Olivia of Nulyweds wedding planning is here to give you the 5 think you need to know about getting married in Portugal.
Portugal is fast becoming one of the top destinations in the world for adventurous, travel loving couples to get married. If you love this fair, green land, balmy climate and sandy beaches then perhaps you are thinking of saying your vows here too. But hold your horses! There are a couple of things to consider before you decide to have a wedding here, so without further ado, here are the five things you should know about getting married in Portugal.
There is more to explore than the Algarve
From what you tend to see advertised about Portugal, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the main draw is the Algarve. As it is the southern region of the country, it boasts hot weather, long stretches of picturesque beaches and resorts galore. It is incredibly easy to approach a hotel in Albufeira and have your wedding package premade for you, with suppliers that speak your language and a ceremony on the beach. Amazing if you’re into having a beach wedding, but there is so much more here! Portugal was described by a famous poet in the 1500s as “a garden by the sea”. The landscapes range from winding hills and valleys in the Centre and North, to the arid cork fields of the Alentejo. For the nature lovers, you can get married overlooking the Douro river, or amidst the shimmering gold fields of the Alentejo, or surrounded by lush green forest in Sintra and Leiria. And that’s just the landscape. The cities bring an entirely new experience like glittering Porto, bohemian Lisbon, elegant Braga and spell-binding Sintra. For such a small country, Portugal is has a surprising amount of variety and can cater for weddings of all tastes.
The best time is Spring time
In March, April and early May, there’s a glorious sweet spot of great weather whilst also being slightly out of the extremely popular summer season. This is ideal for all sorts of reasons. Firstly, your guests will appreciate the lower flight and accommodation costs. You also benefit from slightly lower temperatures which can make a world of difference in places like the Alentejo and the Algarve where it can get swelteringly hot and sticky in the summer months which is not the nicest thing to navigate in your wedding dress or suit. Lastly, getting married in June, July and August can be 10-15% more expensive than getting married in March because of the popularity of the venues and lack of availability during this period. So if you’re after a quieter, intimate, mild weathered wedding, hosting your celebration in the Spring is a great option.
Your dollar will probably stretch a little further
Budgeting is a contentious topic and in many ways, weddings are cheaper in Portugal than they are in the UK, the US and Canada. However, with destination weddings you have the added costs of accommodation, flights, change of currencies and translation fees. In Portugal you also have the obligatory IVA (or VAT to us) which is 23% and added to all goods and services. What I will say, is that your wedding budget, whatever you decide it to be, will likely stretch further in Portugal than it would at home. It’s entirely possible to cater for 50 guests, in a lovely Quinta set in the vineyard rolling hills, with a celebrant, planner, photographer, wedding cake, DJ, floral decor and catering for under €20,000 (of course depending on your choices). The best thing to do once you’ve worked out how much you’d like to spend is to consult a destination wedding planner in Portugal (like me!) to get a rough idea of numbers. They will then be able to help you keep on top of your spending.
Don’t stress if you don’t speak Portuguese
Though Portuguese is at best described as “challenging” to those who are unfamiliar with it, Portugal is not a monolingual culture and the Portuguese wedding industry is *definitely* not monolingual in the slightest. From Dutch speaking wedding planners to German speaking celebrants, catering menus in French and venue coordinators who speak Spanish, it is safe to say that even if you don’t even know the word for “hello”, you can still have a wonderful wedding here. English is the most widely spoken second language nationwide so you are at an advantage if you are an English speaker. That being said, I will say, like with most cultures the world over, the Portuguese do appreciate it if you attempt to speak some of the language, however small; so definitely brush up on your basic lingo and start your enquiring emails with Olá!
Registering to marry can be complex
When it comes to the legalities of marrying in Portugal, the process is simple in theory. The list of documents you need are easily obtainable, it’s not that expensive and there is no residency period to qualify for a marriage license. However, the Portuguese are famous for their long wait times and pedantic bureaucratic processes – particularly for foreign nationals. Furthermore, a civil ceremony in Portugal is very much a legal affair. Verbose Portuguese legalese is what you’ll get with no hint of romance or personality. This is why by far we planners recommend hiring a celebrant like Carly and her team to craft a personalised ceremony for you and do the legal bit in your home country for a more stress free planning process.
I hope this article has helped you in terms of thinking of your upcoming nuptials in Portugal. If you’re after sun, fun and adventure this is definitely the wedding destination for you!
Nulyweds– Expert destination wedding planner creating colourful, fun-fuelled, authentically Portuguese weddings for free-spirited millennials. Contact Olivia to plan your dream destination wedding in gorgeous Portugal.