This Pre-COVID Destination Wedding Has Us Dreaming of Traveling Again

Shira Savada
·13-min read
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo

From Harper's BAZAAR

Weddings that took place before the pandemic—and provided endless sources of fashion, design, and entertaining inspiration—now have us dreaming of the day we can pack our bags, gather, host, and party en masse again. It's events like these that replay in our minds as we think of good times past, and all the fun, beauty, and joy that's in store for the future. At BAZAAR Bride, we're looking back to look forward; here, one of the destination weddings we've had in our archives that has us inspired and hopeful for a safe, post-pandemic world of weddings—in due time.

As soon as David Izbicki got the single-stone, Ashoka-cut diamond engagement ring, it was burning a hole in his pocket. He had planned on waiting a couple of months until the weather was warm and proposing to Elizabeth Bakhash at one of her favorite places on the beach, surrounded by their loved ones. But ultimately, he decided that wherever and however he proposed, it would be special in and of itself. So one Saturday morning, in bed, at their home in New York City's TriBeCa, he excitedly woke up, waited for Elizabeth to do the same, and asked her to marry him. The betrothed pair celebrated with a brunch David had organized with both sets of parents, and later on, a party at a local bar with more family and friends.

Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo

While David couldn’t wait to get married to Lizzy, their relationship started with a bit less confidence from the bride-to-be. Both had attended Emory University, but the two years between them meant their paths didn’t truly cross. It was in Manhattan when they finally met—at a party in the East Village.

“David and I went on a few dates, but it didn’t quite take,” Lizzy tells BAZAAR Bride. “I suppose I wasn’t quite ready for all that was to come.”

Over the next year, their mutual friends helped things along, casually mentioning that David always said she was the “the one that got away.” “I pretty much knew that I found my match in Elizabeth from day one,” he says. “Her energy is magnetic, her smile is electric, and (she will be the first to agree) she is the life of the party. It’s difficult not to be drawn to her. If we were at the same party, at some point in the night, I would make sure I was strategically positioned [near her] so that I could get a conversation going.”


Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo

One year from that first gathering downtown, David was hosting a party of his own; he knew he had to invite Lizzy and was thrilled when she showed up. David took her attendance as an opening, and didn’t let the opportunity get away from him—they connected again and decided to give it a real shot.

For their first date, in round two of dating, David took Lizzy out to dinner; within a few weeks, it was clear the relationship would stick. She asked him to move in with her after six months of dating, which he did as soon as his lease was up. Within two years of rekindling their relationship, they were planning a wedding.

Elizabeth, an experience designer at Lippincott (a brand and innovation consultancy), was ready to bring her creative energy to the planning process. Always knowing they wanted a destination wedding, determining where to wed was their first task. Elizabeth had a long list of potential locations, but in the end, Portugal was an easy selection—though neither she nor David had ever been.

Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo

“We decided we wanted somewhere with direct flights from both Boston and New York City (where most of our family and friends would be coming from), and somewhere that most people had not traveled, but wanted to travel to. We wanted a European destination that was not pretentious, not overdone, and affordable for guests; and a small enough city where people traveling for the weekend could get a good feel for the culture. The beautiful cities and country, great food, better wine, and insanely welcoming and lovely people were bonuses,” says the bride.

Lizzy and David (who has spent his career helping organizations digitally transform through technology) started hunting for venues on their own and came across the Six Senses in the Douro Valley. They called to inquire, and the hotel contact suggested a planner and designer based in the United States, who had planned her own wedding there a year prior.

“Being introduced to Jeannette Tavares of Evoke Design & Creative was one of the greatest gifts the world has given us,” Lizzy explains. “We had a call with Jeannette and almost immediately fell in love with her; we decided we needed to take a trip to Portugal to confirm that was where we would have our wedding.”

Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo

The couple took a long weekend to explore Lisbon and its surrounding areas, ultimately locking in three other venues Jeannette (whose family is from an area just north of the city, but whose company is based in Washington D.C.) recommended for the multi-day celebration. The couple hatched a plan for guests to stay in the heart of the city over the course of their time in Portugal, traveling to venues on the city's outskirts for the evening and daytime events. Once they visited, it was a done deal. From there, Elizabeth viewed the destination wedding not solely as a wedding, but as “a holistic, three-day guest experience, that reflected her, David, and the magic of Lisbon.”

“Evoke knew exactly what I wanted,” says the bride. “They were able to take that somewhat baked vision, build a tremendous mountain on top of it, and make it a stunning reality well beyond our expectations." On her planning process, Lizzy raves; "We were totally on the same wavelength for everything, more and more with everything we tackled, that by the end I hardly needed to provide thoughts on anything. It was like Jeannette went into my brain and extracted [information] from my own wedding dreams.”

Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo

Two trips to Lisbon allowed Elizabeth and David to decide which hotels to suggest to their guests (Le Consulat, Memmo Alfama, Santiago de Alfama, Memmo Príncipe Real, to name a few) as the bride was adamant about not housing guests in one central, larger hotel, allowing them to experience the boutique design hotels the city has to offer instead.

To give everyone an experience that had rhythm and felt different from night to night—but that all tied together in a greater sense—each of the three formally planned events intentionally had its own personality.

The first night officially welcomed guests to Portugal, celebrating with as much local flare as possible. “The idea was to create a sense of arrival to the city, and the weekend,” explains the bride. Woven into the fabric of the city, Pharmacia is a bar/restaurant behind Lisbon’s Pharmacy Museum situated on a hill providing stunning river views. For her wardrobe, Elizabeth channeled one of the country’s most notable elements—azulejo tiles—by wearing a Dolce & Gabbana two-piece ensemble and earrings, while David wore a bold tie and suit by Michele Negri to complement Lizzy's choice of color palette.

Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo

Cocktail hour kicked things off, followed by Shabbat prayers and a buffet-style dinner. Before guests enjoyed the meal, the father-of-the-groom addressed the crowd. “During my dad’s speech was the first time I really had a chance to stop, take a breath, look around the beautiful outdoor area, and really see all of our friends and family gathered together to celebrate Elizabeth and I,” notes David. “This was a pretty powerful moment for me, and I really started to take in the incredible thing that we were celebrating, and the fact that we had everyone we loved halfway across the world coming together to support [us]. It was amazing and made me feel so happy and blessed. The whole night was fantastic, but I think this small moment of reflection might have been the highlight for me.”

A local DJ found on a night out during a planning trip supplied the beats, and many friends kept the fun going by hitting the local bars afterward.

The next day—it was off to the beach, to Areias de Sexio, a hotel in Santa Cruz, about a 40-minute drive from Lisbon. “The venue is architecturally stunning. It’s ultra-modern, yet seamlessly blends with the natural beauty of the [landscape],” Lizzy says. Guests explored the grounds with cocktails in-hand and then convened in the greenhouse and at picnic nooks around the property for a dinner that featured dishes like Portuguese torricados, strawberry-and-mint gazpacho, and octopus salad—followed by a bevy of local desserts.

Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo

After that, everyone headed towards the water, where a fire circle was set, a bongo player and traditional musicians played, and a henna party to honor Elizabeth’s Middle Eastern heritage awaited. The henna party was the jumping-off point for the look and feel of the event, with super-saturated colors at the forefront, including the bride-to-be’s red Maria Lucia Hohan dress and Marni earrings. “I think people probably remember this dress the most. I am always asked about it. I looked a bit like the 💃🏼 emoji,” Elizabeth says. As for the menswear, David complemented her look in another Michele Negri outfit.

The long day stretched into night, and the group moved inside for a dance party led by DJ Sam Young (who also played at the wedding) before heading back to their hotels in town.

Morning came, and with it the main event. The vibrant colors first introduced on the invitation suite designed by Steph B. and Co. had guests knowing they were in for a feast for the eyes, as well as a good time.

Quinta da Bellavista, a property owned and lived in by a Portuguese antique dealer and his family, situated across the Tagus river with extensive city views, was where the couple's vision for a secret garden of wildflowers came to life. Floral designer BrancoPrata transformed the front lawn (which includes a grass-covered helipad) with a wildflower-flanked aisle, utilizing dozens of plants from Jardim Primavera.

Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo

Lizzy made her debut to the sounds of Portuguese guitarists, in a Christos Costarellos gown. Knowing from the start she wasn’t going to love a traditional bridal salon experience, she made an appointment at the Moda Operandi townhouse in New York City and fell in love with the first dress she tried on; it was light and airy, felt great on her body, and also had a “wow” factor.

She accessorized for the black-tie affair with lawn-friendly block heel sandals by Gianvito Rossi, purple tourmaline and blue topaz earrings designed by her mother, and a long tulle veil (with floral appliques from the hem of the dress sewn on) that was made by Nanette Lepore, a long-time tenant of the bride’s father, who gifted the bride with the custom piece. Wanting to look and feel like herself, she had João Pereira give her a soft, low ponytail; Helena Almeida created a super glowy and ethereal makeup look.

She met David (clad in a Kiton dark navy blue tuxedo) at the chuppah, which was topped with florals and kept open on all sides to maximize the views during the ceremony. “Sofia from BrancoPrata brought my dreams to life—100 fold," says the bride. "Honestly, I knew we were very much on the same page the entire time, but when I saw that aisle I just died and went to heaven.”

Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo

The bridesmaids—all wearing bright dresses of their own choice in an array of colors to celebrate each woman’s uniqueness—sat in the front row, while David’s mother (in J. Mendel) and Elizabeth’s mother (in Escada) wore similar red gowns under the chuppah, adding to the colorful scene.

After becoming husband and wife, the newlyweds, who had taken pre-ceremony photos among the olive trees, took a few minutes to themselves, then linking up with BAZAAR Bride top wedding photographer Sarah Falugo for portraits, whom Elizabeth loved for her documentary-style approach, talent, and warmth throughout the planning process and on the wedding weekend.

During couple's portraits, guests headed to cocktail hour where Silva Carvalho Catering served up canapes, cheeses and jams, paella, a traditional mushroom and bean stew, and lots of tequila brought in from Spain.

Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo

The clear-span reception tent was built on the edge of the hill, offering additional views of the vast scenery. Inside, it was a blank slate to create within. The bright colors continued, in an eclectic yet refined manner. The floral design was inspired by nature and asymmetry, with texture at the forefront. Knowing they had an anti-centerpiece bride to collaborate with, Evoke Event Design and BrancoPrata designed the space with color-blocked flowers in mostly terracotta vessels sourced locally; they added texture with hanging Portuguese basket light fixtures, furniture from Parque de Penha, and modern black-and-white dinner plates they purchased from a nearby pottery shop (which David and Lizzy now use every night for dinner at their home).

A teal Portuguese tile they’d selected as inspiration when designing their stationery continued through to the custom cookies included in their welcome bag, their wedding cake from T Bakes, and enrobed the front of a massive bar along the back of the dancefloor. Knowing their guests would be hanging at the bar, but wanting to keep them close for the DJ’s set accompanied by bongo and sax players, the custom bar kept the party going in style. The couple and many guests stayed until 5 a.m.—though Elizabeth remembers wanting to go on for another hour or so.

Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo

After the big weekend, and once their guests had headed back home to the States, the couple kicked off their minimoon by road-tripping (their favorite way to travel) around Portugal. First up, was Comporta, a beach town just south of Lisbon. They checked into a villa at Sublime Comporta, and immediately absorbed the laid back sensibility of their surroundings. Taking the time to relax, they explored the town, booked some spa time, and enjoyed a meal at Sal, right on the water.

Then, the two were on to Porto for some city exploring. Finally, they returned to Six Senses in the Douro Valley, where their journey began. “Six Senses is just breathtaking. While it didn’t end up being the right venue for the wedding itself, we are so happy we visited after the wedding,” says the groom.

Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo
Photo credit: Sarah Falugo

Nine months later, they headed to Japan for a full honeymoon, with stops in Tokyo, Hakone, Kanazawa, Kyoto, and Taketomi Island in Okinawa. They tried to hit at least one whiskey bar before dinner each night, noting Radio Bar, Little Smith, and Jazz Spot Yamatoya as a few favorites. They took a day trip to Shirakawa-go (a UNESCO world heritage site), and visited Naoshima island. Their ryokan in Hakone, Gora Kadan, was an absolute highlight with its fusion of modern luxury and traditional Japanese culture (not to mention the open-air hot springs). Their stay at Hoshinoya Taketomi was equally as memorable. Throughout it all, the newlyweds ate many standout meals across the country, at places like Miyoshi (a wagyu-beef focused menu in Kyoto), Shoraian (another Kyoto spot that spotlights tofu), Hitomi (for yakitori in Kyoto), and sushi in the Tokyo fish market.

Less than a year later, they were planning another trip to Lisbon to stay at Arieas de Sexio—this time for a babymoon. But instead, as staying home became the norm, they welcomed their son, Miles, whom they look forward to bringing to Portugal as soon as they can.

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