Matt and Dan’s Elopement in Funchal

Matt and Dan's Elopement to Madeira

Matt and Dan have been together for 10 years and in November 2016 they got engaged to be married.  However the thought of invites, colour schemes and guest lists became a little overwhelming so they decided to elope and Madeira was an easy choice of destination.

They have been visiting Madeira for the past 4 years and absolutely love the island, the food, the wine and the people.  In November 2017 they contacted me to help them plan their special day.

First decision was about the legal paperwork for the marriage. Same Sex weddings are legal in Portugal and have been since 2010.  Portugal was the 6th country in Europe to legalise same sex weddings and the 8th country in the World.  However, it still meant there was lots of paperwork to organise as with any marriage abroad, all the documents need to be correct.

So Birth Certificates, Certificates of Non Impediment and copies of passports were sent to me so that I could organise having them translated into Portuguese and stamped by the correct authorities.  They were then entered into the Conservatorio and the date for the Registrar booked.  Matt and Dan had however made the decision to keep the legal part separate from their actual wedding celebrations as they wanted a Ceremony conducted in English and be more personal to them both. So the legal part was concluded the day before.

As I am a Wedding Celebrant, I was able to design them the perfect Ceremony for their wedding, which incorporated all the elements they wanted and a few surprises.

So the day came and their Bird of Paradise button holes were delivered to their hotel and their car arrived to collect them both.  They arrived at Nini Design Centre where I greeted them together with the photographer Tiago.

The Nini Design Centre is located in Funchal within a unique building known locally as “Molhe” – Fortaleza da Nossa Senhora da Conceição, and was once the home of Gonçalves Zarco, an old Portuguese sea navigator and colonizer of the Archipelago of Madeira. Now a museum, bar and restaurant it boasts the most amazing views of Funchal making is a magical venue for any celebration.

The Ceremony was held in a private room steeped with history.  It started with their story, talking about how they met and what they have learned in their time together. There was even a mention of Dexter, Dylan, Blake and Billy their cats.

They said their I Do’s and shared their Vows and before exchanging wedding rings they had a Hand Blessing…

These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow, and forever.

For a keepsake of the day, they signed a Wedding Day Certificate and then the fun began!. Matt and Dan had chosen to have a Wine Ceremony as part of the service and keeping to their favourite tipple, it was decided to use Madeira Wine. From a bottle of Madeira Wine, two glasses were poured.

This bottle of wine contains within it a wine with certain properties, that are sweet and symbolic of happiness, joy, hope, peace, love and delight. This same wine also holds some bitter properties that are symbolic of disappointment, sorrow, grief, despair, and life’s trials and tribulations. Together the sweet and the bitter represent “Love’s Journey” and all of the experiences that are a natural part of it. The goblet of wine is symbolic of the cup of life. As you share the wine, you promise to share all that the future will bring. All the sweetness the cup of life holds for you is sweeter because you drink it together; and whatever drops of bitterness it contains are less, because they are shared.

They then toasted to their love in the past, to love on their wedding day and to their love in the future.

As you have shared this wine, so may you share your lives. May you find life’s joys heightened, its bitterness sweetened, and all of life enriched by the love you have for each other.

The Wine Ceremony was followed but the Final Close where they were pronounced happily married and they could officially give their husband a kiss.

But this was not the end as I had a little surprise for them.  I had secretly contacted Matt and Dan’s families in the UK who had sent cards and best wishes to them both which I was able to share with them.

So with big smiles, Matt and Dan enjoyed a glass of bubbly on the terrace and a photo session with Tiago and with a drone capturing everything.

The evening was finished with an amazing meal on the terrace at Nini Design Centre and a stroll through Funchal dreaming about their excuse to return to Madeira again.