Your ultimate Algarve Destination Wedding Guide
written by your Algarve Wedding Photographers
Maria & Sandy
One of the most exciting things to happen in a person’s life is getting married. Planning for a destination wedding will take a lot of work but the rewards will be worth it. Out of town weddings are preferred by couples as a way to lessen the number of guests at the event. Some might even elope like my parents for example. A destination wedding can be also the fulfilment of their fantasy. Perhaps you are already looking for the best place to celebrate. Welcome to the Algarve and enjoy our Algarve Destination Wedding Guide.
In the most western part of Europe, at the wild Atlantic shores and the southern tip of Portugal lies the beautiful Algarve, which is becoming more and more popular for couples looking for a unique destination wedding. As I have lived here now for more than 10 years and working the photography industry. Today I will bring you the Algarve wedding closer to you, so it may not just stay a dream for you.
Once it was called the end of the old world, at a time when Portugal started to explore new continents and finally discovered America. This, of course, happened a long time ago, but you can still see many signs of Portugal’s height from 500 years ago.
Some of Algarve’s cities and villages date back 2000 years ago. It is still a very traditional part of Europe, not yet fully discovered and unchanged by mass tourism. It is a region blessed with amazingly beautiful beaches, a sub-tropical climate. There are almond, orange and olive trees and even beautiful mountains.
The Algarve has the perfect weather and a delicious very traditional cuisine. Every year more and more couples are discovering this part of Portugal and they decide fly to this Southern-Europe paradise to celebrate their special day. The locals are very friendly and most of them will always help. Many of them speak English as well, especially when they are working with tourists.
As your hands are full of organizing, the last thing you want to worry is the weather. Planning a wedding between April and October, you never have to worry about rain. As a matter of fact, during the last two winters 2016 and 2017, the Algarve just saw a few days of rain. Even if there are some clouds, it´s almost always dry.
The Algarve has the sunniest days in Europe, leading Europe’s sunny hours per day index and it’s even beating California. Perhaps it is no coincidence that experts call the Algarve Europe’s California. The temperatures between March and November are high enough for an outdoor Algarve Wedding.
I recommend May, June and September the most, as the temperature has risen a lot but it is still bearable. Some might find July and August too hot, when at the daytime temperature can rise as high as 40 degrees, sometimes even beyond. I´m sure you don´t want to have a sunburn or even worse – a heat stroke – on your wedding day.
Bring at least SPF 30+, stay most of the time in the shade and make sure you drink a lot, which you will do anyway because the Algarve’s Sangria is one of the best in Europe.
There are many great features for Algarve Destination Wedding venues. From getting married barefoot in the sand, a white chapel on top of a cliff, beautiful golf courses to a luxurious rococo palace. Many beautiful options indeed and it’s up to you to pick your favourite.
Many couples prefer to have their Algarve Wedding ceremony on the beach instead of a fancy wedding-venue. There are more than 100 beaches with crystal clear water and white sand that would be perfect for your wedding. Be careful with tides, you don´t want your wedding dress to get wet. The Algarve beaches experience a huge a tidal range, so knowing when to go is almost as important as where. Getting married barefoot in the sand. Find a venue vendor who has experience with beach weddings, because many beaches require a license. Beach weddings are becoming more and more common in the eastern and central Algarve.
Another option is a top cliff venue. The more to the west you go, the nicer and powerful the cliffs start to fringe the ocean coast. Stretching from Albufeira towards Sagres, the most western town in the Algarve, the beaches start having the typical Algarve beach look. Senhora da Rocha is such a place, a little chapel on top of a stunningly beautiful Algarve cliff. Available for Algarve Wedding ceremonies.
There’s a beautiful church in almost every village, there are a few in every town. Plenty to choose from. Your Algarve Wedding planner will know which one is available for wedding ceremonies. Just to name a few more famous ones:
Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Luz: Located close to the beach in the small fisherman’s town of Praia da Luz. This church has a beautiful traditional appearance.
Igreja do Carmo: This beautiful church is located in the city centre of Faro. It features a stunningly beautiful baroque façade and twin bell towers, built 1719.
Igreja Matriz de Estoi: This one is our favourite church. Located in the very center of Estoi, a romantic village near Faro. It was built in the 15th century and features a wide stair in front, perfect for group photos of your wedding guests.
is probably the most elegant venue you will find in the Algarve. It is one of the finest 19th century “Rococo” styled palaces in Portugal’s south. It has been converted into a luxury hotel, just a few years ago. There are beautiful outdoor locations for your wedding photographs. You can have the ceremony on top of the stairs and later on chill with your guests, having refreshing drinks in the beautiful palace garden. Of course, you can have dinner too. Why not spend your honeymoon at the same place! The palace can hold weddings of up to 250 people. See a wedding we have photographed at the Palacio de Estoi.
is another option to get married at. It is one of the most amazing golf courses I have ever seen. Located close to the border, you can get married in Portugal and enjoy a wide vista to Spain at the same time. The club offers amazing villas for rent and the ceremony can be held in your own garden. The club’s own restaurant can take care of all the catering you will need. See our wedding photos from Castro Marim Golf and the Pre-Wedding photo shoot. And here the Castro Marim Golf and Country Club website.
It is located on the western coast. It has been completely restored and converted to little holiday homes. This village suffered a massive loss of inhabitants and was almost deserted, until a Portuguese businessman came along and bought the whole lot, to restore its charm and to offer a unique remote holiday experience for people who want to escape from modern civilization. There is no cell phone signal and the last time I spoke to the owner, he said that they will keep it this way, as a part of the experience. Aldeia da Pedralva. The West Coast is simply stunning and the good news is that it hasn’t been discovered very much for an Algarve Destination Wedding yet. Featuring a Jurassic coastline with truly breathtaking cliffs. There are many windy days though, be careful and don’t let your veil or documents fly away. The big waves are always unpredictable, don´t have the ceremony too close to the water!
is truly a marvel for eloping couples seeking for traditional old villages, massive fields of cork oak and olive trees. These days you should look close to the Spanish border or further north, the Alentejo. If you prefer more modern-style, keep looking to the west and by the ocean.
Last but not least, there are many luxurious villas which you can rent for a week or two. During the high season the prices go up, but if also would like to accommodate your friends and family, it is worth paying.
The catering can turn the garden into a fancy restaurant and you don´t even have to leave the villa! Unless of course, you decide to get married in one of the churches and then to head back after the ceremony. Enjoying the great garden and the swimming pool with your friends. Most of the villas have enough space for two families. Pick one from many hundreds available. Vilalaia: http://www.we-love-portugal.com/
There are some wedding dress shops in the Algarve, especially in Portimao and Faro. But it is probably a good idea to buy your wedding dress in your hometown. For the transport of the wedding dress make sure to protect it very well. Perhaps even consult your airline to reserve some extra room for your precious gown.
Of course, you want to have great photos from your special day and therefore hiring a professional Algarve wedding photographer is a good idea. Choosing a wedding photographer in the Algarve might be very challenging, but for your luck, there are a few good wedding photographers to choose from. Sometimes people might underestimate its importance but actually is as important as finding the right wedding venue or your dream wedding dress. Because your wedding photos have to last a lifetime. Thinking about the budget is important, but never choose your wedding photographer only by the price or the number of pictures they offer.
Pick quality over quantity and choose a photographer that has photographs in his portfolio that capture the way you would like to remember your special day. Every wedding photographer has his own style and that’s a very good thing. Pick the one that ticks your boxes visually and then think start thinking about your budget.
As the sun is very strong in Portugal, the best time for the photos is in the afternoon. If you are planning also an engagement and post-wedding photo shoot, try to find time around the sunset hours, because then the light will be soft and golden, just perfect for your wedding album. We’ll be happy to be your Algarve Wedding Photographer.
When it comes to the flowers, you should order them before you arrive, flower shops are so not common in Portugal, perhaps because there are flowers everywhere and that might be a reason why locals don’t have to buy them. So, make sure, that the florist can fulfil your special order. The easiest way is to look for a florist on Facebook, where you can see the pictures of their work and their customer reviews. But if it happens that you are already in the Algarve, go to the bigger shopping malls in the larger cities, like Portimao, Faro and Lagos, there you will find a florist shop.
This preparation no bride wants to skip. Ana Vieira is one of the Algarve’s leading make-up artist and hairdresser. She has a ton of experience, is a teacher at her own MUA-school and is very professional and reliable indeed.
Also, what you need consider is transportation. The Algarve has only one international airport, in Faro. There is a bus running between the Faro city centre and Ilha de Faro (and stops at the airport) at least two times per hour. From Faro you can take a train or a bus to almost all the cities in the Algarve. Please notice that some train stations are out of the city and sometimes and therefore too far to walk, so your only option is to call a taxi.
But you did probably not come all the way from Moscow to wait for a hot commuter train. You can rent a car from many different car rentals. Be aware that there is a road toll on the Algarve’s motorway. Better rental companies will offer you a device for a more convenient toll payment. Without it, you have to pay the road toll at one of the local post offices, but only between one day after you drove on the motorway and then within 7 days. Unfortunately, I am not making this up. Better avoid this trouble and one get in touch with a private transfer service. Most of them are very professional, speak English and have new and comfortable cars.
Altlantik Morning Transfer: http://www.atlantikmorning.com/am-transfers/
You can get married legally in Portugal, but of course, there is some paperwork waiting for you. First things first, you may only be married according to the Portuguese law. Both type of weddings – civil ceremonies and catholic church weddings – are legally recognized. For the civil ceremony, a local registrar will perform your ceremony. The ceremony will be conducted in Portuguese, you may need an interpreter if you don’t speak Portuguese.
A civil marriage will take place at the Civil Registry Office.
But your wedding planner can take care of this. The religious ceremony will be also conducted in Portuguese, you don’t have to have an interpreter, but you might consider hiring one. You will need to contact a local priest for further details. If it feels too complicated to organize a wedding abroad by yourself, why not to ask help from wedding planners. They know the best where to get a wedding cake or flowers for the best price. You can have a non-stressful wedding day and enjoy the celebration.
Algarve Prestige Weddings: https://algarveprestige.com
Amazing Algarve Weddings: www.amazingalgarveweddings.com
There is a vast possibility for activities in the Algarve, from skydiving, boat tours, dolphin and whale watching. Big game fishing, jeep safari and guided tours along the coast. You can visit vineyards or explore romantic caves by boat. There are treats for everyone. Why not send the groomsmen on an off the coast fishing trip? You and your bridesmaids meanwhile can have a good time at one of the seasonal water parks. Seasiren Tours
Airport: The Algarve’s only airport is located near Faro (FAO), most visitors to the region fly in here. Another option is to fly to Lisbon (LIS) or Seville, Spain (SVQ), rent a car and drive to your destination.
Time: is GMT +0
Currency: The currency is Euro
Banks: are closed during the weekends and holidays
Food: The food in the Algarve is just great, there are hundreds of restaurants and all of them offer great quality food as grilled fresh fish and delicious wines from the Algarve and Alentejo. The prices are good. It is really hard to find a not so good place.
Pharmacies: There are pharmacies in every city, some of them have a night desk.
We hope that our Algarve Destination Wedding Guide has helped you, please send us a message and let us know if you think that there is something missing. Perhaps it has made you consider getting married in the Algarve, in Portugal. Of course, a wedding in your home country can be as beautiful as in Algarve, but celebrations abroad make it probably more unique and memorable.
We suggest starting planning your Algarve Destination Wedding a year ahead to get everything ideal as there are already a few people doing the same. The good thing is that Portugal as a wedding destination is still pretty much undiscovered and you don´t have to worry that your friends or neighbours had weddings at the same place. I hope you will have your dream wedding. Enjoy your special day! See you soon in the sunny Algarve!
Maria & Sandy, your Wedding Photographer in Algarve