Driftwood & Sunshine - Our Big Fat Portuguese Wedding

So here it is, my wedding report. I can't believe that after almost two years of planning, our day has been and gone. However, I would never want to do it again because it was just so so perfect.

Cliches are cliches for a reason, but it really was the most amazing day of our lives. I know everyone says it, but they're not lying. We both can't stop talking about it, and all the pictures people are posting just takes me back and helps remember the blurry bits!

My wedding report probably won't feature any hints or tips or DIY projects, but hopefully if at least one person is reassured that a destination wedding can go to plan despite it being in a foreign country, then it'll be worth writing this.

Before I start, please be aware this will be a full report, entire story from start to finish, so if you'd rather just skip to the wedding bits then I won't be offendedimage

So lets start from the beginning shall we? That seems like a pretty good place to start.......



  • Yay, being a fellow destination bride I am looking forward to reading...... Off you go. Mrs gee

  • Jo35Jo35 Posts: 305

    Another destination bride that can't wait to read your report it's gonna be great image


  • TadpoleTadpole Posts: 2,134 New bride

    Rina!! Get going! image xx

  • LouBLouB Posts: 1,129 New bride

    Yay Rina! We need more than that tantalising teaser image

  • Leaving us in suspense right form the start ........ image x

  • Finally a Portuguese wedding report - nearly fell off my seat with excitement!  Can't wait to hear all about it!  image  image  x

  • MrsJCMrsJC Posts: 2,204

    I did an undignified little squeal when I saw this threadimage. I'm looking forward to it, MrsGee!

  • RinaGeeRinaGee Posts: 751

    Sorry guys, started it then remembered I was coming to LONDON for two days, will post more tonight when we're home

  • RinaGeeRinaGee Posts: 751

    The Girls Guide to Hunting & Fishing

    So January 2009 found me single, after a disastrous and (thankfully) shortlived relationship with my best friends brother. I thought I'd do what I do best, logged onto Plenty Of Fish and cast my rod out into the sea of single men. After a few false starts (no, I do NOT want to see your penis thank you very much) I received a message from a lovely looking chat called Willegee. His profile pic showed him balanced on a space hopper, I thought I might be onto something good.

    Messages flew back and forth for a few days and I found myself starting to like him. However, I was going through a particularly tough time. My Nanna had recently died, my ex was pestering me to get back together and I was undergoing some pretty nasty cervical treatment. Maybe because of everything on my mind, it took me a few weeks to realise that me and this guy were still just chatting over e mail. Six weeks. Six weeks we'd been emailing for and still no mention of meeting up. After a few glasses of wine, I took the bull by the horns and emailing him my phone number. Fortunately he text that night. Phewie!

    This got us no further. Another four weeks of texting ensued and he STILL hadn't asked me on a date. Using my amazing female logic, I simply decided that he wasn't interested, that he was playing around or dating other girls and so decided to just ignore his texts. He messaged me, I ignored it. This carried on for about a week, until he finally text to say "Hi Rina, I haven't heard from you in a while. If you're no longer interested then no worries, it was good getting to know you"

    What a conundrum. Should I reply? Shouldn't I? Surely he'd just fuck me about anyway so what was the point of even getting into something? I decided to flip a coin. Heads I'd reply, tails I wouldn't.

    It was heads. I replied. "Hey will, sorry for not being in touch, I just assumed as you hadn't asked me on a date that you just weren't interested"

    After a few crossed wires and just the right amount of confusion, we arranged to go to a gig the following Wednesday. However, three days before, on a gorgeous sunny Sunday afternoon, he dropped me a text to say he was in the local park and did I want to come and meet him to do some sun worshipping. So I did. No getting nervous, no date outfit, no 'getting ready glass of wine' to steady my nerves. I just wandered down there and spent the next three hours chatting away like I'd known him all my life. I realised then that he'd be something pretty special in my life image

    A few pics of us from our early days!



     At a friends wedding. Excuse the Judith Chalmers spray tan....



     A badly timed Amy Winehouse and Teen Wolf



     A pair of puddings

  • Our wedding was a destination wedding and i too will reassure all you panicking travelling brides.

    It was FANTASTIC!!!!!! Our day too went without a single hich and could not have been better, dont stress and just go with the flow i did and it was great. The only downside was that the day flew, it goes soo fast so enjoy every moment girls!!

    Looking forward to this thread (and hopefully when i get 5mins or shall i say a spare hour!!!) i will do my thread of my mexican paradise!


  • Keep it coming RinaGee! Really enjoyed the introduction. Congratulations!

  • RinaGeeRinaGee Posts: 751

    Devious Tactics

    So our relationship continued to go from strength to strength. We spent all our time together, fell in love and after 18 months, he asked me to move in with him. Living with Gee has been the best time of my life. We're incredibly compatible, and by compatible, I mean we both have the exact same outlook on life when it comes to household chores, we both hate them and avoid them at all costs......hence why we now have a cleaner. He is also a fantastic cook which bodes well as I loathe and detest cooking. During my single years, it wasn't unheard of for me to eat toast for my tea every night of the week. So we settled into a lovely little life together, Gee cooking, me not cooking, and neither of us having to clean!

    We'd been together about 2 1/2 years when I started seriously thinking about marriage. I was 31, living with an amazing guy, friends around me were getting hitched left, right and centre and I started to wonder when it would be my turn. I began to mention it, just in conversations and ever so casually (of course) and to my surprise, Gee seemed very up for the idea. One night, after a few drinks, we sat and planned the entire day. He even made me walk from one side of the room to the other whilst listening to a song he loved, to check it was long enough for the walk down the aisle. I couldn't believe it, I'd found a guy who actually WANTED to get married, who wasn't terrified by the idea. I was beside myself with excitement. Until a few weeks later....

    Gee's cousin had recently gotten engaged and was planning her own wedding. She'd posted something on FB one evening about wedding venues and I (again, casually) mentioned something to Gee about our wedding. He chose that moment to drop the bombshell. He did want to get married, but not for another 5 years at least. I was devastated. We had a very long and painful discussion where neither of us could reach an agreement. He didn't like the pressure being heaped on by friends and family (you know those well meaning conversations about when its gonna be your turn??) and wanted us to get there in our own time and not because people thought we ought to. "What's the rush?" was his thinking. "Why wait?" was mine. How do you bridge the gap between the two? You don't. So instead of pushing the issue, I decided to wait until the New Year and then maybe write him a letter explaining why marriage was so important to me.

    Part of me did wonder whether this was his way of 'throwing me off the scent' especially as my birthday was only a few weeks away, but as the day came and went with no sign of a ring, I mentally slapped myself around the head and told myself not to be stupid. Besides, we had our amazing Christmas in Bruges to look forward to!!

  • RinaGeeRinaGee Posts: 751

    The Proposal

    Ever since Gee and I had got together, we'd never been able to spend Christmas together. I'm originally from Scunthorpe and Gee's from Stafford, so after exchanging presents a few days before, we'd then pootle off to our respective families for the festive period. After spending a week away from each other, we decided it was too difficult and we'd definitely spend the next Christmas together. In order to avoid upsetting either family, we booked a trip to Bruges.

    We arrived on Christmas Eve and quickly set about exploring the town and indulging in some mulled wine, cider, sausages and other festive shiz. Christmas Day came and went with no sign of a ring, despite his Mum calling and asking "Is there a ring yet??"

    Boxing Day, I woke up grumpy because I had no more presents to open.

    Gee decided we'd go shopping, then have some waffles, then maybe go ice-skating. This cheered me up.

    I used to go to ice skating lessons when I was younger and so (wrongly) assumed I was going to be amazing on the ice. How wrong was I. I was awful, terrified, clinging onto the side for dear life whilst Gee whizzed around like Christopher Dean.

    I got half way round the rink (still clutching onto the side) when suddenly Gee appeared in front of me, on his knees. At this point I thought he'd fallen over and I was just about to laugh at him when he produced a box from his pocket. A small box. A box just big enough to hold a ring.

    He said some words which neither of us can remember now, but it ended with "Will you marry me? Will you be Mrs Gee?". He opened the box and......it was upside down. 

    He'd opened the ring box upside down so all I could see was the lid. No engagement ring, just the lid. So the first words out of my mouth upon being proposed to weren't "yes, of course I will, what took you so bloody long", they were "it's upside down" (I only pointed it out because, at this point, I still thought he was winding me up) He wasn't though, turned the box around and there is was, my beautiful engagement ring.

    At this point, I was so shocked I could barely breathe and realised I hadn't even said yes yet. I just burst into uncontrollable tears which set Gee off, and he said "I don't even know if I'm doing this right, I've never done it before". So he asked me again and I finally said yes. Ring on, job done, I was engaged.

    We did a little lap round the rink where he told he he'd been planning this since September and was indeed trying to throw me off the scent. Risky plan but it worked image



  • RinaGeeRinaGee Posts: 751


     This is me, drinking a G&T next to the roaring fire in our hotel in Bruges


     To the right of this picture, on the rink, is the exact spot where Gee proposed

  • RinaGeeRinaGee Posts: 751


     The ring

  • RinaGeeRinaGee Posts: 751

    The really, really shit bit

    So here I was, newly engaged and on top of the world. Gee's parents were over the moon, as were my Mum and my Dad. 

    My parents divorced when I was nine and, since then, my Dad and I had quite a few fallings out. Nothing serious, we're both very similar (stubborn, won't make the first move, won't admit we're in the wrong etc....) but we managed to put all our differences behind us after he developed Non Hodgkins Lymphoma when I was 17. We became much closer and, whilst he was never going to be your Werthers Originals kind of Dad, he was great fun to be around. Unfortunately, over the next 17 years the cancer resurfaced four times and really kicked the shit out of him. Any normal person would have quit smoking, cleaned up their act, taken up yoga etc....but my Dad never wanted to live like that. He had a great circle of friends around him and after his last chemo session ended, would go on a massive bender with them. We knew he'd never live into his 80's or 90's, he'd be lucky to get to his 70's but we honestly never thought it'd beat him.

    So six weeks after Gee popped the question, I received a phonecall at work from the hospital informing me that my Dad was very ill and how quickly could I get there. I lived 300 miles away so had to explain it'd take me a good few hours. There was a moment of silence before she told me that, in fact, my Dad had passed away 30 minutes ago.

    I'm sure those on here who've lost a parent know exactly how shit this time is, and as me and my brother were his next of kin, it was up to us to organise the funeral, the wake, clear his house, sort out all his finances and paperwork etc....which, looking back, was the hardest time of my life but my brother really helped me get through it. 

    It felt right, when we got right into the wedding planning, to ask my brother to give me away in place of my Dad. It was an emotional time and I really struggled in the few weeks before the wedding, but on the day it was ok - mainly because I banned anyone from saying anything before I walked down the aisle! My brother is a Chief Petty Officer in the Navy so wore his 'tropics' uniform on the day, I thought he scrubbed up really well and I was so proud to have him by my side.


     My lovely big bro walking me down the aisle. I love how you can tell he's clutching my other hand because of how nervous we both were!!


     A very young me, my brother and my Dad



  • Oh that picture is lovely congratulations xx
  • Mrs 2BMrs 2B Posts: 75

    We are getting married september 2015 in Portugal, very excitin lots of palnning and saving to be done now!!

    Cannot wait to read the rest of your report image You look beautiful and so happy in your photo from wedding day. I very sure your dad would have been very proud of you and your brother x

  • LouBLouB Posts: 1,129 New bride

    This is so lovely to read, Rina. Love the proposal story!

    The picture of you and your brother is gorgeous. It must have been great to have him by your side x

  • RinaGeeRinaGee Posts: 751

    Mrs 2B - where abouts in Portugal are you getting married??

  • Mrs 2BMrs 2B Posts: 75

    we have chosen a venue in Lagos, a boutique hotel set on the cliff top, there was so many amazin venues in the algarve it was so hard but i really got the 'i can see us getting married her' feeling when we walked in x

  • Lou85Lou85 Posts: 1,808 New bride

    I am loving this. You look fab and your proposal story is lovely. I love Bruges! Looking forward to more x

  • RinaGeeRinaGee Posts: 751

    Once the celebrations and the champagne drinking were out of the way, it was time to start thinking about dates and places.

    Unlike me, Gee and his family went on holiday every single year when he was a child, always to Portugal, always for a month and always camping.

    (Can you imagine it? Spending all day in the baking sunshine, then having to go back to a roasting hot tent to sleep? I don’t know how they used to manage it; I like air conditioning far too much to do anything like that)

    Because of the many family holidays there and time spent there with his Granddad (who sadly passed away just before we got engaged) Portugal became very special to Gee. We went there on holiday the summer before we got engaged and had a very brief, non-committal conversation about ‘perhaps getting married there one day in the future maybe not right away but definitely at some point in the future’. So as soon as we started planning the wedding, Portugal was right at the top of the list. We wanted to get married on a beach, in our flip flops, with the sea lapping away next to us (it didn’t happen that way, but more on that later!). His parents were thrilled, as were the rest of his family. My Mum? Less so. She thought it was tacky and common. Her exact words were

    “Everybody gets married on a beach nowadays. Your cousin Joanne got married on a beach. Sheila’s son Mark got married on a beach”

    To which I replied

    “I don’t give a sh1t where Joanne OR Sheila’s son Mark got married. We’re getting married on a beach, end of story”

    Fortunately it was, she came around soon after and was fine about her only daughter having a ‘common beach wedding’. We then decided it would either be April or September, due to the heat and the cost (we didn’t want people paying loads, and equally didn’t want it to be 30 degrees when we were saying our vows). His cousin was getting married the following April which put paid to that idea, so we settled on September 20th 2013, giving us just over 18 months to plan and pay for the whole thing.

    We decided to book a trip out to Portugal in May 2012 to find a venue, and soon I was Googling like a woman possessed. There were just SO many options! In our heads, we knew exactly what we wanted - a wedding on the beach followed by a huge BBQ in a beachside restaurant, then dancing and drinking into the wee small hours. The reality proved harder to find. I was speaking to hotels, to marquee companies, to wedding planners, caterers and soon an idea formed in my head. We’d hire a villa near a beach, get the caterers in and everyone could stay in the villa, therefore cutting down costs and creating a real holiday atmosphere for both our families. After some intensive searching, I found the one. It was so perfect I wanted to cry. Villa Santa Eulalia Portugal, a stones throw from the beach in Albufeira. It slept 18 people, was available for weddings and had enough outdoor space for a party and catering. I looked at the pictures of that villa every single day, until a week before our holiday when I was finally given the contact details of the representative to arrange a viewing.

    Pics of the villa:





    The villa was rented through a third party company who had quoted a price of £2,500 for a weeks rental (split between 18 people was

  • RinaGeeRinaGee Posts: 751

    The villa was rented through a third party company who had quoted a price of £2,500 for a weeks rental (split between 18 people was a bargainsome £208 each). Once we had our arrival date/time, they passed on our details to the Portuguese rep who dropped me an e mail to confirm I was happy with the conditions of rental. These were:

    Only 18 people to stay overnight in the villa – yep, perfect, happy enough with that

    A maximum of 60 people allowed on the grounds for the wedding – sounds fair enough to me, 60 was our guest list anyway

    An additional £3,000 to pay on the day of the wedding – woahhhhh, hold on a second. AN ADDITIONAL THREE THOUSAND POUNDS?? What on earth for?!

    Money grabbing, opportunistic [email protected] charged £3,000 on top of the £2,500 JUST because we were holding a ‘celebration’ at the villa. This was as well as a £5,000 deposit. So that bargainsome villa had just rocketed to over £10,000 (yes, I knew we’d get the deposit back but we still needed to find it!)

    I was furious and gutted in equal measures. It was more the principal of the situation, even if I had £10,000, I still wouldn’t have paid it. So back to the drawing board we went.

    It’s worth adding that I was so enamoured by the villa, so convinced of its perfection, that I hadn’t even bothered with a back-up plan. One week to go until our holiday and we had no viewings booked and no idea what to do. This.was.stressful. We only had a very short amount of time to find something out there, and I was convinced we wouldn’t be able to. So with no time to spare we searched for wedding planners and dropped an e mail to Carla and Noellia at Sonho a Dois. They were more than happy to help, and after looking through their portfolio, we decided to view The Lakehouse, The Sheraton, Grande Santa Eulalia and Duna Beach with them.

    We made a deal at the beginning of the day that we wouldn’t talk about any of the venues until we got back to hotel, but after viewing all four, I wasn’t taken with any of them which was disappointing. Fortunately, Carla had picked another two venues for us to see on the ‘off chance’ that we might like them, Alba Villas and Canico/Prainha Village. As soon as we walked around Prainha Village, I fell in love. I tried to keep my poker face because I was convinced Gee had fallen in love with one of the other venues and I didn’t want to influence him, but the more I saw, the more excited I became. It had everything we were looking for, plenty of space, beach location, restaurant in the cliffs and loads of accommodation for all our friends and family.

    We finally got back to the hotel at 5.30pm, a whole 8 hours after we’d set off. It was 32 degrees outside and we’d spent the whole day melting, so we raced upstairs, got into our swimmers and dived straight in the pool. As agreed, we went through each venue we’d seen in order, and rated them out of 5. When we got to number four (Prainha Village) I couldn’t stop the smile spreading over my face, even more so when Gee told me “100% yes, I loved it. That’s where I want to get married”. We’d both fallen in love with the same venue.  

    In the end, we couldn't use the restaurant in the cliffs (more on that later) so we used the poolside restaurant instead which worked out perfectly



  • Rina I am loving reading this and I cannot believe how similar our stories are - we are getting married in the Algarve as it is where H2B went every year with his family, including grandparents, so very special to them.

    I am with Carla & Noelia too, absoulte lifesavers because my original plan didn't work out either, so I went to them for help and they solved everything!  image

    Can't wait to hear more!  x

  • MrsJCMrsJC Posts: 2,204

    Hi, Rina - I'm enjoying reading this so much! It's also been lovely to find out a bit more about you and Gee's story. I love it when I find someone else who met their hubby on the internet - makes me feel a bit more normalimage

  • RinaGeeRinaGee Posts: 751

    Algarve14 - where are you getting married and what time of year? I literally cannot put into words how amazing our wedding was and so happy I am that we chose to get married abroad. You will have the most fantastic time, and equally as important, so will your guests. I'll come onto that more laterimage

    JC - thanks so much! Yes, meeting someone online is totally normal and acceptable nowadays and neither of us ever hide where we met, I'm not ashamed in the slightest. I have quite a few 'internet' friends but, again, more on that later.

    It's worth adding that I am ridiculously excited to read all about your wedding too. How are you feeling with just over three weeks to go??

  • RinaGeeRinaGee Posts: 751

    The dress

    The dress. Oh, the dress.  

    Like most brides, I had a vague idea of what I wanted. Something light, something floaty, something quite simple. Then I looked online and everything changed. 

    Did I want strapless? Zip or corset? Bling or plain? Long or short? Lace or taffeta or silk or chiffon? Oooohh, that one’s nice! And that one. Nope, that’s the one. Oh no, that one’s nice too. That’s it, I’ve DEFINITELY found the one………..but just going to have a look on a few more websites, just in case. I had developed wedding dress Tourette’s. And here is a piece of advice for anyone else who might be suffering from the same problem: 

    No matter how many dresses you look at online, there is no substitute for trying them on.  

    Just over a year before we were due to get married I had the good fortune of changing jobs, and for reasons unknown to me even to this day, my old company decided to put me on gardening leave for three weeks. Ker-ching. So I decided to take myself off dress shopping just to see what was out there. I reasoned that Saturdays were going to be hellishly busy and so with all this spare time I had, I might as well book some mid-week appointments.  

    Shop one (Wedding Days, Cheltenham) could not have been nicer if they tried. The woman was absolutely lovely and really knew what suited me, what fit to try on and could tell immediately when I didn’t like something. The last dress I tried on was Renee by Maggie Sottero and, although it wasn’t perfect, the woman shoehorned me in, popped a veil on my head and WHAM, I looked like a bride and it became very, very real that I was getting married. Nearly had a few tears but managed not to embarrass myself! 

    The next few shops were a disaster and another piece of advice would be this: If you don’t like a dress, tell them. Because I went alone, I almost felt like I had to be nice and pretend I liked everything even when I didn’t. I was put in huge monstrosities which I told them I didn’t want due to the heat/travelling/the fact that I’m only 5.4 etc…..I came away, after trying about 20 dresses on,  feeling very disheartened by the whole thing (which, to be fair, was my own fault!) During a visit to Gloucester for another two appointments, I spotted a tiny dress shop called Mystia and decided to pop in. They were busy so told me to come back in 2 hours. The two appointments I’d booked for the other shops were predictably rubbish and with an hour until the Mystia appointment and I can’t tell you how tempted I was to go home…….but I didn’t.  

    The woman immediately knew what I needed, even down to the weight of the dress for travel restrictions etc….which no one had picked up on before. I picked out five dresses and she left my favourite one til last. I understand there is a divide between those who just know their dress is ‘the one’ and those who don’t believe in such nonsense but…….it was ‘the one’. It looked sh1t because it was 2 sizes too small, you could see my bra, the woman w

  • RinaGeeRinaGee Posts: 751

    It looked sh1t because it was 2 sizes too small, you could see my bra, the woman was trying to hold the back together and I was spilling out everywhere but I still knew that was the dress I was going to get married in. I didn’t want to take it off, I just wanted to spend the rest of the afternoon flouncing around the dress shop, swishing about and looking at myself in the mirror, even though (and I can’t stress this enough) the dress looked awful on me. I got home and Googled it, spending hours just looking at it and sighing. A few days later, I booked another appointment but took my friend Nicki with me. She’s very honest and I trusted her to tell me whether it looked ok. I stepped out of the changing room and the look on her face (fortunately) confirmed to me what I knew all along.  

    I was to marry in Ella Bridal 5618. 




  • MissF87MissF87 Posts: 69

    love your thread so far! look forward to reading more!!

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