Saloni and Brian, Portugal
A romantic fortress and a rustic 16th-century walled garden at Hotel Penha Longa in Sintra, Portugal, hosted Saloni and Brian's cross-cultural wedding celebrations.
Saloni and Brian pulled off an Indian fusion wedding in the beautiful environs of Sintra in Portugal. Bride Saloni shares how the gorgeous setting included traditional themes.
How We Met
“Brian and I met through a mutual friend on a night out. We were both studying the same course at the same university. We immediately hit it off and spent the night talking, so much so that before we knew it, the club was closing and asking us to leave. The rest is history.”
“Brian proposed in Bruges, Belgium. He booked a weekend for us in a beautiful boutique hotel named Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce. I fell in love with Bruges straightaway as it was my type of place – a romantic, fairytale-like city. Brian had booked a romantic meal at a small, family-run restaurant. After the meal and a great bottle of wine, we went for a walk around the canals. Bruges is even more stunning at night. While walking along one of the canals, we stopped to enjoy the view, and there was no one around. When I turned around, he was on his knees, and he asked me to marry him!”
“There were certain aspects of wedding planning that I thoroughly enjoyed, but, as I am sure most brides can agree, there were times it did get very stressful. I guess this can be expected when planning a three-day multi-cultural destination wedding. Decor and clothing were the two most enjoyable aspects of the wedding planning. Pinterest and Instagram were the two main sources of inspiration for my decor ideas. Picking ideas was the easy part, sticking to them was harder. There are endless possibilities and every week I saw something I liked better than the previous week. But, with the help of my mother and the florists we finalized ideas – a rustic Indian theme for the first two events and a romantic, elegant theme for the last day.
Picking a wedding dress is surely the highlight of the whole process for most brides. The dress for the Mehndi/Sangeet was bought from an Indian designer. The other two I got them made. They were all stunning dresses, but I was most excited about my Hindu ceremony outfit probably because I had a big involvement in its design. I was introduced to Rashi (Sara Design studio by Rashi) through my cousin in the States. She is based in Mumbai and we designed the outfit over Whatsapp and Skype. It turned out to be a work of art!
Brian and I were very lucky to have come across Fabio and Maria Azanha. I found them online whilst researching photographers. They had a great mix of action photos and what I call ‘posey’ photos. Brian and I aren’t used to being photographed, so when we went for our first photo shoot it was a bit daunting, but Maria and Fabio made a great husband and wife team and put us at ease straight away.
We were recommended two vendors by a previous couple who had got married at Penha Longa – VIP weddings (our videographer) and Jukebox (our DJ and lighting specialists), we went ahead and booked them and both lived up to expectations. Jukebox were extremely professional and their DJs had played at Indian weddings before which made my life a lot easier as they knew what they were doing. VIP weddings had us and our guests stunned by their same day edit. During our cake cutting, they played a 6-minute clip featuring shots taken during the three days. They included footage that had been taken that day just a few hours before the video was played. A big shout out to Joao – VIP’s editing genius, we were all blown away by his work.
“Food is always a highlight at any Indian wedding, and our caterers Passage to India didn’t disappoint. The biggest hit was the indian street food on our sangeet night. We had live food stations serving pani puri, pau bhajii, dhai puri and bhel. “
Last, but not least, Daniela Baptista, our planner was the glue that held everything together. The time and energy she put into our wedding went far and beyond what we expected. From the very beginning, she shared the same vision as I did and she brought it to life!” shares Saloni.
“Brian and I had decided to look at continental Europe for our wedding as it was a central point for both sides of the family. My side is very spread out and was traveling from all over, and most of Brian’s side were traveling from Ireland. Finding a venue was the first hurdle. We had very specific requirements which many venues in Europe weren’t able to provide. It was entirely by chance that we stumbled upon Penha Longa in Sintra, Portugal. I was so excited by what I saw online that I immediately booked a trip to see it with my mum and dad. I can remember so clearly the first time I walked into the hotel, my mum and I looked at each other, and we both knew this was the place. Penha Longa wasn’t perfect, but it was nearly close to perfect that we were going to finalise. If the hotel hadn’t captured us, then Sintra itself would have. Magical is the way it’s described and magical is how it feels. The venues available to us were breathtaking and the perfect choice for the type of wedding I had always imagined such as Forte de Cruz a romantic fortress, Nuncio garden – a rustic 16th century walled garden once used for meditation, and the Monastery at Penha Longa, a building with intricately carved ceilings, tall arched windows and cobbled pathways.”
Mehndi and Sangeet
The stunning Estoril fortress Forte da Cruz hosted the fun sangeet and mehndi evening. The highlights of this evening included live food stations serving traditional Indian dishes, belly dancers and some great Indian music that kept the guests entertained throughout the evening. A dance performance by Saloni’s sister and her girlfriends was a surprise for the couple. The bride looked resplendent in a dress which was bought from an Indian designer.
The wedding ceremony took place at the breathtaking Nuncio Garden in Penha Longa. The two cultures came together beautifully amidst the revelry as the morning started with the baraat. The guests´ traditional outfits and the gorgeous backdrop of the Nuncio Garden blended perfectly. A beautifully flower-adorned mandap was set up and the ceremony was witnessed by unique music, gorgeous surroundings and colorful traditional outfits that created a royal vibe for this function.
Advice for Couples
“There is so much planning and stress involved in the lead up to an Indian wedding so make sure that on the days of the events you are completely free to enjoy yourself and spend time with your guests. Perhaps nominate someone who knows the ins and outs of the weddings (mother or sister for example) to be the main contact for the any problems that may arise. I got a good tip from a friend after her wedding. She told Brian and me to make sure that we stick together throughout the events. It’s very easy to get dragged away by family/friends, and you can end up spending a lot of the time apart. Make sure this doesn’t happen, enjoy the experience together. Try and use vendors you have been recommended. If not then make sure you have spoken to past couples that have used their services. This didn’t happen to me, but I have heard stories where vendors ask to be paid straight after an event or before which is very inconvenient. Be aware of payment schedules and make sure no payments need to be made on the day.”
The Wedding Makers
Venues: Forte da Cruz (Sangeet) and Nuncio Garden (Wedding) at Hotel Penha Longa, Sintra, Portugal
Wedding Planner: Unique Dream Wedding
Decor and Furniture: Verde aos Molhos
Florist: GreenPick (Sangeet), Flow (Wedding)
Bride’s Outfits: Kartikeya India (Sangeet), Sara Design Studio by Rashi (Wedding)
Makeup: Vera Garcia
Hairstylist: Diora Hair Design
Mehndi: Carla Oliveira
Entertainment: DJ Jukebox, Artist Key (Flash Mob)
Stationery: In Love
Videography: VIP Weddings
Photography: Fabio Azanha Photography