If you read this blog, you know that I got married near Lisbon, Portugal nearly a year ago. Due to requests from a number of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances, here are my top 10 tips for planning a destination wedding! Side note – these are probably most applicable for those traveling to Europe (and particularly Portugal) from outside of Europe (I’m from New York).
# 1 – Get Married In A Destination That You Are Somewhat Familiar With, i.e. You Have Visited Before Your Wedding.
To be clear, if you have never visited a destination, do not have your wedding there. Your wedding, which will take months to plan, cost a small fortune, and stress you out to no end, should not be held at some place that you *think* is magical, but to which you have never even visited in person. Save that for your honeymoon. For your wedding, you need a basic understanding as to what you are getting yourself into, the destination, and the culture. We had visited Portugal 3 times before our wedding.
02.09.17. Sintra, Cabo da Roca, and Ericeira, Portugal. 2 days married. Eighth full day in Europe.
Day 8. Wow, our final full day of our European wedding vacation! Since Day 7 was our day of rest (a la our Day at Sea circa 2010 – hello, Pryor!), I planned a full day excursion for everyone’s (everyone who was still in town, anyway) final day in Portugal! I used Tours by Jorge to plan a private day tour to Sintra, Portugal, with lunch and a stop at Cabo do Roca, all starting and ending at Hotel Vila Gale Ericeira! I was seriously the best bride… = )
The beautiful Portuguese countryside that we toured!
If you read my series of wedding posts, you may know that I had lunch at Restaurant Nortada on the Atlantic coast of Portugal on a day trip to Sintra and Cabo da Roca from Ericeira. What you may not know, are how many restaurants that I looked at before choosing Restaurant Nortada! In any case, Restaurant Nortada was amazing and it was definitely the best choice!!
Taking in the view at Restaurante Nortada, Praia Grande, Portugal.
Restaurant Nortada is an upscale, pricey, seafood restaurant set in a GORGEOUS location between Sintra and Cabo da Roca in Praia Grande. There is no question about any of those adjectives. Restaurant Nortada was recommended to me by a tour company, Tours by Jorge, and I was initially put off and thought this was “referral” scheme. But, it turns out it wasn’t and Nortada was truly an excellent experience that I recommend.
As you probably know, Dan and I got married in Portugal last summer and spent a lot of time researching restaurants and activities for our guests. After reading about Mar Das Latas in Ericeira, Portugal, we booked dinner here for 7 people the night before our rehearsal dinner. We all liked it so much that Dan and I went back and so did his sister with her Portuguese boyfriend’s family!
Although Dan and I had been to Lisbon and Sintra before our wedding trip, we had never made it to Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point in continental Europe. Cabo da Roca was always on my “bucket list,” but its not the easiest place to get to, especially without a car or a guided tour group. For our wedding trip, we organized a day trip from Ericeira to Sintra for our guests, and were able to tack on a stop at Cabo da Roca in the late afternoon! As you can see, Cabo da Roca is gorgeous and an amazing way to end our day trip (and wedding week!).
Funny enough, for all of my returning readers, the company “Wines of Portugal” originally interested Dan and me in visiting Portugal several years ago – Wines of Portugal did a wine dinner in Princeton, New Jersey and we attended! Little did we know that we would be returning in 2017 to get married in Portugal! Thanks Wines of Portugal!
Sintra, Portugal. Billed as a fairy tale castle city outside of Lisbon that, while not a household name, must be on every traveler’s bucket list. I visited Sintra in 2014, and I definitely had my doubts. Sintra was rumored to be terribly grandiose and was compared to the likes of Neuschwanstein and Disney castles. Despite my doubts, Sintra totally won me over! So much so that I organized a day trip to Sintra for guests at my wedding in Portugal!
For all my raving about Porto, Portugal, I may even love the Douro Valley more! Referred to generally as “the Douro,” the Douro Valley is a valley northern Portugal; yes, the one that borders the greater Porto area and the one in which the famous porto grapes, eventually make port wine, are grown. The Douro River (the same river that splits Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia) runs through the valley and its flanked with tiered vineyards and lots of greenery! In short, its one of the most stunning places that I have ever seen!