Nicola and Bruno travelled from the UK to Portugal’s Algarve for their dream wedding captured by Birch Photography. After some initial stress picking their venue, they found “the one” in a beautiful vineyard setting and were glad everything had worked out as it did. We absolutely adore Nicola’s delicate Jenny Packham gown, so perfect for a destination wedding, as well as their mint and lavender wedding palette and gorgeous florals.

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DECIDING ON THE DESTINATION

“People say that everything happens for a reason and that was definitely the case with our wedding venue. After proposing to me on the steps of St Paul’s cathedral I wanted to celebrate my fiancé’s heritage by tying the knot in his home country of Portugal. After the initial celebrations with my family and friends I immediately started planning the wedding in my head. One thing I knew for sure was that I didn’t want a generic wedding abroad so I had two thoughts, firsly that I would need some help and secondly that I wanted somewhere that would wow our guests (especially if they were going to the trouble of travelling 1500 miles to be there!).

I wanted a wedding planner that I could work alongside rather than let them do everything. We stumbled across Kate Ayres- Rouse after googling wedding planners in the Algarve and after exchanging emails we arranged to meet. Kate was a bundle of energy with a knack of listening to what I wanted and also managing my expectations based on numbers and budgets etc- she just got it.  I was very excited about arranging the wedding of my dreams and with the help, guidance and knowledge from Kate, I knew we had found ‘the one’.

PICKING THE VENUE

Kate had three locations for us to view: a luxury villa with big grounds, a boutique hotel that had received some great reviews and a vineyard. The first stop was the villa, it was nice but definitely not what we were looking for and Kate sensed this so moved us on swiftly. The next destination was a trendy boutique hotel to the east of the Algarve, it was love at first sight and literally gave me goosebumps. We discussed dates, details and deposits and packed our bags and went home, we didn’t need to see the third option: we had the ‘one’. The next couple of months were quiet but our invites went out to all of our friends and family, then we started to get some negative vibes from the hotel owners. In the end the owners were unhappy about the 100 guests that had now confirmed they would be attending, it seemed that they just didn’t fancy being a wedding venue. I was devastated and in fact my fiancé seemed even more disappointed than me. A few of our guests had already booked flights and accommodation near the original venue, so it was a really stressful time. Kate being cavalier and upbeat as always suggested we visit the vineyard and we begrudgingly travelled the 40 miles west to Quinta dos Vales. If the hotel was love at first sight this place was the second coming! The pictures on the site did not do it justice, the hotel was pretty at best but this place had magic in the air with great amenities and sweeping, undulating rows of grape vines as far as the eye could see. The location had so much potential and wasn’t daunted by the prospect of holding the kind of event that we had in mind. We would marry in the beautiful walled sculpture garden and then move to a sheltered area for a banquet style meal and reception.

THE DETAILS

We were now certain and the next stage was the fun part, selecting the food. Kate helped us select a menu which would utilise the beautiful fresh ingredients that only the Iberian sun can produce. The canapés, meat, fish and salad chosen were an Anglo-Portuguese fusion (like our marriage) which would suit the adventurous and not so adventurous tastes of our guests alike. Aside from the amazing menu Kate gave us a detailed itinerary, a payment plan and she thought of absolutely everything. The months leading up to the wedding were totally under control because Kate was so organised, in fact my main concern was whether my future husband would return from his stag weekend in one piece.

DECOR

I disliked everything that screamed ‘traditional wedding’ and I knew what I wanted so I created mood boards and spent hours online looking for different ideas. Kate understood everything I was after and Paul Felix the florist was fabulous at picturing the day and making it happen. Our theme was rustic country wedding, it was all outside so we could take advantage of the early summer weather. As I’m not your typical bride I chose herbs rather than flowers and a naked wedding cake instead of a traditional iced cake. I also got together with the immediate wedding party, and we made the jars decorated with lace for the centre pieces.  My colour scheme was mint and lavender which worked really well at the vineyard with a back drop of green and purple grapes. I sourced a lot from the UK and shipped a couple of boxes over to Kate and her team with Algarve Freight based in Essex, U.K.
Fast forward to the big day and everything was perfect, the temperature had dropped from early thirties Celsius in the week to a more comfortable twenty five. The wedding team arrived early in the morning to set up for a 5 o’clock wedding. The day couldn’t have gone any smoother and I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

MOST MEMORABLE

The most memorable part for me, was just taking a step back and watching all 98 of our wedding guests smiling and laughing and enjoying our magical day with us. That stunning venue really brought our friends and family together, even those who didn’t know each other were like close family members by the end of the night. It truly was the best day of my life and fortunately it was captured by 2 very talented photographers by the name of Dan and Natasha Birch who were also introduced to us by Kate. Getting married abroad has its pros and cons, but it was the best decision we ever made and I would recommend it to anyone. Nothing is ever going to be stress free, but if you find the right wedding planner and team it will be the most enjoyable once in a life time experience.”

Photographer & Videography: Birch Photography | Ceremony & Reception Venue: Quinta dos Vales | Wedding Planner: Kate Ayres-Rouse | Florist: Paul Felix, Vilamoura | Stationery: The Craft Shop, Sundon Park | Catering: Kate Ayres-Rouse | Wedding Dress & Jewellery: Morgan Davies | Bride’s Shoes: Jenny Packham | Bridesmaid Dresses: Ted Baker | Groom’s Suit: Suit Supply | Groom’s Shoes: Barker supplied by Souster & Hicks | Bridesmaid Shoes: Next | Groomsmen Shoes: Justin Reece | Bridesmaid Jewellery: Daisy | Wedding Registrar: Lagoa District

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