Wedding on the beach
Carl & Sharron are from London, but have a home in the Algarve. Seasoned travellers, they enjoy quality food, wine, and informal but special occasions. Their wedding needed to reflect both personalities, as well as cater to the expectations of family and friends arriving in Portugal for the wedding.
A traditional-style wedding was not for this couple, although we wanted to give them some extraordinary memories to take away from the day. They really wanted to get married on the beach, which is very difficult in Portugal, and with upwards of 200 guests expected, we needed to be able to cater for and accommodate all ages, and satisfy a diverse guest list.
Our first decision was where? The answer was Vilamoura, and once this was agreed, we had numerous meetings with the bride, groom, venue and suppliers. To fulfil the brief, we built a special decking extension to the beach bar, with overnight planning permission to be able to accommodate the ceremony and party in the same place.
The couple really enjoy their food, so we invited a number of chefs to cater from 6pm to midnight. We kicked off with the Asian food from the beach bar as canapés, to go alongside the cocktail hour where we served Pimms and rosé wine. Then we brought in a specially-built show kitchen to prepare and served traditional British food such as fish & chips in newspaper, sausage & mash, and mini Scotch eggs with quails’ eggs. A carving station was also set-up to serve the best pata negra (Portugal’s famous ‘black pork), and as the night progressed and the dancing got going, a Thai curry station gave much-needed sustenance to the party crowd into the small hours.
We even set up an ice-cream counter to serve children of all ages with traditional beach treats. A children’s entertainer kept the under 10s happy on the beach for hours with face-painting, games and entertainment and the beautiful beach theme was reflected in the decor, flowers, and casual dress-code for the guests. Midnight saw Chinese wish lanterns lit on the beach by all the guests, and the band and DJ rocked the beach until the small hours!
The wedding was at 4.30pm, after the heat of the day. The bride arrived in a convertible to the boardwalk, and the guests who had been asked to arrive at 4pm stood chatting and sipping Pimms as the bride made her way along the decorated boardwalk to the band singing Billy Idol’s White Wedding. The bride and groom married under a bamboo gazebo decorated with Thai-inspired flowers and a touch of netting which gave a romantic, but not too chintzy, touch to the occasion.
After the wedding, cocktails and canapés were served, followed by the main reception, photographs on the beach at sunset, and entertainment courtesy of a live band and a DJ. This was not a sit-down wedding; it was very much the relaxed beach party the couple wanted.
The couple are in their 40s, and second-time-arounders, and didn’t want the formality or the stuffiness of a traditional wedding. Our single biggest challenge was to convince all the suppliers of this! Everyone always seems to want to put on chair covers and bows, take cheesy wedding shots, and provide stiff bridal flowers. We very much became the voice of the bride with a big NO to a lot of suggestions! This day was about the bride and groom, and it was essential it reflected their very laid-back, friendly and sociable personalities. Many friends and family had flown in from the UK and they wanted to be able to spend time with everyone, not have a formal sit-down dinner where they would be limited to whom they could talk to. The wedding probably cost double that of a more ‘traditional’ one, as everything was bespoke including the beach-bar extension and the special outdoor kitchen. Many guests on the day thought it was the best wedding they had been to. The surprise of the set-up certainly gave way to a huge party atmosphere, and we suspect quite a few headaches the next day!