This hotel wedding featured vibrant blooms, romantic greenery, and picturesque mountain views.
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Amanda and Alexandre
Amanda and Alexandre have a storybook history that spans across multiple countries. At five years old, Amanda moved from Brazil to London, but she visited her home country during summer breaks. On one of those trips, she met Alexandre at a small party in the town of Garopaba. Amanda (then 12) was with her sister Alana, and Alexandre (then 14) was with Diogo, his future best man and Alana's now husband. "Amanda was apparently smiling at Diogo. However, I thought she was smiling at me, and that was when I fell in love with her," says Alexandre. "The normal saying is love at first sight, but for me it was love at first smile!" Two weeks later, Alexandre managed to score a date with Amanda. When she went back to the U.K., they stayed in touch long-distance, and officially became a couple in 2002 when Amanda was 13 and Alexandre was 15. Soon after, their families realized Amanda and Alexandre had actually been paired together even younger, during a church celebration a decade prior—making them believe that destiny definitely exists, and with photographic evidence to back that up.
Fast forward several years and the couple was living in Dubai. Alexandre (the Director of Group Sales at Dubai's Ritz Carlton) planned to propose to Amanda (a luxury fashion buyer for a Middle Eastern company) in Paris after a business trip. "The plan was for Amanda to 'attend' an event at the Shangri-La hotel that evening, but her boss messaged saying she had fainted and fallen ill. Amanda never cancels anything related to work, so I knew it was serious," says Alexandre. After Amanda's health didn't improve, Alexandre admitted he was in Paris, too—and Amanda immediately guessed the proposal plans. The shock of the revelation gave her enough energy to get out of bed, and Alexandre proceeded with the proposal, which happened on a terrace of the hotel overlooking the Eiffel Tower. "I was so nervous with everything that had already happened that when she came upstairs, I was lost for words," says Alexandre. According to Amanda: "All night I was throwing up with high fever, which resulted in me sleeping on the marble floor in this beautiful bathroom with my head on Alexandre's lap. I will never forget that I turned to him and said, 'This is why I am marrying you.' When I need him the most, he is always there."
And so the star-crossed duo tied the knot on November 11, 2016—nearly 14 years after they began dating—at the Saint Andrews Hotel Gramado in their home country of Brazil. Seventy-five guests traveled from Dubai, London, Germany, Canada, and various parts of Brazil. The nuptials had a "romantic garden" theme, a pink and peach color palette, and tons of vibrant greenery. "From the time we saw each other at the aisle to 5 a.m. when we finally got to bed, we laughed so much and wouldn't have changed one minute!" says the groom.
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Julie Song Ink designed the couple's bespoke invitation suite with watercolor illustrations and calligraphy. The green and pink color palette, along with the garden rose graphic, hinted at the big day's theme. "And the leaf details throughout matched my wedding dress perfectly!" adds the bride.
To complete the stationery, Julie Song Ink created a custom drawing of a map to highlight key places in Brazil: Rio de Janeiro (since most guests would fly into the Rio de Janeiro—Galaeão International Airport), Saint Andrews (the wedding locale), Porto Alegre (Amanda's hometown), and Garopaba (where the couple's relationship began—as illustrated by the town's church, which is where both of their happily-married parents also tied the knot).
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The couple gifted welcome bags to each of their guests. The goodies, which represented Brazil and other significant places in Amanda and Alexandre's lives, included macarons from Paris (the engagement location); Acqua Panna water from Florence (where they lived for six months); dates from Dubai; English Breakfast tea from London; and soap, cachaҫa and chocolate from Brazil. Wedding planner Stefanie Miles surprised the couple by making tags for the welcome bags. "They were in the shape of a leaf to match my wedding dress details, with a gold-foiled Saint Andrews drawing by Mon Voir," says the bride. The phrase "Welcome to Brasil" was scrawled across the surface.
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All Dressed Up
Amanda wore a tulle-accented Mira Zwillinger wedding dress from Browns Bride in London. "My dress was the third one I tried, and knew it was the one instantly. The leaf embroidered details on the cap sleeves, bodice, and train of it were stunning, and I loved the shape overall," she says. For the ceremony, she added a veil from Browns Bride and wore Dior earrings throughout the celebration.
Alexandre sported a Lanvin tuxedo and bow tie, Pal Zileri wing-collared shirt, Gucci shoes, and Monica Vinader cuff links that had navy blue Brazilian stones. "They were octagonal shaped to match Amanda's engagement ring," he explains about the cuff links.
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Amanda had specific requirements for her engagement ring: "It had to be octagonal with eight sides (which is her lucky number), with an antique look and Asscher-cut diamond," says the groom. He ended up with a custom-designed ring from Dubai. For the wedding bands, Amanda went for an antique-looking option, while Alexandre decided on a simple band.
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The Bridal Party
Amanda's older and younger sisters served as her maids of honor. Her cousin and four of her closest friends, each of whom she's known for at least eight years, made up the rest of the bridal party. The women traveled from five different countries—Dubai, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and Brazil—to attend the big day, and they stunned in long silvery gray dresses from twobirds.
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The Ceremony Site
The ceremony took place on the grounds of the hotel. Bows + Arrows scattered petals down the aisle to create a whimsical and elegant aesthetic. An asymmetrical altar made of garden greens, as well as white and pink blooms, anchored the ceremony site.
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Amanda's dad walked her down the aisle to Pachelbel's "Canon in D," performed by a string quartet called The Groove Guys. "My dad was so nervous, I felt like I had to calm him down. I was dancing with him in the corridor before the doors opened," says Amanda. Alexandre remembers the processional as one of his favorite moments of the day. In fact, he shed some tears watching Amanda enter. "I have been dreaming of this moment since I first saw her smile, and to be living in that moment was truly emotional and pure happiness," he says.
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Since the 5 p.m. ceremony was mostly spoken in Portuguese, the couple kept it short and sweet for guests who didn't understand the language. The officiant sprinkled in personal stories about their relationship, which made both Amanda and Alexandre laugh and cry.
The ceremony also included two readings from the Bible: Romans 12: 9-18 by Amanda's mother in Portuguese, and Corinthians 13: 4-8 by her older sister in English.
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As the newlyweds recessed up the aisle to the quartet's rendition of "My Girl," guests tossed rice at them as a Brazilian symbol for good luck. The couple had packaged the grain in off-white silk squares wrapped with peach ribbon, and they placed the packets on everyone's chairs before the ceremony began.
After the recessional, the pair took portraits with their families and wedding party while guests headed to cocktail hour on the grounds of the hotel. They ate canapés prepared by the Saint Andrews chef while listening to contemporary songs played by The Groove Guys.
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The Escort Cards
For the escort cards, square blush papers calligraphed in green ink by Julie Song Ink, were adorned with white wax seals displaying numbers. The cards were then positioned on antique mirrors decorated with green vines.
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The reception occurred in the hotel's conservatory. The view was towards the mountains, which created an incredible setting, especially at sunset when the sky was beautiful shades of pink and peach. In terms of visuals, Amanda and Alexandre worked with Stefanie Miles and Bows + Arrows to "bring the outdoors in." The embroidered leaf detail on Amanda's gown inspired many small details that contributed to the romantic garden theme. Additionally, the English Garden rose (the bride's favorite flower) influenced the pink, peach, and green color palette.
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Guests sat at five long tables and two round tables covered in sage-colored linens from La Tavola Fine Linen. Centerpieces contained flowers from the local market, including mini spray and garden roses in shades of peach, pink, and white. According to Amanda: "Speeches took a long time as Alex had a lot to say. He blames the bilingual guests because it had to be done in two different languages, but it mainly took so long due to all his crying!"
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Stefanie Miles brought many of the table elements—including the tablecloths, gold silverware, candles, and scrolled name tags—from the Unites States. Napkins were tied with vines to enhance the romantic garden aesthetic. When Julie Song Ink designed the menu, she used leaf details and printed the meal in both English and Portuguese on opposite sides of the double-sided cards.
The chef at Saint Andrews worked closely with the couple to create a personalized menu. It included a mozzarella salad, and a choice of either sole with grains or red angus steak with tomato sauce and basil. For dessert, guests indulged in a trio of the couple's favorite treats: fruit carpaccio, dulce de leche ice cream (Alexandre's personal favorite), and strawberry cake.
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The King Cake created a three-tiered walnut cake with caramel filling, adorned with pink sugar flowers and greenery. The bakery was located far away from the wedding venue—a two-hour flight plus a two-hour drive—but Amanda's father offered to pick it up. "The cake nearly didn't make it, as the plane staff were refusing to let him on with the cake as hand luggage. Luckily, a very kind soul saw a six-foot-four man nearly crying in front of her, so she figured a way to let him on," says the bride. "The cake weighed a ton, and we don't know how he managed to carry it to and from the airplane!"
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The First Dance
Amanda and Alexandre danced to "You Are The First, My Last, My Everything" by Barry White. To bring a traditional Brazilian element to the big day, they booked Batookada, a samba band who played international and Brazilian tunes. DJ Lucas Monteiro also played during the reception.
The bride, the groom, and their 75 guests partied until 4:30 a.m, taking a break for midnight snacks like hot dogs and churros. Then the newlyweds embarked on a mini-moon to Florianopolis, their favorite city in Brazil, with an upcoming road trip to Italy in the works for next May as their actual honeymoon.
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Alexandre didn't want to see Amanda before the ceremony, and Amanda wanted to attend cocktail hour, so the couple actually opted to take most photos one day after the ceremony. "The day-after session was such a great idea, as we felt very relaxed and so happy with the previous day's events," says the couple. They choose a private area of mountainous land about 20 minutes from the wedding venue.
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Photography, Ryan Ray Photography
Location and catering, Saint Andrews
Event planning, design, and production, Stefanie Miles Events
Flowers, Bows + Arrow
Videography, Story of Eve
Officiant, Maurício Ehrlich
Stationery and calligraphy, Julie Song Ink
Cake, The King Cake
Bride's gown, Mira Zwillinger
Hair and makeup, Atelier de Beauté
Bridesmaids' dresses, twobirds
Groom's tuxedo and bow tie, Lanvin
Custom program drawings, Mon Voir