Portugal and the Algarve are hugely popular holiday spots with Irish families and couples – endless hours of sunshine, beautiful scenery, fantastic hospitality, fabulous Mediterranean food, great prices and just a short two-three hour flight from Ireland, it makes for a fab wedding destination as well. We asked wedding planner Stefanie from Wedding Planner Algarve to share all you need to know about getting married in Portugal and the Algarve.
The Best Time to Get Married
One of the main attractions for Irish couples planning a destination wedding is undoubtedly the weather with several months of guaranteed sunshine in Portugal and the Algarve. Stefanie says “The wedding season in Algarve starts in March and goes on until the end of October every summer. Although some companies are trying to promote winter weddings, the peak season will always be the summer with June and September as the top wedding months. Having said that the weather in the Algarve is warm and breezy with sunshine even in March, April and October. This past November we had such a wonderful month that we actually regretted not having booked any weddings as the weather would have been perfect. The Algarve has the most sun hours of all Europe and together with their award winning beaches, a tropical climate ideal for an outside wedding at a lush garden or beach location, it’s the perfect option for couples looking for a warm destination just a short flight from Ireland. The month to avoid would be February as the chance of rain is probably highest during this month. If you can’t take the heat very well, the end of July and August would be the hottest months so do take this in to consideration when planning your dates. Also accommodation will be more expensive as these are high season holiday months.”
The Advantages of a Portuguese Wedding
When it comes to planning the perfect wedding, Portugal has everything you could dream of including affordable flights and accommodation, ideal for both couples and guests. It’s still relatively new to the destination wedding scene so couples can plan a magnificent wedding on a smaller budget. And their incredible Mediterranean food and the fact there is no limitation on drinks makes it even more appealing to Irish couples. Stefanie says, “What the Irish love most about Portugal Algarve, is firstly of course the lovely weather and sunshine but in a good second place, they love how the Portuguese love their food and drinks and how much you get for your Euro in comparison to back home. Portugal is quite a young wedding destination and the wedding teams in the Algarve at venues and Wedding Planning companies are still eager to go that extra step to please the couple and help them create the most fabulous, magical day.” Another big bonus according to Stefanie is that when you’re in Portugal, “your drinks are included with the meal meaning they’re unlimited!” Wedding menus include unlimited wine and some venues also operate an open bar for set periods as well.
The Wedding Locations
When it comes to choosing the perfect location, Stefanie says couples are spoilt for choice with lots of fabulous options. “We always encourage our couples to do plenty of research of what they would like, whether is it rustic, formal, low-key, or a blow-out bash, the wedding style you and your partner envision will be a big factor in determining where to host your celebration. Also the amount of guests you are inviting and whether you want a traditional or non-traditional venue or a definite beach view. The region has many beautiful Catholic churches, beach locations and sea view terraces, cliffs or private villas or marquees with beautiful gardens throughout the Algarve where you can hold your ceremony and/or reception. Irish couples can look forward to finding something different to back home. Picture an outside drinks reception overlooking a stunning beach, a church or outside ceremony at a stunning cliff or an intimate garden or palace.” And accommodation wise, there is something to suit all tastes and budgets from private villas to budget-friendly apartments.
When it comes to ease of planning, Stefanie says a lot of people speak English. “A plus is most of the Portuguese working in the Algarve speak fluent English and if I look at my company, our office has all English speakers as we specialise in Irish and UK Weddings abroad for the past 9 years. I even dream in English nowadays!” But as with all destination weddings, a good wedding planner who knows the system, can negotiate with local vendors and who can speak the language is a huge benefit. “Someone who has the contacts and speaks the language is really important, says Stefanie, especially when it comes to the legal side of things like translating documents. We offer a bespoke service, 7 days a week and guarantee to be on hand throughout your planning process, helping with all the day to day tasks, morning, afternoon or evening far after office hours. The great thing about wedding planners is that they have excellent contacts with all the popular hotels and beach resorts in the Algarve, and can source the best prices due to their local background and knowledge. We’re also able to help you find unique undiscovered venues.”
It is possible for Irish couples to get legally married in Portugal and the Algarve but as with all weddings abroad, the law is changeable so it is best to check with Irish authorities or your wedding planner for the most up-to-date information. Currently, there is no legal residency requirement for a wedding in Portugal but couples must arrange for a non-impediment certificate, which is to ready 6 months prior to the wedding (find out more here). Catholic ceremonies are legally binding and can only take place in a church – many priests in Portugal speak English and may be happy to conduct your ceremony or it is possible to bring your own priest. If you don’t speak Portuguese, you’ll be required to hire an official translator to ensure you understand the ceremony.
As with all weddings, whether home or abroad, paperwork and legalities can be on the tricky side which is why in particular for weddings abroad, a wedding planner can be extremely helpful. According to Stefanie, “They advise you of the best options, help you with what you need and where to send it, translation of documents and all necessary licenses. We can advise you how to proceed with all types of ceremonies such as civil ceremonies, Catholic Church weddings, Church of England or Symbolic Blessings. We also work with English, Portuguese or Dutch speaking celebrants, registrars and priests, or of course, it is also possible to bring your own priest.” And of course, if you don’t want to worry about the paperwork abroad, you can get legally wed at home and head off to Portugal just for the celebrations.
The great thing about destination weddings is that if you hire a planner, they can also help on the ground with things like decorating the venue, ensuring you don’t have to lug boxes full of decor on a plane. There’s also a natural charm to lots of destination venues with stunning beach or mountain backdrops, gorgeous scenery and a beautiful new culture and local influences to work with. Make sure to let your dress designer know that you’re jetting off for a destination wedding when it comes to packing your wedding dress, and leave the rest in the capable hands of your dedicated wedding planning team!
For more information on Wedding Planner Algarve or to see if they can help you with your Algarve destination wedding, pop over to Stefanie & Wedding Planner Algarve’s weddingsonline profile here.
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Pamela enjoys writing about all things decor (she loves buying it too) and has a not so secret addiction to stationery.