There are lots of reasons to ditch the traditional wedding and elope to Portugal.
It’s a magical destination with a lot going for it. There are many options for adventurous couples who want their wedding day to be unique, fun, and authentic.
Let’s talk about 6 of the biggest reasons to have your destination wedding in Portugal!
Portugal is a small country nestled between Spain’s western border and the Atlantic ocean to the east. This makes it really easy to get to from many European and American destinations. Portugal flights are only about 5-6 hours from most East Coast cities!
Once you get there, there are fantastic transportation systems to get you to your Portugal elopement destination. The two major cities, Lisbon and Porto, have great train and bus systems. Plus there’s an extensive network of suburban trains and buses to get virtually anywhere in the country.
While living in Portugal I was impressed by how modern, clean, and efficient the transit system is compared to other modern European countries. Plus tickets are actually really cheap!
There’s very little need for renting a car in Portugal. The public transportation system is so fast, affordable, and convenient.
However, I am a fan of getting a private car hire (driver) for exploring a wine country for a day if you want to sample!
Portugal stands out among Western European countries for remaining an affordable country for traveling. Since the average salary is quite low here, you’ll pay less for accomodation, transportation, restaurants, and basically everything except imports.
Because of this, the cost of getting married in Portugal is low. Plus, when you elope, you’re not paying for a huge venue, catering, and all the other guest expenses. If you choose to take care of the marriage paperwork at home, you can save another $400-600 in fees and translators. This saves you money that could otherwise go toward a savings goal, honeymoon, or even the right photographer!
As an elopement photographer who goes beyond my role to help you craft your dream wedding day, I offer elopement packages for Portugal elopements. Get in touch using the form at the bottom of the page for details!
When eloping in Portugal, you’ll eat and drink very well.
First I’m going to talk about the wine, because I’m head over heels for Portuguese wine. Portugal has a huge diversity of wines, from young and fresh Vinho Verde to the sweet, strong Vinho do Porto (Port wine) often consumed as dessert. Wine lovers of all experience levels will enjoy how accessible, affordable, and high-quality Portuguese wine is!
In Portugal, food is fresh, flavorful, doused in olive oil, and delicious! Many popular dishes, like the 1000 (yes, one-thousand) variations of bacalhau, or codfish, come from the working class need for filling, hearty fare. Fish and pork are prevalent, though there are more and more mouthwatering options vegetable/plant-based restaurants.
Dessert and sweets are another specialty of the Portuguese. Pastel de Nata is a classic (called Pastel de Belem in Lisbon) consisting of a flaky cup-like crust filled with a creamy egg custard. Sprinkle some cinnamon on top for the perfect snack!
Fun fact: There are 26 Michelin starred restaurants in Portugal, 3 of them having two stars! The luxury dining here is superb.
For lots of us, getting to interact with the people and culture of our destination is one of the most rewarding parts of travel!
Portugal is one of the countries I’ve visited that I’ve felt the most welcome.
The Portuguese people care about people. They’re friendly, welcoming, and open to creating connections with new people. If you show interest in them and their lives, they will open up to you.
Many Portuguese people work in the hospitality industry and speak lots of different languages. English is widely spoken in much of the country!
The level of service in hospitality is top notch and you will never be rushed.
When you choose to have your elopement in Portugal, you’ll fall in love with the people here!
When it comes to elopement locations in Portugal, you will have no shortage of options. Whether you’re looking for something romantic, adventurous, urban, intimate, immersed in nature or history, Portugal has someplace for you.
There are ancient crumbing castles, colorful Quintas, rolling vineyards, urban ruins, delicate gardens, coastal cliffs, soft sand beaches, rainforests, and more!
Here is a sampling of some of the most stunning places to elope in Portugal.
Porto, the second largest city in Portugal, the home of Port wine, and the gateway to the glorious Douro Valley.
I called Porto home for a couple years so it has a very sweet spot in my heart. This is one of my favorite cities in the world for so many reasons, not the least of which being the stunningly gorgeous views taking in the city, it’s iconic bridges, and the Douro river flowing by.
The Douro Valley is prime Portugal wine country, centered around the Douro river, which means “of gold” in Portuguese. This region is pure gold.
Lisbon is the largest and most well-known city of Portugal. It’s a beautiful city with some really cool history and art all over the place.
Sintra is one of Portugal’s best places to visit and it’s less than an hour north of Lisbon by train. This is where Portuguese royals had second palaces and vacation homes, creating a very small but concentrated area of fairytale castles and mystical vibes.
Cascais, neighboring Lisbon and Sintra, has some of Portugal’s most visually impressive beaches and the westernmost point of Europe!
Portugal has two small groups of islands way out in the Atlantic Ocean – the Azores and Madeira.
These islands formed by volcanic activity have some of the most stunning natural splendor that you’ll encounter in Portugal. Vastly different from the more arid climate of the mainland, exploring these two island groups feel like stepping back into a prehistoric rainforest.
If you want to feel the power of the ocean and the peace of quiet island life on your wedding day, check out these under-the-radar Portugal destinations!
After your destination wedding in Portugal, why not transition right to your honeymoon to take in more good times in this welcoming, beautiful country?
The Algarve is a popular summer destination for Europeans on holiday. I’d personally avoid it in August because of the crowds. The rest of the time, the Algarve offers fewer crowds and lots to do! Whether you want to hike along the cliffs towering over the beaches, sea kayak to private, hidden coves, or just lay back in the sun and gorge on seafood.
Cities like Lisbon and Porto are other amazing options. These cities have enough to keep travelers occupied and also serve as a great home base to explore other parts of Portugal.
You can also plan to do a post-wedding photoshoot to get more photographs to tell your Portugal elopement story!
One of the beautiful romance languages, Portugese. I actually learned to speak Portuguese while living in Portugal for a couple years, so if I’m your Portugal elopement photographer you have a language advantage!
Getting married in Portugal is not a speedy process. Portugal is a really bureaucratic country and things go slow. And one of the two getting married must be living in Portugal for at least 30 days before the wedding.
That’s why I recommend taking care of the legal paperwork in your home state/country so you can enjoy your elopement ceremony without worrying about all the restrictions and the hassle of paperwork!
If you decide you want to do the legal stuff in Portugal, you have the choice of doing a civil ceremony or a Roman Catholic church ceremony.
The civil ceremony must be performed in Portuguese with a celebrant. There’s no “wedding license” for locations in Portugal, which means your ceremony can happen at whatever location you choose!
This US State Department document has more info for Americans marrying in Portugal.
If you choose to complete the marriage legalities in Portugal, you’ll need at least the following documents:
All documents must be translated into Portuguese and stamped with an Apostille stamp if originating from outside Portugal.
You can find more detail on this page, along with links to some embassies.
Pro tip: Do the paperwork at home and let your destination elopement in Portugal be a breeze!
Yes! Same sex marriages have been legal since 2010. Though Portugal has a bit of a macho culture, most Portuguese people support LGBT equality and love.
For the unconventional couples who want a wedding experience low on stress and high on adventure! I help craft your dream elopement and create the intimate, authentic, and beautiful photographs you’ll remember it by forever.
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