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In the north of Spain, wedged in a narrow Pyrenean valley and bordering France, you can find the Val d’Aran. An area that allies both history and nature in its most beautiful state, the Val d’Aran is very dear to my heart: part of my family originates from there and we still have relations living in the same village, even the same house dating back to the 17th century.

La Fête Travel Diaries: Val d’Aran

A narrow valley, it is famed for its ski slopes and hiking trails, dotted with chalets and flagstone houses, charming first-time tourists and recurring visitors alike. The last time I was there was May this year. My family and I travelled to Toulouse before driving the few hours necessary to the small village of Escunhau. Once there, we paid a visit to the small Romanesque church, Sant Pèir d’Escunhau, which is situated at one of the highest points of the village, facing the mountains and showcases traditional Romanesque sculptures and arches. Following that, we met up with our family and proceeded to drive to a mountain chalet for lunch, along a popular hiking spot: the valley of Era Artiga de Lin. Val d’Aran is a dream come true for outdoor sports fans, providing activities for everyone in all seasons: hiking, rafting, skiing, etc. And when the time has come to fuel up for more activities, Aranese cuisine is exactly what’s needed.

La Fête Travel Diaries: Val d’Aran

La Fête Travel Diaries: Val d’Aran

Whenever we visit, we always go for the same things: pan con tomate, the traditional Catalan bread rubbed with garlic, tomato, olive oil and a pinch of salt; fuet, a thin, cured pork sausage; as well as local lamb chops and blood sausage accompanied by potatoes. Hearty would be the best way to describe Aranese food. What I love about this area is the pride that people feel in their culture, which is firmly Spanish, but with plenty of French influences, as well as a strong historical anchor, particularly Medieval. Take their language, Aranese, which is still widely spoken and taught at school: it is derived from Occitan and an official language in Catalonia, as opposed to simply a dialect.

La Fête Travel Diaries: Val d’Aran

Our family there all speak it and switch very easily between Spanish, Catalan and Aranese. I can understand it quite well as there are a lot of similarities with French, but it’s equally as easy to get lost! After lunch all together, they took us to Uells deth Joèu, an impressive waterfall, with mountain water cascading over mossy boulders and into the river below. The scenery there is so removed from everyday city life and so peaceful, made even more beautiful by the fact that it is wild nature, complete with bears living in the forests, as opposed to neatly manicured man-made landscapes.

La Fête Travel Diaries: Val d’Aran

La Fête Travel Diaries: Val d’Aran

And despite what seems to be quite a remote location at first glance, it is actually within reasonable driving distance to more historic locations, including prehistoric caves in Ariège, holy sights in Lourdes and historic towns such as Carcassonne, making the Val d’Aran is a doorway to both Spanish and French history.

La Fête Travel Diaries: Val d’Aran

La Fête Travel Diaries: Val d’Aran

You can read about the rest of our travelling adventures on the La Fête blog.

It wouldn’t be a British summer without Pimm’s, barbecues, smatterings of rain and beach trips to the coast. But it certainly wouldn’t be summer without garden parties popping up all over the country, with the most notable hosted by the Royal family. Buckingham Palace is the backdrop to multiple garden parties each year, celebrating achievements of public service workers and people who have positively impacted their communities. Following custom, tea, sandwiches and cake are served, but in astronomical proportions: 27,000 cups of tea gives you an idea of how much us Brits consume, even in hot weather! As much as you may aspire or wish to host a Royal-inspired garden party, it is quite a formal affair and you can easily obtain a similar result, minus the Queen but adding more relaxed fun.

English Summer Garden Party Inspiration

A tradition that is ingrained in the very fibre of our country, garden parties merge tame chic-ness with old-school games, made even more entertaining with the addition of socially acceptable daytime drinking. You can’t go wrong with an iced jug of Pimm’s, but wine, especially a light rosé can set the tone and prove a popular choice.

English Summer Garden Party Inspiration

But first and foremost, the venue is key to a successful garden party. As the name indicates, a garden is usually the blank canvas needed. However, if you’re dying to host a garden party or if the weather ruins your plans, you can always relocate inside a barn or spacious room, allowing you to decorate adequately and play games.

English Summer Garden Party Inspiration

Decoration is usually floral themed and pastel, in which you can include porcelain cake stands, birdcages, bunting, lace table cloths and striped deckchairs. However, the beauty of the garden party is that you can theme it however you like: make it quirkier with an Alice in Wonderland theme; go fifties for a vintage party; fairytale and legends could work if you’re hosting children (or adults!); minimalist and stripped back with muted colours and chic floral arrangements, or even pet friendly with doggie treats and games!

English Summer Garden Party Inspiration

A good garden party in my opinion transports you to a bubble of fun and letting go of every day life. That’s why I’m partial to games that bring out everyone’s inner child. Croquet would be the first to come to mind, but incorporating a fun fair section, with a coconut shy; hoops and darts will delight your guests. A game that could be particularly successful is one I encountered at a fun fair in Surrey last year. Essentially, it consists of throwing palm-sized balls at shelves of plates, glassware and miscellaneous breakable items a few metres away. It may sound quite basic, but I can guarantee that it was the game that I preferred that day, trying to score points smashing the most things I could!

English Summer Garden Party Inspiration

In summary, my advice for hosting a memorable garden party is: have a theme and carry it through to everything, including food; have fun, easy games; enjoy the fanfare of dressing up and hosting a great group of people, but most of all, enjoy letting go and relaxing with a glass of rosé in one hand and a cucumber sandwich in the other. After all, what could top that?

English Summer Garden Party Inspiration

Image credits:

www.amywass.co.uk
www.whimsicalwonderlandweddings.com
www.vanmeuwen.com
www.weddingsparrow.com
www.fortheloveofvintage.co.uk
www.bridesmagazine.com
www.buzzfeed.com
www.housetohome.co.uk
www.youandyourwedding.com
www.samgibsonweddings.co.uk
www.eventbrite.co.uk
 For more wedding inspiration and event planning ideas, check out the La Fête blog here or take a peek at our Pinterest page.

All over the globe, engagement and wedding traditions can vary massively. A custom that I would like to share with you is the Spanish pedida de mano, or ‘asking of the hand’.

Our Engagement Story: Pedida De Mano

When my fiancé Antonio proposed to me last September, it was a magical moment in Real Alcazar, a palatial garden in the heart of his hometown of Seville. I was lucky enough to say yes to my soulmate surrounded by orange trees, Bougainvillea and antique Azulejos tiles. However, this was just the beginning of our engagement.

Our Engagement Story: Pedida De Mano

In Latin culture, the pedida de mano is a near-essential step of any couple’s trip down the aisle. Traditionally, the small ceremony brought together the core family members of each partner, with an emphasis on the groom and bride’s father. The former would ask for the bride-to-be’s hand in marriage, with the father of the bride assuring himself that his daughter would be properly cared for and either deciding to give her away or not.

Our Engagement Story: Pedida De Mano

Luckily though, the tradition has evolved and is today more symbolic than anything else, less intimidating for the future groom and reliant on the bride-to-be’s wishes rather than her father’s. It is often an occasion for both families to meet for the first time and get to know each other before the wedding, as well as for the traditional exchange of gifts: a watch for him and the engagement ring for her. Now if you’re thinking that Antonio therefore had to propose to me without a ring, that would be incorrect. He proposed to me with a diamond-studded eternity band, which is both my engagement ring and not my engagement ring. Allow me to explain.

Our Engagement Story: Pedida De Mano

The custom dictates that as a material welcome into each family, the fiancée receives a more lavish ring from her future family in law (the formal engagement ring to be worn with the eternity band). As for the fiancé, he receives a watch of equivalent value to the formal engagement ring from the bride’s parents, which traditionally is worn on the wedding day.

Our Engagement Story: Pedida De Mano

We had the official pedida dinner this May in Seville (usually the bride’s parents host it, but as the tradition is Spanish, it felt more fitting to plan it in Antonio’s hometown). The setting was a private room in a restaurant, housed in a historic building of the city centre: very fitting as my fiancé is an architect. There were moving speeches, the exchange of gifts and general getting to know each other better, with interjections from a marching band in the street below, as well as a religious throne procession, which we could watch from the balcony of our private room. We finished the evening on the roof terrace with drinks, making the most of the balmy weather before returning to the hotel.

Our Engagement Story: Pedida De Mano

The pedida can sometimes be dismissed as an old-timey Latin tradition that doesn’t have any bearing on the couple’s future together, but its evolution into a more family-oriented event focused on sharing memories has modernised and reaffirmed it as a stepping stone to wedded bliss.

Natural Artiste Wedding Inspiration

Have you ever looked intently at the seeds of a pomegranate? Their almost sheer burgundy lustre surrounded by plump flesh. What about the deep blue of the sea or the ragged edges of the rocks? Or even the coarse hairs of a paintbrush? Natural Artiste is a celebration of these details and more, tying together Mother Nature’s creations and man’s creations: both equally artistic and both guaranteed to make a statement on your wedding day.

Natural Artiste Wedding Inspiration

Natural Artiste Wedding Inspiration

Recently, bridal trends have embraced the concept of incorporating nature more than ever, from ubiquitous floral crowns, to Pantone’s ‘Greenery’ Colour of the Year 2017. But what to do if a garden or traditional estate wedding simply won’t cut it for you? Natural Artiste blends both the elegant high fashion aesthetic of a magazine spread and the earthy, relaxed feel of the Ibiza coast.

Monochromatic Fornasetti-inspired plates contrast with the multi-coloured cut crystal glassware, yet somehow blend seamlessly thanks to the traditionally beautiful antique lace tablecloth, with lacework reflected in the bride’s gowns. The centrepiece is reminiscent of a deconstructed Arcimboldo portrait, with the essence of the décor reading as a portable museum, combining both modern features with a 19th century ‘nature morte’ aesthetic. The cake is naked: honest and simple, as well as being spot on with bridal trends.

Natural Artiste Wedding Inspiration

Natural Artiste Wedding Inspiration

Simple or rather, natural, was the key word when I put together this styled shoot in October 2016. I wanted to show that couples can achieve a nature-rich wedding day without scrimping on details and luxurious touches.

Natural Artiste Wedding Inspiration

Natural Artiste Wedding Inspiration

The advantage of this kind of wedding is that it can work for a couple who has chosen to elope or for a wedding with guests, with a need in that case to slightly adapt location and facilities in order to accommodate them suitably. Flexibility with this theme is paramount, and there is no question that it can be duplicated anywhere, from Ibiza to England: it’s all a question of setting the scene and creating a wedding space removed from the world in some sense.

Natural Artiste Wedding Inspiration

Natural Artiste Wedding Inspiration

What I love more than anything for styled shoots is taking two concepts and merging them, creating a unique fusion. I believe that as an approach for events, it can often be the most effective way forward: completely bespoke, completely creative and completely memorable.

I had so much fun working on this styled shoot, from sourcing suppliers to setting everything up. It was a challenging day at times, especially with the rocky ground (!), but that made it all the more beautiful and worthwhile. I hope that you enjoy this Natural Artiste post and photos and that they might provide you with some wedding inspiration. I’d like to end this post with a quote by Honoré de Balzac, that sums up exactly what I was trying to show, “What is art? Nature concentrated.”

Discover more from the La Fête blog here.

Supplier Credits:

Planner & Stylist: La Fête Weddings & Events
Photographer: The Galaxy’s Edge
Videographer: AMS Love in Video
Stationery: Alma Guëll
Model: Anita Moreno at Dress To Impress Ibiza
Make-up & Hair: Jessie May
Florist: Flors Mercat Vell Ibiza
Cake: Cup Cake Collection Ibiza
Decorations: Remedio sin Receta and Beautifully Lost Studio
Vintage White Lace Dress: La Galeria Elefante

Hello everyone, as usual we are starting this month off by travelling, and this time let me transport you to the Andalusian warmth, to be more precise: Seville. Seville is a gorgeous city that has such a rich history. From its world famous Giralda (the bell tower of the cathedral) to its Arabian style palaces it’s a must to visit! So here is my list of places to visit, have lunch and have a beer, as well as go shopping!

Travel Diaries: Seville

Ok, so it’s the most visited monument of the city as well as one of the largest and most impressive cathedrals in the world. The Giralda was built in the 15th century on the the site of a 12th century mosque. The most famous sights in the cathedral are the dazzling gilded altarpiece and the tomb of Christopher Columbus. More tombs can be found in the crypt under the altar, where Castilian kings and queens from the 13th and 14 century were buried. Make sure that you also visit the bell tower of the Cathedral, the Giralda. It is the most famous landmark in Seville. The tower was originally built at the end of the 12th century as the minaret of a large mosque built by the Moors.

Travel Diaries: Seville

Just next to the Cathedral is the Palacio del Real Alcazar, which is an absolute gem, this is a must-see!It is the Royal Palace of Seville, a magnificent complex of patios and halls in different architectural styles, from Mudéjar to Gothic. Over the years, various monarchs kept expanding the palace, resulting in a diverse complex with different architectural styles. The top floor of the palace is still actively used by the Royal Family.

Travel Diaries: Seville

The magnificent Casa de Pilatos, is one of the most intriguing buildings in Seville. It was built in the early 16th century in an amalgam of Renaissance, Gothic and Mudejar styles. Intriguingly, the royal palace of the Dukes of Medinaceli is commonly known as the House of Pilate. The name can be traced back to the first Marquis of Tarifa, who, on his trip to Jerusalem discovered that the distance from his house to a small temple at Cruz del Campo was the same as the distance between the former house of Pontius Pilate and the Golgotha (the biblical name of the place where Jesus was crucified). Back at home, the Marquis created a Way of the Cross with twelve stops along the path to the temple. Hence people started to identify the palace with the House of Pilate and over time it became referred to as such.

Travel Diaries: Seville

The Maria Luisa Park is the largest park in Seville and one of the most beautiful in Europe. The Plaza de España is one of the park’s most popular attractions and was the centerpiece of the expo. The architect was Anibal Gonzalez, from Seville, and it is a mixture of Art Deco and Mudejar. There is a moat that has four bridges across it. The palace has two large towers and there are sections with benches with beautiful tile work (azulejos) that represent each of the provinces of Spain. In the center of the plaza is a very large and beautiful fountain.

Travel Diaries: Seville

When it comes to food, everywhere is delicious, but make sure to stop off at the Rinconcillo, Founded in 1670, needless to say that this is a MUST to visit and eat! Take in the decor, the smells, the sounds and the history (Cervantes used to eat here)!

Travel Diaries: Seville

Shopping is the best in the Tetaun and Sierpes streets with international and local brands. Basically, make sure that when you go to Seville you explore every corner, every street and every church, as each one hides wonders.

This month, the theme for my mood-board blog was particularly easy as I have just spent four days at the Feria de Sevilla. As you know from my blog a couple of weeks ago, I go there quite often because it’s where Antonio, aka Fiancé, is from. The thing is that I was even going to the feria religiously every year even before I knew Antonio. So I am, what they call a true ‘feriante’ (someone who counts down every year to the feria, a bit like Christmas!).

Wedding Inspiration: Feria de Sevilla Mood-board

The feria is an explosion of colours, sounds and smells. It runs for a full week in April, sometimes May, and is a non-stop party. Obviously, this can be a great theme for just one evening too, you don’t need to keep it going for a week at home!

Wedding Inspiration: Feria de Sevilla Mood-board

The streets are covered in a yellow sort of sand, which is called albero that already sets the scene for the vibrant colours that are repeated on and inside the tent houses where people meet to eat, drink and dance. Sometimes when it’s too hot or too full, people will move out into the street and dance there, mixing with the horse drawn carriages painted with touches of red, green and gold. The sky is dotted by lines of ‘farolillos’ which are paper small lanterns that decorate the streets of the feria and light up at night.

Wedding Inspiration: Feria de Sevilla Mood-board

A very important part of the feria is the gitana dresses that women of all ages wear. The more colourful, the better! These are topped off with more or less ruffles, fringing, patterns, etc. The list is endless and every single one is unique.

Wedding Inspiration: Feria de Sevilla Mood-board

In order to though a good party reminiscent of the feria, you should not forget the jamon, the rebujito (which is a mix of manzanilla wine and seven up), the tapas, some good music and of course sevillanas songs. Mix all of this, add some flowers in the girls hair and you have yourself an amazing party!