Noeme Santos likes to imagine the faces of her wedding guests as they motored along on the two-hour car ride between the airport in Natal, in northeast Brazil, and Pipa Beach, where she and Luis Vizoso Noval got married. “It’s a lost hippie town,” she explains. “Getting there is not an easy task.” In fact, many of the 110 guests had come from Spain, with a flight from Madrid (the couple’s home city) to Lisbon, a five-hour layover, seven more hours in the air to Natal, then—finally!—that drive. “More than one of them certainly regretted signing up for my wedding,” Noeme jokes. “My in-laws kept wondering where their poor son had gone to marry.”
Where he’d gone, of course, was Noeme’s native Brazil. Luis, a telecom manager, and the guests were not the only Iberian elements brought in for the five-day festival: “We wanted to make a wedding mixing Spanish and Brazilian cultures,” says Noeme, a lawyer turned cosmetics entrepreneur. Liquor, for instance, was brought in from Spain (the couple had given each guest two bottles of wine, rum, and gin to transport), as was the cheese, ham, and Estrella Galicia beer (a gift from a brewery owner friend).
The ceremony and reception were held within steps of each other at Ponta do Pirambu in Pipa Beach. “The true decoration was the environment,” Noeme says.
The one exception to the local decor? Her floral crown made by her friend María Salazar in Spain and transported “in its own VIP box.”
The bride's Oh Que Luna! dress was “beautiful, perfect...as my husband says, the hanger also helps,” she says, laughing.
"In Spain, it's not typical to have bridesmaids," Noeme explains. "And in Brazil, too, so I didn't have bridesmaids." That said, she did pose for a group pic with some of her best friends.
The groom wore a light suit that was perfect for the casual beach setting. He accented it with a simple boutonniere and printed silk pocket square.
Since the event's all took place at one place, the couple put up signs to direct everyone in the proper direction for each part of the day.
The groom’s father walked the bride down the aisle. "He is the father that life has given me—I could not be happier," Noeme says.
The couple's nephews acted as ring bearers and carried bottles of sand that the couple incorporated into their beach ceremony.
The ceremony was filled with a mixture of emotions—including many happy tears from the groom.
Luis’s older sister, Bea, officiated the ceremony. "Since we were married civilly in Spain, we wanted someone who knew us to officiate this one," the bride explains.
After trying—and failing—to write her vows for months, Noeme awoke from a nap on the plane headed to Brazil “and the whole speech came to my head,” she says.
Following the ceremony, the couple slipped away to a secluded beach to take portraits at golden hour.
Following the Friday-afternoon beach ceremony, everyone just had to walk a few steps to the cocktail area lawn, where buckets of beer (brought in from Spain!) were set up alongside local juices.
The day's events flowed seamlessly as the couple was able to mix and mingle with their guests before and after the ceremony.
At cocktail hour, guests enjoyed those Spanish treats, as well as caipirinhas, and then moved on to the traditional Brazilian rodízio meatfest. “Our friends are very carnivorous!” the bride says.
Tables were kept simple using low arrangements of colorful flowers and the restaurant's plates and glassware. "Pipa is a paradise of nature so no style of decoration could overcome the views we had," says the bride.
Throughout dinner, they had a mix of live Brazilian and European music.
After dinner, the couple took to the dance floor for Alicia Keys’s “If I Ain’t Got You.” “We had not rehearsed anything, so we were doing the same movement the whole time,” Noeme says. Thankfully, she says they were “saved” by a samba band, which the couple had hired to surprise their guests.
From there, four of Luis’s friends took turns deejaying as everyone danced until 3:30 a.m. This Friday-night rager was by design, Noeme says. Their guests’ return trips on Sunday would be very long, “so it was better to spend a hangover on the beach than in a plane!”