Friends of ours from Portugal decided it was time for them to marry. And they invited us!
The catch? The ceremony was in Matosinhos – a town on the outskirts of Porto, Portugal. To their surprise (I think), we decided to cough up the money for plane tickets and go!
After all, we couldn’t pass up attending a Portuguese wedding!
Seeing a bit of Portugal and Spain was also an incentive to go, obviously.
I’ve been to a handful weddings in Indonesia, Canada, and the USA. Weddings in Canada and the USA are mostly intimate celebration with friends and family.
Indonesia’s are huge receptions with hundreds and even thousands of people in attendance (my sister’s wedding celebration had more than 2000 guests)
A Portuguese wedding is a family event
When we arrived at Porto Airport, we stayed with the bride’s parents in Vila Fria in the Northern Portugal countryside.
This gave us the unique opportunity to completely immerse ourselves in the excitement of the wedding preparation.
Why was a Northern Portuguese wedding so special for us? Here are some of the highlights.
Portuguese wedding ceremonies are stunning
Igreja Paroquial de Matosinhos (the Parish Church of Matosinhos), where the ceremony was held, was like nothing I’ve ever seen. The curb appeal of this church was very inviting.
It included the typical Portuguese black and white paving pattern.
If you have been to Portugal and their colonies (mainly Brazil), I’m sure you would recognize this right away!
And the indoor finishes of the altar glittered with gilded materials. It was an elegant church, and with the harp playing, it was a perfect place to celebrate this beautiful union of our friends!
A Portuguese Wedding day is long
A northern Portugal wedding reception is both very festive and very long! The longer, the merrier, in fact.
We loved it. Pedro and Isabel crafted their wedding day very creatively, and we enjoyed every minute of it!
When we learned that the ceremony started at 10 in the morning till around 4 in the morning, I was a little skeptical about whether or not I would be able to stay awake.
But I managed, and so did about 80 other people of varying ages from under 10 to over 80!
The entire day’s itinerary was full!
Food, food, and drink
We all knew this was going to be a long day, so there was food and drinks made available throughout the day and into the wee hours of the night.
Portion sizes were small(er), and served (more) often than typical American fare.
The highlight of the food I tried was Portuguese Black Pudding Morcela, or traditional blood sausage (Michael, being a vegetarian, skipped this delicacy).
It was rich, flavorful, and smokey.
Michael was fine though.
Although the Portuguese are famous for their meat dishes, they had vegetarian options as well.
Everybody is celebrating
The DJ did a great job keeping people on the dance floor. There was a wide range of different songs – tons of American songs from the 80s and 90s, and even lots of Brazilian songs.
I learned a handful new folk line dances and we had a great time till almost 4 in the morning.
Even Avó, the grandma, was celebrating and dancing with her walking cane!
Espresso shots are your friend
The good thing about a coffee culture country is that espresso shots are always available upon request.
And trust me – you want to have several of these throughout the night if you want to keep up with the celebration!
After the wedding, we headed to Lisbon to attend our first Lisbon Sardine Festival to honor St. Anthony.
Another way to see Portugal
Portugal is a small country, by the way. It is best seen by doing a road trip, such as the Porto to Faro itinerary Driving Holiday in Portugal by fellow blogger The Road Trip Guy.
For More on Portugal: When we travel, we use Lonely Planet. By buying a book at one of the Amazon.com links below, we get a small referral fee at no additional cost to you.
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Halef moved from Indonesia to the US nearly two decades ago to go to college here. He hasn’t looked back. He’s been to over forty countries and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. He’s a Landscape Architect in Atlanta, GA.
I live next to Porto Airport, less than 10 minutes from that church! I have yet to attend a Portuguese wedding, though, which is OK after shooting weddings for five years. I attended a wedding in Germany in March and New York in October, so I guess it’s just a matter of time before I’ll see one here in Portugal.