Have you been thinking of a place to have a destination wedding? There are so many great places to choose from. Funchal is the largest city and the capital of Portugal’s Autonomous Region of Madeira. The island definitely looks like a winner that bride and groom, Edyta and Christian chose.
Where are the two of you located?
We are two expats living in The Netherlands.
What city or cities was your ceremony and reception located in?
In 2017 we got married in Funchal, Madeira Island (Portugal). The ceremony, cocktails and the wedding reception all took place in the same wedding hotel – Vidamar in Funchal.
What made you pick the city?
We chose Funchal (Madeira’s biggest city) mostly for convenience of our guests. Some of them travelled long hours to get to the island, so we did not want to trouble them even more. We chose a comfortable location- close to the airport and conveniently located. There was a beautiful mountain venue we loved, but in October, the weather is usually better right on the southern coast on Madeira.
We chose Madeira Island, because from all places we considered, this island offered us the most magnificent locations for an outdoor wedding ceremony and best weather. I have always dreamt about an outdoor wedding.
What made the ceremony space stand out or special?
Definitely the deck between two infinity pools, with its beautiful view of the ocean… I fell in love with it the first time I saw it. I was sure that this was the place where I wanted to exchange vows. We visited two other venues in Funchal and believe me, there are many, many more spectacular wedding venues on Madeira Island, but I just could get the beautiful infinity pool deck out of my head.
Please briefly describe your ceremony and reception.
It was a civil ceremony, conducted by a representative of the local registry office, in Portuguese, along with the interpreter – our wedding planner – translating everything into English.
As I already mentioned, it took place on a stunning ocean view deck. The cocktail hour took place in a beautiful garden on the upper floor, also with a sea view. We chose one of the most famous violinists on the island to play at our ceremony and during the cocktail hour. We had a choice of different DJs and music bands, but we decided that a violin would be most suitable for such a small event as ours. The choice of artists, hairdressers, and florists on the island was large.
After the photo session and the cocktail hour, we could finally head to the private restaurant to enjoy a 6-course dinner. We did not have a live band, and it wasn’t really a party with a lot of dancing, more like a ceremony followed by a dinner with an open bar. I described my wedding story on my blog.
The day after the wedding, we had our spectacular wedding photoshoot on top of Pico do Arieiro Mountain. We had a lot of fun, and we consider it also a part of our wedding adventure.
I invited my dearest Maid of Honor, Anna, to join us during the photoshoot.
The best thing about destination weddings is that it doesn’t just last one night… our guests stayed on the island almost as long as we did, so we had a chance to travel and enjoy delicious dinners and drinks every single for almost a week.
What kind of cake did you have?
I adore naked cakes, and this is what we chose; a naked- chocolate cake delivered by a local baker. The cake was arranged by our wedding planner.
How many guests did you have?
Around 45 guests, including three wonderful children. We had guests from India, Korea,The USA, UK, different countries of Europe and even from South Africa. It was a very international wedding!
Did you have a theme or color scheme? If so what was it?
No, we did not really have a theme… Although I think that the destination wedding in Madeira was a theme in itself. The guests were served typical local drinks and as a wedding favor they received small bottles of Madeira Wine and small honey cakes typical for Madeira.
Did you do any DIY projects for your ceremony or reception? If so what?
I love DIY projects, but the only disadvantage of destination weddings is that you won’t probably have time and possibility to do any. We could take limited baggage with us on the plane, and I also had to hand carry my wedding dress. I could not image worrying about DYI materials with me.
After arriving, I also preferred to enjoy some quality time with my friends and family instead of staying indoor preparing DIY projects in the venue.
I did, however, buy a lot of personalized gifts online, months before. A personalized name board, guest book, stickers, tags, and invitations. The invitations design is probably what I am most proud of. My dear friend, a graphic designer, prepared our special wedding logo, based on a simple sketch I made with a pencil. The logo consisted of a map of Europe, where our birth places were marked with two little hearts, in two “opposite corners of the continent”.. Then, there were two lines, in the shape of our names, connecting our places of birth with the place where we met…
Bride’s most memorable moment?
Definitely the sincere smile on my husband’s face when he saw me walking with my father. Also, the moment when my father gave my hand away to my husband…I never felt happier and so grateful for having these two wonderful men in my life.
Is there something you wish you had done differently or didn’t stress so much about?
I would probably ask my family to arrive on the island at least 2 days earlier. I wish I had even more time before the wedding to travel and simply spend time with them.
We live far away and we don’t have the possibility to travel together very often. That is what made my wedding trip special for me. I wish it lasted a bit longer than it did.
Any tips for those planning a wedding where you did?
Contact a local wedding consultant. She will help you find your dream venue, book all the suppliers and take care of all the formalities. Share all your ideas with her, describe exactly what kind of venue are you looking for and she will do her best to find a perfect setting. There are so many beautiful venues on the island, for all sizes, budgets and types of a wedding.
I bought my dress back home in the Netherlands… Unfortunately, the worst thing happened – my wedding store literally botched my dress 1.5 month from the date of my wedding. I could not sleep for two nights, I was furious. The lead time for the material was 2 months, so the store offered me another dress for free. My choice was limited, because I could only choose dresses already available in the store, and I have a really difficult figure. But, a real miracle happened… They did happen to have a dress, which was in my size and actually was even more beautiful that the dress I bought previously.
My husband also bought his suit and accessories in the Netherlands, but once we arrived we decided to look for a shirt which would match my dress a bit better… We found one wedding store in the center of Funchal, and luckily they were able to order a perfect shirt for him and have it delivered within 3 days.
I used AliExpress to buy my wedding gift bags and cute wedding couple teddy bears for the youngest guests, but I would never use it for personalized items… For personalized items I used Etsy. It was my first experience with this website, and I loved it. I received beautiful handmade products, such as my wedding name board “Mr and Mrs” and a beautiful guestbook with our names elegantly engraved on the cover.
The cake was arranged by our wedding planner. We booked the photographer online. The menu’s, the table signs and name tags were provided by the hotel.
Edyta has a blog dedicated to Madeira! Say Yes to Madeira and Say Yes in Madeira! After seeing the island’s wedding potential started a blog focusing on promoting holidays, honeymoons and destination weddings there. Whether you are looking for elopement and outdoor wedding inspiration, beautiful pictures, wedding venue reviews, practical tips for organizing a destination wedding in Madeira or Porto Santo, or simply travel tips for your holidays in Madeira, you will find it all on her blog.