You are going to love this fun and relaxed Portugal destination wedding from globe-trotting couple, Orla and David.
After getting engaged in Vietnam and planning their wedding from Australia and then the UK, Orla and David tied the knot with 64 close family and friends in a Catholic ceremony at Igreja Matriz do Alvor (Mother Church of Alvor) followed by a reception on the Prainha resort (Alvor).
How they met
Orla and David first met just before Christmas 2005 in the bar Orla worked in (The Ship) at University in Preston.
‘Dave used to go to the gym nearby with all his friends, and would then come in and ruin all the good work he had put in by having a pub lunch and a beer. Pretty much from the first day he met me, he asked for my number at the end of ordering his food, and even tried doing some magic tricks to impress me! The flirting continued and I found myself getting disappointed if he didn’t come in when I was working. I eventually succumbed to his charm on Valentine’s Day 2006 by giving him my number. But he waited to text me, abiding by the sacred 3-day rule, and we had our first date on 22 Feb 2006.’
Orla and David set off on the trip of a lifetime in March 2009, backpacking for 18 months. At their leaving party, their friends and family joked they would either come back engaged or on separate flights. Little did they know that…..
‘On 25 June 2009 we were in Nha Trang, Vietnam and went out to celebrate a birthday of a good friend of Dave’s who had tragically passed away the previous year. We spent a lovely day with some friends we had met travelling at the Thap Ba Hot Spring Center having mud-baths and various spa treatments and went out for a lovely Mexican meal.
We then enjoyed some cocktails and got talking about the meaning of life, and how special our friend who passed away was to us. We agreed that we couldn’t see the future without us being together. And it was then that Dave asked me to marry him. The following day we went to the beach, and Dave wrote ‘Marry me’ in the sand. We bought my engagement ring in Vietnam and it cost millions in Vietnamese currency!!!’
The wedding party
Orla doesn’t have any sisters so chose three of her closest friends, Ríona, Jean and Rosie, each representing a stage in her life. Ríona, was her maid-of-honour, and a dear friend from secondary school. Orla had the honour of being her maid-of-honour a few years previously. Orla has known Jean since they were very young and finally Orla’s good friend Rosie was by her side, representing her time in England.
Dave chose his three friends who he lived with at University and are like brothers to him. Carl & Matt were his best men, and Mike an Usher.
Orla’s dress was a Linea Raffaelli design. She had seen it on a website approximately a year previous to actually trying the dress on. When she went wedding dress shopping with her mother in Dublin and the shop they went to happened to stock that dress (Ciara Bridal), she tried it on and straight away knew it was the ONE.
‘I thought it was quite different with the detail on the halter neck, and wanted a bit of colour in the dress, and this dress helped me to do that. The material, silk taffeta, was also very light and travelled well so was perfect for a destination wedding in the heat! The girls in the shop were extremely helpful and accommodating with all my fittings and alterations.
Dave chose his 3-piece suit from NEXT – he didn’t want to hire a traditional groom’s outfit and having a destination wedding proved difficult if we were to rent for returning it etc. plus the materials were a lot heavier. Dave wore the jacket in the church, but for the rest of the day, just had his waistcoat on which went perfectly with the relaxed beach theme.’
Orla and David wanted to have a Catholic church wedding, so Portugal was the perfect choice for them – a Catholic country, where non-resident couples can get married in the country’s charming churches (and other locations). Once they had decided on Alvor as their destination, the couple agreed that Igreja Matriz do Alvor was the right venue for their ceremony and loved the traditional look which this beautiful church offers.
‘Our wedding planner, Carla, had a great vision of what we wanted for the day. She took us to see four different venues along the Algarve, and we just fell for this one. The Atlantic Pool Restaurant at the Prainha Resort in Alvor is managed independently of the resort, by the Canico restaurant on site. We had such a good feeling about it when we saw the venue and loved that we could have the whole reception outdoors.
The setting allowed us to create something magical, have some amazing wedding photographs taken, and it gave our guests the WOW factor when they arrived – we kept the venue a secret from everyone so they didn’t look it up on the internet! It also had a stunning late bar at Canico restaurant, built into the cliffs on the beach.’
Vision for the day
When the couple lived in Australia following their engagement, they had the beach at the end of their road and made a pact to go and see it every single day to realise just how lucky they were to be there. They loved having barbeques and even when they returned to the UK, the first thing Dave wanted to buy (in Winter!!!) was a barbeque.
They wanted to incorporate the beach, a barbeque and their travels into their big day and began discussing the idea of getting married abroad.
Orla explains ‘We soon settled on the Algarve, mainly due to it seeming relatively easy to have a Catholic Ceremony there, and also I was keen to make sure our guests could get there without too much trouble and on a budget. We were so conscious that people would be spending a lot more money than they would be if the wedding had been at home, and choosing our location was based on a variety of things such as choice of accommodation, being appropriate for all ages etc.
We also felt we wanted to do more for our guests, and show our appreciation for them coming all that way. We didn’t just have a wedding “day”, we had a wedding “week”, which included a Welcome Party, and also the night before we left for our honeymoon, we arranged a boat trip for our guests.’The fabulous girls from Unique and Chic Weddings (http://uniqueandchicweddings.com), Amelia and Jane, organised the couple’s Welcome Party at Hickey’s Irish Pub in Alvor. This was a great opportunity for Orla and Dave to catch up with their friends and family before saying their vows and meant everyone was even more relaxed on the day.
The special touches
‘We made a huge effort to ensure from the outset that our wedding was personal. Dave is a keen artist and did all the designing himself from the invitations to the thank you cards. We had welcome packs at the hotel check-in for our guests with a special message from us, and information they required for their stay and a few little bits to make them smile, including custom-made “do not disturb” signs for their bedroom doors.
We also made fans for the church on the wedding day which were a welcome relief for our guests. Our table plan Map of the World was based on our favourite countries from our travels, and each table centre-piece had photos of us from that country and some funny facts on it. I stitched a little message on to the inside of Dave’s tie to see the morning of the wedding.’
‘We had Carla from the amazing Sonho a Dois and from the initial meeting and emails, we knew we had chosen a winner!’
‘Making the day exactly what we wanted it to be and not feeling pressurised by conforming. Even though we followed a traditional format, we still managed to create a relaxed informal atmosphere and all the personal touches made it all the more special. We also tried to ensure we met all our guests separately at their hotels to show our appreciation for them travelling to share our special day with us.’
If I was to do it again…..
‘…..I’d have kept an eye on timings more – we got delayed in between the ceremony and the reception and in the end before the wedding breakfast, I jumped up on stage and announced to everyone, “the food will be here for a few hours, but our photographs will last a lifetime,” and off we went to the beach, while our guests tucked into the BBQ!!’
‘We loved Alvor as the village itself has a lovely traditional Portuguese feel to it, and appealed to all age groups. Even though it was small, it still had enough of a choice or bars, restaurants and hotels at different budgets to suit our guests’ tastes. I would definitely suggest to anyone planning a destination wedding to visit beforehand if possible.’
Sonho a Dois found all our suppliers for us – Carla sent me different links to various suppliers and we chose our favourite, or if one didn’t suit, she would source some more. Also we looked on their Facebook page and website to see if there were any ideas from other weddings that we liked.
We found the cake supplier ourselves – we were keen to have a unique wedding cake and when we met Yvonne, an English lady who lives on the Algarve, we had a great connection with her. Dave was involved in designing the wedding cake, and the little touches Yvonne made were just amazing, not to mention it tasted amazing!
Wedding Planner: Sonho A Dois – http://sonhoadois.com/weddings/index.php
Stationary & Centrepieces: The husband!!!
Ceremony: Igreja Matriz do Alvor (Mother Church of Alvor) http://viajar.clix.pt/tesouro.php?id=228&lg=en&w=mother_church_of_alvor
Reception: Atlantic Pool Restaurant, Prainha Resort – http://www.prainha.net/en/galeria-1/common-areas/atlantic-pool
Photographers: Yes I Do! Algarve Wedding Photography (Ana & Fernando) – http://www.yes-i-do.com.pt/
Wedding dress: Ciara Bridal, Powerscourt Centre, Dublin – http://www.ciara-bridal.com/
Cake: Made in Sugar (Yvonne) http://www.madeinsugar.com/
Music (Church ceremony & Reception): Twin Flames http://www.twinflamesalgarve.com/
Thank you so much to Orla and Dave for sharing their wonderful wedding with us. This is just the sort of wedding we love to feature on Wanderlust Weddings and we have really enjoyed reading how they ended up getting married in the Algarve, along with their really useful tips for a destination wedding. Wishing them a lifetime of love and happiness together…..