With just 3 sleeps left before the big day I have to say I am...
Here in the UK we are truly in deep and darkest January where the weather is concerned, it is cold, it’s blowing an absolute hooley and it looks like it’s about to snow! So today I am taking you off to Portugal for the most beautiful wedding, drenched in beautiful sunshine and an abundance of superb flowers, which I know will make you feel warm and happy just looking at it. Helen and Dan splurged on their wedding flowers and I’m sure you will agree it was worth it, they look absolutely stunning. The gorgeous oranges, yellows and corals work perfectly against the villa backdrop, and the bridesmaids dresses really compliment the whole look and feel. Such a beautiful, bright and sunny wedding, caught perfectly by Frances Sales.
Helen and Dan were married on the 2nd September 2016 at Fonte Santa, Vilamoura, Portugal. We hired a private villa and got married in the garden and partied by the pool. ‘We’ve travelled a lot in our 8 years together and always wanted to go abroad. We had been to Portugal with friends and on our own and it held special memories. When we began researching into the Wedding; Portugal ticked all our boxes. We had 65 guests including some very special little people; Dan’s nieces and nephews and one of my best friends beautiful daughter. Dan proposed in October 2014 but after the shock of him proposing, we enjoyed being engaged for a while. The planning started in January 2015 when we took a trip to Portugal to meet wedding planners.‘
How they met
We met in 2008 in Wirral and we have been together 8 years.
Dan proposed on our 6 year Anniversary; 11th October 2014. Dan proposed at our home in Liverpool with photos of all of adventures over the last 6 years. I thought he had done this for our Anniversary and as I was admiring the photos he got down on one knee. Dan had had an eye mask made for me with ‘Fiance’ on and a very special canvas. It was a very emotional moment between the two of us and I feel very lucky to have had that moment just the two of us. I hope every girl experiences that feeling.
How did you allocate your budget?
Our budget was difficult and for fluctuating as we had to pay for our wedding in Euros. After ‘brexit’ the exchange suddenly dropped and so we sadly had to re think some of our original plans. Our budget was mostly allocated on the venue and food and drink. As guests were travelling to Portugal we really wanted to give them as much as we could.
Where did you splurge and where did you save?
We splurged on flowers; Helen adores fresh flowers! We also splurged on a free bar! We saved money on Helen doing her own little touches and Helen’s aunty making dresses.
Why did you choose your photographer?
We were very fortunate to have won our photography with Frances Sales. Frances had photographed a friend’s wedding before we had got engaged and her photos were beautiful. My friend sent me the link for a competition, I entered, and won! Frances has been amazing from start to finish and we are thrilled with the photographs; she captured our day so wonderfully.
My dress was an Agnes Rose and from a small boutique bridal shop called Penny Grey in Oxton Village, Wirral. I found the dress not long after we had got engaged and thought I was being too keen. I tried on other dresses but nothing compared to it. It had very unique lace and loved the train. I was very boho and simply wore flowers (roses and berries) in my hair and Carvela sandals. I did have Carvela blue shoes too, but my mum, Dan, bridesmaids and flower girls signed these as a keep sake.
The Suit and Bridesmaids
The groom, ushers and best men wore matching Jeff Banks suits in a beautiful blue that captured the sunlight. They all had bow ties that matched the bridesmaid dress colours (one of each colour), they were handmade by a wonderful work colleague, Mrs B.
Our beautiful bridesmaids looked stunning in dresses that had been handmade by my Auntie. I saw an idea on pinterest very early on of bridesmaids being in different colours. My Auntie made my dream come true (with some blood sweat and tears!)
We also had three flower girls, I managed to get their dresses to match my dress with the unique lace. They were from Ted Baker – such a good find!
Theme or Colour Scheme
Our theme was rustic brights. We had all the bridesmaids in different colours creating an ombre effect when they stood together. The tones were from a pale yellow to a deep coral.
We also had a “HDT” branding (our married initials) theme running throughout. We created a HDT brand logo and had HDT on invitations, thank you cards, menus, favours, table plan and the cake toppers.
All our flowers were fresh. We originally wanted peonies, but with the wedding being in September, we couldn’t get them. We wanted to tie in all the colours from the bridesmaid dresses and went with the following: peach Vuvuzela David Austin roses, Miss Piggy roses, lemon spray roses, peach hypericum berries, cream and blush dalias, blush pink Avalanche rose green /grey foliage.
We had fresh flowers in jam jars decorating the chairs at the ceremony and a fresh flower garland on wooden rustic structure. Down the aisle it was decorated with petals.
Our tables had bark base to the centre pieces with a mixture of different size jam jars with fresh flowers. Each table was named after a country we had visited and was shown with a photo of us. There was wooden hearts on the table and guest name tags were a luggage label. The top table had a fresh flower garland and on the foliage behind the table was a laser cut hung up saying “A life filled with adventure”. Our chairs had “bride” and ”groom” on the back.
We had a custom made tree swing in the garden covered in flowers and “Mr and Mrs” Bunting. We had grand, titanic style stairs that came from the pool area of the villa down to the gardens which was decorated with lanterns and candle lit in the evening. There was festoon lighting around the villa and the pool was decorated with candle lanterns and petals.
The food was BBQ based. Starters were traditional Portuguese pickled carrots, breads, olives and pate. This was followed by a grill of sausages, sardines, steak and piri-piri chicken. All served with fresh salads, rice and cous-cous. We finished with a trio of desserts; chocolate brownie, lemon tart and chocolate mousse.
Our wedding cake was a simple two tier cake with fresh flowers and a custom laser cut HDT branded cake topper. It was simple delicious!
We had a local 5 piece band from Portugal. They provided us with an acoustic singer during our drink reception, a band in the evening and a DJ until the early hours.
Our wedding stationery was designed by the wonderful ‘Too Wordy’. Maeve is a local graphic designer in Wirral and really helped me bring my rustic bright idea to life.
There were lots of personal touches and things that Helen did herself. I printed Polaroid photos, did the table plan, dried and scented confetti (with help from my step mum) and all the flowers were pre loved. After losing my step dad earlier on the year, there were also some flowers from his funeral. I did all the menus and order of the days myself and made hangers for the dresses. I also printed some of our favourite quotes to go into frames for the day. Dan wore an antique pocket watch in honour of my step dad (he was a clockmaker).
Helen’s Dad made us a wooden swing to go in the garden of our villa. It was so beautiful and perfect for photographers. It fit perfectly in the main garden tree, and was made the right width for 2 people…perfect for photos. Our wedding favours were the symbolic Portuguese Rooster. We chose this as it is a symbol of trust and honesty. It is a nice keepsake for guests from their time in Portugal.
Special Moments or Highlights
There were lots of special moments, the day was truly magical. The main highlight for us was feeling so loved from friends and family knowing that they’d travelled all that way to share our day. It was so special to have all the best people not only in the same room, but also share extra special memories in Portugal.
Advice for other couples
Our advice would be do what you want to do; it’s your wedding day nobody else’s. Don’t get sucked in by what other people ‘think you should do’. Plan it your way. On the day, absorb and treasure every single moment. Laugh, smile and be happy.
Dan chose the song that I walked down the aisle too – Charlene Soria, Wherever you go. I didn’t expect him to pick such a beautiful song; it was very emotional and was a magical surprise.
I’m Frances and I’m based in the South East, but love to travel anywhere and everywhere! I have a relaxed and natural but creative documentary approach to wedding photography. I absolutely adore telling a story with my photographs, capturing moments as they naturally happen in an unobtrusive manner.