Coronavirus is a pain in the butt and has probably messed up your plans if you’re getting married in the near future so we’ve put together a bit of a guide with tips and advice to help you elope in Portugal! In the previous article we looked at different locations throughout the country that would be perfect for an intimate ceremony or vow exchange and also amazing places to stay while in Portugal. In this post, we look into the legalities of a wedding ceremony and other service providers that you may need.

elopements in portugal
Destination weddings and elopements in Portugal and throughout Europe

Elope in Portugal – Legal Marriage vs. Symbolic Ceremony

A legal marriage in Portugal is a complicated thing, let’s be honest. There are a lot of documents to be shown, copies translated to Portuguese and then verified by an official notary. It involves being in Portugal in person several months before the wedding date to present your documentation and officially set the date with the magistrate who will perform your ceremony. And then the marriage ceremony itself takes place in Portuguese, (so you’ll need a translator) and is more akin to buying a car than a wedding.

It’s a legal (read BORING) ceremony all about the contract between the 2 of you and your rights and responsibilities to each other. All important and necessary stuff, but a total mood killer and really not what you want to remember when looking back on the romantic adventure that was your tiny wedding in Portugal. So what to do? A symbolic ceremony is what.

We have been helping couples elope in Portugal since 2012 and all of them have opted for a legal ceremony back home in their country of origin followed by a symbolic ceremony for their elopement and it works so well. Its more personalised with zero bureaucracy and you can chose whoever you’d like to officiate the ceremony (as opposed to the legal ceremony where you get whoever on duty that day). And even better, there are way less limitations on where you can have your ceremony, as its not an official one, you aren’t bound by the legal restrictions.

As you can probably tell, I am more of a fan of symbolic ceremonies but that doesn’t mean a legal ceremony is out of the question, you just may need some help with the logistics.

Elope in Portugal – Service Providers


As mentioned earlier, you’re most likely going to need someone to officiate your ceremony or exchange of vows. If you’re planning a legal ceremony, the magistrate will do this bit; if you’re going the symbolic route you could ask a friend or family member to take this role (assuming you have anyone attending the ceremony) or if its just the two of you then finding a great celebrant is key.

My number one recommendation would be Your European Wedding Celebrant, they are a super professional, friendly and always helpful team of celebrants available throughout the country. They will work with you to personalise your ceremony and vow exchange exactly the way that you want and can help with navigating the legalities of a civil wedding ceremony too, should you decide to have one. I have worked with them many times and it is always a pleasure.


In almost every elopement that I’ve photographed, it has been just the bride and groom and very occasionally, a handful of friends or family members. This inevitably means that there are folks back home who didn’t get to be a part of your wedding celebration and having a video made means that you get to share the moment and the emotions of your vow exchange with your favourite people once you return from your adventure.

In Lisbon, our favourites are Carlos from Videoart, Raquel and Zacarias from Happy Together and João and Hugo from Full Cut. In Porto and the north we love Fabio and Raquel from The Amazing Rabbit and Pixel.

Hair and Makeup

Whether or not you hire someone to help hair and makeup comes down to personal preference but in almost all cases, we are asked for references so here are some of our favourites. In Lisbon our number one is always Joana Moreira, for both hair and makeup. We also love Cati Beauty, Rita Rodrigues and Vania Oliveira and for hair, Lilia from Good Hair Day. In the Algarve, Bianca Pereira and in the north (Porto) our go-to-girls are the ladies at Jenny Make Up Land.


Obviously you´re not going to need a massive amount of decor or floral arrangements to elope in Portugal but a bouquet is always a good idea and with a bit of planning ahead, some flowers at your ceremony site (a floral arch for example) can up the glamour factor. In the Algarve, Suzannahs Flowers is our fave. In Lisbon, we love Kckliko and Flow and in Porto there is no-one better than Sofia from Branco Prata.

Hopefully these blogposts have been helpful and informative, its our aim to make life (and wedding planning) a little bit easier for you in the light of Covid 19 and the impact it’s having on all of us. Of course if you have any questions of need help with anything don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Piteira Photography | Wedding Photography Portugal
Piteira Photography | Wedding Photography Portugal