“I never had this thing that I wanted to get married in a church,” said Helena Bordon, her hands clutched in her lap and her engagement ring sparkling in the late morning light. Yet she ended up doing so — and she didn’t.
After about four and a half years together, style blogger and designer Bordon, 29, wed fiancé Humberto Meirelles in São Paulo’s St. Joseph church in April, jetting off to St. Barth’s the following month for a beachside ceremony. Her month of nuptials is a case study in having your wedding cake and eating it, too: church and beach, home and destination, summer and winter. (Though it’s balmy in St. Barth’s around this time, the southern hemisphere is a different story — It’s “winter” now, Bordon said, drawing air quotes around winter.)
She estimated 80 people attended the São Paulo ceremony, which she devised as a more intimate affair with family — while Bordon herself wasn’t enamored of the idea of a church wedding, it meant enough to her grandmother that she felt impelled to plan a religious ceremony.
“I was like, ‘No, I’m going to do this for the families,” she said. “It’s more important for them than for us, nowadays.” Still, planning a wedding close to home afforded her certain luxuries that she couldn’t expect in St. Barth’s. The church was a quick hop from her mother’s house, where they gathered for lunch after the ceremony, and it allowed her grandparents, who wouldn’t be able to make the trip abroad for the beach wedding, the opportunity to be there on her wedding day.
(In contrast with her understated São Paulo ceremony, 250 people flew to St. Barth’s to celebrate her wedding, including 18 bridesmaids and groomsmen. “It was kind of a lot. It was kind of a mess,” she said. “But at the same time, it was a nice mess.”)
Planning began nearly a year ago, ramping up in the three months immediately prior to the occasion. Catering, flowers, the DJ, the cake — all were arranged via a local wedding planner on-site.
It was also during those three months that Bordon intensified her beauty and fitness routine, working with a dermatologist on acid peels and collagen treatments, “just getting the glow,” and working out at least three times per week. One month out, she began Vanquish treatments — four 45-minute sessions over four weeks that purport to tone and tighten with minimal effort — and a week prior to the wedding, she detoxed with a juice cleanse.
A looming St. Barth’s celebration also offers plenty of excuse to visit the island once or twice before the event. Bordon spent New Year’s in the Caribbean, stopping over again in late spring.
It could definitely be worse.
Bordon also traveled between São Paulo and Brazil for a series of five fittings for her wedding dress; another benefit of spreading your wedding celebrations over two events seems to be the option of going both vintage and contemporary. For the São Paulo ceremony, she wore her mother’s vintage Valentino gown, designed nearly 50 years ago by Valentino Garavani himself. (Bordon’s mother is Vogue Brasil’s style director Donata Meirelles.) Through her mother, she also connected with former Calvin Klein women’s creative director Francisco Costa, a friend of the family, who designed the Bohemian-inspired gown Bordon wore for the beach ceremony.
“I always wanted to wear my mom’s dress,” Bordon said. “But at the same time, I wanted to do something for myself.” She arrived at Costa’s New York studio with inspirations based on his previous designs (and with body parts she wanted to show off — arms, neck, collarbone, back), and by the end of the meeting, they had a sketch. The resulting look: A semi-sheer, racerback silk shift laid over a slinky lace camisole-style dress adorned with tiny roses.
“Everyone told me, when you see the sketch or the ideas, you just known it,” Bordon explained. “I was like, ‘I don’t know, I keep changing my mind,’ and they were like, ‘No, it’s because you haven’t found the dress yet.’” Or, perhaps if the dress can’t be found, you just have to make it yourself.
It’s unfortunate that the sheer level of detail in the Costa design doesn’t quite translate to still image, because the St. Barth’s wedding was also where all the Instagramming went down. This was by design — the São Paulo ceremony was an intimate, familial affair, private sphere, while Bordon let her fans and readers into her life for the St. Barth’s celebration. And so did her guests — many of Bordon’s friends, like Bordon herself, are bloggers, and they covered the wedding for their own channels.
(Still, they kept it classy — “Just the beautiful pictures of the wedding,” Bordon said. “We have the unrated versions, like after 2 a.m.” But those aren’t for public consumption.)
If it seems like she navigated the multiple events like a pro, it might be because she had something of a trial run when Rocha married in the Bahamas. Bordon was one of Rocha’s bridesmaids, and she witnessed first-hand the stresses of what could — and might well — go wrong.
“You really have to be calm,” Bordon said. “You have to try to control yourself because if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. There’s no way you’re going to control everything.”
What else did she learn from standing on the sidelines of someone else’s wedding? “Not to become a Bridezilla,” she said, without hesitation.
Now that her bridely duties are accomplished, Bordon’s looking ahead — she and Meirelles postponed their honeymoon till the end of the summer, but in August they’ll embark on yet another luxurious, enviable voyage to Zanzibar, hopping over to the African mainland for a safari. Plus, there’s another wedding to attend — model Ana Beatriz Barros will tie the knot in Mykonos. And for this one, Bordon gets to relax and let someone else do the work.
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Photos: How to Prepare for Your Wedding Like a Brazilian It Girl
Photo by Siyoung Song. Produced by Biel Parklee.
Photo by Siyoung Song. Produced by Biel Parklee.
Helena Bordon and her mother in St. Barth’s. Photo by @helenabordon.
Helena Bordon and her mother at the St. Joseph ceremony. Photo by @helenabordon.
Humberto Meirelles, in Zegna, and Helena Bordon, in custom Calvin Klein, at the St. Barth’s ceremony. Photo by @helenabordon.
Helena Bordon in her mother’s vintage Valentino. Photo by @helenabordon.
Cheval Blanc in St. Barth’s. Photo courtesy Helena Bordon.
St. Barth’s. Photo by @helenabordon.
Helena Bordon in St. Barth’s. Photo by @helenabordon.
Helena Bordon in St. Barth’s. Photo courtesy Helena Bordon.
Produced by Biel Parklee.