Liz and Ben described their Catholic/Indian destination wedding in Portugal as:

A magical, breathtaking, elegant fusion of cultures.

And it really is. I have a habit of using the word Awesome far too often but this wedding is awesome in the truest sense of the word. That is – inspiring awe, admiration or wonder.

Imagine a majestic castle perched on a hilltop in Sintra, Portugal. Guests sipping Sangria on sun drenched turrets watch as a flamenco dancer swirls, claps and stamps her feet. At every turn, elegant women are draped with exquisite silk sarees in rich jewel tones and everyone is smiling, celebrating. The bride and groom in all their gold, blue and magenta finery look out over the vista – they are king and queen for the day.

International wedding photographer Sarah Falugo Photography weaves the magical story of their wedding so perfectly in these stunning photos.

 From The Bride…

As the groom’s family and friends are all in Europe and most of my family and friends are in the US, we decided on a neutral location. We also wanted our families and friends to get to know each other and spend some time with each other. We booked villas and hotels in a close vicinity, which allowed us to get together throughout the week and also allow for people to do their own explorations.

 Indian Wedding Attire

The attire was all Indian style for everyone in the wedding party. The groomsmen and ring bearer wore off white with gold embroidered kurta’s and jutis. The bridesmaids wore two tone shades of green with copper silk half sarees with gold open toe shoes and matching kundan keshri style costume jewelry.

Brooch Bouquet

The bride had a personally designed jeweled brooch bouquet. Each of the brooches were gifts from her mom, mom-in-law and close friends. Her mom created the final blue, champagne and gold, chic masterpiece.

 The Ceremony

We incorporated several Indian traditions into the church ceremony such as tying of the thali and the presentation of the manthrakodi sari which symbolizes each parties responsibility to each other.

 The Reception

We had our guests shuttled from the church up to the Pena National Palace through the winding path and dense forest. For many this was the first sight of the palace.

We did not set a theme. The palace that sits on top a hill, nestled in the lush forest above Sintra, set the stage magnificently. The palace itself is a fusion of architectural styles and vibrant colors from various eras – Gothic, Manueline, Islamic and Renaissance. The cocktail hour was on the roof top of the palace with the backdrop of gothic sculptures, neo-manueline arches, portals, massive columns and pastel shaded turrets. Surrounding was a dense mystical green forest, cobblestone drive way winding up to a drawbridge entrance. Pena National Palace provided our guests a tour during the cocktail hour.

 Sarah Falugo Photography

We chose our photographer after reading she that she was a National geographic published photographer. Who else better to capture us animals with such brilliance!

 Decor & Details

Provided by Pena Palace – theme castle chic – Large silver candelabras as centerpieces, with fresh green ivy cascading through. The tables were covered with a white table cloth and sheer magenta over drapes. We used candles as well as lamps draped in white cloth with ivy around the stems to create a castle cozy feel. We wanted to keep a castle theme and as such the menu had chess pieces scattered between each course. Also for the seating tags we gave each of our guests titles of royalty as a prefix . Ie: Baron, Baroness, Prince, Earl, Lady etc. Our guests found this little touch delightful.

 Cocktail Hour

During the cocktail hour we had a live flamenco dancer and musician on top of the castle terrace performing. The fog rolling above the castle as the night was winding down was spectacular with the castle lighting.

 The Wedding Music

Processional: Cannon by Pachelbel – played by a live string duo.
Recessional: “For once in my life” Stevie Wonder – sung by a close friend Ife accompanied by harp and chelloist.
First Dance Song: “Speak softly, Love” by Andy Williams

 Advice For Other Couples

Keep things simple and ask for help. Expect that things will go wrong at the last minute. We had our church musician and transportation to shuttle guests cancel at the last minute. More importantly have a good planner or second in hand to coordinate these final disaster details, because these are not the issues you want deal with when the fun starts.

Spend money on what guests value – food and drinks. The choice and quality of the food that was served was enjoyed by all. We kept costs low by creating a free wedding website at theknot.com and picking a church and reception area that didn’t require any decorating. The natural design itself was spectacular alone.

Congratulations Liz and Ben – wishing you all the best for married life.
What an incredible wedding venue and such spectacular photos by Sarah Falugo. Hands up who else wants to get married in a palace now?

Photographer: Sarah Falugo Photography / Wedding Planner/Coordinator: Gettng Married in Portugal (Melanie Reeg) / Ceremony Venue: Church of Santa Maria, Sintra, Portugal / Reception Venue: Pena National Palace, Sintra, Portugal / Catering, Flowers, Cake & Paper Goods: Casa Rem Sintra / Hair and Make Up: Glamour Clinic (Raquel) / Flamenco Musician and Dancer: El Camino (Xave and Lynch) / Violin/Cello at Church: Viviena / Bride's Cream and Gold Saree: Jayalakshmi, Cochin, Kerala, India / Bride's Blue and Magenta Lengha: Sona Chaandi, Artesia, California / Bride's Turquoise Blue Saree: Jayalakshmi, Cochin, Kerala, India / Bride's Antique Necklace and Bangle : Sangheeta Jewelery, Cochin, Kerala, India / Bride's Antique Earrings: Shan Jewels, Atresia, California / Bride's designer costume Indian jewelry: Poshaak, Artesia, California / Groom’s Attire: Poshaak, Artesia, California / Bridesmaid's Sarees: Jayalakshmi, Cochin, Kerala, India / Brdesmaid's Jewelry: Goodwill Collections, Cochin, Kerala, India / Groomsmen Attire: Jayalakshmi, Cochin, Kerala, India