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A Guide to an Eco-Wedding in Portugal

Updated: 6 days ago

We hear you wondering: "Can a destination wedding truly be Eco-Friendly?"

While the concept of jetting off to a dreamy locale might seem at odds with eco-friendly, the truth is that with careful planning and conscientious choices, a destination wedding can not only be eco-friendly but can also leave a positive impact on the environment.


Bride holding her veil under an oak tree

 

In this Guide to an Eco-Wedding in Portugal we will explore:



 

Eco-Wedding & Sustainability


Before we dive into our top tips for planning an Eco-Friendly destination wedding in Portugal, we first want to address that ´eco-friendly weddings´ and ´sustainable weddings´ are not exactly the same, although they are closely related concepts.


Eco-Friendly Approach to a Wedding: An eco-friendly wedding focuses on minimizing the environmental impact of the event. This typically involves making specific choices that reduce waste, conserve resources, and limit pollution. An eco-friendly approach to a wedding often centers on the event itself and the choices made within the wedding planning process to minimize its environmental impact.


Sustainable Approach to a Wedding: Sustainability, on the other hand, encompasses a broader perspective beyond just the event itself. 

Sustainability involves meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.


If you want to learn more about how you can make a positive impact beyond your wedding day, read this article about Planning a Sustainable Wedding in Portugal.


Bride and groom wandering through a field

Is Portugal an Eco-Friendly Wedding Destination?


Is Portugal an Eco-Friendly Wedding Destination? ABSOLUTELY!


According to the 2023 Sustainable Development Report, Portugal ranks 18th, a testament to its dedication to sustainable practices and it won´t stop here as Portugal aims to become one of the world´s most sustainable tourism destinations in the next years.

If you are not yet completely convinced, let us give you some more compelling reasons why Portugal is the perfect destination for those dreaming of a green wedding:


  1. Breathtaking Natural Beauty: From the sun-kissed beaches of the Algarve to the rolling vineyards of the Douro Valley and the by UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Natural parque of Gerês , Portugal boasts an abundance of natural wonders. Couples can exchange vows against the backdrop of stunning landscapes, surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature.

  2. Rich Cultural Heritage: With its historic cities, charming villages, and centuries-old traditions, Portugal offers a wedding experience steeped in culture and authenticity. You can incorporate local customs and rituals into their wedding celebrations, creating a meaningful and memorable experience for themselves and their guests.

  3. Farm-to-Table Cuisine: Portugal's culinary scene is renowned for its fresh, flavourful ingredients sourced from local farms and markets. You can treat your guests to a farm-to-table dining experience, showcasing the best of Portuguese cuisine while supporting local farmers and producers.

Are Eco-Weddings more Expensive?

As a seasoned destination wedding planner, we often get asked whether eco-weddings are more expensive compared to conventionally planned weddings. The truth is, it depends.


While it's true that some eco-friendly options may come with a higher price tag, such as choosing organic catering or a sustainable venue, there are many ways to plan an eco-conscious destination wedding without breaking the bank.

Impact on Wedding Budget compared to Conventional Wedding

Eco Wedding

Venue - potentially more expensive

Fewer options and eco-friendly venues are often pricier

Catering - potentially more expensive

As the Portuguese cuisine is rich in fish & meat, traditional Portuguese caterers may not meet your standards for vegetarian or vegan catering. Besides fewer catering companies to choose from, a fully customised menu may require an extra investment.

Vendors - no difference

While eco-friendly practices among Portuguese vendors are still emerging, it's important to note that those who have embraced sustainability in their services aren't necessarily more expensive.

Decoration - potentially less expensive

As part of an eco-conscious approach, couples often embrace the ´less is more´ concept which can be budget friendlier. Seasonal and locally grown flowers are typically less expensive than imported flowers and greens

Guests - less expensive

Whereas destination weddings in general already tend to have fewer guests, eco-weddings tend to be small and intimate affairs, so potentially less expensive.


In the end, it's about prioritising what's important to you as a couple and finding creative solutions that align with your budget and values. With careful planning and thoughtful choices, eco-weddings can be just as affordable, if not more so, than conventionally planned weddings.


Finding the Right Balance for Your Eco-Wedding in Portugal


Bride walks over a bridge while groom holds her hand

When it comes to planning an eco-wedding, couples often find themselves overwhelmed by the pressure to go all the way. In our opinion, planning a destination wedding should be enjoyable. Whether you're naturally drawn to sustainable living or simply want your wedding to reflect your values, every effort counts and embracing eco-practices shouldn't add wedding planning stress or overspending.


So, if you've booked an eco-friendly venue but still want a mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian options for your catering, that's totally fine. It's about finding a balance that works for you. Maybe you're using digital invitations instead of paper ones, but you're still opting for a few traditional elements. Or perhaps you're donating leftover food to a local charity, but you're not entirely plastic-free. Every step you take towards being eco-friendly is a step in the right direction. Remember, it's about doing whatever is feasible for you while making a positive impact.


Now that the options for eco-friendly weddings are almost endless, this article will outline the key areas where you can make the most eco-friendly differences for your destination wedding in Portugal.


Eco-Friendly Wedding Solutions


Venue & Guest Accommodation

  • Choose a venue that prioritises sustainability, such as eco-friendly hotels, vineyards with organic farming practices, or historic estates committed to energy efficiency. Look for venues with green certifications or those that utilize renewable energy sources like solar power.


  • If you need additional accommodations for your guests, another excellent way to be eco-friendly is to find lodging in the surrounding area of the venue. This reduces the carbon footprint of guests traveling to the venue. By managing accommodations strategically, you can optimize this by providing an eco-friendly collective transport service to and from your venue.


Catering

A caterer can make a significant difference in the eco-friendliness of your wedding. You can think of:

  • Choosing a caterer that prioritizes sustainability will make it easier for you to implement eco-friendly solutions. Traditional Portuguese catering companies may be less suitable if you want to have a fully vegetarian menu.

  • Choose seasonal specialities for your wedding menu:

  • Minimise foodwaste and the use of single-use plastic:

  • Choose locally sourced ingredients and Portuguese wines.


Electric car passes the bride and groom

Transportation

Obviously, the travel to Portugal is potentially the least eco-friendly factor of your destination wedding. Although some argue that it is green-washing, there are ways to offset the carbon emission from your travels. Airlines usually offer this option, but if you are looking for a more transparent way, you may want to have a look at Tree Nation.


Once you are in Portugal you can choose from several eco-friendly transportation options:

  • If your guests travel in groups, you can provide shuttles from and to the airport:

  • On the day of your wedding we highly recommend to organise transport for your guests convenience. You can go a step further by providing eco-friendly transportation such as electric tuk-tuks or electric cars:

  • Choose to have the ceremony and reception in the same venue.


➡️ By hiring local vendors, you can reduce even more carbon emission and it is also good for your budget as travel expenses are minimised.


Waste Reduction

It is no secret that a conventional wedding comes with a lot of waste. Most waste comes from the food, decorations, flowers and favours. You can minimise the waste by implementing the following practices:

  • Repurpose your floral arrangements. You can use your ceremony flowers to decorate the party and use the bridesmaids bouquets to decorate the dinner or buffet for instance:

  • Stay away from single use gadgets, and decorations, which are often purchased on the larger platforms which means that they travelled a long way to Portugal:

  • Instead of traditional wedding favours, give guests eco-friendly gifts such as native plant seeds, locally made artisanal products, donate a tree in the name of your love or give to a local charity.


Spread Awareness

Your Wedding is a reflection of your love, your values and your life. Celebrating this with a destination wedding in Portugal is a great way to invite your nearest and dearest on a journey that is uniquely yours. By incorporating an eco-conscious approach to your Wedding, you silently spread awareness about the love and respect for nature.


At the same time, having an open conversation with your wedding vendors about eco-friendly solutions - even if this is not yet part of their approach - may plant a seed to more sustainable practices on the vendor´s end.


Conclusion


In Portugal, you can celebrate your love in harmony with nature, surrounded by breathtaking scenery and locally sources ingredients and products.


Whether exchanging vows in a historic palace, cruising through cobblestone streets in an electric tuk-tuk, or dining on farm-to-table cuisine, an eco-friendly wedding in Portugal offers you the opportunity to create unforgettable memories while treading lightly on the planet.


Say "I do" to sustainability and embark on a green wedding journey in the heart of Portugal.



 

Photo credits: Nimagens


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