Dan and I hosted our “rehearsal dinner” the night before our wedding at Quinta do Arneiro in Gradil, Portugal last summer! I have “rehearsal dinner” in quotes, because we did not actually have a wedding rehearsal (we winged it!); this was just a dinner the night before our wedding with all of our guests who were in town! The evening was fabulously fun, and Quinta do Arneiro was the most amazing venue that anyone can visit for a meal! Highly recommended!!
If you read this blog, you know that I got married near Lisbon, Portugal nearly a year ago. Due to requests from a number of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances, here are my top 10 tips for planning a destination wedding! Side note – these are probably most applicable for those traveling to Europe (and particularly Portugal) from outside of Europe (I’m from New York).
# 1 – Get Married In A Destination That You Are Somewhat Familiar With, i.e. You Have Visited Before Your Wedding.
To be clear, if you have never visited a destination, do not have your wedding there. Your wedding, which will take months to plan, cost a small fortune, and stress you out to no end, should not be held at some place that you *think* is magical, but to which you have never even visited in person. Save that for your honeymoon. For your wedding, you need a basic understanding as to what you are getting yourself into, the destination, and the culture. We had visited Portugal 3 times before our wedding.
Wednesday, 30.08.17. Ericeira and Gradil, Portugal. 1 day until the wedding. Fourth full day in Europe.
Ahhh, wedding eve! If we weren’t already nervous, the nerves really kicked in today! Although, I have to say, day 5 started out pretty easy with some lounging, drinking, and eating European flavored potato chips by the pool! Most people were in town by this point and everyone was starting to hang out especially after Day 4’s big Welcome Cocktail Hour!
Tuesday, 29.08.17. Ericeira, Portugal. 2 days until the wedding. Third full day in Europe.
Ahhhh, our fourth day in Portugal and 2 days before the wedding. Shit was start to get very real, as we were leaving for Ericeira today, hosting our first official wedding event this evening, and saying goodbye to Lisbon (temporarily, I’ll be back)!
Sunday, 27.08.17. Lisbon, Portugal. 4 days until the wedding. First full day in Europe.
Day 2 was everyone’s first full day in Lisbon, and it was a packed one! I organized a self-guided tour of Bélem for our guests who had arrived in Lisbon and an evening sail on the Tagus river during sunset. We also had dinner plans with Craig, Michelle, and Andree and Hotel Avenida Palace thew us a surprise sparking wine party! Needless to say, we started early, with a bus picking everyone up (well, 13 of us) at 9:00 AM (after Nutella croissants, of course!). While I think a few people were skeptical of my Portuguese bus renting abilities, our driver arrived early in a nice bus/van with room for everyone. He even spoke a tiny bit of English! Pro tip – if you are traveling with a large group, a bus rental is a FABULOUS idea.
Saturday, 26.08.17. Lisbon, Portugal. 5 days until the wedding. Arrival in Europe.
After a good 2 hours in the Art & Lounge lounge at Newark International Airport, the 9 of us flying from Newark to Lisbon together (me, Dan, Michelle, Andree, Craig, Betty, Tony, Aunt Di, and Nonni!) enjoyed a smooth flight across the Atlantic and arrived in Lisbon bright and early at 5:00 a.m…. A prearranged van picked us up from the airport and drove us directly to the Hotel Avenida Palace, our home for the next 3 nights. Although our rooms were not ready when we arrived (expected), Hotel Avenida Palace was super welcoming and gave us all free breakfast, which was an excellent way to start wedding week… Hotel Avenida Palace also has the most awesome croissants that are terribly tasty when dipped in Nutella! #whatweddingdiet?
Funny enough, for all of my returning readers, the company “Wines of Portugal” originally interested Dan and me in visiting Portugal several years ago – Wines of Portugal did a wine dinner in Princeton, New Jersey and we attended! Little did we know that we would be returning in 2017 to get married in Portugal! Thanks Wines of Portugal!