Elliot & Jessie’s Romantic Vineyard Wedding

To all our fellow South Africans, we hope you are having a wonderful long weekend. Today we bring you a charming destination wedding all the way from beautiful Portugal. Elliot and Jessie drew inspiration from the surrounding area, including wine-toned colours and the use of lavender throughout the intimate celebration.

Jessie works in tourism and craft development and Elliot has a background in restaurant management, so their three criteria for selecting a location were amazing food, delicious drinks and a beautiful location. And the newlyweds say that Quinta de Sant’Ana didn’t disappoint on any front! The team from Piteira Photography took the breathtaking pictures.

Tell us your love story.

Elliot and I first met during a business meeting in DC. I was about to move to Ethiopia for work so I didn’t give him a second thought. However, Elliot soon visited Ethiopia as a short-term consultant and we quickly realised that we were meant to be. After a few months of telephone calls over very bad phone lines, we met up for a short vacation (and trial date) in Portugal.
Perhaps it was the romance of Lisbon but we fell completely in love and Elliot moved to Ethiopia just a month later. Elliot proposed on a surprise trip to Djibouti in December 2011, which included scuba diving with whale sharks! My mom always said that she couldn’t wait to meet the man that could make me settle down. I’m just happy that I met the man that could keep up!

What were the highlights of your wedding day?

We wrote our own vows and included many personal details and traditions. It was amazing that everything went as planned! We tried to incorporate all our guests into the ceremony and truly there wasn’t a dry eye. This definitely ranks as the top moment of the day.

Where did you get most of your ideas and inspiration from?

At the beginning, I became a bit blog-obsessed and definitely spent too much time on Pinterest. But as the wedding date got closer, I looked more toward my own experiences and surroundings. We wanted things to be really personal and tried to incorporate all the things that we love. We used lavender throughout the decor, flowers and even meal and brought some special Ethiopia tej (honey wine) glasses to use as vases.

What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome while organising your dream wedding?

Deciding on a destination wedding was certainly the hardest part. As Americans, we knew that having the wedding in Portugal would mean that certain people would not be able to attend. After talking to family and friends we realised that it didn’t really matter where we had the wedding since there would always be someone that would not be able to come. When it came down to decision time, we went with a destination wedding because it meant taking a week vacation with our 26 closest friends and family members and having a completely unforgettable time.

Any time saving or organising tips?

I loved the Weddingwire.com online checklist although the predetermined deadlines did drive my goal-oriented self crazy. Also, I used Pinterest to keep track of ideas. It was a great way to share my thoughts and ideas with my mom and bridesmaids since I was on the other side of the world.

Any hints for other brides on how to keep your wedding budget friendly?

Destination weddings are the way to go! You can have a small wedding that is still luxurious and personal.

What song did you choose for your opening dance and why?

Our first dance was Call Me Irresponsible by Bobby Darin because everyone thought Elliot was crazy for moving to Africa to be with me after only long-distance dating for two months!

Did your wedding preparations include any DIY projects?

I work with artisans around the world, which makes me DIY at heart. However living in Ethiopia and planning a destination wedding in Portugal didn’t allow us to use much of our creative spirit. We did come up with all the designs and decor ideas that were implemented by the lovely Ann at the Quinta de Sant’Ana and Teresa at Something Borrowed.