It’s a Wanderful Life
By Jordan Staggs | Photography by Hugo Coelho
“The entire trip felt like a honeymoon, which was the idea.”
When planning their wedding, Lindsay Walsh and Baxter Wilson were searching for a first-time European vacation destination, a ceremony venue, and a honeymoon all rolled into one. The couple also wanted their nuptials to reflect their personal, artistic styles. “We knew we wanted to elope and wanted something unique, that felt like us,” says Baxter. “In our research, asking around, and talking with friends, Portugal—specifically Lisbon—continued to come up. Shortly after looking into it, we knew we found our spot. It just felt right.”
Rewind five years to the summer of 2014 when the pair met; Baxter had just come on staff full-time at his parents’ landmark store and art gallery, The Zoo Gallery, with locations in Grayton Beach and Miramar Beach, Florida. Lindsay, a California native who grew up in nearby Niceville, Florida, had always loved the shop’s eclectic offerings and became an intern that summer to get college credit for her retail merchandising and product development classes at Florida State University.
“She was my first intern and I was her supervisor,” Baxter recalls. “We fell for each other, she got the A, and by the end of the summer, we knew we had found something special.” Lindsay adds, “After a few months, I knew he was who I wanted to share my life with.”
Two years later, the couple planned a trip to San Diego. Little did Lindsay know, but Baxter had booked a romantic stay at a cozy Airbnb called Dome in the Desert, a two-bedroom private oasis just outside Joshua Tree National Park (check it out on Instagram @domeinthedesert). “It was our time visiting Joshua Tree, and we both fell in love with the landscape instantly,” says Baxter. “It felt like a different planet. We arrived at the dome and were blown away by how unique it was; the setting was stunning.” He popped the question shortly after they arrived. “She said yes, and we sat out back and watched the sun go down over the desert.”
The pair had a similar experience with Lisbon. Their elopement was part of a two-week trip around the rolling hills, vineyards, beaches, towns, and cities of Portugal. They started the journey at an AirBnB overlooking Lisbon’s harbor and historic Alfama neighborhood. “We wanted to see as much of Portugal in two weeks without trying to push too hard,” Baxter says. “We started and finished the trip in Lisbon, which was great because it ended up being our favorite. We loved the relaxed culture, historical architecture, and artistic detail, and we ate amazing food and met nice people from all around the world.”
“We started and finished the trip in Lisbon, which was great because it ended up being our favorite. We loved the relaxed culture, historical architecture, and artistic detail."
Half an hour west of the city lies Casas Caiadas, a rustic yet chic boutique vacation rental property with three small villas renovated from original water mills. Each is outfitted with minimalist decor in relaxing neutral tones, and the retreat includes an outdoor pool, a common space, and stunning 360-degree views of centuries-old olive trees, an ancient waterway, and megalithic standing stones called menhirs. This was the site of Lindsay and Baxter’s wanderlust-inducing destination wedding.
Lindsay had researched wedding planners in Lisbon and found MUZA Weddings Concept, who directed the pair to Casas Caiadas – Water Mills of the Alentejo. “We loved the idea of having a rural countryside ceremony,” says Lindsay. MUZA’s owners and principal planners, Bruna and Rita, worked with the couple from afar to make sure everything went smoothly for their beautiful hillside elopement ceremony.
The wedding day, September 1, 2019, saw perfect weather. A color palette of soft, creamy pastels blended with the earthy tones of the natural landscape. A sweet and peaceful late-afternoon ceremony was followed by a photo shoot among the olive trees and the whitewashed homes of Casas Caiadas, with photographer Hugo Coelho capturing the simplistic beauty of the day and the couple as they celebrated their union.
“The day after the wedding, we drove south to Lagos, in the Algarve region on the southern coast of Portugal,” Baxter says. “We stayed at the beautiful Casa Mãe. The rocky coastline was as beautiful as we hoped it would be. We loved exploring the caves, private beaches, and dramatic rock formations that lined the area. Then we took the west coast back up to Lisbon to finish up the trip, driving through little surf town after little surf town. We stopped in Porto Covo for a quick paddle out and some killer grilled octopus—our favorite meal of the trip—it’s a classic Portuguese dish.”
The wedding day, September 1, 2019, saw perfect weather. A color palette of soft, creamy pastels blended with the earthy tones of the natural landscape.
Back in Lisbon, the newly minted husband and wife spent three more days exploring the city while staying at the Santa Clara 1728, a beautifully renovated building in the city’s old cultural quarter that offers six guest suites and some of the best views in town. “The Santa Clara 1728 was aesthetically the most well-curated place I had ever seen,” says Lindsay. “No detail was spared.” Baxter agrees, saying, “We were completely blown away. On the final night, we had a family-style thirteen-course gourmet dinner prepared by Santa Clara’s in-house chef, and it was out of this world.”
In addition to their marriage, Lindsay and Baxter took home a couple of other precious souvenirs that will ensure they remember their trip forever. They got tattoos from artists Daniel Almeida and Juliana Lue at a shop called Alla Prima Lisboa (find them on Instagram at @allaprimalisboa). “Our experience at Alla Prima was wonderful,” says Baxter. “We could not have been treated any better, and the artwork was excellent.”
“It was a trip I don’t think we will ever be able to top, and I’m okay with that,” says Lindsay.
Although Lindsay and Baxter shared their special day only with each other, their family and friends saw them off to Portugal with a “rehearsal dinner” at Camille’s at Crystal Beach in Destin, Florida. They were undoubtedly there in spirit as the couple declared their love among the hills and ancient waterways of Alentejo.
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Wedding planning and flowers: MUZA Weddings Concept (@muzaweddings)
Photographer: Hugo Coelho (@hugocoelhofotografia)
Ceremony location: Casas Caiadas – Water Mills of the Alentejo (@casascaiadas)