The Most Special Day back in July 2014

Usually I wouldn’t write about my private life but there was one event so special & beautiful that I just have to write about it. I am talking about my media naranja’s & my wedding last year, on the 18th of July 2014 to be precise. I don’t want to bore you with yet another wedding day story – I just want to share some short inputs & impressions with you regarding the preps for the big day & the celebration itself. I found reading such descriptions quite useful when it came to getting everything planned. In the end every couple is different and has a different approach to how their special day should be like, but it’s still nice to get some input from people that ‘survived it’ successfully. 😉

Before sending out invitations / save the date cards, (that we ordered via Minted.com which offers an amazing wide range of designs, that please all different tastes out there, plus ships to Europe, as well – another great fact about Minted is that you support individual designers with your choice!), we set up a wedding website including all necessary information for our guests (like the wedding day agenda, wedding dinner options, wish list, public transport options, city maps, accommodation / restaurant / cafe / club & bar recommendations, basically whatever kind of information you consider necessary for your guests) via Zankyou.com. This free of charge website offers a variety of helpful applications such as designing a seating plan or sending out update / notification emails to your guests. This saves you some money & time as you won’t need a wedding planner for these things and can centralise all the information via a website.

Speaking about wedding planners, I am sure they make sense if you don’t have much time and can’t be bothered in your spare time to prepare a huge wedding, but in our case – planning a smaller event – we didn’t need a wedding planner in the end. Luckily we both knew what we wanted and it wasn’t too difficult to find the right partners for that purpose after researching a bit on the www.

In Carme Trias we encountered a very talented Barcelona designer. She designed both our stunning wedding dresses according to our personal preferences (and in my case drawings). Check out her small shop in Gràcia, Barcelona by going to Modart or their Facebook account.

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My design

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The Outcome

One thing that gave us a lot of headache were the shoes. We thought so much about that topic and changed our minds that often that we did almost go crazy. And then it occurred to us: do something different and walk through your wedding day in plain & simply stylish comfort. Yes, we ordered custom-made Converse according to our designs and our friends from England luckily got them for us since you can’t place orders except for when you’re located in the UK or the USA (so make sure you know someone in one of those places in order to design your own Converse).

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So we also had to get around during our big day – from our stunning prep place (that we found via Airbnb and which is just a perfect option if you need a lot of space in order to get ready separately and to hang out with friends & family before & after the wedding, instead of opting for the rather typical & much more expensive wedding night at a hotel) to the wedding ceremony at the town hall in Gràcia, from there to the photo shoot in the Raval & on Montjuic and then up to the restaurant for reception & dinner.

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One room of our stunningly beautiful & decadent Modernisme style wedding apartment booked via Airbnb

Regarding our means of transport, we were lucky to find Conducir Clásicos, which is a great local company that hooked us up with a super trendy & restored T2 Caravelle van plus driver.

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Our very original T2 Caravelle Wedding Van

We loved being driven around in the Caravelle and it was such a big surprise for our wedding guests – everyone marvelled at it – and it also made a stunning model during the wedding photo shoot which has been provided by our great professional photographers Anna & Gustavo from Nice Tales : Photography – also check out their Facebook page.

Being from a Northern European country, our families expected to greet us with a glass of Cava after the wedding ceremony in Gràcia’s town hall, but one really important fact to know about Spain in general is that it is illegal to drink alcohol publicly on the street. So we needed a convenient solution which consisted in crossing the plaza in front of the town hall and doing an afternoon Pica Pica (which is made of different salty snacks) combined with a glass of Cava in order to keep everyone going (note that temperatures around July can go up to 40ºC here, so people from colder countries really appreciate to get some sugar & drinks in-between ). We found the tasty & vibrant restaurant Amélie which offered just what we needed, and their lovely & talented chef Carlos even did our wedding bouquets & the floral table decoration at the restaurant we had booked for our dinner. The Pica Pica & Cava we had chosen together with enchanting & professional Yasmine and creative chef Carlos was just delicious and I recommend going to Amélie for lunch or dinner – they also host small concerts.

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Delicious Pica Pica at Amélie

We negotiated reception, a dinner menu (which has been put together by us according to our taste) with vegan options, and dance (they provide you with a DJ that will play your choice of music) with the magical & super good restaurant Can Travi Nou (also see their Facebook for updates). We’ve had lunch and dinner there before and owners as well as staff are just incredibly professional & attentive. I highly recommend Can Travi Nou for whatever kind of celebration with friends & family or for official company dinners / events. The food is supreme and meets the expectations of a Catalonian gourmet as well as it provides a delicious insight into fine Catalonian dining to the foreigner.

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Can Travi Nou is a charming & magical old Catalonian Masia (farm house) converted into a supreme restaurant specialised in Catalonian & Mediterranean cuisine

A very special moment for us was when our stunning & delicious wedding cake was delivered by Sibarum cakes & catering (check their Facebook or website for further information and contact). We chose the design and taste together with the amazing mother & daughter team from the Sitges’ based pastry shop and they have been so lovely & professional, so creative & supportive throughout the whole pre-wedding process, that apart from receiving the best wedding cake ever plus some vegan cupcakes (which they all personally delivered!), a friendship has formed, and we highly recommend them whenever you need a cake, other baked treats or catering for your celebrations & events.

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That is one tasty & beautifully stunning wedding cake

Something that is not to be forgotten regarding all the planning for a wedding day are all the other creative preps and decoration tasks that you need to confront & undertake: we translated the wedding ceremony for our no Spanish speaking guests; looked for some personal wedding guest favours (that we found at Del Pot Petit while strolling over the weekend artisan market down at Passeig Joan de Borbó, and which consisted in a beautifully wrapped mini marmalade jar and a miniature bottle of ecological Virgin Olive Oil); got the artistically & beautifully arranged flower bouquets & rustic floral table decoration (that was a perfect fit for the rustic Masia) from Amélie’s chef Carlos; designed, bought and crafted all the other table, candy bar and photo booth deco; chose the music for the DJ set; etc.

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Our personally designed & crafted table decoration

So, of course, in order to be able to come up with all of this you need time, motivation, negotiation skills, a certain amount of creativity and very, very good friends & family members that are willing to go the extra mile with & for you (a big THANK YOU goes out to all our family members & friends that by helping us decorate the tables, doing our hair & make-up [I recommend getting your wedding make-up trial done for free at Sephora] just like the most professional hair & make-up artists do, helping us get dressed, shopping for & making our dinner the night before, guiding guests to the restaurant, helping us transporting back the decoration afterwards in the middle of the night, etc., made our day so much easier – but there’s a lot of input out there and people are generally willing to help, especially when it comes down to a personalised event as a wedding. As I said, I don’t think a wedding planner is always necessary – who knows best what you as a couple want if not you and who could describe what makes your day special better than you!? In the end you’ll have roamed a lot of websites and will have found your personal preferences regarding all what makes your wedding day and you make the decision to get help from outside in form of a wedding planner or to go ahead yourself. It may sometimes seem to you that you’re stuck in the process and in so many things to do that you are about to lose yourself and give in to complete, disastrous pre-wedding despair… In those moments just sit down, have a good tea or latte and enjoy the day – do something completely different. That will help you relax and you’ll be able to focus on the wedding planning at a later moment. As someone who ‘survived’ all the craziness, I am available to provide some further insight into the organisation of our wedding and the according details, and can be contacted through eMail to laravalerablog@gmail.com .

La Granja M. Viader

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When living in or going to Barcelona you definitely shouldn’t miss out on this especially delicious & historically very important landmark. Its history began in 1870 when Señora Rafaela Coma first opened the doors to her little dairy shop in Calle Xuclà, 6. Since then one can find the best dairy products, cold cuts & cheeses (which can also be vacuum-packed for you to take home), cakes, desserts and the best and typical thick, hot Spanish Chocolate in Barcelona, Catalonia, I even dare to say in all of Spain, at the small Granja M. Viader (Website: http://granjaviader.cat.mialias.net/?p=201&lang=en – Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GranjaViader/timeline)!

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Watch the staff handle the freshest dairy products

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The supreme cheeses and cold cuts selection for you to purchase

The young Señor Marc Viader started working there in 1895 and since 1910 the Viader family is the rightful and proud owner of this charismatic Granja, that maintained its charm and historic look throughout the centuries. When entering the little shop that is located in the historical part (Ciutat Vella) on one of the Raval’s very small streets, one feels like being transported into another time, far far away from our modern, hectic world. Go in, mix with locals and tourists alike, and marvel at all the awards and medals Mr Viader won during the last century and follow the history of the most important milestones for the little family run business – be it the important invention of the tasty Catalonian drinking chocolate ‘Cacaolat’ (the Catalonian equivalent to the Spanish ColaCao) or the pictures of their most valueable dairy cows displayed on the wall just hanging next to old, antique adverts for their dairy products – you won’t get bored and you can make sure to make the most of a rainy or cold afternoon in Barcelona.

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The Catalonian drinking chocolate ‘Cacaolat’ has been invented at the Granja M. Viader

The most typical thing to order would be a Xocolata Calenta (the thick, hot chocolate) but in order to make it a bit more luscious, I recommend going for the ‘Suis’ which is the thick, hot chocolate topped off with the most delicious freshly whipped cream I have ever tasted (and I come from a Northern country where people know how to treat dairy products!).

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Have your ‘Suis’ with some freshly baked ‘Xurros’

Apart from being able to take the best, typical cold cuts and cheeses home, you can also give their typical thick, hot chocolate as a present. It comes in different sized bags, accompanied by the instructions in Catalan, Spanish, English or French.

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The perfect & most tasty souvenir from the Catalonian Capital

So keep calm and have some hot chocolate!

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The Caravelle & my French Toast Addiction

So living in Barcelona and its barrio Raval definitely made me appreciate good quality and slow food cooked with love, passion and locally available, seasonal & organic, healthy ingredients even more than before and this is why I want to dedicate my first blog post in this category to my favourite Café/ Restaurant Caravelle in Calle Pintor Fortuny, 31 (https://www.facebook.com/CaravelleBCN/timeline – check their Facebook updates for current opening times and events).

We’ve been going there since their opening back in 2012 and it’s our favourite place for Café con Leche and brunch in Barcelona. I’m putting the word ‘brunch’ first since I clearly am a breakfast person – I just love having a good long breakfast/ brunch! But Caravelle’s lunch/ dinner options are more than worth mentioning, too!

Caravelle Café con Leche

Enjoy your Café con Leche while watching locals as well as tourists walking by on their way to the nearby MACBA (Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona – http://www.macba.cat/en/index).

Australian owner and chef Zim plus his staff never fail to surprise us with new creations on a regular basis and that we are more than happy to sample.

Their menu variety includes both – a lot of internationally influenced dishes as well as the incorporation of local and typically Spanish ingredients – always keeping it fresh, healthy, seasonal and cooked to order. Good things take their time, so be patient and let them work their magic – you won’t be disappointed! Also a definite plus in Barcelona is to be welcomed and looked after by super nice and professional people and Caravelle’s staff is just amazing!

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French Toast with Mango Sauce & White Chocolate Cream, topped off with Oven Roasted Plums & Almonds

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Oven Baked Eggs with Smoked Chorizo, Roasted Tomato, Beans & Lime Coriander Sour Cream

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Caravelle featured their Fried Fish Taco with homemade Pickles, Tomatillo Alioli, Guacamole at the fourth Eat Sreet Barcelona Food Festival Edition (https://www.facebook.com/eatstreetbarcelona) on Oct. 11th.

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Non-alcoholic, homemade Ginger Beer