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  • Olivia De Santos

How to Plan a Wedding in Portugal from the USA & Canada

Hello to all of you lovely American and Canadian couples and a huge congratulations on your engagement! If you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking about getting married in Portugal which is a great idea - if I do say so myself as a Portugal wedding planner… My biases aside, Portugal can offer you a taste of Southern European culture, warm weather, accommodating people, beautiful landscapes and a real adventure. Planning a destination wedding in Portugal or anywhere in general can be daunting so I have created a complete guide of getting married in Portugal which you can find by clicking here.

That guide, however, is for every couple worldwide thinking of getting married in Portugal and I wanted to create a little article just for you in North America with specific considerations you need to think about when embarking on the adventure that is planning a destination wedding in Portugal. Here are my top 4 tips specifically for you!

Photo by Piteira Photography

Weddings in Portugal are cheaper but not cheap

Notoriously Americans have the most high priced weddings in the world which is both a blessing and a curse. I’m sure that in part, not only are you thinking of going abroad for the adventure of it, but also with the thought that you could save some money. On this point, it is completely true that you could save some money by getting married in Portugal but this also doesn’t mean that you’ll get that uber luxe Pinterest-worthy wedding for peanuts. What I like to say is that you money will stretch further in Portugal rather than it being cheaper, as this is difficult to quantify once you add on transportation, bank fees and other event costs (as many destination wedding clients opt to have 3 day events with welcome drinks or post wedding brunches).

Gratuities are not the custom in Portugal

Here in Portugal, it is not the custom to tip your vendors so you need not factor this into your budgeting. Most of Europe operates this way too like Spain, the UK, France etc. If you would like to add a gratuity we wedding professional love thank you gifts!

Photo by Marni V Photography

Prepare yourselves properly for Portuguese weather

One of the main questions I get from American and Canadian couples is “is there air conditioning?”. Yes we do have air conditioning in Portugal but I must warn you that it is not as advanced or powerful as it tends to be in North America. I know that you guys have machines that turn oven-like-rooms into an arctic wonderland but that is just not the level you’ll get here. However Portuguese houses and building are built to be cool inside with tiling being a feature of most hotel rooms, venues and offices. I would advise taking handheld fans with you if you are having a summer wedding and be sure to be properly hydrated all day.

Be mindful of the time difference

This is an important one for American and Canadian couples to think about as the time differences from you to us is quite large. Jet lag is a real thing. If you are flying over a number of guests for your idyllic Portuguese wedding, you want them to be as comfortable as possible. Your wedding location needs to be easy to get to or you need to have enough budget to cover transportation for all of your guests if you choose a fairly rural wedding venue. Travelling needs to be as smooth as possible for everyone so that the jet lag doesn’t knock them out completely! You can also assume that most people will be coming for 3-7days to make a real holiday of it so a great way to make your guests feel welcome if you create welcome packs, welcoming everyone to Portugal and letting them know about the area they are staying in. For my clients, I have a library of travel guides that they can send to guests to inform them about the best restaurants, how to get around, accommodation, sights to see and practical information to make them feel at ease.

I hope this article was helpful for all of the North American couples wondering about a wedding in Portugal. Do check out my Ultimate Guide to Getting Married in Portugal for a more comprehensive guide. If you are interested in a colourful wedding or elopement in Portugal, feel free to get in touch for a free consultation.