Alexandra and Steven Howard’s love story begins in Vilamoura, Portugal. Alexandra was living in Lisbon when she travelled south to see her vacationing mother. UK-based Steven was visiting the same hotel during a golf trip when he saw her.
“I was lying by the pool when I saw this man swimming up and down past my mum and I,” Alexandra says. “Later, I found out he was doing that on purpose so I would notice him!” The two exchanged numbers before parting ways, and a few months later, Alexandra moved to the UK to be with Steven.
Fast-forward five years. After Steven and Alexandra got engaged, they knew one of the first steps in wedding planning – deciding on a location – would be easy.
“I lived in Lisbon for many years and always knew that I wanted to marry in or around Lisbon,” Alexandra says. The couple returned to Lisbon several times over the years to visit, and Steven grew to love it just as much as Alexandra. “It’s a city full of diversity; the old is mixed with the new so perfectly,” she says.
The couple toured various venues in the area before visiting Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon. “Once seeing Four Seasons, there was no doubt in our minds that this was the venue for us,” Alexandra says. “The attention to detail shown by every single member of the staff at our first meeting was an immediate attraction for us.”
The Scene: The Pedro Leitão Ballroom at Four Seasons Lisbon, is, as Alexandra describes, “every little girl’s dream.” The ballroom is adorned with elaborate crystal chandeliers and tapestries designed by contemporary Portuguese artist Leitão himself. With this setting for their reception, the couple decided to hold their ceremony on the outdoor terrace, which by contrast, boasts a modern, crisp-lined setting.
“As soon as I saw the traditional ballroom and the modern outside terrace, I knew I needed a theme that would be fitting of both spaces and run seamlessly throughout,” Alexandra says. She chose classic white and cream flower arrangements from Cores Da Terra Eventos, and gold foil-printed table numbers to match her invitations, both from Minted.
Tailored to Fit: “Having a wedding abroad meant we weren’t having huge numbers – we had just 43 guests in the end – yet we wanted the large ballroom,” Alexandra explains.
Together with her Four Seasons Wedding Planner, Rita, and her florist, the visionary bride ensured that the vast space became intimate. Signage from KarameleShop on Etsy, plus branch-like floral displays added separation and dimension to the room.
The Food: The couple wanted a menu filled with fresh ingredients and Portuguese-inspired flavours. They also wanted to give their guests choices, so Four Seasons Lisbon’s Executive Chef Pascal Meynard helped Alexandra and Steven create a sublime menu full of variety.
Cocktail canapés consisted of crab on lemon puff crisps; foie gras with cocoa; mini cones filled with guacamole and tuna tartar; mushroom and truffle dumplings; duck rolls; vegetable samosas; cod brandad with piquillo; and shrimp in a kadaiff pastry. Guests sipped on Caipirinhas, a traditional Brazilian cocktail that’s popular in Portugal.
For the starter, guests had a choice of shrimp risotto with black truffle and lemon or cremat of foie gras, spice bread crisps with orange and courgette mousse. The guests were then treated to a main course choice of steamed grouper on a bed of ravioli with summer vegetables, or marinated beef with ruby port, mille feuille of potato and vegetable confit.
The Dress: “My dress was the third dress I tried on,” Alexandra says. “I knew it was the one because my mum cried the instant I walk out in it!”
The dress, designed by Madeline Gardner, was a timeless silhouette that reminded Alexandra of Grace Kelly in the film To Catch a Thief. “It was the complete opposite of what I thought I would wear, but just perfection. Simple, elegant and classic, which is exactly how I wanted our wedding to be and what, to me, epitomizes the Four Seasons brand.”
Photography Hugo Macedo