Naila is a wedding designer by trade (in Dubai!), so she pretty much knew exactly what she wanted – and didn’t want – for her own wedding day. And luckily her now-hubby, Mike, agreed that a typical wedding with a lot of the standard “cliché” aspects wasn’t what he wanted either. They decided they’d create a day that was simple, natural and would reflect who they are as people. A fun destination wedding in Portugal seemed to fit the bill, so once the location was decided, the two of them began planning their dream celebration!
As for the design of the wedding, Naila + Mike were inspired by their venue, Areias do Seixo, along with its unique and beautiful surroundings. They incorporated lots of whimsical design elements, like giant balloons, oversized paper flowers + fun chalkboard signage. And Naila had stumbled upon a neon “I Heart You” light one day while out shopping + was totally smitten. So she purchased it, and it became the highlight of their head table decor! Majorly love it. :)
Naila + Mike invited the very talented Sean Flanigan along to photograph their day, which was one of the best decisions they made! The photos really seem to capture the low-key + authentic vibe these two were going for. Take a peek + make sure you scroll all the way down to read some valuable advice Naila shares with us at the very end of the post!
We’re kind of dying over Naila’s Krikor Jabotian dress…
Which she awesomely paired with pink Nikes after the ceremony!
Love the ghost chairs + paper hearts lining the aisle of their ceremony site!
The most memorable moment of the wedding day would be my brother officiating the ceremony + our vows. Because Mike’s father fell ill shortly before the wedding he was unable to fly out from Montreal to attend the wedding. It was very important for Mike to have his father be there when he says I do, so overnight we decided to surprise him, packed our bags, hopped on a plane, planned a shotgun civil wedding in 24 hours and hopped back on a plane to Dubai to make our way to Portugal a day later.
Since we had officially been married in Montréal we could not do another civil ceremony in Portugal so we canceled the official ceremony and enlisted my very funny brother to officiate a symbolic ceremony with the help of Mike’s sister, Marlain. They planned an entire ceremony for us that was full of fun surprises and constant laughter. They even took the liberty of writing our vows without telling us. Mike’s sister wrote my vows and my brother wrote Mike’s vows and it was honestly the funniest 5 minutes of my life. For those 20 minutes that I was standing at the altar with Mike all I could hear was laughter. Never a moment of silence, not event the sound of a sniffle or a tear drop, only genuine happiness. After the ceremony was over, all my engaged friends ran up to my brother to ask him if he would officiate their wedding. It was pure awesomeness. The best part of all is that we were able to face time with Mike’s father so he saw the entire thing live!
Right after the ceremony a gypsy marching band led the guests to the cocktail reception, where they served themselves beer + drinks from a stand alone bathtub!
And dinner took place in the hotel’s greenhouse, where everyone was served a delicious, authentic three-course meal. It looked like a whimsical floral wonderland, with all kinds of local plants + blooms housed in an array of fun vessels + containers!
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.
And the wedding planner in Naila has a few tips for us:
◦ 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 + florals: Areias Do Seixo Charm Hotel Santa Cruz, Portugal // event design + planning: Cherry On Top Events // wedding dress + hairpieces: Krikor Jabotian // shoes: Jimmy Choo + Nike Dunk Sky Hi // bridesmaid dresses: Maria Lucia Hohan // hair + makeup: Lúcia Piloto // groom suit: Designed by the groom // videography: The guests // paper goods: Cherry On Top Events // catering + cake: Areias Do Seixo Charm Hotel // music: DJ + Kumpania Algazarra Band