Aguiam Wedding Photographers

An Idyllic Wedding in the Hills of Portugal


October 9, 2023
Words by Marisol Acosta
Photos courtesy of Aguiam Wedding Photography

After matching with Shamal online, Rachel hoped she would find herself with an authentic individual. She got far more as Shamal “Sham” became the most caring and sweetest partner she could ask for. He was truly the prince she had been waiting for.

As time passed, they happily anticipated their first holiday together. A weekend in Lake Garda, Italy was just what they needed. Due to a worker’s strike, flights were canceled at the last minute and it looked like they would not be able to go. Sham did not waver in his resolve and vowed to find a way to make their weekend holiday come to fruition. He was successful, and with the small window of opportunity, Rachel quickly packed a bag and off they went! “We finally arrived at this place that looked like a painting! Breathtaking!” says the bride. “We were living the dream!” Little did she know, an even bigger dream was about to come true. After a fun-filled day around the area, they began to travel back to the resort. As they made their way around one of the lake’s iconic castles, Sham found the perfect opportunity to pop the question. As if to set the stage for their engagement, a single light illuminated the area where Sham ultimately dropped down to one knee and proposed to his princess. She said yes and bystanders who quietly watched the scene came out to clap and congratulate the couple!

Rachel and Sham set a date for their nuptials for June 2020. The bride and groom had no idea that a global pandemic would postpone saying their “I do’s”. Being undeterred by a second postponement, the couple finally wed on June 25, 2022. 

While scouting venues, the couple considered many factors. Both living in London, they craved sunshine for their big day. The sunny inland hills of Portugal called to Rachel. Being Brazilian, she found it would be a convenient direct flight for her family back home. Soon, one venue emerged as the best fit: Casa dos Penedos. A 20th-century mansion in the hillsides of Sintra, Casa Dos Penedos exudes an air of royalty. As Rachel took the helm on planning her wedding, being able to speak the language helped immensely in personally communicating with vendors.

The couple was fortunate enough to celebrate their union in three different ways. They were able to have a traditional Islamic union to honor Sham’s culture, another at the registry in London and, finally, the wedding of their dreams in Portugal.

The majority of personalizations in Sham and Rachel’s wedding were to honor their respective cultural roots and families. Rachel specifically wanted to have her late grandmother incorporated, so she made an appearance in drawings on the wedding invitations designed by the bride’s sister. The bride also sewed the names of guests who are unmarried into the bride’s wedding dress – a Brazilian wedding tradition. 

On wedding day, the fresh air beckoned guests as a backdrop of stone walls crawling with ivy and an arch of roses and hydrangeas. A string trio played, welcoming the guests to the garden affair. When it came time to walk down the aisle, the sweet sounds of Wave 1967 originally by Antonio Carlos Jobim played. It was a song her grandmother used to play and sing on the piano. The bride wore a stunning Carolina Herrera gown fit for a queen. The groom looked smart and dashing in a three-piece suit of blue by Hugo Boss. The wedding party complemented the palette with nude and gray colors in their attire. During the nuptials, Rachel’s mother acted as the officiant, regaling everyone with stories of the couple and tips for a happy marriage before officially declaring them man and wife.

The reception details highlighted who Rachel and Sham were as a couple and included additional tributes to their loved ones. In Brazil, it is tradition to have a sweets table called “Bem Casados” which translates to “Happily Married” in Portuguese. It is thought that if guests make a wish before enjoying the cookie, they too will be blessed with the same happiness the couple enjoys. The sweets table also included some Middle Eastern treats to honor Sham’s culture. Since they had quite a few little ones present, the couple decided to have a special children’s area with activities including a coloring book Rachel’s friend, Livia, designed with inspiration from the couple’s cats, house plants and several teddy bears given to Rachel by Sham over the years!

The couple wanted to make their first dance to Elton John’s “Your Song” extra memorable, so they learned special choreography to perform for their guests. Rachel also incorporated the Brazilian tradition of offering Havaianas (a brand of flip flops there) to all the ladies so they could change into them and dance the night away. Another added detail was the Mehndi artist creating beautiful henna for guests. Outside, a special Middle Eastern-inspired area offered comfortable seating to enjoy canapes and cardamom tea. As the night passed, a band and trio of Samba dancers brought a taste of Carnaval to the joyous reception.

Looking back on a day the couple spent so much time, money, and literal sweat and tears on, Shamal and Rachel feel it was more than worth it. “The most important thing for us was to see some of our friends and family finally celebrating our special day with us.”

Vendors: Photography: Aguiam Wedding Photography; Planner: Novva Weddings; Venue: Casa dos Penedos; Florals & Decor: Decorelle LDA; Hair & Makeup: Vera Garcia; Videography: Petricor Studio; Sweet Tables: Lima Limão; Furniture Rentals: Ambie; Balloon Decor: Oficina de Festas; Violinist: Malú Garcia; Band and DJ: Colours Beat; Childcare: Baby Sisters; Musical and Audio-visual Production: Your Jukebox; Catering: Penha Longa; Dancers: Tropicana Queens; Mehndi Artist: Shradhdha Karia; Wedding Gown: Carolina Herrera; Veil and Crown: Rosa Clara; Bridal Shoes: Jimmy Choo; Groom Suit: Hugo Boss; Groom’s Shoes: Gucci; Bridesmaids Dresses: Reformation; Bridesmaids Shoes: Arezzo; Wedding Submission Services: Published + Pretty

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