Spaniards love weddings and so weddings in Spain tend to be huge, lavish, and expensive affairs with lots of people, lots of wine and lots of music, dancing and celebrations that last until dawn. Spaniards take marriage very seriously, so keep in mind that in order to be married in Spain it is often necessary for at least the bride or the groom to be a Spanish citizen or to have lived in Spain for at least two years. It is possible for two people who are not Spanish citizens to have their civil marriage blessed in a non-Catholic church.
For those wishing to be married in a Catholic church you must consult the Archbishop in the area where you wish to be married. The Archbishop and the priests in different areas of Spain have different marriage requirements and so it is important that you contact ahead of time the proper authorities in the region where you wish to marry. Generally speaking, in order to be married in a Catholic church you must have a baptism certificate and a signed statement – translated into Spanish – that affirms that both the bride and the groom are single, 18-years of age, and that there is no reason they should not marry.
A Spanish wedding can be a memory that will last a lifetime. Spain offers a wide range of venues for a wedding, from the seaside to the mountains, to fairytale-like castles and everything in between.
In many parts of Spain the engagement and wedding customs have been handed down for generations and are still strictly observed. For example, in many parts of Spain a couple must be engaged before the wedding following strict customs. The prospective groom must present a necklace or a ring to the bride-to-be. This is a very sacred symbol and is taken very seriously by both parties. The groom-to-be also must ask for a blessing from the girl’s father and will present the father with a watch as a token of his sincerity toward marriage.
Engagements in Spain can last several years and during the engagement period it is not uncommon for a couple to purchase a house. As it is still not commonplace for the couple to live together before the marriage, the house is often rented out until the marriage, with the rental fees helping to pay the mortgage.
The marriage ceremony itself is a lavish affair, with often hundreds of guests. It is considered unlucky for the bride to see the groom the night before the wedding. The bride’s father will drive her to the church and the father will walk his daughter down the isle and give her away. The bride will wear either an elaborate white wedding gown or she may wear a colorful flamenco dress. The ceremony itself can take up to an hour at a Catholic ceremony, and often communion is taken at the conclusion of the ceremony.
As is customary around the world, rings are exchanged, often identical rings, and worn on the right hand to symbolize their lifetime bond. During the ceremony it is still customary for the groom to present his new bride with a bag of 13 gold coins to symbolize not only his devotion but his ability to provide for her.
Following the wedding the bride will toss her bouquet of flowers into the air and tradition says that the girl who catches it will be the next one wed.
Following the wedding there will be a reception party that is often described as being of “massive proportion.” There will be much Spanish wine, lots and lots of dancing, and many, many toasts to the long life and happiness of the new couple. It is traditional for the new bride to present her bridesmaids with a small pin, often an orchid or a lily, which is worn up-side-down during reception. If the pin falls out during the marathon of dancing it is considered a good omen that the woman will soon marry.
A honeymoon is traditional before the couple returns to their home and begin their new life together..
Couples wishing a civil marriage in Spain should keep in mind that there is still considerable paperwork involved and that the couple must be present in Spain for at least 21 days prior to the marriage, and that their intent to marry must be posted for 21 calendar days before the ceremony takes place.
Couples from outside of Spain who wish to marry in Spain must provide considerable paperwork, especially if they are to be married in a Catholic church, and it is advisable that they make certain most of the paperwork is taken care of and acceptable before journeying to Spain. While the paperwork may be annoying, the multitude of unique and beautiful locations for a wedding and the joy and celebration that accompanies a wedding in Spain will soon make you forget any legal hoops you may have had to jump through and all that you will remember, for the rest of your lives together, will be the love, the happiness and the romance of your wedding in Spain.