I was recently chatting about weddings in the churches here in the Algarve and realised that not everyone knows how you can have a Christian ceremony here in Portugal.
Common questions are, can people coming on holiday get married in the churches here? Do I conduct weddings in places other than the church? What do couples need to do in order to get married here? So I thought it would be a good idea to let you know about the ins and outs of Algarve weddings.
In the UK (and I guess because the church there is tied to the state), when someone marries in a church, the priest acts as a registrar. In other words, the priest carries out the same duties that would be carried out at a UK registry office and has the same authority. In nearly all other countries, a legal official has to carry out the legal ceremony. Here in Portugal, it’s a notary, and I know it’s the same in Germany as well, where you can’t get married in a church and be legally married. Everybody getting married must first appear at a Standesamt for a civil ceremony. Once the marriage is legal, then one may have the ceremony in a church.
Here in Portugal, it is similar, and many couples coming from the UK who have their church weddings here (although I have conducted German, South African and Sri Lankan weddings as well) have had the legal wedding part done prior to the church wedding.
Using the rich liturgy of the Church of England, the service is probably something you all know very well. There is a bible reading, often an additional reading – a poem or an extract from a book etc., the traditional entrance and exit music (although we can and do have all kinds of music) and some hymns in between.
The two main churches where we hold wedding services are Nossa Senhora da Luz in the west Algarve and St Luke’s in the east. But, St Vincent’s Chaplaincy is permitted to hold wedding blessings in any of the churches in the Algarve, thanks to the kind permission of the Bishop of The Algarve and the rest of the church.
As I mentioned earlier, we also conduct weddings in other venues as well, the Tivoli Carvoeiro Hotel being one of my more enjoyable venues last year with its stunning sea backdrop. We are also very accustomed to working with the many wedding planners here in the Algarve.
So in a nutshell, yes, you can get married in one of the beautiful churches here in the Algarve, and many people do want to say their vows in these holy places.