Well if this wedding doesn't make you want to pack up your bags and head straight to Portugal, then I don't know what will...the whole day is just a delight from start to finish. Bride Vanessa is a designer with a newly launched wedding styling business, so naturally, her and Tom's big day is just beautiful. I love the way they've opted for very simple, clean decor as this feels perfect for a cool dinner under the baking hot Portugal sun. The venue, which just happens to be Vanessa's mothers house, is incredible and the pair were very lucky to hold their nuptials there. Vanessa and Tom's magical wedding day (or should I say weekend) was captured by Ali Paul, whose style is just dreamy. The couple portraits are SO romantic and Ali has captured all the fun too.

The Venue

Tom The Groom: There was no question as to where the big day was going to be. Both sides of Vanessa’s family come from the same village in northern Portugal, in a rural setting right up in the mountains. So many of our most special moments together have been spent there and we wanted to share that place with our friends and family from the UK, as well as making life easy for so many of the guests who live there anyway! Stunning views, guaranteed good weather and the promise of delicious food and wine sealed the deal. We are so grateful to all our family but especially Vanessa’s mum Paula who opened the doors of her home whilst managing all the events impeccably and remaining calm, organised, and enthusiastic throughout.

A Three Day Event

As our guests had to travel so far we decided to make it worth their while and host a three-day affair. We had sunset drinks the night before on Vanessa’s uncle’s rooftop and after the wedding we hosted a pool party with BBQ where guests returned to nurse their hangovers with more Aperol Spritzes and to carry on at the Beer Bar.

The Decor

Our aim was for every element to compliment the rural landscape at the venue, from the rustic crockery at dinner to the illustrated lemon invitations and stationery. We had a strong brand from the outset and this carried through from the invitations to the signage, menus, favours and even the traditional cork salt containers on the tables. The vinyl lettering on plywood signs and the large white balloons provided a contemporary edge. ‘White’ was our complementary colour which really stood out when set against the imposing stone backdrop of the house and the garden.

The Fashion

Vanessa The Bride: I was always drawn to the idea of lace on my dress as I had a romantic notion of our traditional catholic service but I didn’t want anything too restrictive as I knew I had to be comfortable and consider the sweltering weather. Although I tried on many different options, Jenny Packham’s Venetia dress and Constanza veil was my first and last! I paired it with a pair of nude Dosa heels from Grace Loves Lace, which were extremely comfortable and didn’t distract from the dress. Tom wore a tailored three-piece Paul Smith ‘Soho’ suit in a lovely light grey tone that was both smart and stood him out as the Groom. The grey matched the eclectic mix of bridesmaid dresses all purchased from so each bridesmaid felt comfortable in their choice and cut of dress on their bodies. We couldn’t find ties in the right green hue we wanted for him and the groomsmen so got our own made by Kate Temple in a Designers Guild Forest Green linen.

The Flowers

Tom The Groom: Owing to temperatures hitting 39 degrees centigrade, many of the pre-ordered flowers sadly didn’t arrive in the best condition. Vanessa was found slightly panicked on the morning of the wedding, cutting stems and wild foliage from her Grandmother’s garden. Vanessa’s aunt and cousins styled all the button holes, bouquets and jam-jar vases for the day in a mad dash before getting themselves ready for the day. Being that the flowers were indigenous they looked subtle and in harmony with the setting.

The Ceremony

Our ceremony was held at the local Chapel of Santa Barbara which had been lovingly restored by neighbours and Vanessa’s family in months running up to the day. Vanessa walked down the aisle to Lennon and Maisy’s 'That’s What’s Up.' Each bridesmaid entered on a verse and the whole congregation joined in clapping at the end. It was an unconventional entrance choice but we wanted the moment to be upbeat and celebratory. The ceremony was in both Portuguese and English to accommodate all our guests. We walked out to 'Oh Happy Day', being belted out by my sister and my new brother-in-law. We were then showered by dried flower petals that had brightened our home throughout the year of planning our special day.

The Food

This was one of the single most important elements of the day for us and after a few visits to Portugal we finally found, Parque de Pena, a caterer who understood our ethos for the flavours and styling we wished for. For starters we had loin of sea bass on a bed of potato puree with seasonal vegetables. The main was a roasted veal shoulder with a confit pork cheek and roast potatoes accompanied by big sharing bowls of traditional Portuguese rice and salads. After speeches was pudding: a crème brûlée cigar with a slice of wedding cake and summer fruits, all served with coffee, tea and digestifs. Our humble and delicious wedding cake was lovingly made by Vanessa’s aunty the day before...and swiftly demolished by hungry children within minutes of us cutting it! We also had an epic spread in what we call the stone room but what guests ended up nicknaming the cheese grotto, where people helped themselves to more desserts, fruits and cheeses long into the night.

The Entertainment

Vanessa The Bride: We had a fab Samba band from Porto called Samba Sem Fronteiras that Tom found on Youtube. They were the perfect accompaniment to our cocktail and canapé reception. Later on, a local DJ got the dance floor going well into the early hours.

Special Moment

You don’t appreciate how few moments you get to spend together on the day so we would have to say when we nipped off to take some photos in the forest with Ali Paul, our outstanding photographer. It was a lovely break and a chance to take the moment in at sunset.

DIY Aspects

Being in a very rural location, we struggled to find suppliers to hire certain outdoor fixtures from so we decided to commission some bits ourselves from local suppliers. It has to be said that the cocktail and self service beer bar were one of the highlights of the weekend! Fortunately we can now wheel them out in the holidays too! In a bid to retain complete control over the details, we ended up sourcing and designing so many elements from the day ourselves, with the help of two of my colleagues. Having loved the whole process and having been asked for help and advice by so many people, my friends and I have launched, a company dedicated to designing and delivering the perfect details for any occasion. We are currently working on three weddings for 2017, amongst other things in the pipeline!
Fern Godfrey

Written by Fern Godfrey

Bride: Jenny Packham | Shoes: Grace Loves Lace | Groom: Paul Smith | Ties: Kate Temple | Band: Samba Sem Fronteiras | Styling & Details: Event Bureau

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