André and Sofia of Brancoprata are a wedding dream team. Not only do they have more talent in their pinky finger than I have in my entire body, but they are also as sweet as they come. So we basically adore them here at SMP. And when they send a wedding along like this one at Villa Termal Das Caldas De Monchique? We want to reach through the screen and give them a big old fat kiss. See why here.
From Brancoprata…Last September Brancoprata’s team traveled to the south of Portugal to help Stephanie and Luke’s destination wedding! It was an honor for us to be part of this day and, as you can imagine we love how everything turn out!
From the Bride…When Luke proposed to me in April 2012, I was in utter shock! We had only been dating four months but there was no doubt in my mind that this man was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. After the shock had subsided, I screamed, cried, laughed and ran to call my family who were abroad. The moment their phone rang, they knew what I exciting news I was about to tell them! Luke had asked my father for his permission to have my hand in marriage a month or so before. My family all love Luke so much and my father was proud to have him as his son-in-law so wasted no time in accepting his request!
The proposal was intimate and personal. It was very well planned and so romantic. Looking back it was Luke all over. The ring? Oh my gosh. THE ring. It was perfect in every way and fell in love immediately. It is a bespoke engagement ring designed for me and that meant even more. We both agreed to enjoy a few months of our engagement first before making a decision where and when to get married. The venue, for us, was the most important decision we would make and we wanted time to get it right with no regrets. In the summer we visited many places in the Yorkshire Dales and The Lake District. None of the places had the “feel” we wanted to experience when we walked in. We just couldn’t imagine getting married in these places?! My mother dropped the idea of getting married abroad. We hadn’t really considered it, but why not? Good weather with a taste of local culture. We booked flights to Portugal immediately. Portugal is a special place to us both. It’s like a second home to me and has been for 25 years or so. Luke loved the country. We had shared some special holidays there together so it only seemed natural to visit some venues there. One thing we were sure about was that we didn’t want a “typical” beach wedding. We drove into the mountains one day and visited a place I once went to as a child. Caldas de Monchique. For anyone who has visited this place will agree, it is paradise. A stunning place with amazing views across the green mountains. For anyone who doesn’t know it, there is a wonderful history about natural healing waters from the springs.
We walked around and spotted a very old Chapel and below it, what seemed a village plaza. I looked at Luke and will never forget the cheeky smile that appeared on his face. Grabbing my hand really tight………….”This is it wife to be. This is where I am going to marry you”. I was so happy. I had butterflies already and my heart was pounding! I was in love with this man and this place. I couldn’t wait to get planning. We went into the Hotel adjacent to the plaza and discovered the Chapel and the plaza belonged to the Hotel. Perfect. We were booked in.
Our next choice was having Brancoprata involved in the styling and photography of our wedding day. We can’t even begin to explain how talented this couple are. Sofia with her stunning bespoke design service blew us away as we trawled through her blog, and we knew we needed her on board immediately. Take a look at our pictures and you will see exactly why. She has such a gift when it comes to her talent in design of paper goods, flowers and general styling. Andre, her partner in crime, a photographer with talent I’ve never witnessed before. His photos are not just amazing shots, but they tell a story. Since receiving the photos, they have brought a tear to my eye, we have been overwhelmed by the moments he caught.
We were particular about who we wanted at the wedding ensuring only our closest and fondest friends and family were there to share our special day with us. You can’t imagine how overwhelmed we were when 60 of the 70 accepted! We also ensured that for the intimacy and privacy we wanted, we booked the whole hotel out exclusively for the weekend Friday to Monday (getting married on the Sunday). This meant we had a couple of days to relax and have some fun with our friends before the big day. The Friday consisted of not much more than lots of Caipirinhas and Aqua Zumba in the outdoor pool. Don’t ask! The photos say it all! Saturday my father had arranged a barbecue for us all to spend time together. This was such a thoughtful idea as it gave all the guests a chance to get to know each other before the following day! At 11pm I gave up! I couldn’t keep up with the rest of them. I wanted an early night and I was spending the night in the Suite with my friend so headed back and had a very girlie chat about romance and love before hitting the sack!
The next day I woke up and I was remarkably calm. The hairdresser and bridesmaids arrived on cue at 9.30am and we began our 5 hour preparation session! Luke had arranged for breakfast to be served in the Suite for us (which I had not even thought about) and it was lovely having that time all together. Shortly after, a bunch of flowers and card arrived from the Groom himself. I stared at the flowers. I had no idea, but Luke had arranged with Sofia a couple of months previously to have a fresh bunch made up in the morning to be sent with his card. They were stunning. Wow. I had not given Sofia an idea about what flowers I had wanted, I trusted her and loved her work and this was the first little glimpse in what she had prepared for our big day as far as flowers were concerned. Trust me, we had A LOT of flowers!!! I was so excited, I opened the card. I began reading and the more I read, the more tears fell. Beautiful words from a beautiful man. The butterflies began, the mini bar was opened, the Champagne was opened and all of a sudden I was a nervous wreck! Get me there already, I cannot wait a minute longer to marry this man. My soul mate, lover and best friend. I looked towards one of my bridesmaids who had just started reading Luke’s card and she was now also balling her eyes out! It was too cute.
Our ceremony was personal yet modern. Father Paul was amazing and made it very light hearted by adding some humour from time to time which was lovely The guests loved him. Natasha our ceremony coordinator was present throughout so she ensured everything ran as it should and counted the String Quartet in for the arrival of the guests, the groom and of course the bride! I walked down the aisle to Canon Pachelbel. It was beautiful and the String Quartet were amazing.
Post ceremony we held the Arrival Drinks Reception on the rustic balcony belonging to the hotel. Again we had the string quartet who played modern jazz tunes and champagne was served. Luckily, last minute, we arranged for Caipirinhas to be served in large punch bowls on the rustic bar we had made by a local carpenter, who had one arm. Seriously. It was a lovely touch for the arrival drinks setting.
We kept dinner traditional and true to Portugal. The choices ranged from local meats, fish and crepes. The food was wonderful as was the service throughout. A traditional desert buffet was served later in the evening in the square. Again, idyllic and served below the trees that were lit with fairy lights. The band were amazing and I had provided all the girls with a pair of flip flops (in a basket by the dancefloor) and I am so happy to say that not one pair was left by the end of the night! Money well spent! Also, a great souvenir. The favours were traditional and the day before the wedding Luke and I went to collect them. I had arranged for bottles of Medronho (a local spirit translated as “firewater” enough said) for the gents and pots of local honey with pine nuts for the ladies. They were perfect and so practical as everyone could take them home in their suitcases as a memory. Needless to say, I think most of the Medronho was drunk that night, there were a few empty bottles on some tables and a few headaches the next morning at breakfast! Overall our wedding was more than what we had even dreamt, it was relaxed, memorable and so much fun! Our guests are still speaking about it and have serious holiday blues.
A big thank you to all the staff at Vila Termal Spa Resort and of course to Sofia and Andre in whom we have found a wonderful friendship and we will continue to support to them in everything they do. Viva Brancoprata!
Photography: Brancoprata | Floral Design: Brancoprata | Wedding Dress: Claire Pettibone | Wedding Cake: Helen | Reception Venue: Villa Termal Das Caldas De Monchique | Flowergirl Dress: Monsoon | Heart Painting: Pano Pra Mangas | Music: Diesal Band | Rentals: Caterworld | Ring Bearer Outfit: Marks & Spencer