With the end of the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, the number of marriages in the country soared 9 percent in the first half of the year compared to 2019, with 13,904 ceremonies. Of these, 3,294 related to foreign couples, or couples in which at least one of the members is of another nationality, the Ministry of Justice told DN/Dinheiro Vivo.

According to a report by the newspaper, the number of foreign weddings soared by 43 percent when compared to the same period in 2021, although it is still 16 percent lower than in 2019. Tourists from the United Kingdom and Ireland are the main markets in this segment, followed by Brazil and India. The Swedes, Australians, Spaniards and French are also highlighted by entrepreneurs in the sector as growing markets.

Although there is still no specific data on the number of tourists traveling to Portugal to get married, the duration of their stay or the associated expenses, it is estimated that couples of other nationalities invested around €158 million in 2019, according to an independent study cited by Turismo de Portugal, which points to an average expense of €25,000 per party, excluding all other associated costs such as travel and accommodation.

"The total amount handled will actually be much higher, taking into account that to this amount is added the investment made by the guests", emphasises the president of Turismo de Portugal, Luís Araújo.

Taking on competitors

"Foreigners spend a lot of money when they come to Portugal because they bring people with them, they often stay in more than one hotel, and they extend their stay for many days. They spend a lot and look for high quality services", explains Carina Monteiro, one of the founders of Portugal In Love, an international wedding forum held in Portugal. The official explains that the objective is to position the country as a wedding destination and compete with the main competitors such as Italy or Greece.

Turismo de Portugal has focused on promoting this segment abroad, considering that the wedding market "begins to assume a leading role in the national economy".

"The climate, security, competitive prices, gastronomic wealth, the diversified landscape, the cultural offer, the quality of service and available venues, along with the art of hospitality, the ability to speak different languages, the simplicity of required legal documentation, the thorough preparation and the availability of the agents involved in organising the event, are factors that put Portugal at the forefront when it comes to choosing a destination to get married", explains Luís Araújo.

Algarve demand

The Algarve continues to be one of the favourite destinations for foreign weddings, with a long tradition of hosting weddings, while also being a favoured holiday destination for foreigners, especially the British. The Algarve Tourism Association (ATA) states that the number of foreign marriages this year is already back to 2019 levels.

The number of companies specialising in international weddings is also growing. "We promote the Algarve as a destination fully prepared to host these ceremonies. The regional authorities are also prepared to deal with the procedural part of the bride and groom who do not speak Portuguese", explains the president of ATA, João Fernandes, who believes that the Algarve is capable of "responding to all challenges", due to the vast offer available for this niche sector.