necklaces were from Les Nereides and had little pearl grape clusters in ivory. I was fortunate to have my ‘borrowed’, ‘old’ and ‘blue’ from my Mother-in-law, who lent me her beautiful antique sapphire and diamond earrings.
Phil found his Ermenegildo Zegna suit at Selfridges, which fit him like a glove. He found his shirt and tie at Pal Zileri and topped it off with a pocket square from Etro. On his feet were shoes from Russell and Bromley, socks from Hackett and his watch from Raymond Weil.
The Wedding Party
We had my Sister as Maid of Honour and Phil’s Brother as Best Man. My Sister wore the Nadia dress from J.Crew and we both wore the most lovely floral kimonos from Caro London to get ready in.
Phil’s brother wore a charcoal grey suit from Hugo Boss paired with a shirt and tie from Pal Zileri.
As soon as we started planning our wedding we knew that one of our first priorities was choosing a photographer. We instantly fell in love with Anneli Marinovich’s images when we saw one of her weddings featured on a wedding blog. We loved her vibrant colours and the way she seemed to capture all the details and emotion of the weddings she photographs. Once we met her we knew she was on board with the vision we had for our wedding and we really enjoyed getting to know her and working with her during our engagement shoot and wedding. Anneli truly went above and beyond for our destination wedding, spending time getting to know the venue before the wedding so by the time we arrived she knew all the good locations and brought us to the best spots for our first look, family portraits, etc. From getting dressed through to the first dance, we were amazed just how many small details and special moments she managed to capture during the day.
We don’t take ourselves too seriously so we wanted a more informal ceremony that was personal without being too sentimental. Because we live in London we met our celebrant for the first time over Skype. Melanie Reeg was recommended by our venue and did a wonderful job of taking the ceremony we wrote together and adding in a few of her own elements based on the questionnaire we sent her. Her delivery of some of lines we wrote into the ceremony were truly hilarious, including the gem, ‘he loves your booty…oops I meant your beauty’. The Best Man also unwittingly added his own funny moment when he got a bit too over eager and tried to hand Melanie the rings before we reached that part of the ceremony. Phil had a hard time stifling his laughter as he looked at his Brother, shook his head and said, ‘you had one job!’
Food & Drink
We love to have friends over for dinner and no one ever leaves our table hungry (or sober). So it was important that we were able to provide that same experience during our wedding. I have a few different food allergies so it was important that we could cater to all of our guests no matter what their dietary requirements were. QSA was absolutely amazing in accommodating us! Ann went through all of the menus with us beforehand and they even labelled the canapés according to what was gluten free, vegetarian, etc. My favourite part was the fresh goat’s cheese during the wine tasting, it was out of this world!
During the cocktail hour we had a selection of canapés and cocktails followed by wine tasting with local cheese, nuts and olives. After the cocktail hour we sat down to a delicious four course dinner with speeches followed by a dessert buffet of local cheeses, breads and fruit before cutting the cake.
We ended up having two cakes, one bigger cake for everyone and a smaller cake that was gluten free. I had a clear idea of the designs I wanted and sent through pictures so the baker could create them. I made the cake toppers and the QSA team added fresh flowers to top them off.
We finished off the night with a midnight snack of steak sandwiches and Portuguese Nata tarts.
We had a violin and cello playing during the ceremony and the cocktail hour. Our DJ, Rui Franjas, was a recommendation from the venue. He was great and played most of our & the guests requests which we sent him in advance of the wedding.
We gave our guests custom wine stoppers with our initial and wedding date. We found our favours on Etsy UK.
Our colour scheme was a range of grey tones and purples with pops of magenta. We didn’t really have a theme, but the concept was based around using lots of different textures to give a romantic and earthy feel. This was inspired by the vineyard and the well-worn beauty of the venue. One of the reasons we picked the venue was that it was already so beautiful that it didn’t need a lot of additional decoration. The plan was to get married outside in the vineyard but it ended up raining in the morning so we had to move things inside to the cellar. Ann and her team created a beautiful flower arch with loads of greenery covered in white and purple flowers. They also put candles and little pots of flowers all down the aisle.
The room where we had dinner was a converted theatre with very high ceiling and I had a very clear vision in my mind what I wanted it to look like. I love a bit of DIY so I couldn’t resist making the centrepieces, menus and placecards. I created three different textured spheres of moss, wood and feathers set on vases in varying heights. I built everything in London and shipped them to Portugal in the weeks before the wedding. I sent the QSA team pictures of greenery wreaths which they recreated and hung over each of the tables. The effect was absolutely magical and I couldn’t believe how amazing it looked when I walked into the room with my new husband.
We had the best day ever! We honestly wouldn’t change a thing (not even the rain) and our advice to other couples would be to decide what elements are important to you and invest in those. But most of all have fun, this is your day so enjoy it.
I would recommend that anyone planning a destination wedding invest in a wedding website or app and have some events before the wedding for anyone arriving early. Most of our friends and family arrived 2-3 days before the wedding and we use AppyCouple to post informal events, important numbers, map to the wedding bus, etc.
One of the best things we did was to have a first look before all the guests arrived. These ended up being our favourite pictures from the day and it was so nice to have some time to ourselves during the day.
Photography by Anneli Marinovich
- Dress Designer Essense of Australia
- Bridal Boutique London Bride UK
- Brida Shoes Yosi Samri From Jane Brooklyn
- Hair & Makeup Joana Moreira
- Jewellery Les Nereides
- Bridesmaid Dress J. Crew
- Kimonos Caro
- Grooms Suit Ermenegildo Zegna from Selfridges
- Celebrant Melanie Reeg
- Favours Etsy
- Catering & Flowers Quinta de Sant’ana
- Stationery Fine Stationery