Choosing where to get married can be almost impossible if you're undecided about what would make your ideal wedding day. The myriad choice of countries, beautiful locations and stunning venues can leave even the most dedicated couple confused as to what would work best for them. After all, you don't want the “wrong” choice for the “best day of your lives”.
For couples wishing to marry in Europe consider Portugal for your wedding day – it boasts many stunning palaces and historical venues, a multitude of national parks filled with the joys of nature, world renowned gastronomy, and beautifully deserted beaches.
The north of the country, around the pretty town of Porto
, famous for its fortified wine, possesses rolling countryside covered in vines, ancient manor houses and pousadas, miles of unspoilt coastline, and not forgetting the
, a UNESCO world heritage site.
When deciding on the perfect location to marry you may wish to take a cruise down the Douro river, its path carved out of the cliffs of the local landscape, and take in the scenery. You could consider marrying in one of the many palaces available to hire in this area - with their intricate architecture and opulent interiors they make gorgeous venues in which to exchange your vows. Consider marrying in the spring when the weather has improved but the poppies, almond and cherry tree blossom is out – perfect to frame your wedding pictures.
Alternatively, the central area of Portugal may be ideal for you if you're a fan of nature and wish your wedding to incorporate a similar theme. This area has diverse landscapes, from towering mountains to never-ending plains dotted with multicoloured flowers, and endless sandy beaches. Several rivers flow through the region, carving their way through the countryside to the sea and creating tumbling waterfalls and clear lakes in their wake.
Pretty ancient villages dot the area, all witnesses to the battles and love stories of times gone by, and invoking images of knights and princesses. Choose one of the local castles or converted monasteries to create a modern dream wedding with strong links to the past.
If nature is not your passion, then perhaps a city wedding is more suitable? Portugal's capital city
sprawls over several hills along the banks of the river Tagus. Its historical centre contains narrow streets filled with bars, restaurants and the sound of Portugal's famous music, fado. Be inspired by the culture of Portugal here and choose a historical house or hotel in which to marry.
Or, if the capital is too much for you, consider marrying in one of the pretty villages close to Lisbon. Along the coast is the gorgeous area of
, with plenty of villas overlooking the beach and coast, any of which would make an ideal wedding venue. Just imagine, you could have a party around the pool as the sun sets over the sea!
South of Lisbon is the relatively unknown region of Alentejo
. The largest region of Portugal, it is underdeveloped and possesses miles of unspoilt beaches with no one but the locals visiting them - just perfect for a beach wedding without interruptions. As you travel around this area you'll see whitewashed farmhouses set amongst the rolling golden plains. Many of them have been developed for tourism, so you could hire one or two for you and your guests and have a private wedding party there to remember.
At the bottom of the country is the Portugal tourists know best, the Algarve
, famous for its beaches and good weather. This popular coast still makes an excellent wedding location as the high end hotels and resorts cater to every kind of ceremony. The Algarve coastline stretches for miles and with its hidden coves and sparkling blue/green sea you might even be inspired to marry on a yacht!
You could even incorporate the freshness of Portugal's cuisine into your wedding breakfast, perhaps a starter of oysters accompanied by a cold glass of Port, followed by a main course of fish straight from the sea grilled over coals and then a sweet almond tart for dessert?
If you like the idea of Portugal but would like something “different” for your wedding, then think about choosing one of Portugal's islands for your ceremony. The
are both in the Atlantic Ocean and are part of Portugal, but they offer a completely different option for your wedding day.
Situated off the coast of Morocco, Madeira
is an island famous for its lush, mountainous scenery. You can even climb so high up a couple of the mountains that you're above the clouds and can look down on the island. Deciding to marry here would be so much fun – choose one of the many beaches, marry up a mountain or even see if you could exchange vows in a cable car! And don't forget to include Madeira's famous wine and its honey cake into your wedding breakfast, they're simply delicious.
And finally, but by no means least, is the option to marry on the islands of the
. Further out into the Atlantic than Madeira, these volcanic islands are some of the tallest mountains on the planet if measured from the ocean bed, and Mount Pico is the tallest point in all of Portugal. The islands are covered in greenery and flowers, and you can also find crater lakes and lagoons as well as hot springs – perfect for a bit of pampering before your ceremony. The historical buildings in some of the towns make a beautiful backdrop for your wedding photos, and there are several luxury hotels which would make a good location for your actual ceremony.
So, the diverse countryside of Portugal is just waiting for you to decide to marry here. A short flight from the UK, and with none of the marriage technicalities of neighbouring Spain, this land on the edge of Europe might just be the perfect place for you to start married life together.
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