Portugal is a welcoming place for LGBTQ+ couples who wish to marry. In 2020 Portugal will celebrate 10 years of legal recognition of same-sex marriage. In honor of this important anniversary we thought it time to put together our top tips for an amazing LGBTQ+ wedding in Portugal in 2020.
Make it legal here!
Portugal was the sixth country in Europe and the eighth in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. The law came into effect on the 5th of June 2010. That means for the past decade LGBTQ+ couple could have their unions legally recognized here in Portugal.
Not only that, but in 2016 Portugal legalized stepchild adoption for same-sex couples, as well as joint adoption for same-sex couples. The country recognizes hate crimes involving sexual orientation and gender identity. And most recently (in 2018), Portugal now allows for legal change of gender without sex reassignment surgery. This is all to say that by the books, Portugal is a great country in which to marry and reside as an LGBTQ+ couple.
Where you are matters
Though legally Portugal is nearly as LGBTQ+ friendly as one can get, attitudes still lag behind a bit. Portugal varies greatly by where you are and I don’t just mean in terms of landscape.
Lisbon is one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly cities in all of Europe. Known for a lively scene and one hell of a Pride celebration, so you don’t need to think twice about your wedding in Lisbon. The same holds true for the Algarve, which has been hosting LGBTQ+ weddings for years.
Going north to Portugal’s second city, Porto, you may notice that things change a bit. I do not want to imply that LGBTQ+ couples should feel unsafe, that isn’t the case anywhere in Portugal. However, it is less international than Lisbon and is culturally more conservative than the capital. This means that locals may be a bit more surprised to see an LGBTQ+ wedding. Nevertheless, that won’t stop you from seeing a gay wedding on the Douro River (see the above photo we conducted for proof).
Once outside of these major tourist areas, vendors and locals may be more surprised at seeing LGBTQ+ wedding in Portugal. However, there is no need to worry about homophobic comments, nor vendors refusing to work with you. It is like anywhere in the world, smaller areas tend to be less exposed to differences. However, in the end, that shouldn’t stop you from choosing your ideal wedding location.
While this section might seem a bit strange, as wedding celebrants we appreciate the power of words. With that in mind, we think it is important to share with you that Portuguese is a very gendered language. Everything from the word for table to the word for wedding has a gender. Even when speaking about someone you place a gendered article in front of their name (‘a’ or ‘o’). Even the way you say thank you depends on your gender. Someone who identifies as a woman would say ‘obrigada’, while someone who identifies as a man would say ‘obrigado’. Like I said, everything here is gendered.
And though Portugal is at the top of the class in terms of laws, other aspects of the culture have not caught up. One of them being the discussion about pronouns. I have personally tried explaining that my pronouns are she/her or the Portuguese equivalent of a/ela and been met with strange looks. Looks that said, ‘Well yeah, why would we think any differently?’ So don’t be surprised if some of your wedding vendors don’t catch on right away. It isn’t that they mean to offend, it is because they just haven’t encountered this conversation yet.
I am not suggesting it is your job to educate them, however, it is helpful to know that you may be the first openly transgender person they have encountered. Don’t hold that against them. With a little guidance from you, I know that your vendors will get on board and be there for you on your wedding day.
Who you work with
On our homepage, we proudly display our “LGBTQ Equality Business” rainbow badge. We want to make it easy for LGTBQ+ couples to know that they don’t even have to ask. It is important for our team to do this because we can only imagine how shit it feels to have to write, “Just to make it clear, it’s a gay wedding.” This is a line from an email that we received from a couple. While we wish no couple had to write that line or any line like that, we understand why.
Here in Portugal it isn’t common that LGBTQ+ friendly businesses advertise the fact. We won’t/can’t try to explain why that is, but it is important to know that while many vendors will not place a rainbow on their website, there is another way to know if a potential vendor is LGBTQ+ wedding friendly. Head to their Instagram. Pictures are worth a thousand words so scroll through their feeds. Do they have LGTBQ+ couples there? If they do, awesome! If they don’t, please don’t be discouraged.
I once had a gay couple ask me for LGBTQ+ friendly wedding photographers. I emailed a few photographers, who I thought would work, but didn’t want to assume. All four photographers came back to me with resounding yes’s. More interestingly, one said, “I have never worked with a gay couple before, but would really like to.” That is to say, if you find a vendor who’s work you adore, but can’t find evidence of being LGBTQ+ friendly, it may only be because they haven’t had the opportunity.
Final thoughts on LGBTQ+ Weddings in Portugal
We are proud to call Portugal our home and even prouder that our home is a place where all couples, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity, can marry. We hope that our tips for planning your LGBTQ+ wedding in Portugal will help you have a wonderful wedding day.