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This may be my absolute favourite wedding feature ev-er. Dubai couple Naila and Mike got married in Portugal and there is not one image in this feature that I do not love ~ Sean from A Fistfull of Bolts is one talented photographer. There is so much attention to detail but most of all there is just the most relaxed vibe and a ton of love. It will come as no surprise that the bride Naila is a wedding planner from Cherry On Top Events and I’ll pass you over to her…. 

Because I am an events designer and wedding planner by profession I knew right away that I didn’t want a typical wedding and neither did my husband (he was happy to elope 🙂 ) Having planned over 50 wedding we have dealt with many brides who have really lost sight of what a wedding is about it was really important for me and Mike not to do the same. This is why we wanted to strip our wedding of all the “cliché” aspects and gimmicks and let it be what it truly is about. We wanted it to be simple, natural and humble and reflect who we are as people. There was nothing the guests had to do, no formalities, no dos and don’ts, just have fun. As for the design of the wedding, I was inspired by the venue. I chose Areias do Seixo because of how beautiful it was and its unique surroundings. I also loved the philosophy behind the hotel and the amazing people that owned and ran it. Being in Areias was like being home and so that is what our theme became – “Home”.

We didn’t want anything at the wedding to seemed forced. We wanted a very organic and spontaneous setup. The ceremony took place in the garden where heart shaped cutouts lined the aisle and the altar backdrop was an installation of oversized flowers. Our bridal party consisted of our childhood friends and my nieces. The bridesmaids carried giant fringed balloons and the ring bearer a funny signboard.

Right after the ceremony a gypsy marching band led the guests to the cocktail reception where they served themselves beer and drinks from a standalone bathtub. It was a little chilly so we had a bonfire for guests to warm themselves by.

The dinner took place in the hotel’s greenhouse. It was a floral wonderland. There were a lot of personal touches – for example, I had seen a neon light that kept flashing “ I Heart You” and was smitten. I bought it and it sat blinking on the bridal table as part of the décor. And as we were served a delicious 3 course menu, our dear friends and family gave heart warming speeches.

After that it was a full on party till 4 in the morning 🙂

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Any advice for couples?

Oh lord… should I answer as a wedding planner or a bride 🙂

My advice would simply be to enjoy it. Stay humble, be happy and be thankful that you found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. Don’t lose sight of what the day is really about and have fun with it. When things get stressful – breath – everything will be ok.

The wedding planner in me has a few tips:

– Enjoy the planning process and don’t become overwhelmed by family, external parties and other people’s expectations. This should be a fun process, it should help you learn more about each other, or at least remind you of all those wonderful reasons you’re getting hitched in the first place. Don’t just focus on the end result, enjoy the here and now, this is all part of ‘getting married’.

– It’s also the chance to fully represent yourselves, don’t feel like you have to conform – break the rules. It’s always a bit of fun to give things your own twist.

– Do not become fixated on finding a theme. A theme can be inspired from something as basic as a specific colour, a type of flower or even a favourite movie. Don’t worry too much about “naming” or theming your event.

– Be comfortable! This goes for shoes, dress, veil, hairstyle and even makeup. You want to be able to let loose on the day and enjoy every minute without wincing at painful heels, pulling on an ill-fitting dress or pushing pins back into your hair. When you’re comfortable you really get to focus on the events surrounding you and take them in.

–  Most importantly don’t forget to step away for a minute with your new husband and just look around and take it all in. Try to remember the faces of the people that have come to celebrate with you, try to soak in the beauty of those centerpieces that you fretted over, listen to that band you hired. Try to remember that moment and all the happiness, fun and excitement because the wedding just passes too fast.

Photography: Sean Flanigan | Venue and florals: Areias Do Seixo Charm Hotel Santa Cruz, Portugal | Event Design and Planning: Cherry On Top Events | Wedding dress and hairpieces: Krikor Jabotian | Shoes: Jimmy Choo and Nike Dunk Sky Hi | Bridesmaid dresses: Maria Lucia Hohan | Hair and Makeup: Lúcia Piloto | Groom suit: Designed by the groom | Videography: The guests | Paper Goods: Cherry On Top Events | Catering and cake: Areias Do Seixo Charm Hotel | Music: DJ and Kumpania Algazarra Band

About Jessica

I am the founder and editor of Lace in the Desert and have called Dubai my home for 4 years. Elegant design, romantic textures, intricate detailing and heart yearning photography are my loves. You won’t find a single wedding or feature on here that I do not think is truly awesome. I also love champagne and crumpets.

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  1. This wedding is incredibly stylish!