We have got THE cure to the Monday morning blues, and no it’s not three cups of coffee. It’s a beyond fabulous, over the moon beautiful, super stunning Spanish wedding. Laura Hooper Calligraphy (who is the lady behind the gorg calligraphy of this Spanish Holiday) sent us a wedding in a converted Olive Mill in Andalucia, Spain, and we flipped. Captured by Anna Gazda of Limelight, the affair is better than coffee, better than tea, better, even, than a big, huge piece of chocolate cake to get your week going. AND there is even more in the gallery!
Jim and I first met in my hometown of Toronto in 2003 where we worked together at a publishing house and got to know each other over lengthy lunch breaks. Jim eventually moved back to his birth city of London, England and we lost touch. Three years later, after deciding to quit my job to travel to India for my close friend’s wedding, I was at a loose end with what to do with my life, when a friend encouraged me to move to London and invited me to stay with his family. After settling into my new life in the UK, I was out one night when a friend spotted someone looking at me on the dance floor. It was Jim! He found his way over to me and we spent the rest of the year getting to know each other again and eventually spent the rest of my stay in London side-by-side until deciding to move to Dubai together in 2009.
Over the Christmas holidays of 2010, Jim paid me a surprise visit in Toronto and proposed in the city where we had first met. With another move on the horizon in 2012, we had decided that we wanted to get married in the summer of 2011, seven months after we were engaged.
With friends and family scattered across the Americas & Europe and with us planning the wedding in Dubai, this made choosing a wedding location quite challenging. However, since majority of our guests and family would have to travel no matter where the wedding took place, it was actually quite liberating, as it meant that we had a blank slate when it came to choosing our location! We decided to have the wedding in Andalucía, Spain, as I left my heart in Spain the first time I went backpacking and wanted to share this amazing country with Jim. The dramatic landscape, hilltop villages, and amazing food and wine were an added plus as it really spoke to our idea of romance.
Language barriers, time differences, and distances meant that we needed the help of a local wedding planner. Initially disheartened after receiving templated responses and formulaic wedding proposals from various planners, we eventually received the kindest, most enthusiastic, detailed, and open-minded response imaginable from Lucia Fraga of Caprichia Marbella, who gave us confidence we could have the wedding we wanted. Choosing Lucia was the best decision we made since deciding to get married!
With Lucia’s help, we found our dream location in Casares, a small Spanish pueblo blanco (white village) nestled in the Andalucían hills. We were married in a ruined castle on a mountaintop overlooking the town. For the reception, we did some digging and found the Molino Los Medicos, a beautiful converted olive mill in a nearby town called Gaucin, which had a gorgeous inner courtyard for an outdoor dinner, and a large outdoor space with unspoiled views for the cocktail hour and dancing. The villa coupled as our accommodation for the week, which was a dream on two accounts: we were able to live in luxury and have the space we needed to organize things before the big day. We also found the Molino Del Carmen, another villa in Gaucin, which agreed to let our family and friends have sole use of their property for the week building up to the wedding.
As Dubai has a very small bridal market, I knew that I might have to find my wedding dress elsewhere, which was the only real pressure I felt planning my wedding. But with a trip to London, New York and then Toronto planned for some major dress shopping, I knew as long as I remained open-minded, positive, and relied on my gut feeling, I would be fine. A trip to New York with my sister found me a backless Pnina Tornai sold exclusively at Kleinfeld’s. When the designer herself walked out to add the cathedral-length veil, I was sold!
Planning the wedding away from our families wasn’t so bad, as we engaged our family in as much preparation as we could, so they would feel involved in our big day. My mother helped with the invitations, and my sister, mother and grandmothers helped sew decorations for the reception and the welcome picnic. Jim’s brother helped make a sign for the welcome picnic, and the table name-card holders (later adorned with Laura Hooper’s beautiful calligraphy) for the reception dinner, and his mother made us our guest book.
The day of our wedding, Jim’s uncle served as officiant, while two friends gave readings from D.H. Lawrence and Plato, and another friend acted as videographer. Since we were wed on a mountaintop (and thus far away from any power source), we hired a cellist to accompany our ceremony. Jim had asked his talented friend Carl to arrange a special solo cello version of Sigur Ros’ Hoppipolla to use as our recessional song, as it’s the most joyous piece of music I’ve ever heard!
Lucia found a local florist to provide rustic-looking Mataline roses in soft shades, with berries, eucalyptus and other foliage, and verdant ivy to wrap around the ceremony chairs. As an unexpected bonus, a big festival was underway in the town on the same day, so the town was decorated and I got plenty of attention from the local revelers as I was escorted through the town on a golf cart.
After the ceremony, the flowers arrangements were transported to the reception site, where we had fairy lights and candles dotted all around, including floating candles in the fountain, and Victorian-style tea-light holders hanging above the head table. When our guests arrived, we shared with them a cava and cocktail hour with over twenty different canapés and custom drinks, followed by an exquisite four-course meal with local flavours from Lepanto Catering. We gave each guest a bottle of Andalucían red wine with their name hand-written in calligraphy on vintage-style luggage tags. A Gordon Ramsey-designed iced lemon meringue followed dinner with raspberries for dessert, with coffee and a late night snack offered to guests in the wee hours. Before we had our dance, Jim surprised me by turning up with his guitar, and serenading me in front of our guests with a beautiful song he had written just for the occasion.
Our wedding photographer, Anna Gazda, who we found online, captured the whole day in her energetic and candid style and we’re able to relive the incredible experience through her work.
Wedding Planner: Lucia Fraga of Caprichia Marbella, Couture Destination Wedding & Event Planning / Ceremony Venue: Castillo Casares, Casares, Andalucia, Spain / Reception Venue: Molino Los Medicos / Wedding Gown: Pnina Tornai, Kleinfeld Bridal / Groom’s Suit: Dior / Bride’s Shoes: Ellie Saab / Groom’s Shoes: Paul Smith / Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Thayer Godess Dress, Shopbop / Groomsmen Suits: Tristan / Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas / Calligraphy: Laura Hooper Calligraphy / Catering: Lepanto Catering / Photographer: Anna Gazda from Limelight / Makeup: Lyndsey Cavanagh