I’ve been wanting to share Claire & Damien’s utterly gorgeous Quinta de Sant’Ana wedding in Portugal for so long, after selecting the images today I wished I had posted it sooner.
This was my first time back in Portugal since I was a kid and luckily I got a couple of days in Lisbon before the wedding to relax. This hilly city has so much charisma. From its colourful pastel buildings all linked by the cobbled streets, delightful tiles everywhere you gaze and rickety trams bustling throughout, you can even say it is now my new favourite city! I would love to photograph a wedding here again so, anyone thinking of it then let me know.
After eating far too many Portuguese custard tarts (you need to try these if you go to Lisbon) it was time to venture North for the fun work to begin. Claire & Damien are both from Ireland but wanted a destination wedding, and after eating the delicious Portuguese food and chatting to locals; I can start to see why they chose Portugal, everyone is friendly and the food is exquisite. I’m staying at a surfing town called Ericeira about a 30 min drive from Lisbon, famous for being the same stretch of coast as some of the most gigantic wave surfing in the world.
The venue for the wedding is a short drive inland at a remarkable working winery called Quinta de Sant’Ana in a sleepy village called Gradil. I had seen pictures online before, but seeing on a screen and seeing up close are two very different things. First thing I’ve noticed is the gorgeous scenery surrounding me, the vineyard rows etching the landscape with only the bright yellow walls of the house breaking the sea of greens and blue skies above. Ivy entangles the walls of the main house, and it is even more enticing because of it, opposite a Baroque chapel with large bell tower pieces the air. I look down from the tower and see a smiling Claire waving from the steps of Caseiro house (the bridal suite), I’m very much looking forward to the day ahead.
Upstairs, Claire & her family are relaxed and slowly getting ready for the day ahead. Dresses are being hung up, flowers arriving, and everyone is enjoying life. I love how the rooms are painted in bright reds, yellows and oranges, which instantly grabbed my attention, the large white shutters are fully open with the summer sun flooding each room with light. This is one of the best getting ready locations I have visited.
Claire & Damien are both Catholic so wanted a religious ceremony for their marriage, luckily just a short walk from the venue lies a majestic Roman Catholic church called Igreja de São Silvestre. A perfect place for all their friends and family to witness the celebrations. The church slowly fills with the sounds of life, and not before long, it’s time for Claire to arrive with her father in a vintage Mercedes (such a fitting car for the location). Catholic churches are sometimes tricky to photograph due to the lack of windows or light, so you have to be on your A-game. Thankfully, the length of the ceremony gave plenty of opportunities to get the right shots.
After the ceremony had finished, the newly-weds emerged into the sun, with all their loved ones showering them with confetti. Claire & Damien beaming with smiles led all their guests through the cobbled streets of the rustic village to Quinta de Sant’Ana for the party to begin. Definitely my favourite part of the day! Love the photo of them smiling, with family and friends filling the street in the background.
One of the things I’ve noticed about destination weddings across Europe is everyone gets properly fed during the drinks reception. Gone are those tiny canapés on plates and replaced with tables of delicious food for guests to devour while sipping on the wine that was probably pressed 100 feet away, how perfect.
With bellies full and everyone being suitably merry, the first of the speeches began on the foot of the vineyard. Both fathers taking it in turns to talk about Claire & Damien as everyone else found a spot to listen under the deep blue Portugal sky.
The first round of speeches came to an end, and it was time for a few pictures of Claire & Damien together. This was my first wedding at Quinta de Sant’Ana, and I sure hope it won’t be my last as there are so many wonderful options for beautiful backdrops. Everyone else started to be seated in the reception hall of the venue anticipating for the entrance of the couple, with large white walls and oaks beams ceiling it is a perfect place to enjoy to savour the Portuguese food and the final speeches.
As the last dark embers of light in the sky faded to the darkness it was time for the cake cutting on the Patio of the estate, only the flickering of a fire pit & festoon lights weaving either side lighting the space. Cake cutting is definitely a bigger thing here as soon as the couple had started cutting the sugary goodness, two giant ground sparklers ignite into life illuminating all the smiling faces of kids and adults alike.
Quinta de Sant’Ana has an excellent place for dancing the night away, an old olive press room now fills in as a party room. Before the DJ gets everyone going, it’s time for Claire & Damien to share the first dance as all their friends and family watch. An impromptu Ceilidh dance starts, anyone who wasn’t sweating is definitely now! The place is so hot steam is escaping from every exit. The rest of the night is a mixture of elaborate dance moves and cooling down outside with laughter and chats with old friends echoing into the night. A day to remember.
Well as always I really hope you love Claire & Damien’s gorgeous Quinta de Sant’Ana wedding! Please comment below what you think and if you like this one then definitely check out Aisling & Ciaran’s manoir wedding in South-west France or Marianne & Ralph’s epic wedding in the Alps!