~ The extra-special occasion that sparked my recent visit to Portugal ~
Never in memory have I been in the presence of two people who happen to adore each other more than Elise and Helder. No words can express how thrilled I am that they have both found such incredible happiness together. I was incredibly honoured to be asked to be a bridesmaid and delighted I could travel into Portugal and witness their I do's in a gorgeous and touching ceremony at Penha Longa Monastery (Penha Longa Resort) in Sintra. Every detail of the wedding day was impeccable, including the location which had been seemingly plucked straight out of a fairy-tale. Below is a selection of images of the proceedings.
[Select small & medium images to enlarge]
All photos taken by Vitor Bastos Fotografia unless noted with (t)
The night before the wedding, family and guests were invited along for welcome drinks and to celebrate the upcoming nuptials at the rehearsal dinner. Meeting at the Ritz-Carlton, Penha Longa Resort at 8 pm, our group travelled by shuttle-bus to the seaside, Restaurante O Faroleiro in Cascais for a seafood extravaganza. Due to the occasion I put down my anti-seafood shield, held my breath and tried lobster for the first time... damn it! my taste buds did not revolt.
After spending the previous day being pampered with manicures, pedicures and facial treatments at Paris em Cascais we returned early on the morning of the wedding and one by one we were all transformed, having our make-up applied and our hair styled. The atmosphere was so tranquil in the treatment room that I kept dozing off during both visits, first throughout the facial treatment and second, mid make-up application. I don't know what it is with me, possibly a lack of sleep at night time due to a severe case of FOMO: fear of missing out. I fall asleep so easily when calm during the day.
The arrival back at the house prompted a dash to get ready. We weren't running late, however, one can never have too much time. After quickly getting into our gowns we began helping Elise get ready for the ceremony. Thankful for her know-how with fastening the dress, Debbie helped to secure Elise into her stunning Sassi Holford wedding gown. Elise then selected and had me help her with her chosen jewellery for the day.
Before leaving for the Monastery everyone took a moment downstairs at Elise and Helders' gorgeous house to pose for photos before the wedding ceremony.
Beginning just after 5 pm upon Elise's princess arrival in her wedding car, the ceremony took place in the impressive Penha Longa Palace. A candlelit aisle and gorgeous vaulted ceiling provided the backdrop to Helder and Elise's heartfelt vows, and set the scene for the ceremony of the year. Walking down the aisle accompanied by Sean and Debbie then taking my place in the front row, I fought back the tears as I witnessed my best friend marry the man of her dreams in what was a truly beautiful ceremony.
Parabéns... Veels geluk...
Congratulations to the beautiful bride and groom.
I.e. the amazing couple I now measure my relationships up to.
I wish Elise and Helder everlasting bliss xo
A toast to the newlyweds.
Subsequent to the wedding ceremony, at 6 pm guests were led into the courtyard to celebrate with a cocktail reception and congratulate the newlyweds.
At 7:30 pm guests were seated for dinner. If everyone wasn't already blown away by the stunning location of the ceremony, one by one their jaws definitely hit the floor upon entry into the Nobre Room. The decor was flawless and the roses, the lavish, fragrant roses... the room was just breathtaking.
Elise and Helder entered to a round of applause and completed a lap of the room before a formal dinner was served and the heartwarming speeches commenced. Later in the evening guests had their photos taken with the happy couple in the foyer of the building, before entering the bar and dance-floor to continue on with the joyous celebrations.
The Penha Longa staff were especially helpful throughout the night, providing the bridal party with slippers and blankets if needed, as it became quite chilly as the night went on.
Not quite knowing when to quit, myself, the other bridesmaid Debbie and her boyfriend Roger continued celebrating at the venue until long after all of the other guests had gone back to their accommodations. The staff were both smart and generous in giving us 2 bottles of wine to enjoy back at the hotel bar instead, so we made our way over to the Ritz-Carlton to continue the celebrations.
Set amidst a 545-acre national Park on the southern Sintra Mountains, Penha Longa Resort is a breathtakingly beautiful location and home to Penha Longa Monastery. Dating back to the 14th century, the monastery has been lovingly restored and maintained to the highest of standards, thus creating the wedding location most people only dream of.
by NATALIE MARIE
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