How to plan a Madeira elopement - the ultimate guide

The ultimate guide to eloping in Madeira

for an adventurous Madeira elopement

For all those of you who enjoy a tropical climate and love the sound ocean waves make as they hit the rocks or gently surface on the shore, an island destination would make the perfect getaway spot. And if you and your beloved dream of turning your traveling journey into a lovely and exciting elopement experience, look no further than having a Madeira elopement.

Many say that this place is a little Universe on its own, with its surrounding aquamarine waters, lush green forests, and beautiful shorelines. Another popular name for this place is “the pearl of the Atlantic”, due to the vast landscapes of untouched nature, as well as the great number of adventurous opportunities it offers.  It has a mild climate, with temperatures around 20–27°C (68–81 °F), which makes it a delightful traveling location all year round.

Although this only scratches the surface of how stunningly amazing Madeira is, let me shift your focus to my goal. Today, I’m here to answer all the essential questions about how to elope in Madeira to get the most extraordinary experience of your life.

Let’s dive in…

amber, elopement photographer

Hey! I’m Amber.

Your Madeira elopement photographer + planner

Getting married in an unconventional way like eloping should be a fun experience! You decided to skip a traditional wedding because it didn’t resonate with you, and I’m committed to making your wedding day unforgettable and enjoyable. As a professional elopement photographer and travel planner, I’m here to assist you in creating a flawless day. I’ll handle everything from scouting locations to providing personalized vendor suggestions and helping with paperwork, ensuring that you have a stress-free experience.

If Madeira is your dream elopement destination, reach out to me for further details on elopement packages and to start planning your special day.

First, let’s be sure we’re talking about the same thing:

What is an elopement?

An adventure elopement is a unique and adventurous way to get married that emphasizes exploring the outdoors and connecting with nature. Instead of a traditional wedding, where the focus is on the ceremony and reception, an adventure elopement centers around the experience and the couple’s shared love of adventure.

An adventure elopement can take many forms, but typically involves a hike or a scenic outdoor activity like rock climbing, kayaking, or skiing. The ceremony itself is usually held in a breathtaking location, such as a mountaintop or a scenic overlook. The couple may exchange vows in front of a small group of loved ones, or they may opt for a private ceremony with just the two of them.

One of the main benefits of an adventure elopement is the flexibility it offers. Without the constraints of a traditional wedding, couples can choose to elope at a time and place that suits them best. They can also tailor the experience to their interests and personalities, creating a truly unique and personalized celebration.

Finally, adventure elopements often involve hiring professional vendors, such as photographers (yours truly!), videographers, and travel planners, who specialize in creating and capturing these types of experiences. This ensures that the couple has a beautiful and memorable day, while also allowing them to focus on the adventure itself.

How to get to Madeira for your elopement

Geographically in Africa but belonging to the region of Portugal, Madeira is a sub-tropical archipelago that offers plenty of scenic delights, all while enjoying the European location’s convenience. In fact, this small island of 286 square miles is located about 620 from the continent of Europe and about 310 from Africa. Because of its isolated location, it boasts a breathtaking natural beauty that no person can resist. 

But, regardless of its remote positioning, you’ll be surprised to discover that getting there is pretty simple and convenient. Of course, since it’s an island, you can’t expect that you’ll go there by car or train, but a simple plane or ferry ride will take you to the destination of your dreams. 

Here’s more info about how to get to and around Madeira if this is your first time traveling there:

Travel by air

Clearly, the fastest and most convenient way to travel for your Madeira elopement is by air. Regularly-scheduled flights fly from Portugal, i.e., from Lisbon and Porto. But if you’re coming from the East Coast of North America, you can also get here via Ponte Delgada in the Azores.

Generally speaking, the airport in Funchal (the regional capital of Madeira), is well-connected with numerous cities in and around Portugal, as well as with a few all over Europe. Once you arrive there, you can get a cab or a bus to get you to the city center. Generally speaking, to get from the airport to the center of Funchal, you’ll need about 15 to 20 minutes, which adds to the convenience of the airport location.

Travel by ferry or boat

Another possible way to reach Madeira for your destination elopement is if you take a ferry or boat ride. Luckily, several commercial ferries travel to Madeira and back during the season, most of which arrive at the Port of Funchal. This is no surprise since this is the major city port to which numerous Portuguese and European ports are connected. If you’re a couple who wants to have it all planned ahead, you can purchase the ferry tickets online. Otherwise, you will be able to buy them in person before you get on the ferry. 

However, be wary that this form of transportation is exclusively seasonal, so either book your elopement accordingly or decide to reach Madeira by air. Due to the inconvenient weather and the unpredictable sea, the routes are closed during the monsoon season.

Getting Around Madeira During Your Elopement

Getting around the island is pretty easy, as cabs and buses will help you get from one place to another. There are also bike and scooter rental services you can use, and they are quite affordable and efficient, too. In addition, several parts of the island are best explored on foot. 

No matter the style of transport you choose, I am sure that you will be able to commute without any hassle. After all, Madeira is a rather small island area, making reaching most of its visit-worthy sites easy. And if you’d feel better driving by yourself, you can also use several car hire services.

What’s more, the locals have been quite clever in using the space they have. They’ve built many tunnels into the mountains, and toboggans down the steep hills, making it faster and easier to get to and from most of these breathtaking locations.

How to Legally Elope in Madeira

Deciding to have a Madeira elopement would mean that you and your partner are up for an otherworldly experience. Just imagine saying your long-awaited I DO’s without the crowded surrounding you’d have if you opted for a traditional wedding. Instead, you will receive a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pledge your true love on top of a mountain, breathing in the spectacular views that stretch out into the distance. Or, you can bury your feet in the fine sand on some of the many isle beaches, uttering your vows to the music of crackling ocean waves. 

It’s true, you can immediately get enchanted by the magical opportunities Madeira offers, but let’s not forget that there are plenty of things you need to get done before you set foot on this amazing journey. 

So, in terms of planning a destination elopement there, it’s common for many couples to get legally married in their mother country, and then travel to Maderia to simply enjoy the breathtaking beauty. However, if you’re in about the whole experience, you need to be well-acquainted will all the legal requirements that apply here. 

Here, I will provide you with a list of all the documents you need to have prepared in advance:

  • Photocopies of your and your partner’s passport (you need to provide them initially and give the original ones for the Registrar to see on the day)
  • Birth certificates – you and your spouse-to-be must issue International Birth Certificates no older than six months. The easiest way to obtain these is from your local registry office.
  • Divorce Certificate or Death Certificate (if applicable)
  • Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage- make sure that you translate it into Portuguese
  • Procuração (Power of Attourney)

Keep in mind that all documents need to have an Apostille Stamp that authorizes their validity. In addition, they all need to be translated into Portuguese, which you can either do in your own country or as soon as you arrive in Madeira. 

Your marriage license will be issued shortly after you officially get married, usually within 2 or 3 working days. To make your experience more convenient, consider hiring a local wedding consultant to assist and guide you through every step of the process.

For couples from the US:

In certain states, you can ask your county clerk the authorization to sign your wedding license abroad. If they agree, as a registered minister, my team and I will be able to legally marry you without the hassle of a legal wedding ceremony in Madeira.

Why Elope in Madeira

The experience

The first reason why you and your beloved should start thinking about how to elope in Madeira is the unique experience you will get. Planning a getaway to this tropical and ultimately picturesque destination will provide you with plenty of eye-pleasing locations to adorn your already special occasion. In other words, Madeira island is far more than a perfect elopement destination, especially for those seeking an outstanding intimate experience. With its pleasant weather and plenty of astonishing sites, I am sure that eloping here would be your best decision.

A cultural hub

Due to this isle’s high value, people here have learned to embrace the multicultural environment. Traveling here means you will meet many smiling and friendly faces, all willing to offer you a warm welcome into their motherland. Besides tying the knot in a pleasant atmosphere, you’ll also get to witness their century-old traditions and amazing food.

Budget convenience

One of the best things about Madeira is that they haven’t let their immense popularity impact travelers’ experience- and budget! Even though this might sound surprising, since I’ve already described this place as one of the most bewitching destinations in Europe, the island still has quite an advantageous price-quality relation. This means that for the money you’ll pay, you should expect to receive high-quality service. And there is seldom another place in the whole of Europe that will give you such an amazing experience as Madeira.

Top 5 spots to Elope in Madeira

When it comes to scenic locations, this island provides an abundance of them. Once you step on this remote island, you will instantly feel that there are numerous places you simply need to discover. And to help you not get too overwhelmed with options, I have created this list of five beautiful locations for you and your partner to exchange your vows amidst mesmerizing sceneries.

Where to elope in Madeira - Risco Waterfall and 25 Fontes

Risco Waterfall and 25 Fontes

Risco Waterfall is one of the tallest waterfalls on the island, with a height of approximately 100 meters (328 feet). The waterfall is surrounded by lush green vegetation and steep cliffs, making it a breathtaking site for a ceremony.

Risco Waterfall can be accessed by taking a scenic hike through the surrounding forest. The trail starts near the town of Ribeira da Janela and is approximately 3.5 kilometers (2.2 miles) long. The hike takes around 1-2 hours each way, depending on your pace, and is considered moderate in difficulty.

Once you reach Risco Waterfall, you can take in the stunning views from the observation deck, which is located just a short distance from the waterfall itself. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also take a dip in the natural pool at the base of the waterfall.

Levada do Caldeirão Verde

Levada do Caldeirão Verde is one of the most popular hiking trails in Madeira. This 13-kilometer (8-mile) trail winds through the island’s lush green countryside and takes hikers on a journey through beautiful forests, past waterfalls, and along the island’s famous levadas.

Levada do Caldeirão Verde starts near the town of Queimadas and takes approximately 5-6 hours to complete round trip, depending on your pace. The trail is considered moderate in difficulty, and there are several steep sections and narrow pathways along the way. However, the stunning views and natural beauty make the hike well worth the effort.

One of the highlights of Levada do Caldeirão Verde is the waterfall that shares the trail’s name. Caldeirão Verde, which translates to “green cauldron,” is a beautiful waterfall that plunges 100 meters (328 feet) into a clear pool below. Hikers can take a refreshing dip in the natural pool or simply relax and take in the stunning scenery.

Where to elope in Madeira - Levada do Caldeirão Verde
Where to elope in Madeira - Praia de Seixal

Praia de Seixal

Praia de Seixal is a beautiful black sand beach located on the north coast, perfect for a unique beach elopement in Madeira. The beach is surrounded by towering cliffs and is known for its crystal-clear waters and stunning scenery.

One of the unique features of Praia de Seixal is its black sand, which is created from volcanic rocks that have eroded over time. The contrast of the dark sand against the clear blue water and green cliffs creates a stunning visual spectacle that is not to be missed.

In addition to its natural beauty, Praia de Seixal is a great spot for swimming and sunbathing. The water is usually calm and clear, making it ideal for swimming or snorkeling. There are also several amenities nearby, including a restaurant, snack bar, and public restrooms.

For those looking to explore beyond the beach, Praia de Seixal is also located near several popular hiking trails, including the nearby Laurissilva Forest, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Pico do Arieiro

Pico do Arieiro is one of the highest peaks in Madeira. At 1,818 meters (5,965 feet) tall, it offers breathtaking panoramic views of the island’s rugged coastline, rolling hills, and lush green valleys. It is perfect for a very adventurous elopement in Madeira thanks to its numerous hikes.

To reach the summit of Pico do Arieiro, visitors can drive or take a bus up the winding mountain road that leads to the summit. Once there, they can take a short hike to the top, which offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape. On clear days, it’s possible to see all the way to the neighboring island of Porto Santo.

For those looking for a more challenging hike, there is also a trail that leads from Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo, the highest peak in Madeira. This hike takes approximately 3-4 hours and is considered difficult due to its steep inclines and rocky terrain. However, the stunning views and sense of accomplishment make it a popular activity for adventurous hikers.

Where to elope in Madeira - Pico do Arieiro
Where to elope in Madeira - Ponta do Sao Lourenço

Ponta do São Lourenço

Ponta do São Lourenço is a stunning nature reserve located on the easternmost point of Madeira. The reserve is known for its rugged landscapes, stunning coastal views, and unique flora and fauna.

One of the main features of Ponta do São Lourenço is its dramatic cliffs, which rise steeply from the sea and offer breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. The area is also home to several unique plant species, including the Madeira spurge, which is found nowhere else in the world.

Visitors to Ponta do São Lourenço can explore the reserve via a network of hiking trails that wind through the area’s rugged terrain. The trails range in difficulty from easy to moderate, and offer stunning views of the cliffs, sea, and surrounding landscape.

In addition to its natural beauty, Ponta do São Lourenço is also a great spot for birdwatching. The area is home to several species of seabirds, including the Cory’s shearwater, Madeiran storm petrel, and Bulwer’s petrel.

When to elope in Madeira

When to Elope in Madeira

Madeira enjoys a pleasant climate that allows you to have a pleasant year-round experience. Even though it has thriving lush greenery, the isle rarely encounters heavy rainfalls, making it perfect to plan according to your own schedule.

However, the best time to arrange your elopement here is during the spring and summer months, ideally from April to October. During this time, the coastline appears quite attractive, teeming with up to 20 dolphin and whale species. This means that not only will you get to enjoy the loveliest weather, but you’ll also be fortunate enough to witness the delightful scene of dolphins and whales swimming in the ocean. 

Example budget of an elopement in Madeira

All-inclusive, 7-day ELOPEMENT + Honeymoon

6 nights in accommodation (3* or more)
Award-winning elopement photographer for 3 days
All meals for the 7 days
4-5 beautiful, natural and raw ceremony location options
Custom timeline of the day
Hair and makeup
Car rental
Airport transfers

TOTAL FOR An all-inclusive ELOPEMENT IN Madeira:

$29 000


Award-winning elopement photographer for 12 hours
4-5 beautiful, natural and raw ceremony location options
Custom timeline of the day


$7 900

Lodging for your elopement in Madeira

When it comes to lodging options in Madeira, there are several popular choices, but perhaps the most common and popular option is staying in a hotel.

Madeira is known for its stunning natural beauty and many hotels are located in prime locations offering stunning sea views or situated in the lush, green mountains. There are a wide range of hotels available, from budget-friendly options to luxury resorts, so there is something to suit every traveler’s needs and preferences.

Many of the hotels in Madeira offer amenities such as swimming pools, spa facilities, and on-site restaurants serving traditional Madeiran cuisine. Some hotels also offer organized activities and tours, such as hiking or whale watching, which can be a great way to explore the island and make the most of your stay.

Another popular lodging option in Madeira is renting a private villa or apartment. This can be a great option for families or larger groups who want more space and privacy. Many private villas and apartments offer stunning views and may be located in quieter, more secluded areas of the island.

Finally, for travelers on a budget or looking for a more immersive experience, staying in a guesthouse or bed and breakfast is also a great option. These smaller, family-run establishments often offer a more authentic and personalized experience, with hosts who can offer local tips and insights into the island’s culture and history.

Overall, there are many options when it comes to lodging in Madeira, but staying in a hotel is the most common and popular option for travelers looking to explore the island.

Unique Things to Do When You Elope in Madeira

Since you are thinking about eloping to this subtropical archipelago, it would be a pity to travel there only to exchange your vows. This place isn’t called a remote natural gem in vain. The towering volcanic rocks, pristine secluded beaches, and leafy vegetation provide plenty of spots and activities you simply need to indulge in.

Taste the local wine

You cannot say you had a Madeira elopement if you haven’t tried their renowned wine. The winemakers use a unique technique, which practically involves overcooking the wine, to ensure that it is impossible to spoil. So, after being bottled, Madeira wine can literally last for centuries.

Some shops offer free tasting tours, but it’s always a good idea to indulge in a more detailed tour, during which you’ll be given the opportunity to taste some of the finest wines of this region.

Hike to 25 Fontes

You have probably already become familiar with the fact that this island has countless natural retreats that are simply worth visiting. But, since you will be traveling to Madeira for your elopement, I’m going to assume that you simply won’t have the time to see them all.

But one of the most enchanting sights you and your beloved should not skip is 25 Fontes, which means 25 fountains. The trek leading to this sight is the most popular one on the island, allowing you to breathe in the fresh air and walk past many dazzling waterfalls. The highlight of the hike is, of course, the 25 fountains, all of which feed a small canal that runs along the trek.

Do some sunset gazing

No Madeira elopement journey will be complete if you don’t have at least one sunset gazing experience during your stay. So, although there are plenty of location possibilities to choose from, the top of Pico do Airero certainly gives the most mesmerizing views. This mountain is the third-largest peak on the island, and is definitely a place to spend some intimate moments together as you watch the sun paint all the nature in its soft golden light.

What to wear on your elopement day in Madeira

What to Wear to Elope in Madeira

As an island with a subtropical climate, it’s easy to assume you should pack lightly for your destination elopement. This means that it’s best to choose casual attires and ones that will allow you to move freely. In this way, you will prevent over-sweating and reach your desired location hassle-free.

In essence, remember to pack enough sunscreen and apply it as frequently as you can. Choose light and colorful attires that won’t absorb much of the sun’s heat. So, it’s best to opt for a lightweight dress, cotton or linen trousers, and a shirt. 

When it comes to footwear, please avoid struggling with high heels or sandals. Make sure that you pack comfortable shoes that will allow you to move effortlessly. And if you really wish to wear heels in your elopement photographs, pack them in a bag and put them on once you arrive at the location. 

One final piece of advice I will give is that you need to pack some warmer clothes, too. Despite the pleasant weather, there are frequent temperature fluctuations, so don’t forget to get a jacket or layering clothes with you.

Elope in Madeira – Your Checklist

Pick a date

talk to your partner and decide on a date that works for both of you. Consider the ideal travel time and try to book your elopement during those months.

Find more information about travel visas and wedding documentation

Make sure that you have everything you need to get legally married in Madeira.

Book your flights and accommodation

Make these arrangements on time and get some special deals and discounts. 

Book your vendors

this includes your officiant, consultant, venue, accommodation, and Madeira elopement photographer.

Live your dream elopement

lastly, remember to enjoy this beautiful occasion and create some unforgettable memories with the person you will share your life with.


How it works to plan your elopement in Madeira

Process-how to plan an elopement

Let’s dive in, so you can start your journey right away!

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Madeira elopement planner and photographer

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Are you eager to start planning your elopement in Madeira? I’m here to help you envision, plan and immortalize this beautiful adventure! Contact me now for a free consultation!

How to plan a Madeira elopement - the ultimate guide
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