Our good friends, Pedro and Isabel, decided to get married. And guess what? We were invited! The catch? The ceremony was to be held 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, too, obviously.

I’ve been to a handful weddings in Indonesia, Canada, and the USA. While weddings in Canada and the USA are mostly intimate celebration with friends and family, and Indonesia’s are huge receptions with hundreds and even thousands of people in attendance (my sister’s wedding celebration had more than 2000 guests), I found Portuguese weddings to be a very family-oriented event.

When we arrived at Porto Airport, we stayed with Isabel’s parents in Vila Fria in Northern Portugal countryside. This gave us the unique opportunity to completely immerse ourselves in the excitement of the wedding preparation.

Portuguese Wedding: Cleaned up pretty nicely!
We cleaned up pretty nicely!

Why was a Northern Portuguese wedding so special for us? Here are some of the highlights.

It was ceremony was simply 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!

Portuguese Wedding: Igreja Paroquial de Matosinhos
Igreja Paroquial de Matosinhos

And the indoor finishes of the altar were covered in 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!

Portuguese Wedding: The Wedding Ceremony
The Wedding Ceremony.  Congrats Pedro and Isabel!

A Northern Portuguese Wedding is long: Over 16 hours!

A northern Portugal wedding reception is known to be 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!

Portuguese Wedding: Pre-ceremonial gathering. Avo (grandma) with her new fancy sunglasses!
Pre-ceremony gathering. Avo (grandma) with her new fancy sunglasses!

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 was filled with things to do!

Portuguese Wedding: So many good food, drinks and new friends!
So much good food and drink and lots of new friends!

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.

Portuguese Wedding: Presunto. We may know it as Prosciutto, or dry-cured ham.
Presunto. You may know it as Prosciutto, or dry-cured ham.

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 didn’t get left out though. Although the Portuguese are known for their meat dishes, they did provide vegetarian options as well.

Portuguese Wedding: Blood Sausage, a Portuguese delicacy
Morcela or Blood Sausage – a Portuguese delicacy

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.

Portuguese Wedding: Party
Dance Party

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!

Portuguese Wedding: Espresso shot is helpful for partying all night long!
Espresso shots are helpful for partying all night long!

Have you attended a different type of wedding anywhere in the world? How about a Portuguese wedding? Tell us about it in the comments!

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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.

One thought on “A Northern Portuguese Wedding Experience

  1. 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.

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