Wedding Ceremonies in Spain

Preparing for a wedding is always a time of great joy and also great stress.  This article includes some tips that would apply to preparing for a marriage anywhere in the world, but is specifically about getting married in Spain, as the Spanish culture, bureaucracy and weather make certain preparations different than elsewhere.

If you plan on having the full legal marriage ceremony in Spain, then be aware that different regions of Spain have different legal requirements and for some being a Spanish resident is necessary.  It’s not Las Vegas and a quick legal ceremony is therefore not an option, so ensure that the actual legal ceremony and the church or wedding venue fit with your desires and your faith.

Again, for a full legal wedding, the bureaucracy can be substantial and it normally takes a few months to obtain all the necessary documents you need from different authorities.  This is an area where a wedding organiser can help, particularly if you don’t speak Spanish.

Before you make a firm decision on where and when to marry, it’s therefore best to research different options and the first decision is perhaps to marry in Spain, or to have the legal ceremony in your native country and have the non-legal wedding ceremony in Spain.

If you have the opportunity to visit both the wedding venue and the accommodation in advance (preferably without announcing your intentions first, so you get a more objective view), then this is certainly a good idea.  If not, then see what other people recommend and find as much information out as possible through the internet or other sources.

The most important thing is that you agree with each other.  If you and your partner have different faiths, then it’s possible to create a ceremony that is respectful of both your faiths, be they religious, spiritual, humanist, alternative or if one or both of you are of no faith.

Particularly if a large group are staying in the same hotel, it’s worth trying to negotiate a discounted rate if someone mentions that they’re part of your group, or perhaps some other offer for your party.

Many people can be involved in creating a marriage ceremony – florists, caterers, entertainers, etc.  If you can afford it, then hiring a Spanish speaking wedding organiser can make this go more smoothly and only you to enjoy yourselves more and fret less about the details.  Whether you decide to co-ordinate everything yourself, or pay someone else to co-ordinate things, it’s best to get everything in writing from suppliers – how much will be supplied, when, etc., as this reduces the likelihood that things will go wrong at the last minute, and also adds clarity to the process.

If you feel that you need to make a lot of final plans before you can be absolutely sure of the venue, you can always send out save the date invites, with a full invite sent later, as this allows guests more time to arrange leave from work, find good flights and organise a hotel and car hire, etc.

In this day and age, it’s quite common to create a wedding website where you publish the most important details of your big day.  Make sure you add photos to the website after the honeymoon, for those who couldn’t be there.

For winter weddings that you’re holding outside, make sure you have a contingency plan if it rains.  Equally important for summer weddings, you need to take into consideration that Spain can get very hot – particularly during the day in August.  If you’re having a summer wedding, then I would recommend starting the wedding proceedings in the late afternoon or evening, when it’s cooler, making sure that there’s plenty of water for everyone and if possible a source of shade.

Alcohol also quickly dehydrates people and while it is accepted as a normal part of most marriage ceremonies, it may be best not to offer too much alcohol too early in the proceedings, but wait until the evening party, so your guests don’t dehydrate during the hottest part of the day.

When choosing the bride and groom’s outfits, you’d be wise to choose one that will keep you cool enough in the summer, or warm enough in the winter.

If a guest offers to sing or play an instrument at your wedding, then it might be worth making sure that they can play or sing well before you say ‘yes’ – this is your special day, so be willing to say ‘no’ to any suggestions that you’re not comfortable with or that don’t fit your desires.  If, however, you ask guests to sing or give a speech, check that they’re confident enough to talk or sing in front of the assembly.

While it’s traditional for the bride to be a little late, it’s best not to be too late.  For the wedding itself, ideally arrive a day or two before and allow time for delays.  This also helps both the bride and groom to be more relaxed.

Your marriage ceremony, whether in Spain or anywhere in the world, will be a day of great joy.  It’s also only natural to be nervous, so while much of this article encourages consideration of your guests, remember that this day is for the two of you.  Be willing to ask for what you want and what you need and may your day be blessed with happiness and love.

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