With the 2016 Rio Olympics in full-swing, the energy in Brazil is unstoppable! Recently I had the honor of visiting Brazil and experiencing that magical energy, excitement and “Olympic buzz” for myself. In a few featured posts I will be sharing insider tips on my favorite luxury hotels for the Olympic Games, as well as a few must-try activities and restaurants. But first, let me share with you my personal guest experience at Brazil’s Wedding of the Year – no seriously, you will have never seen a wedding like this before. From the energy til the break of dawn, unique family traditions, fireworks, jaw-dropping bridal gowns, and over the top florals, this wedding took the GOLD. You can see for yourself in my personal photographs and favorite moments from the wedding below, along with a list of select vendors who made this event come to life.
Ili and Cristian married at the Old Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro with a fabulous reception at the Copacabana Palace Hotel. The two love birds have been together for years, and I had the privilege of meeting them both during my first year of law school. The Texas based power couple have ties to Brazil through Christian’s family, where his mother is originally from. Furthermore, Brazil is a place that has sentimental value to the couple, as it is the destination they have enjoyed countless trips together and even where the bride said “YES” during a romantic wedding proposal.
VOWS IN THE CATHEDRAL
Since the wedding was scheduled to start later in the evening, Erik and I enjoyed the day on the beaches of Copacabana. We watched a few competitive rounds of volleyball games between friends, ate a couple of churros, and then made our way back to the hotel where we primped for the big night.
We waited in the lobby where guests were escorted onto private buses that drove us to the other side of the city where the cathedral was located. When we entered the holy space, all you could hear were gasps of excitement, oos and ahs, along with endless snaps from the cameras – yes, ladies, the church was covered from the floor to ceiling in plump white roses. Never before have I seen such a heavenly floral arrangement inside a gold encrusted church. The sound of an orchestra playing from the balcony and shrills of opera singers resonated in the air as the bride made her way down the aisle. She was stunning.
Cocktail hour, oh what an hour! After wiping away my tears of emotion from the intimate ceremony and opera musical that ensued (the music at this wedding was breathtaking), I felt ready to party! The scene was set for just that – the perfect party. Cocktails were served in a grandiose white and gold room with chandeliers, plush linen sofas, candles hanging from the ceiling, and decadent white rose arrangements placed on every flat surface in sight. With a full bar and specialty cocktails designed by the couple, you would not want to be anywhere else. Mixing and mingling about, guests were encouraged to enjoy their cocktails on the patio terrace potion of the hotel where a gigantic surprise was waiting.
When I looked out over the ocean to the midnight sky, I said to myself, “wait, is that real?” pointing at the bright colors and sparks lighting up the sky. The couple had arranged a spectacle of glorious fireworks right over Copacabana Beach. I think every guest at the event, including myself, felt forever grateful for this experience – what a gift – to watch a fireworks show over one of the most famous beaches in the world…. I think the only other time Rio allows for such large-scale fireworks is on New Year’s Eve or perhaps the Olympic Games!
As you scroll down below at my personally snapped photographs, you will notice a three-tiered floral arrangement that was set-up in the center of the cocktail hour space. At first, I gasped and marveled at the detailed arrangements of so many flowers. And I gasped again (even louder), when I noticed several guests picking at the flower petals. Oh the horror! Don’t touch, I thought to myself.
Being the nosy lady that I am, I crept closer and noticed something a bit shocking that I have never seen offered at an event before: inside each flower opening lay a specialty treat, chocolate, truffle, or sweet carefully placed inside the petals. Beside the arrangement, small customized favor boxes were on display encouraging guests to take their favorite treats right from the flowers. Unbelievable. What a cool idea and way to beautifully display favors.
DINNER AND DANCING
Whisked away to the next room, the scene was set for a queen and king. Each table donned a tall glass assortment of white and light yellow roses, custom place settings to the backdrop of soft candle lighting throughout the space. Following a three course meal, the band roared party music and guests flooded the dance space. The newlyweds cut the cake, toasts were made and cheers were had.
Now, typically at the weddings I attend (which are mostly in America), the night starts to wind down at about midnight. When I checked on the time, it was midnight, and things were certainly not winding down. In fact, it almost felt like everyone in the room never wanted the party to end.
The couple then introduced an internationally famous DJ, the lights dimmed and the disco balls started spinning. As the clock struck midnight, the time when most weddings call it quits, this reception turned into one of the most entertaining late-night parties of all time. Read below for more.
THE PARTY NEVER STOPS IN RIO
I heard the parties were crazy in Rio. And they sure are. Loud music, fists pumping, that’s right ladies, the people of Brazil know how to have a good party. As I said earlier, I thought the wedding would end at around midnight. Boy, was I wrong. Of the many fun surprises throughout the night, my favorite was when the bride was surprised by her family with a traditional Bulgarian Folk Dance. Having grown up in Bulgaria, the bride’s family wanted to bring a fun tradition to share with guests of the wedding. The group of professional dancers put on a show and then encouraged guests to join in by starting a group circle.
If you needed to quench your thirst from all that dancing, the bars were still going strong and costumed females served shots from colorful gowns. Thankfully the bride left a basket of custom Havianas flip-flops (with the wedding monogram and a portrait of the hotel etched in gold) out for all the guests – Louboutins were not designed for six hours of nonstop dance partying.
Cheers to the most fun, glamorous and memorable wedding Rio has ever seen. I was so honored to celebrate this joyous occasion and wish the lovely couple nothing but health, happiness and a lifetime of love together. For more information on the incredible vendors that contributed to this event, please see below under Wedding Details.
- Wedding Ballgown – Oscar de la Renta
- Reception Wedding Dress – Naeem Khan (purchased from Joan Pillow Bridal)
- Invitations – Katie and Co.
- Bridesmaid Dresses – Bella Bridal
- Cake – Regina Rodrigues
- Orchestra at Ceremony – Delfim Morera
- Hair/Make-up – Alessandra Grochko
- After Party DJ Appearance – DJ Papagaio
- Wedding Decor and Design – Antonio Neves da Rocha
- Photo and Video – V Rebel Cinema
- Wedding Planner – Roberto Cohen Ceremonial