They say that the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain don’t they. Not so for Gary and Eleanor and their beautiful destination wedding at Cortijo del Marques in Granada. In fact the pair were subjected to a spot of flash flooding in Granada whilst a heatwave raged back at home in Wales.
But the rain did not stop play – in fact this gorgeous pair fully embraced the elements moving their courtyard based wedding reception into an exquisite old barn that they’d wanted to use in their day but just couldn’t work out how. Serendipitous I think…
So sit back, relax and enjoy this exotic adventure.
Eleanor The Bride: Gary is a designer by trade but also is a qualified carpenter with a huge fondness for wood, so it was only natural for him to spend six months whittling a proposal ring from a piece of driftwood found on our favourite beach, Freshwater West in Pembrokeshire. After a lovely proposal back on that very same beach, it seemed the obvious choice for us to get married in Wales. The frequent rain however dampened this idea and after months of searching online for the ideal location abroad where we could have a relaxed rustic and outdoorsy day in ‘guaranteed’ sunshine, we found our dream venue in Granada – Cortijo del Marques. Spain offered our favourite things in tapas, rioja and sunshine and so when we visited the venue (the only one we actually visited in our long search) we knew it was perfect for us.
Little were we to know that it was going to rain more than it had for years (they’d had no rain in August in Granada for five years) so flash flooding in Granada and a heatwave back in Wales!
As we were getting married in Spain I wanted my dress to be quite simple as well as light and floaty to cope with the heat and also to transport out there on the plane. However the dress I found was nothing like originally planned (it was actually quite large and poofy!) and after a tipsy lunch at Claridges with mum we knew we’d found THE dress. It had a long bodice of lace which sat low on the hips and a beautiful full tulle skirt and train. After a few alterations to take some layers out of the skirt and cut the train down my dress was perfect… it even managed the journey on the plane!
I wanted simple jewellery to complement my dress and wore a diamond pendant necklace that was a 21st birthday gift along with some diamond stud earrings that my mum had specially made from an old pair of her mums. My mum was brilliant helping to choose and if it wasn’t for her begging me to try on a veil ‘just to see how it looks’ I would never have discovered the beautiful lace La Sposa veil that perfectly set off the dress.
Gary doesn’t wear suits to work and has a relaxed style, he wanted to feel comfortable and again he needed something light and cool for the Spanish weather. I had seen a lovely alternative groom style on an American blog which gave us the idea for his outfit, which was a 3-piece suit minus the jacket, so trousers and waistcoat, with the shirt sleeves rolled up to maintain that relaxed vibe. He was determined to have a very pale grey colour, so after several shopping trips we found the perfect suit shirt and shoes in Reiss. The groomsmen wore the same style and all had matching knitted ties from Uniqlo. His choice was perfect and he looked gorge!
The venue was stunning and very us in style. There were so many nooks and crannies, orange trees, accommodation on site – every bedroom was different and themed from its old use when the place was a country estate (the Stables room still had the original mangers lining the wall and the pigeon loft is divided between bedroom and bathroom by the original pigeon holes). It also had its own ancient chapel and despite dreaming of getting married outside amongst the olive groves, we could not turn down using this beautiful space for the service.
We didn’t want to follow tradition and I wasn’t keen on the idea of having too much of a strong theme, we just wanted to keep everything natural – something simple to complement the venue, as well as maintaining some wooden elements throughout, such as wooden table numbers made by Gary. We had a photo wall incorporating photos of all the guests and fun times we had shared together. Pinterest was a great inspiration and useful tool.
I always wanted peonies at my wedding, but the time of year put a stop to that, so I was recommended to have avalanche roses which are similar in shape and look to them and then chose a selection of flowers that I had taken inspiration from the Liberty flower stall, including lithianthus, spray roses and Verde Africana. I wanted the bouquets to be natural with the ‘just picked’ look. It was held together with twine and the wooden proposal ring. The buttonholes were spray rose, rosemary and gypsophila. We had a mix of flowers used on the bouquets in jars down the aisle, along with gypsophelia, these were then used as table centres for the dinner (3 per table) plus the altar flower piece.
I’m not a big fan of the matchy matchy look and plus the girls are all very fashion conscious, so I wanted them to look and feel hot in their outfits. I gave them a a loose theme to work with which was a colour palette of creamy nudes and gave them full creative license to choose their own dresses and shoes. Funnily enough the dresses they chose all had a similar theme running through of being floaty with edgy embellishment and they worked really well together. As a thank you to my bridesmaids I had ordered some thin cotton flowery ‘getting ready’ robes in their favourite colours from etsy, which looked great in the pictures. I wanted the pageboys to look cute in their outfits, nothing too formal and wanted them to be comfortable and not hot so chose some linen shorts from Zara with white short sleeved shirts.
One of the reasons we chose the Cortijo was because we fell in love with the ancient chapel in the square and its outside spaces. We had three readings as part of the ceremony including the Velveteen Rabbit and one of Gary’s friends wrote and read a brilliant poem about us as a couple. Everyone searches for the ultimate wedding where nothing is going to go wrong, the crazy weather was completely unexpected but it didn’t spoil the day one bit, in fact it gave us the excuse to move the dinner indoors (from the orange tree courtyard where it was planned) to the beautiful old barn which we had felt it was a shame to not be using in some way anyway and which we transformed with candlelight. Many guests even commented how that would have been their first choice anyway!
With the music we wanted something traditional for the venue so hired a Spanish guitarist who played me in with Pachelbel and out to the Beatles ‘All you need is love’, then played traditional Spanish songs as well as incorporating some fun British songs during the drinks reception. In Spain they’re pretty relaxed about timings so we knew the evening would be an amazing party and we weren’t wrong. We hired a local DJ and gave him a playlist and genres to work from; he did a great job, the dancefloor was packed all night and we had to ask him to play the last song to send the partygoers home!
We chose to go with traditional Spanish food & drink of course which our venue provided. This was a tapas selection for canapés with rose cava, Sangria and Alhambra beers and Spanish wines. The main menu was a goats cheese salad, a choice of cordoba style beef with beans and straw potatoes or prawn and monkfish brochettes with asparagus and a leek sauce, dessert was chocolate mousse with strawberries and was delicious.
Joseph was such a great photographer, his style of natural reportage was exactly what we were looking for with our wedding day shots and we were delighted with the finished results. Joe managed to capture the essence of our day effortlessly – he is able to show the feelings and emotions of the day in his photography rather than them being just purely visual reminders. He was a dream to work with and I would recommend him to everyone!
Gary’s friend and colleague Steve was super sweet and filmed all elements of the wedding for us.
I would definitely recommend getting married abroad, just be prepared for rain even there! Our guests all had an amazing holiday and we were able to hang out the days before with a lovely pre-wedding meal at a restaurant overlooking the Alhambra and a paella party at the venue the day after. It was such an amazing experience… a completely perfect wedding!
If you are thinking of booking abroad I’d suggest using a planner to help with the language barriers. Our planner Theresa Guthrie was a godsend! Don’t worry too much about the little things and most importantly take time for the two of you to step back and take it all in, it really does fly by.