Destination Weddings in Azores
Simply speaking the name Azores conjures images of romance and an unspoiled tropical paradise. If you are looking for one of the last vestiges of unspoiled beauty left on Earth, then the nine virtually untouched islands of the Azores need to be near the top of your list.
The Azores are in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, almost half way between the Old and the New World. This gave them a position of extreme strategic importance, especially in the days of Christopher Columbus and the other great explorers who needed a place to refit and re-supply their ships after their long voyages of discovery.
Today the military importance of the Azores may have diminished, but their importance as a tourist and wedding destination has only increased with time. Since 1976 the Azores have been an autonomous region of Portugal with almost total self government. The official language of the islands is Portuguese, but many islanders speak English, French, German or other languages so language is seldom a barrier here on the islands.
The largest of the nine islands in the Azores is Sao Miguel. Its largest city is Ponta Delgada. More than half of the entire population of all nine islands lives in Ponta Delgada, and yet the city still retains an almost rural feel in many places.
If you are looking for five-star comfort and a hip nightlife then Ponta Delgada is practically your only choice in the Azores, although there are wonderful hotels and bed and breakfasts and really excellent restaurants spread over all nine islands.
Sao Miguel Island is known as the Green Island because of its lush green fields and meadows and its gorgeous tree-covered slopes. The island has several volcanic mountain peaks which make fantastic photographic backgrounds as well as wonderful hiking locations. While the entire chain of islands is composed of the peaks of some of the tallest mountains on Earth (as measured from their bases far under the ocean), the last volcanic eruption on the Island of Sao Miguel occurred in 1652.
The weather on Sao Miguel and on all the islands of the Azores is mild all year round and the many bays and lagoons which dot the island’s shoreline provide an abundance of swimming, snorkeling, diving and sailing activities.
Inland there are countless biking and hiking excursions available, and well as countless unique photo opportunities.
If you like shopping you’ll find all of your favorite trendy shops in Ponta Delgada along with plenty of bistros and coffee shops as well as five restaurants serving a wide variety of ethnic foods from around the globe. You will also find a wide assortment of local handicrafts.
The second largest island is Pico Island (Ilha do Pico) which is known for the magnificent volcanic cone which rises majestically from the island’s center. The volcano, Ponta de Pico, is the tallest peak in the mid Atlantic and, indeed, it is the tallest peak anywhere in Portugal. Pico’s capital city, Madalena, has a population of about 15,000 with excellent shopping and plenty of fine dining. Visitors can choose from several luxury hotels or stay at any of several fine bed and breakfasts and other excellent accommodations.
The scenery on Pico Island is unbelievable. The coastline offers spectacular vistas – as well as excellent swimming, boating, and snorkeling – and the views from the top of Ponta de Pico are truly breathtaking.
The third largest of the Azores Islands is Terceira Island. Its capital, Angra do Heroismo, has less than half the population of Ponta Delgada but still provides plenty of shopping and excellent restaurants and hotels.
Terceira is well known for its fine wine and its laid-back atmosphere. More than half of the island is covered in lush greenery – much of it covered in grape vines for the Island’s famous wine – which provides for excellent hiking, biking (including rented motorbikes), and numerous photographic possibilities.
Couples wishing to get married in the Azores should be aware of Portugal’s 30-day residency requirement for a legal wedding. At least one of the couple must reside in the local area in which a civil wedding is to be performed for at least 30 days prior to the ceremony. Couples should also be aware that while mainland Portugal recognizes a birth certificate that has been obtained up to 6 months prior to the wedding, in the Azores you must present a certified birth certificate that has been obtained no more than 3 months previously.
For couples who are already married, the Azores offers many excellent locations for symbolic wedding ceremonies which, of course, require no residency.
If you are looking to get as far away from the hustle and bustle of modern life as you possibly can, consider the Azores, tucked away in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, hundreds of miles from the nearest continent and, in many respects, hundreds of years removed as well.