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Destination Weddings in Madeira

Islands by their very nature are romantic, conjuring images of swashbuckling and adventure coupled with warm sands and soft breezes, and the beautiful Islands of the Madeira group, the pearls of the sea, are certainly no exception.  The Madeira islands actually consist of four separate islands, Madeira, Porto Santo and two small, uninhabited islands.  Since 1976 the Madeira Islands have been a semi-autonomous region of Portugal, and their new-found freedom has translated into a frenzy of five-star construction. 

Many people romantically believe that the islands of the Madeira chain are the last remnants of the fabled lost continent of Atlantis.  But whether that’s true or not, today the islands are one of the top tourist spots in all of Portugal.

The Madeira Islands are filled with contrasts.  On the one hand the island government is trying to modernize much of the island and to promote tourism – but a large part of the islands, particularly the inland portions, still remain much as they have always been since settlers first arrived here in the 15th century.  Here, in the pastoral hinterlands of the islands, farmers still tend their sheep, and from many of the smaller coves around the island, fishermen still set sail every morning, hoping for a good catch.

Today the islands are undergoing huge changes as they try to move from an agricultural-based economy to a tourist-based economy, and as they struggles to move from the 15th century into the 21st century.  What remains of Madeira’s agriculture is primarily huge banana plantations and fields of wine grapes for Madeira’s famed wine.

While the island of Porto Santo is relatively dry, unsettled, and primarily suited to the raising of sheep and cattle, the lush green island of Madeira itself is a riot of exotic colors, with cascading waterfalls around nearly every turn of the road, and a sky filled with rainbows from morning till night.  Exotic flowers and luscious fruits grow so abundantly that you can sometimes reach out of your bungalow window and pick them fresh off the tree, still cover with the morning dew.

It is possible to swim in the warm, crystal clear waters of the Atlantic after breakfast and drive to the snow-touched tip of Madeira’s tallest mountain before lunch.  Madeira is such a paradise that almost a quarter of a million people live on the small island, making it one of the most densely-populated areas in all of Europe – and yet much of the island still retains the same unspoiled beauty that it has always known.

Along the coast, in the island’s larger towns, such as Funchal, the island’s capital, couples can pick and choose among many five-star hotels and almost countless fine restaurants.  The streets of the towns are lined with trendy shops wedged side by side with the shops of local artisans, providing for a richly rewarding shopping experience.  At night discos and dance clubs flash their neon signs and music can be heard all up and down Funchal’s main street.

And yet, just a few minutes away by car are colorful and romantic fishing villages perched on the cliffs overlooking the sea, reminding one of make-believe villages lifted straight out of the pages of a child’s book of fairytales.

Couples wishing to be married in the island paradise must meet a 30-day residency requirement, have a valid passport and birth certificate and certain other documents which vary depending on your country of origin.  Couples wishing to be married in the Catholic Church must have their Baptismal Certificates and everything must be translated into Portuguese by a certified translator.

Madeira is a beautiful, lush green paradise where couples can enjoy a blessed mixture of the ultra modern with ancient traditions.  If that sounds good to you then you owe it to yourself to look further into a destination wedding on the Islands of Madeira.