Hello dear readers,
It is already 2021, COVID-19 is still among us, along with its significant impact on our daily lives and causing disappointment to brides, grooms, and the whole wedding industry worldwide.
But here at DWE, we are striving to be positive and believe in a better future! Are you doing the same?
The most painful thing is to see how brides and grooms deal with COVID-19 obstacles and restrictions. It is sad to witness couples postponing their weddings for a second time in a year. It's unsettling, especially when we're not talking about delaying it for months but years.
That's why I have decided to tell you the real story of a Dream Weddings Europe's couple – Shirley and Kweku.
They managed to hold a successful Destination Wedding in Portugal during the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020, after overcoming various setbacks. From dreaming of a Destination Wedding in Morocco to postponing their wedding for the first time in 2020 – their story is a unique, inspiring experience.
It all started in 2019 when the couple got engaged.
Part 1, "Marrakesh"
Shirley and Kweku are a French couple with African roots. They are elegant and courteous, and they live in the beautiful city of Strasbourg, France. Strasbourg is not the sunniest city, so Shirley and Kweku wanted to get married somewhere with a warm climate and dreamt of getting married on a sunshiny day sometime in 2020.
Marrakesh in Morocco seemed like a fabulous option. It was the location of their first vacation together. It is a French-speaking and Muslim country perfect for accommodating the dietary needs of many of the couple's friends and family members who don't eat meat or have particular food restrictions.
After some research, Shirley and Kweku found an excellent Wedding Planner in Marrakesh and booked a trip to visit venues and meet with the planning team. Everything went very well! S&K felt welcome in Morocco, enjoyed the food, the people they met and returned to Strasbourg inspired, bursting with ideas and ready to start the wedding planning process.
Days turned into weeks, and the Wedding Planner in Marrakesh never got back to S&K. Day by day, they were losing hope that she would eventually reply to their emails and messages. After waiting for two months, S&K realized that they didn't want to plan their destination wedding in Morocco.
Part 2, "Porto"
After this first setback, S&K held on to the idea of having a Destination Wedding.
S&K spoke to a friend who recently held a Destination Wedding in the North of Portugal who told them that their wedding was just incredible. "Everything came out as we wanted, and the planning process was comfortable, food and drinks were exceptional".
S&K had previously visited Portugal and loved the food, the kind people, and the country's calm atmosphere. Feeling enthusiastic, S&K started searching for a Wedding Planner in Porto. After comparing several Wedding Planner options, they chose one who fulfilled all their requirements and sent an individual proposal which they liked. They booked the service by mailing the deposit and scheduled, once again, a trip to meet the Wedding Planner and visit some venues.
Arriving in Porto, S&K immediately began the wedding venue's inspections and experienced an inconvenience: the first venue on their schedule was closed! This situation caused the couple some stress, but the wedding planner managed to fix it after some calls, and they visited the venue.
In the end, they liked the venue and felt compelled to book it right away.
S&K went along, depositing the required amount to secure the venue for their wedding date and, in good faith, returned home to France.
What happened next?
This time around, the couple and the Wedding Planner's conversations continued (thank God!). And one of the first topics they had to address was the Menu. S&K needed a special Menu; many of their guests had specific food restrictions, so they tried to arrange a Menu that would be perfect for all the guests. But it never happened. The venue owner came up with a straightforward Menu option hardly resembling a wedding Menu and wasn't willing to make changes neither in quality neither on ingredients. The Wedding Planner was not able to help the couple or make them feel confident with her work.
This especially upset S&K. They knew very well they needed a planner whom they could trust, who would help them and would always be on their side. Someone who would understand the level of services they wanted to have, their wishes and dreams. That's why S&K decided to cancel contracts with this Wedding Planner and the venue. Unfortunately, this meant they would lose the two deposits.
Part 3, "Dream Weddings Europe"
But S&K didn't give up!
They continued their quest for another Wedding Planner in Portugal. This time, they decided to look for Planners and venues in Lisbon.
And this is where I thank God that Google search introduced us, Dream Weddings Europe, to S&K.
After chatting on the phone and later on Skype, we felt comfortable with each other, and S&K made a decision very fast. As soon as we signed a contract, we started the venue search.
Our couple wanted a very particular date – 20.06.2020. Not many venues were available, but we found an attractive option – a classical five-star hotel in Estoril. Everything was perfect. We had so many great plans: a beautiful wedding styling project and a fantastic team of wedding vendors. We enjoyed every stage of planning S&K's wedding, and the couple relied on us – it seemed like fate brought us together.
But then, COVID-19 arrived, just when things seemed back on track.
Part 4, "Pandemic Wedding."
We waited until April 2020 to see if we could go along with the original date in June. But by then, it became clear the virus would stay with us longer than anybody expected. We never spoke about a cancellation, only about postponing.
We postponed the wedding to October 9th, 2020 (not a singular date as the first one, but S&K were not too picky) and kept trying to be pretty positive. It was easy because Shirley and Kweku are optimists by default.
However, as a Wedding Planner, I still had some concerns. First, I knew that Shirley and Kweku like to party and wanted to have a party until late. All parties were forbidden in Portugal due to COVID-19. But the hotel assured us that they will do their best to make the party happen.
About ten days before the wedding, I received a concerning call from the Hotel's manager. He said that they were not able to manage the situation with parties and that due to COVID-19 restrictions they can allow us to have a wedding only until 11 PM (and not until 3 AM as it was scheduled before).
Of course, I knew that Shirley and Kweku would never accept not having a party, and I realized that we would have to change the venue.
Going back, I should say that we used a picture of a beautiful castle for the invitations design for this wedding, which is situated on the Estoril beach and very close to the Hotel we choose initially with Shirley and Kweku. We used it as a signature of the wedding location. This castle is a famous wedding venue, and it was booked for the original wedding date.
Since I'm familiar with this wedding venue's managers (part of the Ritz Carlton Group) and I have an excellent relationship with them, I immediately called them saying: "We have this crazy situation. Can you help us? Is the Castle available?".
I don't know who is the luckiest – Shirley and Kweku, or all of us. Still, The Castle confirmed their availability, created a special Menu for us and did all their best. In a couple of days, we had a new contract signed and the confirmation that the Hotel would give the couple a full refund.
Part 5, "The Wedding day."
Shirley and Kweku's was the only wedding that Dream Weddings Europe had in 2020, making it incredibly special to everyone.
Hear what S&K say about their experience and their advice to other brides and grooms:
"We were so lucky to meet Anastasiia and DWE. You can trust her with your eyes closed. Everything was perfect: the planning, the styling, the management. She was always on connection, always open and honest with us.
All the guests are still talking about our wedding. They say that it will be hard to make a wedding more beautiful and so perfectly organized. We feel proud of our celebration!
For the brides and grooms who are planning to get married, we want to say, "don't give up!". Don't cancel, don't postpone too much – we are living through the new reality, and we need to understand it. Live NOW! Celebrate NOW.
Instead of having 150 guests, we had 48, and we loved it! We had time for all the guests; we felt safe and very comfortable. And what is essential: nobody got sick."
At DWE, we will remember S&K's wedding forever. We are thankful to them for choosing us and their guests for coming to Portugal to celebrate with S&K.
We wish all of you to keep dreaming about your ideal wedding in Portugal, France, Italy, or elsewhere.
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I hope you enjoyed this Real Destination Wedding story, and please feel free to contact us.
Pictures by Atmosphere Photography.