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Are You Just Engaged and do You Consider a Destination Wedding in Portugal? Here is Everything you Need to Know

Updated: May 6

Congratulations! You've just said YES to the love of your life, and now the journey towards your dream wedding begins. If you're considering a destination wedding in Portugal, you're in for a treat. With its stunning landscapes, rich history, and warm hospitality, Portugal offers the perfect backdrop for a romantic celebration. However, before you dive headfirst into planning, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind.


Couple holding hands and looking to each other

We got you covered with this comprehensive guide for new engaged couples who consider a destination wedding in Portugal.


 

In this article we will explore:


 

When we're swept up in the excitement of an idea, it's natural to focus on the good things and the potential benefits it offers. However, this enthusiasm can sometimes blind us to the drawbacks and challenges that may accompany our decisions. In the context of planning a destination wedding in Portugal, it's essential to approach the decision-making process with clarity and objectivity. In this article, we aim to provide a balanced perspective by shedding light on both the advantages and disadvantages of choosing Portugal as your wedding destination. By presenting a comprehensive view of the considerations involved, we empower you to make an informed and thoughtful decision that aligns with your vision and priorities.


Is a Destination Wedding Right For You?


Before considering whether Portugal can be the perfect destination for your wedding, the first question you should ask yourself is whether a destination wedding is right for you.


Pro´s

A Destination Wedding may be ideal for you when you are looking for:


  • Intimate Setting: Destination weddings typically involve a smaller guest list, allowing you to spend quality time with your closest family and friends in a more intimate setting.

  • Unique Experience: Hosting your wedding in a destination like Portugal offers a unique and memorable experience for both you and your guests, with picturesque landscapes and cultural immersion adding to the magic of the celebration.

  • Extended Celebration: A destination wedding often extends beyond just one day, allowing you to enjoy a longer celebration with loved ones in a beautiful location, creating lasting memories together.


Cons

Having a Destination wedding might not be the right decision for you if one or more of the following factors may apply to you:


  • Financial Constraints: Although Portugal is being known as an affordable destination, destination weddings can be costly for both you and your guests, with expenses including travel, accommodations, and other associated costs potentially placing a significant financial burden on everyone involved.

  • Limited Control: Planning a wedding from afar can indeed be challenging, as you may find yourself with limited control over certain details. While having the assistance of a local wedding planner is highly recommended, it necessitates placing trust and reliance on their work. If you're someone who prefers to have full control over every aspect of the wedding, a destination wedding may not be the best decision for you.

  • Guest Accessibility: Not all guests may be able to travel to a destination wedding due to various reasons such as health issues, financial constraints, or scheduling conflicts, which could result in important loved ones being unable to attend your special day.


Couple seated on a stone bench in front of old house

After you've decided whether a destination wedding is the right choice for you, the next question to consider is whether Portugal is the perfect destination for your special day.


Is Portugal the Perfect Wedding Destination for you?


For sure you have already heard about Portugal´s mild climate and the great food & vinho. But Portugal has so much more to offer.


Pro´s


  1. Strategic Location and Accessibility: Portugal's central location in Europe makes it easily accessible for guests traveling from all corners of the globe. With well-connected airports in Lisbon and Porto, as well as a reliable transportation infrastructure, guests can arrive conveniently, minimizing travel hassles and ensuring a higher attendance rate for your special day.

  2. Authenticity and Charm: Portugal offers an authentic and culturally rich experience for couples seeking a wedding destination with character and charm. From its picturesque cobblestone streets to its quaint villages and historic landmarks, Portugal provides a unique backdrop that reflects the country's vibrant heritage and warm hospitality, creating a memorable and meaningful wedding experience for couples and guests alike.

  3. Stunning Scenery and Diverse Landscapes: Portugal's diverse landscapes offer a plethora of breathtaking settings for wedding ceremonies and receptions. Whether you prefer the sun-kissed beaches of the Algarve, the lush vineyards of the Douro Valley, or the rugged cliffs of the Azores, Portugal provides a stunning backdrop that caters to a variety of wedding styles and preferences, allowing couples to tailor their wedding to their unique vision.

  4. Affordable Luxury: Portugal is known for being an affordable destination hence offering a range of options to suit different budgets which allows couples to create a bespoke wedding experience without the hefty price tag. However, bear in mind that also in Portugal, luxury services and quality come with a price tag. More about the costs of Destination Wedding in Portugal you can read in this or this article.

  5. Variety of Wedding Venues: Portugal offers a diverse selection of wedding venues to suit every couple's taste and style. From palaces and historic manor houses to farmhouses, wine estates and seaside villas, couples have a wide range of options to choose from, ensuring that they find the perfect setting to bring their wedding vision to life.


Cons


As you deserve our unbiased advice we also shed light on potential drawbacks that you should carefully consider before committing to a destination wedding in Portugal. While the country undoubtedly offers beauty and charm, it's essential to set realistic expectations.


  1. Overrated Tourist Hotspots: Portugal's popularity as a destination has soared in recent years, leading to overcrowding and inflated prices in certain areas. If you seek a truly unique and exclusive wedding experience, you may want to stay away from these tourist hotspots as they may fall short of your expectations.

  2. Logistical Nightmares: Planning a wedding in Portugal can be a logistical challenge, especially for couples residing abroad. Navigating time zones, language barriers, and bureaucratic red tape adds layers of complexity to an already stressful process. Portugal's complexities may prove overwhelming, especially when you don´t have the help of an experiences Destination Wedding Planner. For the same reason we always advise against a Civil Wedding in Portugal. More on that later.

  3. Cultural Differences: Portugal boasts a rich cultural heritage with its own customs and traditions. While this adds to the charm of a destination wedding, it may also lead to cultural differences that require sensitivity and adaptation. If you're seeking a wedding destination where cultural nuances closely align with your own, Portugal's distinct culture may pose challenges.

  4. Communication Concerns: Although we can't help admire the Portuguese for their ´slow down, be good´ lifestyle, this can seriously impact the communication and in particular the responsiveness of any vendor or venue. It requires patience as a ´response within 24 hours will be more of an exception here. Especially in the high-summer months responses may take time.


What we're emphasising with these 'reality checks' is that every pro comes with its con. However, as long as you're aware of this, these cons can be easily avoided. This means steering clear of tourist hotspots, avoiding commercial packages lacking authenticity and quality services, and opting to hire a seasoned Destination Wedding Planner who will help you navigate the logistical challenges and make the wedding planning proces a joyful experience.


Couple walking hand in hand on top of the cliffs

Now that you are sure that a Destination Wedding is perfect for you and that Portugal is the perfect wedding destination, it is important to know what comes next in order to set you up for a joyful destination wedding planning experience.


Financial Planning - Get a Sense of Your Budget´s worth in Portugal


Budgeting is a cornerstone of wedding planning. Although it is the least romantic part of the wedding planning journey, it is a crucial if you want to stay in control of your wedding expenses. Without a proper budget plan, you will embark on a journey without a roadmap. That may sound adventurous, but trust us - this is not the kind of adventure that you want for your destination wedding. So here are the steps that set you up for a successful start of the wedding planning journey:


STEP 1: Determine your Maximum Spending limit

This is as simple as adding up your funds and make sure you still remain with a small buffer for ´life after your wedding´. It is tempting to think that the more money you spend, the better your wedding experience will be, but we here to say that it doesn't work that way. As the matter of fact it is quite the opposite. The more you financially stretch yourself, the more tension and stress you will create as your expectation will grow. Have you ever heard of the formula for happiness?


Happiness = Reality -/- Expectations.

When the reality exceeds your expectations, you experience happiness. But when the reality doesn't exceed your expectations (as they were too high), you will experience disappointment to some extend.


We know there is a lot of pressure on having a Perfect Wedding, but that perfection won´t be achieved by breaking the bank. That is why our one and only advise is to stay grounded and define a maximum spending limit that you can afford!.


STEP 2: Get a Sense of Your Budget's Worth

Portugal is know as being an affordably destination and you sure get more bang for your bucks. However, it is crucial to keep in mind that also in Portugal, quality and luxury come with a price tag. Gaining a clear understanding of your budget's worth in the local context is crucial for you to align your expectations to your budget. In this article we define three benchmark values and you will find a link to a Free Budget Simulation.


STEP 3: Allocate Funds

The easiest and most effective way to allocate funds is by percentages. It does require time to research prices for every service that you may require. We have done the work for you with our Master Your Budget Plan you will not only have access to an Ultimate Budget Planner Tool, but you will also receive a Master Your Budget Workbook and The Ultimate Guest list Planner to stay in full control of your finances and logistics. For further information, hit the button below.




Streamline Financial Managent & Communication


Joint Bank Account

To streamline financial management, consider opening a joint bank account dedicated to wedding expenses. Pooling your resources ensures transparency and facilitates seamless transactions, allowing you to stay on top of payments and track expenditures effectively.


If you are not living in Europe or don´t have an European account, we highly recommend to open a Wise account. It’s a great tool for sending money internationally with low fees — much cheaper than using your local bank. You can also use their debit card to pay and withdraw money from ATMs when you travel. Click here to open your Wise account today.


(Our goal is to be completely transparent with you and our community. This link is an affiliate link. This means that when you click on this link we will earn a small commision at absolutely no extra cost to you).


Not all vendors in Portugal are able to accept creditcard payments or payments by Paypal as the often steep fees make these payment methods hard to support - especially for smaller businesses. With a Wise account you will be able to make transfers to Portugal safely and fast.


Couple walking hand in hand over the rocks

Create a Dedicated Wedding Email and Communication Channel

With numerous vendors to coordinate and guests to correspond with, communication is key to a successful destination wedding. Simplify your interactions by creating a dedicated email address solely for wedding-related correspondence. This centralized inbox keeps all wedding-related communications organized and easily accessible, allowing you to stay on top of RSVPs, vendor inquiries, and guest queries without cluttering your personal accounts.


Get Your Guest List Together


What does impact your budget most drastically?

RIGHT, the number of guests that will attend your wedding. Now you may think that you have quite a clear idea of who will come to your wedding because you have already made a first stab on the guest list. But trust us when we say that ´a first stab´ is not good enough.


There is really no point to wait with putting your guest list together until a later stage. Now is the right time to make a list of people you want to invite and to agree on a guest number that aligns with what feels right for both of you and your budget.

Keep in mind that an increase of 20 or 30 guests can have a significant impact on your budget so be conscious of the margin you set for the guests count to ensure that your budget won´t get strained.


Guest List Management: Strategise with A and B Lists

Once you've decided on your guest list, it's time to strategise. Create an A-list comprising must-invite guests, followed by a B-list of secondary invitees. This tiered approach allows you to prioritise within your budget constraints. Start by sending invitations to your A-list, and if RSVPs permit, extend invites to those on your B-list. This method ensures you maintain control over guest numbers without sacrificing essential relationships.


Navigate Legal Requirements & Ceremony Options in Portugal


As a non-resident, it is possible to get legally married in Portugal, which means that as a foreigner, you can have a civil ceremony in Portugal. In this article you will find everything you need to know about getting legally married in Portugal and what a civil ceremony looks like.


While a civil wedding in Portugal is an option, it involves additional paperwork and bureaucratic processes. Instead we advise to consider a symbolic ceremony or opt for a legal marriage in your home country followed by a celebratory ceremony in Portugal. Consult with local wedding planners or legal experts to ensure compliance with all necessary regulations and streamline the process.


Infographic what documents are required to get legally married in Portugal


Consider Accessibility: Choose the Right Airport


Portugal boasts excellent connectivity, making it accessible from various international destinations. Lisbon Airport serves as a major hub with flights arriving from all corners of the globe. Alternatively, Porto Airport offers convenient facilities and receives flights from numerous destinations, providing flexibility in travel arrangements for you and your guests.


In conclusion, planning a destination wedding in Portugal is an exciting adventure filled with endless possibilities. By considering the unique challenges and opportunities of a destination celebration, you can embark on this journey with confidence and create memories to last a lifetime.


Cheers to love, laughter, and happily ever after in the enchanting landscapes of Portugal!



 

Photocredits: Piteira Photography




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