Your event the way you envisage it
You've decided to fly to Europe and have your dream wedding in Portugal. Congratulations! The next thing to do is to pick the kind of wedding that you want to have in this scenic destination.
Who says you can’t bring “your crowd” to your destination wedding? Bring at up to 60 of your friends and family to your special day in a scenic venue.
If you’re a kind of couple who loves to travel light, an elopement in Portugal might be perfect for you. Tie the knot with only the two of you, or bring a small group of up to ten for a more intimate celebration.
Say I do the second time around by picking a beachside resort and renewing your vows in Portugal. Your vow renewal can be more special than your first wedding, especially when you celebrate it in a scenic Swiss venue.
Your destination wedding planner in Portugal
Our Portuguese planner is dedicated to taking all the stress out of wedding planning by being on the ground the whole time making arrangements for your special day.
Patrícia loves everything about weddings and offers in-depth knowledge of the Portuguese culture and tradition as well as years of event planning to make sure your big day is well taken care of.
Why have a destination wedding in Portugal
Should you decide to have an intimate wedding along a beach venue in Portugal, our top tip is to get married during sunset. A sunset wedding in Portugal will be a breath of fresh air because here lies the best sunset all over Europe! When the clock strikes 8:30 PM, clouds begin to melt into a palette of orange, purple, and pink - what a heavenly backdrop for your destination wedding! Even on year end, Portugal is known to have one of the warmest winter sun that will make you feel cozy and warm even with the chilly weather outside.
The best seafood!
Portuguese cuisine is heavily influenced by the Atlantic so expect to have the best seafood experience when you get married in Portugal. After saying your I do’s in a seaside venue, enjoy loads of authentic seafood cuisines that fill the tables of every wedding reception in Portugal. There’s a traditional Algarve dish called Cataplana de Marisco containing clams, shrimp, and other varieties of shellfish mixed with peppers, onions, and garlic, then cooked in a special copper pan called cataplana. See more popular Portuguese seafood dish in the wedding food section below.
Warm and welcoming Portuguese culture
Eating the best seafood is just an excuse for the locals to gather around and enjoy conversations. In fact, Portuguese people love talking to each other so much that lunches extend to as long as two hours and dinners last up to twelve midnight. These are normal scenarios in offices and restaurants, and this is how the Portuguese prove their warm and welcoming vibe. If you ever get lost in Portugal, no matter where that is, just tap a local on the shoulder to ask, and they will gladly help you find your way.
Convenient legal requirements
A legally-binding wedding ceremony in Portugal can take place at any location of the couple's choice and the venue does not need to hold a special wedding license. Beach weddings in Portugal are also possible with only one requirement - a license from the maritime police which is not too difficult to procure. Other than that, only the regular requirements apply when getting married in Portugal. Read more about these legal requirements in the section for Types of Ceremonies below.
If you’re not a fan of seaside wedding venues, you can choose beautifully preserved medieval palaces with grandiose architecture for your destination wedding in Portugal. Your options include mountaintop palaces surrounded by woodlands in Sintra, a popular historic palace with splendid library and beautiful works of art in Chiado, and century-old castles and medieval houses in the picturesque Schist villages.
Beach weddings are legal
Portugal has an 1860-kilometer stretch of coastline on its western border where legally-binding weddings are allowed. You can recite your vows with the waves of the Atlantic ocean splashing endlessly on the background. The long stretch of coastline in the Cascais region is dotted with boutique hotels, luxury resorts, and elegant villas with perfect spots for a beachside marriage ceremony in Portugal. Some of them have beachfront spaces for weddings, indoor restaurants made of glass walls lending a view to the ocean, and beautiful interiors with modern facilities.
When to get married in Portugal
Winter months of December to February
Portugal is a wonderful choice for a year-end winter wedding in Europe. Although the temperature can drop to as low as 15°C in the day and 8°C at night, there’s a lower chance of rainfall during this time. This makes for a perfect season to have an outdoor ceremony at a seaside wedding venue. As for your winter honeymoon, you can spend it in lodging houses and hotels near the snowy mountain range in northern Portugal. Should you get married here in November, you can join the interesting São Martinho festival or St. Martin’s Day when the Portuguese light bonfires, party the whole night, and roast chestnuts on the streets, you can smell them from afar! Join the carnival celebration all over Portugal in February when the locals and tourists alike celebrate with parades, food, music, and exotic fancy dresses. It’s a wonderful addition to your Portugal honeymoon tour.
March to May spring time
Unlike other European destinations, spring in Portugal starts late March. You’ll see the countryside regions and city parks in full bloom, so it’s a wonderful time for outdoor elopements. It’s when rains don’t often visit the country and temperature remains mild. Spring is also a season of celebrations when you will see people parading on the street with lavish decor and vibrant colors. Every town has its own way of celebrating their religious festivals every May. In Lisbon, you can jumpstart your honeymoon by partying on the streets with the locals while they make sardines and sell beers as part of their spring festival.
There’s no better season to get married in Portugal than in the lovely summer season from June to September. With temperatures reaching up to 30°C at daytime, it’s the best period to bask in the sun and mix with the crowd to enjoy the festive atmosphere all over the country. Expect prices at their ceiling within these months, but what’s a higher cost if it means getting the chance to say your I do’s in a coastal wedding venue in Portugal at the peak of its beauty? You’ll have plenty of time to have a summer wedding here because among all countries in Europe, Portugal has the most number of summer days, totalling about 125.
By the end of September, the weather in Portugal begins to tone down into a mild and moderate temperature. For those who want more privacy and fewer crowds on your wedding in Portugal, you better choose any months in autumn for your big day. Be prepared, however, for more precipitation when October approaches and bring a cover up for your wedding gown in preparation for the higher frequency of fogs and evening chill. Our wedding planner will take care of an indoor option for the ceremony so as not to spoil your day. If you still want an outdoor wedding but the date has to be in autumn, you have another option for a Portugal wedding venue - anywhere in the island of Madeira! This region is not affected by the autumn season and summer continues until November!
Types of wedding venues in Portugal
Historic castles and villas
History and nature enthusiasts will fall in love with medieval Portugal wedding venues such as 14th century villas and castles overlooking the ocean. Some are set in the middle of lush landscapes and rolling hills just beside the Atlantic while the most charming ones are located within natural parks. They have old monasteries and chapels that are perfect for a dramatic wedding ceremony in Portugal. On the Estoril Coast is a lovely 16th century Tuscan-style castle by the Tamariz beach that lends a view to the Cascais Bay on one side and the peaceful cosmopolitan areas of Portugal on the other. We also love beachside venues that feature medieval architecture and outdoor activities such as horseback riding and tennis. These will be amazing venue choices if you’re getting married in Portugal with your family.
If you’re a Catholic couple who loves a solemn ceremony inside a beautiful old church, then you’re welcome to make it happen in Portugal. Most locals get married in Catholic churches because of their unparalleled interiors and unwarranted solemnity. Even without a formal Catholic mass, couples can get married inside the church. However, it’s important to remember that Catholic churches require that you follow specific protocols even if you do not want a strictly religious ceremony. Take note also that weddings inside Catholic churches have to be solemnized by a priest. Our wedding planner in Portugal can explain the specifics to you further.
Scenic winter venues
Most people don’t consider Portugal a likely winter wedding destination, but we say it’s worth challenging those predispositions. There are amazing locations set in the romantic city of Óbidos with white houses, charming scenery, and picturesque bookshops! For more adventurous couples, you may want to have a symbolic Portugal wedding ceremony above the snowy mountains of Serra da Estrela which is home of the highest mountain range all over the country. For a more relaxed celebration, you can have it in any vineyard wedding venue located in Madeira, an island that is popular for its subtropical climate and overflowing wine.
Golf course wedding venues
Needless to say, Portugal is Europe’s best wedding destination for golf enthusiasts and those who want to play on a world-class golf course. Several wedding venues in Portugal are incorporated with golf courses, which serve as beautiful outdoor ceremony areas. Even if you’re not a golf fanatic, the gorgeous setting and stellar service of these golf hotels is reason enough to consider them when choosing the ideal venue for your Portuguese micro wedding.
Quintas or farmhouse venues
Want a Boho-chic micro wedding in Portugal? Do it in a wedding venue with a real farm and fall in love with its timeless simplicity and a rustic vibe. One particular location in the Eastern Algarve is a farmhouse venue set exactly between the ocean and the mountains. Here, your wedding ceremony in Portugal will be a combination of an ancient village ambiance and modern facilities. Quintas are great alternatives to Portuguese wedding palaces because they are significantly less expensive yet equally elegant. Outside, quintas are teeming with lush nature while their old buildings provide a classy, medieval ambiance like that of grandiose palaces.
Beach & ocean view venues
Luxury hotels by the ocean ensure a celebrity experience for your micro wedding in Portugal. Imagine holding the ceremony and cocktail hours outdoors by the beach where your guests can enjoy the breathtaking scene. This will be followed by an indoor or outdoor reception at the fully-equipped restaurant with expert chefs serving sumptuous seafood for your dinner party. In the romantic city of Sintra, you’ll find historic Portugal wedding venues with chapels for a religious ceremony and spacious ballroom halls for rehearsal dinners, reception, and other wedding activities - all of which offer a scenic view to the blue Atlantic ocean. Most of these wedding venues also include on-site accommodations to give you a convenient intimate wedding in Portugal.
Modern venues with countryside views
One of our top recommendations for destination weddings in Portugal is the type of venues that break the silence of rural communities to give a spark of modernity to the whole area. They are modern day hotels and villas built in the midst of lush greenery and natural surroundings but fully equipped with advanced facilities to make your big day lively. These wedding venues in Portugal offer the best of both worlds - 21st century hotel amenities and breathtaking views of some of Europe’s oldest and most untouched landscapes.
Types of wedding ceremonies
There’s not much hassle in having a legal wedding in Portugal, even for non-residents. Portugal is one of the friendliest countries for destination weddings that provide convenient procedures for a civil ceremony. In fact, you won’t have to fly all the way to this destination prior to your wedding day and just authorize us, your planners, to submit an application to the registrar. You can also choose any wedding venue in Portugal as long as the ceremony is to be officiated by the registrar in the Portuguese language, but don’t worry about the language issue if you don’t speak Portuguese, you can have a translator present on the day. If you’re planning to have a beach wedding in Portugal, you just need to do an extra step of securing a marine police license.
Want to get married in one of Portugal’s oldest churches in the scenic regions of Algarve, Estoril and Evora? That’s possible! A Catholic wedding in Portugal is considered to be legally-binding. All you have to do is to secure an approval for the religious ceremony from a local priest of a Portuguese church and the ceremony must take place within three months after you get the approval. Our dedicated wedding planner in Portugal can assist you in securing the documents and in making the necessary arrangements for your religious wedding. Similar to a civil wedding in Portugal, your ceremony must be conducted in Portuguese language and a translator can be present.
Other religious ceremonies
Although Catholic weddings in Portugal are considered to be legally-binding without the need to undergo a separate Civil ceremony first, marriage ceremonies of other Religions do not have the same privilege. That’s why, if you are planning for a religious wedding in Portugal that is not Catholic, you need to undergo a civil ceremony beforehand to give your marriage a legal effect.
To get rid of all the legal requirements, you can simply have a symbolic wedding in Portugal. This means less hassle with paperwork, less cost for securing and translating documents, and more time to focus on your favourite part of the wedding planning. A symbolic ceremony is a convenient and popular option for all destination weddings but it also carries no legal effect whatsoever. You can just do what most of our couples do, which is to handle all the boring legal bits in your home country but reserve the best bits (like the vows and ring exchange) for your symbolic ceremony in Portugal. After all, it’s the scenery and not the legalities that you’re after when you opt for a destination wedding in Europe.
Just like in most European wedding destinations, you need to submit certain legal documents to a Portuguese registry office to prove your identity and capacity to marry, or remarry. All foreign documents need to be translated into Portuguese and authenticated with an Apostille stamp. In addition to a valid ID (together with any name change documents, if applicable) you need to submit a birth cert and a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Marry. If you were previously married before, you will need to provide a Death or Divorce Certificate. There are no minimum residency requirements for foreigners to marry in Portugal. After your Civil or Catholic wedding ceremony in Portugal, you can request for either an International Wedding Certificate or a national document with an apostille (this is in Portuguese language so you need to have it translated) that you can present back home to register your marriage and make it recognised in your country of residence. Find more info about legal weddings in Portugal here.
Food in a Portuguese wedding
The caldo verde soup will most probably open your dinner party as the first food to be served for your wedding in Portugal. The caldo verde, albeit being made out of ordinary ingredients, is one of the most traditional and most-loved soups by the locals in this coastal country. It’s a mix of onions, kale, potatoes, and some smoked pork cooked in olive oil with garlic.
Ameijos a bulhao pato
Don’t be surprised if you’ll see clams on the reception table just before the main course is served. Clams, Bulhao Pato style, are usually served as appetizers for weddings in Portugal. It’s a flavourful snack with a hint of garlic and cilantro, which are the main ingredients in this dish. If not the ameijos a bulhao pato, you can expect similar seafood dishes cooked in wine and butter then garnished with herbs as appetizers for a Portuguese wedding.
A tray of huge shrimps either baked or fried, some shrimp spring rolls, smoked salmon and fish cakes usually invade the table of a wedding reception in Portugal. So if you’re crazy about fresh seafood, you will also love the idea of getting married in Portugal.
Portuguese black pudding morcela
Portuguese are also meat lovers so no need to worry if you’re not so much into seafood. In fact, there’s a popular traditional dish served in Portuguese weddings called the black pudding. This is far from the dessert we all love but is called as such because of its pudding-like texture that is a result of mixing suet in the dish. The black pudding morcela is a black sausage made out of pork meat seasoned with herbs, pepper, garlic, and onions, and sometimes mixed with milk. They can be appetizers or a main course in Portugal wedding receptions. In some regions, the black pudding is made with lamb or goose blood.
Portuguese wedding traditions
Portuguese wedding feast
What to expect at a wedding reception in Portugal? A feast of seafood, fruits and cheese! The Portuguese culture gives so much emphasis on food and this is very obvious in their wedding celebrations. The main course in a grand event like this is either fish or meat, whilst the dessert table overflows with cheese, fruits and traditional Portuguese pastries! They have egg pastries, custard pies, the traditional dessert pastel de Belém and much more! Alongside pastries are cheese plates filled with local and international varieties of cheese, grapes and cold meats. This fiesta of flavours is matched with Portuguese wine and port - which never goes empty when you attend a wedding in Portugal.
Some decades ago, weddings in Portugal used to be arranged marriages. However, as the country evolved, they started to abandon the forced setup and began to give brides and grooms the freedom to choose who they want to marry. Although family ties remain strong and that’s why event to this day, most grooms-to-be still ask permission from the father of the bride before they get married. While in other countries, the decision of getting married lies solely on the couple, in Portugal, it’s unusual not to involve the family, especially the father of the bride in such an important decision.
Noisy wedding car
Enter the married life with so much positivity, fun, and… noise! This is another tradition followed in Portuguese weddings, that’s why the guests never run out of creative ideas of noisy objects to fill the wedding car with. Things like cans, bells and other loud trinkets are tied to the wedding car through a cord to produce loud noises when the car starts running and the couple speeds away from the church.
While in most parts of the world, weddings last from afternoon until late in the evening, a marriage celebration in Portugal is quite different. Here, it’s normal for wedding ceremonies to start at 8:00 PM in the evening and, consequently, the reception then lasts well past 4:00 AM the next day. Blame the candle effect for this! Couples in Portugal love the candlelit drama on their wedding day and you can’t blame them! A seaside wedding in Portugal with candles lighting up the sandy coastal venue is such a magical sight!
Getting around Portugal
Flying to Portugal
It’s very easy to reach Portugal from another country because of its accessible geographical location. If you choose a wedding venue in Portugal’s capital or in the neighboring central cities, you can land in the Lisbon - Portela Airport. For the dramatic feel of wedding venues in Portugal’s Algarve city and nearby towns, there’s the Faro Airport at the southernmost part of the country. Take note that venues that are far from the city are also less expensive, that’s why many couples are willing to travel two to three hours from the city to the Portuguese countryside just to save cost. After all, the Portuguese countryside offers amazing natural scenery and a calm environment that’s perfect for a cozy, laidback elopement.
Traveling in Portugal through the Comboios de Portugal’s comprehensive train system is probably the most efficient way to get from one point to another while discovering the wonders of Portugal. Start your honeymoon trip by traversing each of the network’s five train lines that reveal the beauty of Portugal’s villages and natural environment. The Douro line is surrounded by lush greens and inland waters while the Cascais Line shows the blue shades of Lisbon consisting of rivers and the sea. The West Line is filled with interesting paths, hillside views, and charming communities, whilst the Sintra Line dazzles with breathtaking sunset views against historic backdrops and colourful landscapes. The Northern Line lets you experience the different temperatures hovering over the natural beauty of Portugal’s landscapes. Imagine getting around mainland Portugal without having to transfer vehicles. So convenient, right?
If you’re the adventurous type who also happen to have more time for a vacation after your micro wedding in Portugal, you can enjoy a more action-packed trip by riding a bus. Portugal has a good network of roads leading to interesting urban and rural areas. Ride away and witness these beautiful regions in slow-mo and get off the bus should you want a closer look into Portugal’s natural spots, historic architectural structures, inviting dining districts, and rural villages.
A Portugal tour via a rented car is reserved only for the most adventurous couple. If you’re quite good with planning or you’re thrilled with the idea of exploring Portugal without any plan at all, then by all means, go for car rental. But first, you must be familiar with the two types of motorways in Portugal – the traditional motorways with toll booths and the motorways that have an exclusively electronic toll system. In traditional motorways, you can pay either in cash or by bank card while in electronic toll ways, you cannot pay cash but only through electronic means. Know more about the toll roads in Portugal here.
Cost of a destination wedding in Portugal
Compared to other European destinations like Switzerland, Italy, France, and UK, Portugal is a far 21st when it comes to travel costs. According to the Travel Cost Index, the average daily cost of traveling to Portugal per person would be €97, compared to €175 or €160 for other European countries above the list. The same can be said about the cost of a micro wedding in Portugal. They are far below what other destinations offer, if you know where to look! Quintas or farmhouses and countryside venues in the rural tourism areas of Portugal will help you save cost rather than getting married in expensive palaces and lavish city venues. Remember though that the rates of venues and suppliers are at their peak during the summer season. Get a gauge of the possible cost for your wedding in Portugal by getting an online quote from us.
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