Set within a dreamscape of rolling hills in the Portuguese countryside, Hallie & Jason’s wedding was a beautiful contrast of elegance and whimsy against rustic surrounds.
With a ceremony location that needed little more than wildflowers to accent the space, the couple exchanged vows between ancient olive trees on the private grounds of Herdade de Malhadinha Nova. As rolling green surrounds turned faded into sunburned palettes, guests sipped on signature cocktails outside the villa before a magical and intimate reception dinner under celestial skies.
Names / Hallie & Jason
Wedding Date / September 30th, 2021
Guest Numbers / 36
Budget / $75,000
How We Met
We met on a night out in New York City, shortly after I had moved there. It was an eclectic group of people, and somehow we all went from a club to a limo to a random house party. At the end of the night, my roommate and I decided to share a cab home together with Jason, as we realized he lived pretty close to us. Before we split up, we exchanged phone numbers and the rest is history.
Our Engagement Story
We were in France for our friends’ wedding and decided to spend a few days exploring Brittany afterward. On the last night of the trip, after we finished dinner at a restaurant in Saint-Malo, Jason suggested we take a walk around the old walls of the fortress, despite it being a little rainy and cold. After coaxing me around the walk, he stopped at a private spot and proposed! Afterward, he told me he was actually planning on doing it the day before and ended up chickening out.
Marriage To Us Means…
To us, marriage was less about starting something new and more of a confirmation and continuation of our existing relationship. It is about celebrating our commitment to each other in our past, our present, and our future.
We chose Portugal because it was one of the first trips we’d taken together and we loved everything it had to offer, from great weather to delicious food and wine to the beautiful landscapes. Since we couldn’t travel to Portugal initially due to the Covid travel bans, our planner visited each potential venue for us and gave us tours via video calls. We chose Malhadinha Nova because we were impressed by the vast grounds, the beautiful villas, the available activities, and because it felt like the right size for the number of guests we wanted to invite.
I got ready with my sister, mother, and mother-in-law in the villa we were staying in. We ordered a beautiful breakfast spread of fruits and pastries, followed by champagne, then spent our time stressing out while getting ready.
Intimate, organic, and ethereal. I found inspiration in other weddings in Mediterranean regions that felt really elegant but rustic at the same time. There were a few Vogue weddings I’d seen that greatly inspired me to think outside of the box and try to include unique and creative details, even if our budget was not quite Vogue level.
The ceremony was set in a small olive grove next to one of the villas. Since the area was already beautiful, we didn’t want to add too much to it. The floral arrangements were organic and unstructured, placed on the ground almost as if they were naturally growing there. The wedding arch was composed of the same type of white florals and greenery so that everything felt quite natural to the environment.
The reception was held outside one of the largest villas in the venue. Everyone was seated around one long table, which was covered with a tablecloth and gauzy runners. We had some small floral arrangements and candles, but nothing that would prevent us from easily making conversation with the people around us. Our planner had the idea of bringing this pottery element to the seating charts and name cards, which was perfect because pottery is actually one of Jason’s hobbies!
Photography / Videography
Jasmin and Tim of Flora & Grace really captured our attention because their photography was so elegant, stylish, yet without pretense. We really loved their aesthetic and the fact that their shots looked more like fashion editorials than typical wedding photos. We really loved how positive and excited they were about the wedding and the fact that their shooting style was to simply capture us as we were naturally.
While we did not originally plan for videography, we were so impressed by a short Instagram video that our photographers Flora & Grace happened to post from our engagement session that we actually asked them after the wedding if they had enough video clips to piece together a short film. Amazingly they did, and we were so impressed by the beautifully organic vignettes they happened to capture while photographing us.
Palazzo Bridal soft A-line dress in raw silk. I loved that the dress was structured but soft, very light, and that it had pockets!
Chanel slingbacks in beige and black. I wanted to treat myself to something I already wanted – a pair of classic shoes that I would wear long after the wedding.
Réalisation Par maxi dress in broderie anglaise daisy floral embroidery on silk georgette. I was very much inspired by Kate Moss’s garden wedding when she got married surrounded by bridesmaids and flower girls in matching delicate white dresses.
By Far heeled sandals in nude.
Etincelle de Cartier wedding band, Cartier d’Amour wedding band.
Jewelry / Accessories
Sophie Ratner pearl chain drop earrings, Idyl lariat diamond necklace. I liked the classic nature of pearls, but these earrings in particular also had a unique touch in the shape of the hoops. I also knew I wanted a lariat necklace to complement the shape of the dress. The fact that this one featured sustainable lab-grown diamonds and a modular design made it even more perfect. Finally, I wore my mother-in-law’s diamond tennis bracelet – something she had gifted me the first time we visited Jason’s parents in Chicago together.
Jason collected all the different elements of his suit from local tailors around New York City. While the suit is definitely a classic, Jason kept things interesting by choosing a pineapple print for his jacket lining and his vest. His bullet train cufflinks were also a fun touch. Made out of recycled aluminum from an actual Japanese bullet train, they paid homage to Jason’s lifelong love for trains.
Makeup & Hair
A soft updo with loose curls. As someone who almost never styles her hair, I wanted something that looked elegant but effortless. I also wanted to keep my makeup simple and neutral. We stuck with muted rosy and earthy tones that played off the colors of the landscape.
Stationery & Invitations
Our planner designed all our wedding invitations and stationery. The invitations were simple and minimalistic, but hand-painted with a single brushstroke that was similar to the texture and color of the villas in the venue.
Flowers & Bouquets
I always liked the look of arrangements that are a bit wild but subtle, much like ikebana. To balance out the more airy and erratic nature of that kind of composition, I asked for white florals with lots of greenery. While I didn’t give much more instruction than that, I really loved the way it all came out. From the bouquets to the arch to the flowers at the ceremony and at dinner, everything looked so delicate and airy!
The cake was pretty simple – two tiers without much decoration. The flavor was Greek yogurt with red fruits. While that’s not at all what we thought we were going to choose, it ended up being our favorite when we did the tasting.
Entrance song: “Your Hand in Mine” by Explosions in the Sky
After ceremony song: “Spring 1” by Antonio Vivaldi (recomposed by Max Richter)
First dance: “I’ll Take Care of U” by Gil Scott-Heron and Jamie xx
We asked a good friend of ours to be our celebrant, as she had been there the night we first met, and had been a confidante to each of us during our early friendship. In the runup to the wedding as we started preparing our speeches and vows, we all spent a lot of time reflecting on those formative years together and how much we’d all grown up!
We had a bossa nova band for the cocktail hour, followed by a DJ playing a fun mix of dance music and R&B based. Around 2 am, a good friend of ours, DJ and producer Lira Yin, took over to close the night with hours of amazing techno and trance.
Food & Beverages
While we already knew how amazing Portuguese food is, the food served at the wedding still went above and beyond our expectations. The day before the wedding, we had a welcome dinner that featured live grilling, accompanied by a buffet of salads, cheeses, charcuterie, and wines from the venue’s own vineyards.
For the post-ceremony cocktail hour, we wanted to feature drinks from our favorite bars in New York City: the Negroni Terra from Bar Pisellino and the Clinton Street Sour from Windmill, a now-closed bar run by our good friends at Le French Diner. To complete the trio, we added Port & Tonic, a classic Portuguese drink that we fell in love with the first time we traveled to the country together. This was all complemented by dozens of delicious Portuguese-inspired hors d’oeuvres.
For dinner, we had a four-course meal featuring modern interpretations of traditional Portuguese dishes such as black pork and sea bass, served with bottles of Niepoort wine – one of the best-known winemakers in the Douro Valley. During the party portion of the night, there was also a dessert bar with dozens of different pastries, cakes, and fruits. Finally, around 1 or 2 am, when we were all dancing outside in the chilly night air and after some of us had just jumped into the pool, the caterers came out with bowls of piping hot soup and sandwiches to keep the party going!
Sources of Inspiration
I went into planning with a general idea of the things I liked, then relied entirely on browsing Pinterest and Instagram and trusting that their algorithms would eventually connect me to the contacts I’d need. I found my planner by searching through Portuguese weddings until I landed on a few that aligned with my tastes. The initial photographer I found to shoot the wedding I also found on Pinterest. When she was no longer available, I then stalked every single wedding photographer she followed on Instagram until I found Flora & Grace!
We originally wanted to travel to Australia, but given that Covid travel restrictions prevented us from doing so, we still haven’t had a honeymoon yet!
One thing I wish I knew before I started my wedding plans…
The things that look and feel the most effortless oftentimes require the most effort to execute.
If I could give other Brides to be one piece of advice…
Start everything earlier than you think you need to and try not to stress out too much over details. I didn’t really follow any suggested wedding timelines (in part because Covid made everything difficult to plan), and I ended up getting quite stressed towards the end. Even so, everything turned out amazingly! In the end, it’s all about celebrating and having fun with your partner, your family, and all your best friends.
Photography / Flora & Grace
Bride’s Shoes / Chanel
Bridesmaid’s Dresses / Realization Par
Stationery & Invitations / Inpressed
Florist / KCKliKO
Cake / Penha Park
Planner & Designer / Taleswpt
Videographer / Flora & Grace
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