Portuguese people love celebrating. Whether it’s a birthday, a holiday, or just a plain old Sunday, everything is a reason to get your family and friends together for some food, wine, and conversation. So, you can bet that Portuguese people will go all out when the celebration is love!

From giant amounts of food to fun pranks on the newlyweds, Portuguese people know how to throw a wedding party. And even though many traditions have been absorbed from all over the world, you can still find centuries-old customs imbedded in the romantic ceremony. Continue reading to discover some of the greatest and funnest Portuguese wedding traditions that you can still see today!

A Pre-Wedding Gathering?

Remember when I told you that Portuguese people love to celebrate? They even know how to turn the excruciating, nerve-inducing “getting ready” process into an unmissable event.

On the morning of the wedding, the bride and groom throw separate get-togethers in their childhood homes while getting ready. If you are a close and special guest of the couple, you will undoubtedly be expected to show up for some light homemade snacks, drinks, and a lot of love and laughter. So you get ready surrounded by the ones you love, soothe your jitters with your close ones’ warmth and just eat to your heart’s desire. Sounds like a hoot!

I think we can agree that the Portuguese know how to start their wedding day! How about the wedding ceremony itself?

An Offering to Our Lady

Given that more than 80% of the Portuguese population is Catholic, it is no surprise that the overwhelming majority of wedding ceremonies are held in a church and officiated by a priest. The entire service can take up to an hour, including the full mass and communion!

What may be surprising is what happens at the end of the ceremony. After the wedding vows and rings are exchanged, and before leaving the church, the bride places her flower bouquet at the altar. Why? The answer is simple! To express devotion and gratitude to the Holy Mother. The offering is a beautiful and moving gesture that is still a common practice in today’s Portuguese Catholic weddings!

But don’t think that the Portuguese forgo the classic bouquet toss. Of course not! They bring on a second posy later on, especially for throwing at their single friends!

Double the “Padrinhos”, Double the Fun!

The Portuguese wedding party is not that different from the American one. Ring bearers are a must, flower girls (or boys!) are commonplace, and they do have something similar to a maid of honor and a best man. However, there are two big differences!

First, there are typically no bridesmaids or groomsmen in a Portuguese wedding. This may sound lonely for the honored guests but worry not!

Both the bride and groom get to choose a “padrinho” (best man) and a “madrinha” (maid of honor) each! So, there are four “padrinhos” in a typical Portuguese wedding! And they are usually the couple’s godparents – even though that is not always the case.

How would you feel about having both a best man and a maid of honor all to yourself? Sounds fantastic to me!

Honk, Honk, and Away

Since most Portuguese wedding ceremonies take place in a church, that means that most wedding receptions – called “Copo de Água” (“Glass of Water”) – are thrown in a second venue. You’ve guessed it! The journey from the church to the reception location, traditionally the bride’s parents’ home, is also a celebration for the Portuguese.

Following the customary rice shower (or rose petal, or confetti, or soap bubble shower) to celebrate the newly married couple, the party then moves to the wedding reception venue. The bride and groom are the first to leave the church. They are then accompanied by the entourage of the guests’ cars behind them, adorned with white tulle to mark their presence at the wedding party and honking the whole way through.

Imagine just being on your way to work and witnessing all this commotion. Maybe not as fun!

Food, Food, and More Food

Food is the center of any Portuguese party, so we’re not expecting anything different for a wedding. As soon as guests arrive at the venue, all sorts of appetizers, snacks, and drinks are presented to them. It is custom to find a huge display of food stations and buffets, with many different kinds of traditional and non-traditional goodies. And this is just the cocktail reception!

The party then moves to the banquet space, where they have a seat-down meal. And this meal is no light task! Entrées, a meat course, a fish course, and desserts. You’d expect that everyone would be completely full by now, but there is still a breakfast at dawn! Ugh, that’s a lot of food to fit into a tiny dress!

And let’s not even talk about the drinks! Many other beverages are involved for an occasion deceptively named “Glass of Water”. Portuguese are suckers for wine and beer. Also, in Portugal, weddings are always an all-nighter open bar. That’s bound to be dangerous! And it may also explain how the events can last up to 6 or 7 am. How is that even possible?

Runaway Bride (and Groom)

After all the dancing and the eating and the fun, the wedding couple has a final, very secretive, and critical mission.

They must quite literally sneak out of their own wedding without being noticed. With the spotlight on the pair the entire night, which only increases with the guests’ knowledge of their possible escape, this task becomes nearly impossible. But it does make for some fascinating and hilarious stories!

Wedding Night Hoax

When the pair finally manages to escape to their newlywed bliss, they might encounter some unexpected surprises.

Tradition dictates that friends should play pranks on the couple’s new home for their wedding night. Antics such as sewing together the sheets and duvet, hiding away the key, or spreading underwear all over the house are not uncommon in this part of the world.

Well, you can’t deny that it does make for quite an eventful wedding night! Even if you have to spend your first day as a married couple cleaning up the mess.

And More Food!

You thought that the wedding had ended? Not yet; you still have leftovers to be eaten! I was not joking when I said that Portuguese celebrations are all about food.

The day after the wedding – particularly if the event is held at home – everyone must gather once again to finish all the food that was not eaten the day before. And this is typically a lot of food!


Curious about all these traditions? Check out our stunning Portuguese property partners, where you can celebrate your own wedding and experience them for yourself!