Love in the sun

PWM’s own Rochelle and her partner Rachel chose beautiful Barcelona as the backdrop to their laid-back, intimate wedding. Rachel tells their story

We met online on a dating website. We were about to cancel our subscriptions, as it seemed to lack genuine feminine women. I had one last search on there before I hit the cancellation button, and then I saw Rochelle and sent her a message.

I got a message straight back, and we connected straightaway on Facebook, which is something neither of us would usually do. We swapped telephone numbers and chatted on the phone a couple of times. On the second call, Rochelle told me she was off to work in Kuala Lumpur the following week as she’d been offered a job out there, so we didn’t actually get to meet up before she went.

She started working and we began messaging each other on Facebook, which turned into three-hour daily calls on Skype. Rochelle decided after six weeks to come back to the UK, and our relationship then started. We moved in together quite quickly, and three months later, we started a business.

We’d booked to go to Barcelona in October 2014 for three weeks as it’s our favourite city – we’d like to live there one day. In May 2014, a close friend of ours passed away suddenly at the age of 46, which was devastating for her partner of 15 years. This made us evaluate what was important to us and we decided that while we were in Barcelona, we would get married – so there was no official proposal as we were both thinking the same thing!

We wanted a small wedding, but something totally out of the ordinary, with close friends and family. We came across the most amazing venue – a panoramic penthouse in the middle of Barcelona, which had a 360-degree view of the city, including La Sagrada Família in the backdrop. The penthouse was listed in the New York Times as one of the best penthouses in Barcelona. It had a huge roof terrace that could accommodate 100 plus people, with a swimming pool, kitchen facilities, jacuzzi, bar and more.

We went to see the venue and instantly knew it was perfect for our occasion. Owners Rab and Gabbi were brilliant from day one – they hosted the day and organised a sit-down dinner and reception for us on the roof terrace.

We didn’t want traditional outfits, so we hired a personal shopper from Selfridges. Within a few hours we had the perfect outfits for us. We hadn’t organised any hair or make-up before going to Barcelona, but when we arrived we went to the hairdressers across the road from the penthouse.

Another moment of fate, as when we walked in the salon, the owner Stephan recognised us from Gay Pride in Sitges – a coastal resort approximately 30 minutes’ train ride from Barcelona, where we had been a few months earlier. Stephan is also a make-up artist, so he did hair and make-up for us and some of our guests.

We then found José to conduct our civil ceremony – we chatted with him via Skype and he asked us lots of questions about what was important to us. Again, we didn’t want traditional vows, so he gave us some examples of more personal, modern ones. Although we didn’t write our own, they were quite fitting for us as a couple.

We decided to get ready separately on the day, although we were both in the penthouse – it was so big, we could both get ready there without seeing each other, but we had friends with us to help. All our guests arrived and were instantly taken onto the roof terrace and served cocktails of their choice.

Rochelle then went to the top of the roof terrace to wait for me to come up. We had Nessun Dorma by Pavarotti playing really loudly, and it was so atmospheric being so high up. It was extremely emotional for us and our guests.

After the service, we had a three-course dinner prepared, as Rab had owned restaurants previously and Gabbi had worked in some top hotels – the attention to detail and personal service they gave us was amazing. We did keep some tradition. I made a speech, and Rochelle sang to me as she used to be a singer in London many years ago. It was very moving.

Because friends and family came to Barcelona for four days, we got to spend time with them before and after the wedding – we were there for three weeks in total, so the whole thing was magical. It far exceeded any expectations we had, as it’s more difficult to plan exact details when you don’t live in the country where you hold your wedding and haven’t got too much time to plan. But we accepted what would be would be, and we weren’t going to stress ourselves out on minor details as we wanted a relaxed day.

Having said that, the day was perfect and it was as if we had been planning it for a year or so, not just a few months. The weather was also hot for October, so we were able to have the whole thing outside – we danced on the terrace until the early hours.

Advice I would give to couples getting married would be to think creatively about the day, as our wedding probably cost a fraction of most traditional weddings but it felt like it should have cost double. Don’t get carried away with what’s expected of you – do exactly what you want, not what others would want. It’s your responsibility to invite people to your wedding but it’s the responsibility of each guest to enjoy the day – so don’t stress about whether people are going to enjoy it or not. They will!

For more details about the Penthouse Panorama Barcelona, visit