You know that feeling when you fall in love with a wedding day, from the couple right down to the place settings? That’s exactly what we have here. Londoners Leah and Joao took their wedding day to Porto, Portugal – the groom’s hometown – for a destination wedding that simply takes our breath away thanks to Piteira Photography and Parque da Penha. Of course we can’t forget the bride’s Collette Dinnigan for BHLDN wedding gown, which appears to be tailor-made just for Leah.
From the bride, Leah: We had our wedding and reception in the garden outside Serralves, a modern art museum, in Porto, where Joao (the groom) is from. We chose this venue because it is less than a mile from Joao’s childhood home, it had beautiful gardens (and we knew we wanted an outdoor wedding!) and gave the guests from overseas an excuse to visit this beautiful city. When planning the wedding, our key focus was to make sure that the day fully felt like ‘us,’ that our guests were comfortable and that everyone had fun. We had family and friends coming from all over the world – and coming from different cultural and religious backgrounds. For that reason, it was very important to us that all guests felt welcome and at ease, which we tried to do incorporate into everything from the décor to the ceremony to the music to the toasts. We did a mix of DIY and had the wonderful support of our amazing planner (who was invaluable in every way – especially since we were planning from London!). We met with our planner several times, regularly emailed back and forth pictures and inspiration and she got to know us and our tastes very well. She did an amazing balance between quirky and classic – which was perfect for us and our venue. We made the menus and programmes ourselves, but most importantly for us, we wrote our own ceremony and vows.
Our favourite part of the day was the ceremony itself. We wrote the ceremony with my sister (who officiated) and incorporated different traditions that we really liked. We didn’t do a religious ceremony (I am Jewish and Joao was raised Catholic) but we did incorporate the chuppah and breaking the glass, as both of those are traditions we really like. We also did a ring warming ceremony, where Joao’s 10-year-old sister passed around our rings to all the guests asking them to provide good wishes and blessings. I love that I wear a ring that has been ‘warmed’ by all the people at my wedding. We also included our close friends and family in the ceremony: My sister officiated (and even burst into song at one point!) and we asked our mothers, Joao’s sister and Leah’s close childhood friend to each read something they wrote. The most emotional part of the ceremony was reading our vows. We had agreed on a structure and approximate length in advance but hadn’t shared the vows with each other before the big day. I will never forget that moment. It was more special than I could have imagined.
We were incredibly lucky with the weather that day: it rained on and off until 5pm and cleared up just in time for a beautiful outdoor cocktail reception following the ceremony. From that moment, we were on our feet all night, dancing well into the next morning when the sun rose. We wish we could do the day again, and both of us look at pictures from the day regularly. Kerry and Luis (from Piteira photography) captured our day so perfectly that we can’t stop looking at the pictures! It was the best day of our lives and we are still so overwhelmed with all the love we felt from our family and friends. Our advice to brides- and grooms-to-be is to ask for help when planning (especially on the day as you don’t want to be focused on logistics), put as many personal touches as you can into the day to make it feel like you… and when the day arrives… ENJOY. It will so wonderful and go by so quickly that you want to cherish every moment.
Wedding Location: Porto, Portugal / Photographer: Piteira Photography / Event Styling, Flowers, Decor and Coordination: Parque da Penha / Venue: Casa de Serralves / Wedding Dress: Collette Dinnigan for BHLDN / Wedding Shoes: Harriet Wilde / Groom’s Suit: Spencer Hart / Rings: Catbird NYC / Caterer: Chef Rui Paula / DJ: Quem casa quer dança / Photobooth: Dreambox Photobooth