Destination Wedding

here comes the sun. planning a destination wedding in the algarve

04th July 2017 | Rachel Hirst

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The Real Algarve (1)

While we’re clearly huge advocates of couples marrying in the north of the UK, we know that some of our lovely bride readers crave sunnier climes for their big day – and as we look out Brides Up North HQ’s windows while writing this on a grey and drizzly July afternoon – we don’t blame ‘em!

But if you’re going overseas and taking your destination wedding squad with you, which hot spot is going to tick those boxes? While we wouldn’t turn down the option of a ceremony on a postcard-perfect white sandy beach in the Caribbean, we think trying the knot a little closer to home has its benefits in that it should require less time and money to travel there. This hopefully means you could afford to get in a few pre-wedding trips prior to the big day to meet with venues, planners and suppliers, and would hopefully ensure most of those on your guest list could afford to make the journey too.

A favourite holiday hot-spot for us sunshine-loving Brides Up North girls is the Algarve (in fact our Editor has just come back!), and given our many visits to this stunning area of Portugal, we can safely say that it would make an incredible destination for an overseas wedding too. Not only do we love its beautiful golden beaches, idyllic white-washed buildings, friendly locals and fabulous food, but until autumn it’s pretty much sunshine central and is less than a three-hour flight away.

So, in case all this talk of a wedding complete with sea, sun and sand has your piqued your interest, we’re handing over the blog to the expert team at The Real Algarve who know a thing or two about celebrations in the southernmost region of Portugal.

As a privately-owned family business, The Real Algarve was established in 1995 by experienced travel specialists Lynne and Simon Bunting​, and the company is now also headed up by their two daughters Katie and Vicky. The team specialise in providing luxury villas and apartments to rent in the Algarve, and also have a wedding planner based in the region, meaning they’ve got the inside track on planning dream weddings in the Algarve – and they’re kindly sharing details with us here today…


The Real Algarve team say: Thinking of tying the knot in the Algarve? Famous for its long sandy beaches, delicious food and welcoming locals, why wouldn’t you want to get wed there? The Algarve is less than three hours away, and has beautiful weather almost guaranteed until mid-October. For those tempted, we’ve put together the ins and outs of planning a wedding in the Algarve, with insider knowledge from a local wedding planner from ​The Real Algarve​.

legalities & paperwork

Getting married in Portugal isn’t complicated but there are a couple of important things you need to know before you start booking your flights and accommodation.

Just like in the UK, civil ceremonies and Catholic church weddings are recognised by law and are legally binding. As with any wedding, there is some paperwork that needs to be arranged in advance so allow plenty of time to get your documents in order. Your documents will need to be originals, Apostille stamped (a stamp which authenticates the document) and translated into Portuguese by an agency verified by the Portuguese Consulate.

For a civil ceremony, you’ll need long-form birth certificates and certificates of no impediment, as well as your passports. Catholic church weddings are a bit more complicated, as you’ll need to provide some permission letters from your parish priest and bishop – for the full list of what’s required, contact the ​Portuguese Embassy​.

wedding planner

Even if you’re very familiar with the area and have visited many times before, arranging a wedding in a different country can be a challenge, which is why it’s a good idea to consider hiring someone with some local knowledge to help out. They’ll be on hand to take care of the arrangements before you and your party arrive, leaving you able to enjoy the experience without the stress.

The Real Algarve (2)


This is where you’ll need to tap into your wedding planner’s knowledge of local suppliers. They will be able to advise you on florists, caterers, makeup artists, hair stylists, and photographers in the local area and give you honest recommendations.


When planning to have your wedding abroad, a key consideration for most couples is how many guests to invite and how to accommodate them and their needs.

Attending a wedding abroad can be a very costly affair, and the bride and groom are generally not expected to pay for everything. Having said that, it can’t be presumed that all guests will be able to afford to attend.

Although the flight time from the UK to the Algarve is approximately 2.5 hours, you’re probably planning on being there for more than a couple of days. If your budget will allow, consider renting a large villa for you and your VIP guests to stay in. It could also double as your reception venue. The luxury ​Villa Catalina​ sleeps up to 19 guests and has a cinema, gym, games room as well as private pool and golf course views.

For those with more regal tastes, ​Casa Valerie​ also sleeps up to 19 guests and is owned by the Portuguese Royal Family. It offers breath-taking views over the bay of Lagos and is steeped in history making it an ideal wedding reception venue.

wedding outfits

The climate in the Algarve is a consideration when choosing your wedding outfits. The Algarve has one of the best climates in Europe, with very mild winters and long summers, meaning you have plenty of options when trying to find a date that suits everyone. As it’s very likely to be warm, you’ll want to avoid heavy, layered dresses and thick, wool suits are a no-no. Instead consider dresses in lighter styles, in breathable linen, cotton or silk and replace the morning suits and waistcoats with trousers and shirts in thinner fabrics. Add a pair of sunnies and voila!

If you’re planning to get married in the Algarve, check out ​The Real Algarve​ for luxury villas, venues and local wedding planners.

Images provided by The Real Algarve.

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